ROH 64 – Manhattan Mayhem – 7th May 2005
I shouldn’t really need to hype this show. To put it short, anyone that’s seen it loves it. It’s gotten rave reviews all over the net from any source you care to mention. Talk to people, they’ll tell you that this is the best show ROH have ever done. It’s gotten so much praise that perhaps getting ready to watch it now I’m expecting too much, but whatever. The card is absolutely jam-packed…even for ROH, this is STACKED. One of the biggest grudge matches for the ROH Title ever as champion Austin Aries defends against the man he booted out of Generation Next, Alex Shelley. Samoa Joe’s mission to be triple crown champion continues as he takes on his protégé Jay Lethal for the Pure Title. The Cabana/McGuiness rematch, the Gibson/Romero rematch (sort of), CM Punk and Jimmy Rave continue their war in a Dog Collar Match. Strong and Evans get another Tag Title shot…and it’s the return of Low Ki as the Rottweilers aim to rule the roost on their NYC turf. That’s the line-up in brief, and it does look good. For the first time since Empire State Showdown ROH is in New York state, and for the first time in over two years ROH is in New York City, at the New Yorker Hotel, right new Madison Square Garden. Your hosts are Dave Prazak (who has made a fine addition to the commentary roster) and Jimmy Bower.
GOOD TIMES, GREAT MEMORIES – Live on location in the shadow of MSG on the streets of New York. Cabana dedicates the episode to Nigel McGuiness as he harasses people on the street asking their opinions on his British opponent.
Samoa Joe and Jay Lethal meet in the ring sometime before the show. Lethal acts humble, and that pisses Joe off because tonight he’ll need to do whatever it takes to stop a Pure Title change. Lethal pins Joe in the corner and tells him not to underestimate him. Oh it’s ON!
Dunn & Marcos are all set to take part in a triple threat tag match but the Carnage Crew announce their return to ROH by jumping them from behind. The RCE take an absolute pasting, ending with Dunn taking a piledriver through a table. Loc and DeVito got SO fat during their hiatus it seems.
Lacey’s Angels vs Dixie/Azrieal
The losing team in this one has to split up, so at least the stakes are higher for the umpteenth Special K tag match. In fairness, they’ve all been fairly decent (especially Back To Basics), and a showcase of exactly how much Izzy, Deranged, Dixie and Azrieal have come since 2002 when the Special K deal started, but where do these guys go from here? Anyway, Dixie and Az won the Back To Basics match, and the rights to the Special K name, but the Angels (Cheech and Deranged) got a win back at Stalemate. They’ve also clashed in a Scramble match at Best of American Super Juniors, and all four of these were in the Six Man Mayhem at the Trios Tournament show (where Azrieal scored the win). I’m guessing you can consider this the climax to the feud. It’s Izzy and Deranged representing the Angel’s tonight by the way, although Lacey is absent, apparently she has a meeting with P. Diddy!
Deranged and Azrieal start, and it’s Deranged at his cocky best early with a swift slap in the corner. Az responds with a slap of his own and that ends the stalling. Dixie gets tagged with Izzy and he scores with a hurricanrana and a neckbreaker for 2. Azrieal returns in a back suplex/leg drop combo for another nearfall. The punishment to Izzy continues with a spinning back suplex and a tilta-whirl backbreaker, as now Deranged has to come in to break the pin attempts. Az goes for a submission with an octopus stretch, but Izzy counters out with a death valley driver. Deranged and Izzy with a double brainbuster on Azrieal. DOOMSDAY SPRINGBOARD ACE CRUSHER for 2 (that was a really neat spot). Azrieal blocks the running knee in the corner and goes for a top rope rana but Deranged goes behind the referee’s back with a low blow. Az retaliates by crotching Deranged, then pulling him off the top with a superplex. Hot tag to Dixie, and he dumps Deranged right on his head with a snap German suplex. Attempted camel clutch/double stomp combo from the babyfaces on Deranged, but Izzy pulls Dixie right into the path of Azrieal’s boots. Electric chair facebuster and a double stomp to the back from Az to Izzy, before he starts kicking lumps out of Deranged for extra fun. INVERTED HEADSCISSORS PILEDRIVER on Azrieal, and just like that it’s their time splitting up. Lacey’s Angels take the win at 10:17.
Rating – ** – I wish I could combine elements from all three of these tag matches to make a really good match. The Back To Basics was well-worked formula stuff, with sound execution, but just lacked a little excitement and pace. At Stalemate the introduction of the Cheech and Deranged team brought some fantastic and highly enjoyable heel stuff, whilst this match was the spottiest of the three, but at the same time crammed a lot more excitement into the 10 minutes. I’d say it was better than Stalemate, but it the shorter time allocation meant that rather than going down the solid tag match route, the four men involved broke out the crazy spots and head-droppery for this, but the finish felt so sudden and a little silly considering Deranged went from getting hammered to winning. Nevertheless, it’s a good opener, and another example of how much these four are improving. It’s a shame they never got the chance to put on one really blockbuster match by being allowed to go 15+ minutes.
Nigel McGuiness vs Colt Cabana
This is a rematch from the Dayton instalment of the Third Anniversary Celebrations, where these two put together an unexpected little midcard cracker against each other, with their European-style wrestling and comedic exchanges. But things are a little more intense this time round. They tried to be a tag team after the Dayton match, and earned a title shot by beating then-champions Dan Maff and BJ Whitmer in a non-title match. They came up short in the title shot, with McGuiness blaming Colt for the loss (Cabana had wrestled Delirious earlier in the evening and been caught up in doing his talk show too). At Stalemate Cabana was pissed at Nigel for not breaking Samoa Joe’s choke which eliminated him from the Double Stakes match for future Pure and World Title shots, but he did get the win in the first match between these two. Both men are out for revenge then…
McGuiness is all business, and tries to out-wrestle Cabana from the outset with wristlocks. They trade counters around a series of wristlocks, with Colt eventually coming out on top and trying in vain to pin Nigel. Colt “accidentally” treads on McGuiness’ hand and that pisses him off somewhat. Once more neither man can keep his opponents shoulders down for a three. Cabana crawls away from pin attempts just as he did at 3YA Part 2. Nigel tries to put a stop to that by treading on Colt’s legs, but that just ends up with him getting dumped on his back. McGuiness goes for his Artful Dodger stuff, but Cabana crawls away once more after all that as the one-upmanship continues. Nigel threatens to low blow Cabana and takes a headscissors as he plays to the fans. They fly through another series of nearfalls, with McGuiness bridging out of the final pin attempt, then rolling out and away. He goes for another folding pin, and this time Cabana crawls away with him on his back. Wristlock takedown from McGuiness as he gets more intense again, and he follows it with the hammerlock DDT. He comes up with a nice cradling hammerlock hold to continue the attack on the arm. Colt comes back with a series of pinning combinations. He tries to go through McGuiness’ legs and takes a kick square in the face. McGuiness rolls out of the corner and they mess something up. Re-running the spot, McGuiness rolls forward and accidentally low blows Cabana. One victory roll later and he is your winner at 11:52. Colt isn’t all that happy about the way Nigel won…
Rating – *** – It’s somewhat disappointing they messed up the finish, because up to that point this was really good. The psychology of it was excellent (given the circumstances of their issue/feud up to this point) – McGuiness trying to be serious and out-wrestle Cabana, whilst Colt was his usual jovial comedic self, whilst still managing to hang with Nigel on the mat. McGuiness’ mannerisms sold it perfectly, exemplifying his frustration and puzzlement – ‘how is this guy beating me’. Just like in Dayton, as the match went on it got more intense, with Nigel in particular growing increasingly angry. The low blow finish is a good indication that there’s more to come, which can only be a good thing. The in-ring chemistry these two have is great, and this feud is doing more to get McGuiness over than anything else he’s done in his ROH career.
SIDENOTE – I thought I’d throw in a quick sidenote here to further put over Nigel McGuiness. He’s on wonderful form at the moment in an ROH ring. It’s obvious he’s got talent, but in the last eight months he’s really started establishing himself. Great matches with John Walters, Homicide, and a tag match with Walters against Samoa Joe and Jay Lethal at the tail-end of 2004 helped him along. He kicked off 2005 with a good match against Samoa Joe, and now has this interesting issue with Colt Cabana, as well as what could well be my current 2005 MOTY, the Joe/Danielson/Walker vs Spanky/Gibson/Nigel match from the Trios Tournament. He’s one of my favourite talents in the company at present, and I wanted to pause to give him some credit – he deserves it.
Alex Shelley is sitting in a corridor somewhere, since everyone hates him so much in the ROH locker room that he can’t change there. In a Raven-esque style promo he runs through his history in ROH – leading us all the way to tonight. That really set the scene for the main event tonight…good stuff from someone that can always be relied on to deliver on the mic.
Black Tiger IV vs James Gibson
Gibson is hot right now. He’s still undefeated in singles competition, and took ROH Champion Austin Aries to a double pin draw on the last show. He needs to keep the momentum going in this, with a big win over NJPW’s Black Tiger. He’ll be especially desperate to win since he was one of those guys that was pissed off at the farce of the Best of American Super Juniors Tournament, upset that Dragon Soldier B got all the way to the final despite sucking. A win here would definitely be getting back at NJPW, ahead of Black Tiger’s upcoming match with Tiger Mask IV for the IWGP Jr. Heavyweight title. And since BT is Rocky Romero, this is also a rematch from Back To Basics, when Gibson and Romero almost stole the show in a really really decent wrestling match.
Gibson controls the early chaining, until Tiger frees himself with a snapmare. Gibson floors Tiger with a running forearm and goes to work, but can’t keep his shoulders down for a pin. Lucha springboard armdrag and a series of headscissors from Romero. He goes for a baseball slide but Gibson blocks and rams him chest first into the apron. SPEAR into the guardrail! Jamie continues to pressure any back injury Tiger sustained with a back suplex and a camel clutch. Tiger comes back with a couple of crossbody blocks and fires off a springboard dropkick. He works the neck with kravattes, and ramming the head into the ringpost. To the floor and Gibson gets sent head and neck first into the barriers. Tiger misses a top rope elbow drop, and Gibson goes right after the arm…but that just gives Romero an opportunity to apply his cross armbreaker. GIBSON COUNTERS to a Texas cloverleaf! Backbreaker from Gibson, then the guillotine leg drop for 2. Tiger avoids a tilta-whirl and goes for a Tombstone. Gibson counters that but Romero sends him head-first into the buckles. Swinging neckbreaker from Gibson and the pace is just frantic right now. TIGER SUPLEX ON GIBSON…FOR 2! He follows that with a fisherman suplex, into an anklelock but Gibson finds the ropes. Tiger drags him back into the middle and applies the holds again. Gibson rolls free and into a pin attempt for 2. Tiger gets placed on the top rope, but even from there he grabs Jamie’s boot for another anklelock. He looks for another crossbody but this time Gibson counters with a gutbuster. Northern lights from Tiger…ROLLED INTO THE TRAILER HITCH FROM GIBSON! Tiger has to quit at 15:58.
Rating – **** – Does James Gibson ever have an off night? In the WWE you could tell he was good, but I don’t think anyone had him pegged to do quite this well in ROH. He damn near steals the show every time he wrestles. I probably preferred this slightly more than Gibson/Romero from Back To Basics, if only because as BT, Romero’s lucha moveset and Tiger Suplex finisher make him that little bit more exciting to watch. I liked the way he attacked the neck to set up the suplex, and when it failed, he immediately tore into Gibson’s ankle, looking for a new route to victory. Gibson goes on to get his ROH Title rematch next show.
BJ Whitmer/Jimmy Jacobs vs Generation Next – ROH Tag Title Match
This is Whitmer and Jacobs’ first defence of the belts they won by defeating Samoa Joe and Jay Lethal in Asbury Park. Meanwhile GeNext (Strong and Evans) are generally heralded as the best team in the promotion at the moment, and always tipped for Tag gold. They won a Scramble Match on the same show to make themselves #1 contenders. Both teams have a similar dynamic – big guy/little guy – so it should be interesting to see how they play off each other. This is the debut of the new title belts, and they’re pretty nice, if a little similar to the other two belts (World and Pure).
Strong and Jacobs start, and naturally it’s almost all Rod with his power advantage. Jimmy comes up with a couple of unique ways to apply a headlock to negate that advantage. Evans and Whitmer in, and Jack decides to breakdance. Whitmer responds with…THE B*TCHSLAP DANCE! Strong invades to trade chops with BJ but he runs away as well. Whitmer leapfrogs Jacobs INTO A PLANCHA ON GENEXT! Jacobs brings Evans back in and Whitmer powerbombs Jimmy into a senton splash. Head drop German suplex on Jack. Strong blind tags in but walks right into an exploder suplex. Strong props Jacobs up in the corner…AND POWERBOMBS EVANS INTO A MOONSAULT DOUBLE STOMP TO THE BACK! DANGEROOOUUUS! Standing corkscrew shooting star press from Evans for 2. Strong suplexes him into a 360 splash for another nearfall. Jacobs tries to fight for a tag but he gets planted in an Alabamaslam from Roderick. Evans with a falcon arrow and BJ has to break the pin this time. Jacobs HUSSes up and eats a BIG BOOT from Strong! Ouch man! GeNext look for a Doomsday crossbody…but Jacobs counters with a reverse hurricanrana on Strong. Whitmer tagged – BRAINBUSTAAAA for Evans. CRADLE BACKBREAKER FROM STRONG! Backbreaker/moonsault double stomp combo on Whitmer. Jacobs goes for the Contra Code on Roderick but it’s blocked and he spears Evans instead. DOOMSDAY RANA ON JACK EVANS ONLY FOR 2! Strong blasts BJ with the half nelson backbreaker and everyone is down! SKIPPING A GENERATION TWISTING SENTON ON JACOBS…BUT HE KICKS OUT! Evans and Whitmer fight on the top rope, and it’s a TOP ROPE SUPER HURRICANRANA for Whitmer! Strong gives him the double knee gutbuster, but BJ comes right back with a LARIATOOOOO! POWERBOMB/CONTRA CODE COMBO on Evans! The champs finally retain at 14:46.
Rating – **** – So that was pretty nuts right there. It was as good a spotfest as ROH has ever done, and I’m still breathless from some of those exchanges. Great double teams from both sides, some fantastic high-flying, brutal hard-hitting stuff from Whitmer and Strong, and when it all came down to it, the crowd was electric for the near-falls at the end. That was certainly the best Tag Title match since the Briscoes/Saints series.
Jay Lethal vs Samoa Joe – ROH Pure Title Match
So it’s teacher meets student for the Pure Title here. In a twist on the usual story in pro-wrestling, here it’ll be the student with what the teacher wants, so it’ll be interesting to see how this plays out. Joe, already the most dominating World Champion ever wants to be the first man to hold all three belts, despite the fact he spent most of 2004 dismissing the Pure Title as meaningless. Lethal, meanwhile, has climbed the ladder over the last year, and is a legitimate star on the roster. He already has MOTYC under his belt (the Tag main event from Back To Basics), and at Stalemate put on the best Pure Title match for a while with Spanky.
Joe absolutely flies out of the blocks, kicking and kneeing Lethal in the corner…but he eats a slap in response from Jay! They take it to the mat, where Joe looks to use his power, but Lethal is surprisingly able to hang with him. They tangle in the ropes, but Joe doesn’t give Lethal a clean break, forearming him in the face. The champ responds with a dropkick and a neckbreaker, then applies his inverted surfboard, and Joe has to use his first ropebreak to escape. Lethal goes for a springboard crossbody, but Joe steps out of the way. He uses his chop/jab striking combo, and that gets him a warning for closed-fist use. Cobra clutch crossface from Lethal which has Joe scrambling to use his second ropebreak. Lethal tries to charge Joe in the corner, but of course, you gotta beware the STO SLAM! The chop/kick/knee drop flurry from Joe gets a 2 count. Jay has enough in him to trade strikes with the big man, and Joe eventually uses another closed fist…he has no ropebreaks left! Powerbomb from Joe, into a Boston crab, then an STF, which immediately gets a ropebreak back, so Lethal is up 3-1 in breaks. Running knee strike in the corner on Lethal, then bootscrapes. Lethal blocks the running facewash and hits the ropes for a big charging dropkick.
Lethal somehow gets Joe up for a running suplex…DIVING HEADBUTT SCORES! Jay gets kicked off the apron after using a closed fist (there was a warning there I think). Joe gets a run-up…ELBOW SUICIDAAAAA! Back on the apron Lethal tries to chop Joe so the challenger fires back with slaps. SLEEPER IN THE ROPES FROM LETHAL! Joe has no breaks left…SO HE DIVES BACKWARDS AND THEY BOTH GO THROUGH THE TIMEKEEPERS TABLE! That was absolutely insane, and Joe seems to have injured himself doing it. Back in the ring they start chopping lumps out of each other, until Jay runs right into the powerslam. Cross armbreaker applied, and Lethal has to take his second ropebreak. Neckbreaker from Lethal, followed by the jumping DDT for 2. Joe blocks a clothesline attempt but misses a lariat of his own. DRAGON SUPLEX FROM LETHAL…BUT JOE KICKS OUT AT 2! Jay looks for the dragon again, but Joe escapes. CHIMERA SUPLEX COMBO! JOE WINS!! THE CHAMP IS HERE! 16:35 was your matchtime.
Rating – ****1/2 – No doubt, that was the best Pure Title match ever. Such a brilliant story, as Lethal dominated Joe early due to the former World Champion’s complete inability to adapt to the Pure Wrestling rules. But Joe weathered the storm, and as soon as he countered Lethal’s ultimate weapon – the submission in the ropes – with that horrifying table bump, it seemed inevitable that Joe would win. But even then it was never a formality. The closing sequence from the Dragon suplex into the Chimera combo was just an amazing finish to a match, and enough to earn it an extra half star. Definite MOTYC here, and worth the DVD by itself. I’d actually like to see a rematch where these two go another five minutes, because they definitely have an even better match in them.
It’s an amazing sight in the New Yorker Hotel as everyone parties to ‘The Champ Is Here’ for Joe. But as he shakes hands with his protégé…ROTTWEILLAAAAAAZ! Homicide, Low Ki, Rocky Romero and Julius Smokes have arrived on their turf, and I have chills. Joe and Lethal are still in the ring, and they get blindsided by Monsta Mack (yeah, the guy that used to be in Da Hit Squad), and what ensues is a Rottweilers beatdown. Ki takes the mic and is as over huge. He confesses to attacking Lethal at the Trios Tournament in Philadelphia and gives him a good slapping for good measure. I guess that counts as some Manhattan Mayhem!
INTERMISSION – GMC is with Nigel McGuiness, and he doesn’t seem too sorry for the finish to his match with Cabana. He says the low blow was unintentional, but says if Colt has a problem, he’ll find him later tonight.
SPANKY UPDATE – Clips of Spanky vs Rod Strong in FIP. He’ll be in Japan for a few shows, but when he comes back he wants championship gold around his waist. He’s having a good 2005 thus far…
The Embassy are at near-full strength tonight, with only Fast Eddie missing – Diablo Santiago has returned from injury. Nana is particularly harsh to poor Jade Chung. Anyway, Jimmy Rave apparently is sick, so he leaves and it seems like Punk will be wrestling Mike Kruel, just like at Stalemate.
Jimmy Rave vs CM Punk – Dog Collar Match
Punk is absolutely desperate to get his hands on Jimmy Rave. This feud has been raging since the Third Anniversary week and got even more heated at Stalemate when Rave used a chain to try to hang Punk over the top rope. That leads us to a Dog Collar Match tonight, ahead of next weekend in Chicago when Punk and Rave clash one last time in a Steel Cage.
Punk wears a Chris Candido shirt to the ring which is touching. Jimmy runs out from the back to jump his opponent from behind, and we are getting the Dog Collar Match as advertised. Punk comes back with right hands on Rave, and hammers him in the gut with the chain. He chokes Jimmy in the corner and hangs him in a tree of woe. Punk scores with a couple of knees to the exposed midsection then goes for a chair. Rave uses the chain to drag Punk face-first into the chair and ringpost. That busts the Punker open and Rave takes over on the floor. Punk is absolutely pissing blood all over the nice carpet of the hotel it seems. Back in the ring Jimmy rakes at the laceration with the chain because he isn’t bleeding enough already. CURB STOMP ACROSS THE CHAIN! Rave is turning it ON tonight! He goes for the Rave Clash but Punk climbs the ropes and kicks himself free. He scores with the Shining Wizard and both men are down. Punk is up first with an offensive flurry, culminating in a super kick for 2. Rave escapes a powerbomb attempt and applies the Satellite Crossface with the chain in the mouth. Punk blocks Ghanarea but Rave escapes the double underhook backbreaker. Crappy Wizard attempt from Rave, but it’s countered into a half crab. Nana distracts Punk which allows Jimmy to low blow him with the chain and hit the CRAPPY WIZARD for 2! He sets up for a Pepsi Plunge but Punk escapes and back drops Jimmy off the top. Punk with a series of powerbombs onto the chain, into the Anaconda Vice. The Outcast Killaz and Mike Kruel get involved to break that. Fast Eddie appears as Punk hits the Pepsi Twist. He tries a moonsault to break the pin but Punk moves and he nails Rave with it. Tornado DDT on Kruel, but now Prince Nana distracts Punk. Jade Chung tries her luck but gets slammed for her trouble. CHAIR SHOT MASSACRE FROM RAVE! Punk is absolutely DEAD at 13:37.
Rating – *** – The match itself was entertaining, but it’s more significant because it marks another huge development in the evolution of Jimmy Rave into one of ROH’s top heels. After the Third Anniversary week he was over as a heel, following his good performances against AJ Styles and CM Punk. This match proved that, when push comes to shove he can hang with Punk in a straight-up fight. This is hugely necessary going into a Steel Cage Match next week. Now the result isn’t so cut-and-dried. Can Jimmy Rave pull out another upset and beat Punk one more time in his hometown? This feud has been great, and as a piece of sports-entertainment, this match wasn’t too shabby either.
All The Embassy take free shots on CM Punk, who is all but unconscious. Eventually Colt Cabana, Dixie, Azrieal and James Gibson come out to make the much-needed save. ’15 Minutes Later’ Punk manages to walk to the back and cut a promo. After blinding him, taking out his girlfriend and scraping his tattoo’s with a cheese grater and hanging him, he’s tried to re-injure the skull Punk fractured a few years ago. But next week in Chicago there will be no outside interference. He vows revenge no matter what.
Austin Aries vs Alex Shelley – ROH World Title Match
This should need no introduction. It’s the man that started Generation Next, Shelley, against the man that kicked him out and took over the reigns himself, Aries. Since Final Battle 2004 when Shelley was indeed unceremoniously booted from the faction he created, he’s been a troubled man. At war with his old friends, he has been outcast by the entire ROH locker room for his evil doings whilst in GeNext, and has had to fight this uphill battle by himself. But at Stalemate, defying all the odds, Alex got himself a World Title shot by pinning Nigel McGuiness in the Double Stakes Four Corner Survival. Many say it was supposed to be him going on the meteoric rise through ROH to the belt, not Aries. Can he beat the reigning ROH Champion and prove himself the better man? Or can Austin turn away perhaps his toughest challenge to date?
The crowd is red-hot and split 50/50 as the bell rings to get this underway. Shelley makes the mistake of giving Aries a clean break early and gets slapped in the face. Aries tries to slow the pace and quell Shelley’s early rage by working headlocks, but eventually he abandons that tactic and dropkicks Alex in the face. Aries looks for a springboard reverse elbow but Shelley has it scouted and DUMPS Austin with a German suplex. Slingshot elbow drop across the chest scores a 2 on the champion. Shelley blocks Aries’ slingshot reverse elbow attempt and clotheslines him into a backbreaker. Aries outside, and Shelley goes upstairs for the CORKSCREW PLANCHA! But he comes unstuck as he tries to bring Aries back in, and takes a running guillotine over the top rope, then a neckbreaker over the middle rope. Slingshot hilo from Aries, then an elbow drop to the spine. Golden Gate Swing from Shelley for 2. Austin catches Shelley on the top…SLINGSHOT SWINGING NECKBREAKER for 2. He stays on that neck with a bridging camel clutch. Shelley looks to come back but Aries knees him right in the neck. Sidewalk slam right on the shoulders and neck, as this assault on the injury is getting brutal. He locks in a cobra clutch, and rolls right into the swinging elbow drop for still more damage.
Shelley looks for a comeback but gets jerked right back over Aries’ knee. Stunner over the top rope from Aries, followed by the corkscrew body press. Shelley gets the knees up on the Lionsault attempt but Aries is still all over him. There’s something left in the tank though, as he hits an enziguri and a clothesline. FROG SPLASH SCORES but Aries kicks out…BORDER CITY STRETCH! ARIES COUNTERS INTO THE FISHHOOK CROSSFACE! Shelley counters the shinbreaker/back suplex combo…BORDER CITY STRETCH AGAIN! Aries bites the hand to free himself. Sweet Chin Music blocked, and Aries drops Shelley on his head with a back suplex. Aries with the DROPKICK FLURRY in the corner. He mounts the ropes…450 SPLASH MISSED! Superkick from Shelley, AND SHELLSHOCK SCORES! TWO COUNT ONLY! He looks for the Border City Stretch again but this time Aries is able to escape. Aries goes for the crucifix driver…but Shelley counters with a TKO. SHELLSHOCK AGAIN…but this time Aries has the ropes. Shelley goes for a brainbuster but Aries counters. Roaring elbow from Austin…then the kick to the face. SPINNING BRAINBUSTER…450 SPLAAAAASH! Aries retains at 19:33.
Rating – **** – Fantastic main event right there, and in my opinion a culmination of what these two started a year ago at Generation Next. Back then both guys stepped up, declared themselves to be the future and wanted to be in the main event. Now a year later, they’re main eventing one of the biggest shows of the year, and damnit they delivered. Aries assault on Shelley’s neck was absolutely vicious, whilst Shelley really conveyed his hatred of Aries and GeNext well, as from the very start he went balls to the wall, dumping everything in his arsenal on the champion to try and score the win. It wasn’t flawless by any means – I certainly thought Shelley’s selling of the neck could’ve been better for instance, and they seemed to rush through a number of spots to fit everything they had planned in. However, I really hope that’s not it for the Shelley/GeNext feud, since I would love to see a rematch of this.
So Aries is still champion, but the chaos isn’t over yet. The Rottweilers are coming out here again. Low Ki gets in Aries’ face. They clashed the previous morning during ROH’s appearance on local New York TV and you can feel the heat…but Samoa Joe and Jay Lethal come looking for revenge, and they bring a referee.
Homicide/Low Ki vs Samoa Joe/Jay Lethal
Alright, so THIS is, in fact, the main event, and there’s a bag-full of issues here. Joe has heat with Homicide and Low Ki going way back. His feud with Homicide in 2003/4 is one of the most intense in the promotion’s history. Meanwhile EVERYONE is gagging to see a Ki/Joe rematch after their hard-hitting classic way back at Glory By Honor. Lethal will want revenge on Low Ki after it was revealed earlier that he was the one who attacked him at the Trios Tournament. He also treated Jay like a b*tch when they wrestled one-on-one at Midnight Express Reunion. Low Ki is still officially suspended by ROH for attacking a referee in his last appearance, Final Battle 2004.
DUELLING TOPE’S by Joe and Lethal, and the Rottweilers are down before the bell even rings. The fans love this as there is fighting all over the ring right now. Lethal holds Ki up in the corner…RUNNING BOOTSCRAPE from Joe! Lethal goes at it with Homicide and walks into a knee strike. TOPE CON HILO FROM HOMICIDE! Low Ki gets Lethal in the ring and that means it’s time for absolutely brutal stiffness. Homicide gives Jay a slingshot DDT. Ki puts him in a tree of woe…GHETTO STOMP TO THE CHEST! Ace crusher nailed by Cide for 2. He dishes out a piledriver as the beating continues. Lethal blocks the Lariat…DRAGON SUPLEX! Hot tag to Joe and he plants Low Ki with the STO Slam then belly to belly suplexes Homicide into the turnbuckles. Ki looks to fire up on Joe, but he gets wiped out with a clothesline from Lethal. Joe goes for the Musclebuster but Homicide breaks it with a Yakuza kick. KI WITH A GHETTO STOMP ON JOE! Homicide takes Lethal’s running suplex, meanwhile Low Ki almost breaks the ring dropkicking Samoa Joe into the corner. Ki goes upstairs again but Lethal cuts him off. GHETTO STOMP COP KILLAAAAAAAA! SICKEST SPOT EVER! JAY LETHAL IS DEAD! 9:18 and this one is done.
Rating – *** – Brief, but damn they packed a lot of wild stuff in. Watching this match made me realise two things, both about Low Ki. Firstly, it’s a damn shame ROH can’t book him more. He has more superstar presence and charisma than anyone else on the roster. He absolutely owns the room when he’s out there. Secondly, gangsta Ki is the most over heel in the company. His classics as a wrestling machine in 2002 contrast so well to the way he wrestles in 2005, and it just makes everybody HATE him. I don’t care what
it takes, get the man on more shows. Oh yeah, the match. Joe injured his arm going through the table earlier and didn’t spend an awful long time in the ring. Homicide and Low Ki were pretty violent in their beatings on poor Jay Lethal. I’d expect to see Lethal/Homicide and a Lethal/Ki rematch fairly soonish as this feud develops. And you KNOW the ultimate culmination to it will be Joe vs Ki II, whenever that may be!
Prince Nana seems irate about Jimmy Rave being put in Dog Collar matches and Steel Cage matches. He says Rave is willing to die next week in Chicago to get the job done for The Embassy. Jimmy actually gets to talk, and he cuts a decent promo vowing to beat Punk again on his way to the top.
BRYAN DANIELSON VS HOMICIDE – Match 5 of the Best of 5 Series is next week in Dayton, and it’ll be a Steel Cage Match. The winner of the series gets an ROH Title shot the following night in Chicago.
James Gibson isn’t happy despite winning tonight. He has his World Title rematch in Dayton and he’s taking the belt home.
Shawn Price has Colt Cabana, and as expected he’s pissed about being kicked ‘right in the bollocks’. Clearly he thinks it was intentional. He goes childish and rips on the English accent…but McGuiness is listening. ‘If you’ve got something to say, say it to my face sh*thead’ – Nigel. This feud is nowhere near done!
Tape Rating – ****1/2 – Yes indeed, I will add my voice to the thousands of others saying the exact same thing. This IS the best Ring Of Honor show to date. I don’t expect anything to be challenging for MOTY honours at the end of 2005 (although Lethal/Joe is damn good), but with FOUR 4* matches, and a ton of other good stuff, it’s hard to argue with the hype. Plus, everything flows so well. The night starts out hot with the return of the Carnage Crew. The spotty opener and McGuiness/Cabana matches are entertaining. Then comes Gibson/Tiger and the Tag Title matches, both of which are top draw. The Pure Title match provides us with an outside shot for MOTY right before intermission, and the second half of the show is crazy, with Punk/Rave, Aries/Shelley and the impromptu main event. Rush out, sell what you have to, this show is a must. I’m with Head Booker Gabe Sapolsky. If you don’t like this show, you don’t ever need to bother with ROH again.
Top 3 Matches
3) James Gibson vs Black Tiger IV (****)
2) Austin Aries vs Alex Shelley (****)
1) Samoa Joe vs Jay Lethal (****1/2)