Big Van Vader & Mike Awesome vs. Samoa Joe & Dan Maff
5 June, 2004
Rahway Recreation Center; Rahway, NJ
This was a pretty damn odd match.
At this time, Samoa Joe was at the height of his super-indy heyday,as he was the Ring of Honor Heavyweight Champion at this time. Maff was probably at his peak too, as the Jersey All-Pro Heavyweight Champion. Vader was essentially retired at this point, no longer working full time in Japan for NOAH. Mike Awesome was still popping up on the independent circuit, but was not working for a major US or Japanese company.
Based on my experiences in the pro wrestling business, here is my best guess as to what happened here - Vader and Awesome were both pretty expensive guys to bring in, but would draw a pretty good house for JAPW. Joe and Maff were actually feuding in JAPW, but they were the two biggest guys on the roster and the only ones who would make sense to put in with the names. Oh, but Joe is the ROH champion, and Maff is this promotions heavyweight champion, so neither one of them can really lose... and Maff just beat Awesome at the last event, so he cannot lose... and Vader isn't jobbing (the match was originally announced as Maff vs. Vader for the JAPW title, but was changed. I wonder why?).
Thus, you have the typical ending in this type of match - one local screws the other local, so that the names get to go over, and you have an issue for the two locals next time around. The only issue with that here is that Jersey All-Pro is a promotion that appeals a lot to the "smart fan", so they are going to be upset that their "super indy" stars lose. This is why booking names can often suck.
As far as the in ring work, Vader was waaaaay out of shape, but to be fair to him, he didn't go out there and get blown up either. He seemed to be working pretty hard, but he didn't go out there and kill himself either. Awesome, on the other hand, didn't seem like he wanted to be there at all. He was covering up for chops from Maff - and to Maff's credit he kept chopping away, even nailing Awesome with a back chop. Awesome did take a manly German Suplex thru the table though; which he went thru head first.
When Vader & Awesome were trying to work a heat on Joe on the outside, things were kinda weird. Vader & Awesome got chairs and somewhat looked like they were going to rough Joe up, but Joe seemed to handle it with a "Nah, fuck that shit" attitude and didn't just let the two bigger names waffle him with chairs.
All-in-all, this wasn't a bad match at all from a certain point of view - if you were a fan who wanted to see these guys in "dream matches" with the other guys, then you got to see a bit of it, and probably left the building thinking it was cool to see Vader or Awesome in person. If you came to see a match similar to what Joe would have with Kobashi in 2005, then you probably left disappointed. Either way, I do not think the match holds up well on video - which JAPW probably made a fair dollar on with the smart mark set who wanted to see this match.