DVD Review: FIP's Emergence
September 24 & 25, 2004
Tampa, FL at the FIP Mobile Studios
Full Impact Pro (FIP) is a promotion based in Florida that used to be just like most of the small indie shows in America booking washed out former WWE stars like Hacksaw Duggan to headline cards filled with wrestlers no one has heard of. FIP apparently liked what they saw in the Ring of Honor promotion, as in late 2004 they seemed to revamp the company to almost be a sister company to ROH. In fact, the two companies now share the same booker in Gabe Sapolsky, who has received major critical praise over the past several years for his work in ROH. It should come as no surprise that FIP now also books many top ROH stars such as Homicide, CM Punk and Austin Aries, among others.
Emergence is a two disc DVD set that covers the 16-man tournament FIP held in September of 2004 to determine their first heavyweight champion. The first thing I was struck by was how professional the DVD cover art was. A lot of people will try and tell you that the DVD cover doesn’t mean anything and “you can’t judge a book by its cover.” Well, in a way that is true, but the reality is that in 2005 there is no excuse for poor DVD cover art with the number of easy-to-learn computer art programs. A great DVD cover, like FIP has, tells me that the people behind the company at least give a damn about how their product looks. Unfortunately, the DVD case also has a new way of holding the DVDs that I have never seen before and I can’t describe how much I hate it. The DVDs are actually stacked on top of each other and it is as bad as it sounds. I can’t even imagine why anyone would even design a case like this. Hopefully enough people email FIP to complain about this so that we’ll never see the albatross again.
On to the show!
The announcers are Mark Nulty and Matt Pike. Now Matt Pike is actually Gabe Sapolsky, who used to call ROH DVDs under the name Chris Lovey but now goes by Jimmy Bower. That is three pseudonyms for Sapolsky, or three more than Jim Ross, Gordon Solie and Lance Russell have had combined. I remember Torch Editor Wade Keller called the name change to Bower “too cute by half.” Now, I have no idea what that means, but I’m going to call this name change “too cute by a hundredth.”
FIP looked to be Old School as they had their ring announcer, Lenny Leonard, standing over by the ring entrance, and it has a feel straight out of ‘70s NWA television. I had heard horror stories about the show’s attendance, which I believe was around 50 people, but it is lit in such a way that the small crowd isn’t a factor. I really have to hand it to FIP on that one because it looks like they took a negative and turned it into a positive. This look is such a throwback that it almost feels new again. The first disc of the set covers the first round of the two night tournament to crown the first FIP Heavyweight Champion.
(1) Kahagas beat Scoot Andrews. (4:35) I haven’t seen Scoot Andrews since the first year of ROH. In a wise move, he shaved his head, because that male pattern baldness wasn’t doing him any favors, especially with the nickname “the Black Nature Boy.” Andrews is based out of NWA Florida, and from what I’m hearing, recently retired.. Kahagas’ gimmick is that he comes from a Japanese dojo. He’s not Yoshi Kwan, Avatar or some goofy ninja though. And it’s pronounced “Kuh-Hey-Gus.” I only mention that because whenever I used to read the name Kahagas in my Torch newsletter, I pictured it being pronounced differently. Then again, this is the guy who pronounced the word “urinage” as “urine-age” instead of “ur-i-nah-gee” for seemingly forever. Matt Pike started off by saying Jimmy Bower was his illegitimate brother. Pike was in rare form early as Nulty made a bizarre reference to Andrews and Pike said straight up he had no idea what the hell Nulty was talking about. Neither did I. There’s one thing I really have liked from Gabe Sapolsky/Chris Lovey/Jimmy Bower/Matt Pike’s calling of matches and that is he often comes across like a true fan would. And I mean that in a good way. He says, often, what fans are thinking, which is a good trait for an announcer.
I’m not sure if it’s the camera angles or what, but the ring looks absolutely huge onscreen. A couple minutes in, Andrews hit a really nice looking guillotine leg drop on Kahagas as Kahagas was stuck in between the second and third ring ropes. Andrews dominated for most of the match and went for his finisher, The Forces of Nature, but Kahagas kicked out of it and ended up hitting Andrews with a unique version of the stunner for the win. Meh.
(2) Joshua Masters beat Lex Lovett. (3:45) In another cool throwback, Masters stopped on his way to the ring so he could shoot a promo after getting the microphone from Leonard. Masters talked about being part of a New Revolution and said that his leader would be revealed shortly. Lex Lovett is a local Florida worker and has a shaved head with a decent body. After a nondescript match, Lovett hit a good looking German Suplex with a bridge for a two count. Lovett was going for another, but Masters mule kicked Lovett in the nut sack and quickly rolled Lovett up for the pin, grabbing the tights as well. I recently covered the debut of another promotion, and I had the same complaint with that promotion as I do with this FIP show: I can't understand how you don't open your debut show with a red hot match, showing the fans what your promotion brings to the table immediately. FIP has access to a lot of great wrestlers, but no one is going to buy the DVDs to see Lex Lovett or Scoot Andrews.
(3) Jerrelle Clark beat Slim J. (6:26) I admit to being a big fan of Slim J. I first saw him as part of Special K in ROH. He has no business being in a Matrat heavyweight tourney, let alone a FIP one as he looks to weigh 150 pounds, soaking wet. This was the first time I had ever seen Clark, and Pike said he was the master of the 630. Well that I’d like to see. This match was fast paced compared to the first two, but that was expected since these two are cruiserweights who have been around. Clark hit a psychotic sit out powerbomb that looked like it killed Slim J. Clark then missed a moonsault off the top, but Slim J then found no one home when he went to the top and came flying back with a twisting flippity do thing that would have been insane if he crashed down on Clark with it. Clark then quickly rolled up Slim J for the pin. How does a guy who is billed on the DVD cover as “Mr. 630” not go for the 630?!
(4) C.M. Punk beat Vordell Walker. (13:00) Punk’s music is really cool in FIP and different than his ROH entrance. He also goes heavy on the makeup, and shot a promo on his way to the ring. Punk called the fans the same type of people who plagued his high school while growing up. Punk said these people prey on the weak. Punk said he accepts all the outcasts of the world, the misfits, and opens his arms to them. Punk said tonight is the beginning of a New Revolution. This was the first time I have ever seen Vordell Walker and he’s definitely got a body the WWE would go for, compared to, say, Jimmy Rave, but I can’t see them aggressively pursuing Walker. Unless the guy is an AJ Styles-level worker, it’s not like his body is anything different than Johnny Stamboli or Chuck Palumbo. Punk is also upset that Homicide and AJ Styles are in the Main Event and not him.
Punk’s interplay with the fans throughout the match was priceless as he is such a great heel. I was shocked to see Walker do a 360 bump off a clothesline, as it’s one thing for Slim J to take that bump, but something altogether for a guy Walker’s size to do it. Joshua Masters came down to ringside and ended up being involved in the finish, as Walker suplexed Punk into the ring from the ring apron, but Masters grabbed Walker’s leg allowing Punk to counter the move into a pin. Good match from the two. On the way to the back, Punk shot another promo, and said that he was mad at Vordell and only felt sorry for him. Punk introduced Joshua Masters as the first soldier of Punk’s “New Dawn.”
(5) Rainman beat “The Role Model” Jason Cross. (11:15) These two guys are from NWA WildSide. Cross got a small push on TNA a while back, but just disappeared. I’ve seen Rainman on some ROH DVDs and always liked what I saw. He has an interesting gimmick where he wears sort of like a football jersey to the ring, and it’s a cool look. The announcers brought up ECW comparisons in this match, but if I were them I would wait for FIP to get some buzz before doing that again. Kahagas is no RVD and Vordell Walker is no Sabu, let’s get real. After a year of FIP doing some real outside the box booking and
producing several breakout stars, then we can make some ECW
Rainman hit a really good sit-out powerslam followed by Cross getting the advantage and applying several nice stretches. Cross then hit a great looking kick to Rainman’s face, followed by a standing shooting star press straight out of the Amazing Red’s book. That looked great. Cross was on offense for a large part of the match until Rainman had a flurry of offense that included a nice little move, in which Rainman grabbed Cross’ head while he leapfrogged him and drove Cross to the mat. I’ve never seen that before. Cross came back with a brainbuster and a spinning neckbreaker off the top rope. Rainman kicked out at two and immediately hit the Sidesplitter (Blue Thunder Driver) for the pin.
(6) Austin Aries beat Roderick Strong. (16:58) Current ROH champion Aries hot a promo before the match saying he was extremely disappointed that so few people came out to see his Florida debut. Aries said that other famous wrestlers like the Briscoe Brothers or the Funks were good, but he is a wrestling machine. Aries said he is going to make Roderick Strong tap out like a little girl and get one step closer to the FIP championship. Just as a reminder, this show was taped before Aries won the ROH championship. Strong came out and cut a promo saying he will show Aries how good home grown Florida talent can be.
Nulty said it would be a good time to explain to the fans what the rules of the first round were. I would have thought a good time would have been before the first match, but what do I know? Fast paced action throughout the match and the guys were clicking on all cylinders. I loved one stretch in which Strong had Aries’ head in a leg scissors, and every time Aries would try to kick out of it, Strong would grab him and hit a mini-piledriver. Really, it has to be seen to be believed. Aries finally did kick out, but in one motion, hitting Strong with a dropkick straight to the face. Excellent sequence. I was surprised from the lack of chops thrown by Strong, as it is usually a trademark of his, but I don’t think I saw a single one in the entire match. Strong did have a nice series of backbreakers though. Aries worked on Strong’s lower back the entire match and at one point hit a flying headbutt to Strong’s back that looked nice. Aries put Strong in a fishhook stretch for the tap out win. Pike speculated that Aries’ taped finger, the one he stuck in Strong’s mouth in the fishhook, was illegal. Great match from two of the guys in my favorite wrestling stable, Generation Next.
(7) Justin Credible beat "Roughhouse" Ralph Mosca. (3:35) Mosca looked like half of the indie wrestlers who should be nowhere near a ring. Credible came out and shot a quick promo asking if everyone was ready to get extreme. I was more ready to get this one over with. The match went outside the ring early and the two even fought up onto the bleachers. Nulty said the wrestlers were doing as much damage as a hurricane, because, if you remember when this was being taped, Florida was in the midst of being attacked by hurricanes. Pike said “Florida will never be the same.” Please. It’s one thing to talk up a match, but this was hardly Terry Funk vs. Mick Foley. Back in the ring Mosca came off the top rope with an axe-handle, but jumped right into a super kick and a quick pin by Credible. Short match. I loved hearing some kid yell, “THAT WAS AWESOME!!!” right after the match. It reminded me of that little kid in The Incredibles who caught Mr. Incredible lifting the family’s car.
(8) “The Notorious 187” Homicide beat A.J. Styles via DQ. (18:05) I love Homicide’s theme that starts off with that siren from the Kill Bill movies. Both guys shot quick promos that said absolutely nothing. They should have just gone straight to the ring. Early in the match Styles grabbed Homicide’s skull cap and put it on while imitating a “thug.” That was priceless. Good action early but a step below Strong and Aries two matches before. Styles hit a fantastic looking flying body press off the top rope, and the hand camera was in perfect position to catch it. Styles then hit his picture perfect dropkick. Homicide took the match outside and teased throwing Styles into the fans but, instead threw Styles back into the ring and flipped off the fans. Now that’s a heel. Homicide then mocked the ref counting Homicide out of the ring by visually counting with him to ten. Homicide had control for a majority of the match but Styles got his chance once Homicide missed a flying headbutt. Styles hit some solid looking moves including what can best be called a tilt-a-while backbreaker. Styles went for a Styles Clash, but Homicide worked his way out of it and instead hit Styles with a piledriver. After a ref bump, CM Punk and Joshua Masters came to ringside. Punk went into the ring and hit both Styles and Homicide with a steel chair. Punk went to hit Homicide again, but Styles grabbed the chair and Punk bailed out of the ring. The ref woke up to see Styles holding the chair and DQ’ed him.
***After the match Homicide hit a f---ing AWESOME Tope Con Hilo on Masters and Punk outside the ring and brought Masters back into the ring so AJ could nail a Styles Clash. Styles shot a promo in the ring to close the show and said he wasn’t happy with losing, but that he hoped Homicide wins because, “I got a belt to win from you.”
End of Disc 1
(9) Homicide beat Joshua Masters (w/CM Punk). (1:25) Masters came out with CM Punk and they were identified as The New Dawn. Punk said that all the freaks, geeks and losers have a place to hang their hat. Besides Internet message boards, of course. Punk said Masters was the first to follow in his footsteps but more were going to follow. Punk told Masters to injure Homicide so that Punk could take the FIP belt home for the New Dawn. Homicide won early after an Ace Crusher from the top rope, followed by a stiff lariat. After the match Punk came into the ring and went at with Homicide, but quickly bailed out once Homicide got the advantage.
(10) Rainman beat Kahagas. (4:15) Rainman shot a quick promo before the match telling Kahagas, “it’s nothing personal dawg, but you’re looking at the next FIP champion.” Rainman hit a sit-out powerbomb and followed almost immediately with the Sidesplittler for the win. Nothing horrible, but certainly nothing worth going out of your way to see. I think guys like this, both of whom are almost at the edge of being looked at as bigger stars, need to have show stealing matches in every match they are in (like Homicide, Paul London and AJ Styles were doing a couple years ago) and this certainly wasn’t one.
(11) Austin Aries beat Jerrelle Clark. (7:55) Aries told the fans he didn’t want their claps and told them to sit down. Aries said they were dumb, just like their Florida governor and his brother (the President George W. Bush). OH! Aries said he is going to destroy another Floridiot (my term, not his) in Jerrelle Clack. Lenny Leonard brought up Aries’ taped finger and said that had something to do with Roderick Strong tapping out the night before. Aries said the taped finger was none of Leonard’s business, “but if you must know, I had a hangnail last week and I taped it up for protection.” Classic. Jerrelle was introduced as “Mr. 630” again and I’m going to scream if I don’t see a 630 in this match. Jerrelle, from Orlando, got a decent reaction from the crowd. Clark dropkicked Aries outside the floor and came flying out with an Asai Moonsault as Aries’ yelled “Oh shit!” Back in the ring Aries looked great in this match and hit a nice looking stiff kick to the back of Clark’s head. Clark had a nice offensive flurry late in the match that came to an end after Aries rolled out of the way of an attempted 630. Aries then hit Clark with a delayed brainbuster followed by his fishhook stretch for the tap out win. I liked the match, but wasn’t really feeling it with Clark until the last couple minutes. With seasoning I think Clark could be fun to watch.
(12) C.M. Punk beat Justin Credible. (10:51) Punk had some great interplay with what looked like an eight year old ringside fan before the match. Punk plays a total chickenshit heel in FIP and does a great job. Early in the match Punk grabbed the ref to use as a shield and bailed to the outside to run away from Credible. Another kid in the front row was pretty visible all night with his own wrestling belt and it just struck me that I don’t see that type of thing from any other type of fan outside of wrestling. I’ve been to plenty of baseball games, but I’ve never seen them bring their own World Series Trophy. They dress up at concerts, much like wrestling fans, but they don’t bring their own gold records. Anyway, lots of headlocks from Credible which made me want to call the match “plodding” even thought I’m not quite sure what that word means. Punk faked a knee injury and immediately chop blocked Credible as soon as Justin turned his back. Punk then continued to work on Credible’s leg and even slapped on the Figure Four. WHHHOOOOOO! The finish came when Credible went for a That’s Incredible piledriver, but his leg couldn’t support the weight so they collapsed down and Punk quickly rolled up Credible and grabbed the ropes for the pin.
(13) Homicide beat Austin Aries in a semi-final match. (15:30) Believe it or not this is the first time these two guys have ever wrestled each other in a singles match. Homicide had the early control but Aries came back with a Divorce Court followed by some stiff kicks to Homicide’s arm. Aries hit a nice looking superplex and followed with a series a pinning combinations that Homicide found out of. Homicide made his come back and went for the Cop Killah, but Aries slipped out of that only to be finished off with two straight clotheslines. Nice match. Looks like Aries should have been doing all those Divorce Courts and other arm based moves on that arm that Homicide uses to lariat people instead of the other one. Homicide was still selling pain in the other match, so I assume that is going to be used as a factor in the title match.
(14) C.M. Punk beat Rainman in a semi-final match. (13:35) Punk called Lenny Leonard, “my big, fat, human microphone” before the match and tore on the fans for supporting thugs like Homicide. Punk explained Joshua Masters disappearance by saying he was at the hospital. I need to find out more about Rainman because I’m wondering why he is billed from “Dark City.” Is that referring to the movie? Does the number 28 on his jersey have some sort of significance? Punk spent a good part of the match taunting the crowd, including a little girl, which I found to be hilarious. After Punk bailed to the outside once again, Rainman followed with a baseball slide to Punk’s back and threw Punk back into the ring. Punk bailed outside and Rainman followed, throwing a chop to Punk’s chest and then putting Punk back into the ring again. Rainman then began to work on CM Punk’s arm, which was fantastic when added with Punk constantly saying, “ow, ow,ow..OW!” The finish came after Punk hit a low blow and then pinned Rainman with his feet on the ropes. Fun match.
***After the match Punk shot a promo in the ring and said he will show what type of man he is, along with avenging Joshua Masters, by challenging Homicide to come out immediately for their match. Homicide came out and the two men went at it, but out came Joshua Masters to make it a two-on-one situation. Rainman came back for the save.
(15) Roderick Strong beat Vordell Walker and Slim J and Jason Cross in a Four Way Fray elimination match. (7:31) The rules of the match are that all four men are in the ring at once and you can get eliminated by pinfall or submission. The winner is whoever survives. Slim J impressed me by throwing a series of haymaker punches at Walker, which were completely no sold. This was straight out of a cartoon and damn funny. Unfortunately Slim J was eliminated moments later when Jason Cross came off the top rope with a Buff Blockbuster-type move. Matt Pike said he didn’t think we’ll see Slim J back in FIP. Damn it!! Walker and Strong broke up each other’s attempts on Jason Cross and Nulty thankfully explained how stupid that is during an elimination match. This led to a CHOP BATTLE between Strong and Walker. I love those. The match went outside the ring for a moment as both Walker and Cross came flying over the top rope with topes. Back inside the ring Cross pinned Walker in a roll up after Strong kicked Walker right in the face. Cross and Strong then went at it with Cross hitting Strong with a brainbuster. Cross went to the top rope but was caught and hit with a top rope backbreaker and pinned shortly thereafter. Not a horrible match by any stretch but could have been much better. The fact that everyone has to get pinned in a short period of time reminds me of the WWE constantly burying their cruiserweights in elimination style matches.
(16) Homicide beat CM Punk to win the FIP Heavyweight title. (13:35) Punk went to the ring first and when Homicide came out, he was jumped from behind by Joshua Masters. Homicide was held in a full nelson by Masters outside the ring, but squirmed out when Punk came diving out with a tope, so Punk nailed Masters. Homicide then came flying out with a TOPE CON HILO. God damn I love that move! Punk and Homicide then fought into the bleachers and all the way outside the arena! This was completely insane as Punk battled Homicide on the grass, and both were slamming each other into lamp posts and onto the ground. The two eventually fought back into the building and it was one of the highlights of the DVD to see FIP booker Gabe Sapolsky follow the guys around and hide behind things, trying to be inconspicuous. Seriously, this was great, as you get to see Gabe’s head poking out here and there, like some sort of wrestling version of Where’s Waldo. Oh man, Homicide dragged Punk into the men’s bathroom and rubbed Punk’s face into a urinal. Okay, that’s completely disgusting. Great. Funny. Innovative. But still disgusting.
Eventually the match made it back to the ring, ten minutes into the match. The match “officially” started at this point, but, c’mon. Punk hit a Shining Wizard for a two count right away. Punk then hit a legdrop off the top rope for a two count. Homicide hit his own piledriver for a two count of his own. Homicide nailed a top rope Ace Crusher followed by a stiff lariat but Josh Masters pulled the referee out of the ring. Soon after Homicide hit another lariat for the pin. Homicide was then awarded the FIP title in the ring. In a great spot, all the wrestlers came out from the back to congratulate Homicide. This had added hilarity of Lenny Leonard trying to get the sound guy to cut Homicide’s music. I haven’t had this much fun watching someone try unsuccessfully to get people’s attention since Tom Pritchard was pulling his hair out trying to get Marty Janetty and Gary Royal to “go home” at
WrestleReunion’s wrestling event. Homicide shot a promo putting over the belt and saying he would be a fighting champion. Homicide then left the ring, and the camera followed him around signing autographs for the fans ringside, the best being as a man held his son - wearing a Masked Superstar-like mask - and Homicide signed the kid’s head.
End of Disc 2
Overall Thoughts: I enjoyed FIP’s first show, but that was helped out a lot by the fact that the ROH talent involved (Homicide, CM Punk, Austin Aries and Roderick Strong) really came through. I liked what I saw in the Florida based Jerrelle Clark, Vordelle Walker and Rainman, but they need the bigger stars to help them out. FIP did almost all of “the little things” right, including the throwback interviews and sharp production values. I’m looking forward to seeing how FIP develops over the next few months and years after a great start like this. Click Here to purchase the disc or head on over to
ROHwrestling.com and check out all the other shows they have to offer. And if you live in the Central or Southern part of Florida, do yourself a favor and check out a live FIP event. Click on
FIP’s website for more details.
Special thanks to Torch Japan’s Keith Lipinski and SmackDown guru Mike Roe for their help with this review.
Copyright © 2005 Derek Burgan. All rights reserved.