ROH 85 – Showdown In Motown – 4th November 2005
Ring Of Honor makes their Detroit debut tonight with a card that looks pretty stacked. Certainly this weekend has one of the strongest line-ups of talent that ROH has been able to put together for some time. The only notable absentee seems to be Low Ki. Chris Sabin returns to the company for the first time since early 2004 to challenge for the World Title. The Embassy and Generation Next are both here in full force with an Aries/Shelley rematch, Rod Strong and Jack Evans teaming again and Matt Sydal pairing up with AJ Styles to take on Jimmy Rave and Abyss. Samoa Joe and Chris Daniels clash again in a fourway, and Nigel McGuiness will finally defend the Pure Title against Double C. I’ve had a few problems recently with the amount of needless filler that has been creeping into ROH home releases. This DVD certainly seems to address that problem. Lets get our asses to Detroit, MI and join up once again with DP and Double L (Prazak and Leonard to you unhip bastards).
American Dragon outlines his tweener character in promo form. He says that some fans are pricks, so it’s ok for him to be a prick to them (can’t argue with that), and that just because they tell him to do a move, it doesn’t mean he has to. Chris Sabin interrupts and says he’s making ROH history tonight.
Jim Cornette opens the show properly with an in-ring promo. He drones on about the past in Detroit…I thought ROH released shoot interviews for people interested in this. Adam Pearce eventually comes out to run down James E. He demands matches and championships from the Commissioner but gets told he has to earn his opportunities. That whole segment was 10 minutes of nothing…
Delirious vs BJ Whitmer
Anytime Delirious makes an ROH card I’m glad to see it. People obviously enjoy his fun lizard-man gimmick, but he’s a great wrestler as well. I think ROH has held off pushing him and giving him that full-time spot because they know he’s got talent, and he’s over enough without them needing to do anything. Now he gets put against someone like BJ Whitmer who is both being pushed and needs over opponents right now (as his snoozefest with Davey Andrews demonstrates) and helps him progress. Having over jobbers is a big plus…unfortunately for Delirious.
BJ dives through the ropes and runs away from Delirious’ usual antics at the bell. Lacey’s Angel takes over on Delirious with a few big strikes and then chokes him in the ropes. Delirious “hides” by covering his face in the middle of the ring and that distracts BJ enough for him to hit a headscissors to the floor. He goes for a diving rana off the apron a’la Joe vs Punk but Whitmer SWINGS HIM into the railings! In the ring again with Whitmer getting 2 from a sit-out powerbomb from the corner. Delirious fights out of a chinlock only to be grounded again from a swinging neckbreaker. Whitmer bottoms out as he goes for a superplex and Delirious nails a flying headscissors. A leaping clothesline drops the big man again and Delirious follows up with a dropkick and the Panic Attack in the corner. Whitmer avoids Shadows Over Hell then almost falls victim to an Oklahoma roll. Spinebuster from BJ gets 2. CHIMERA COMBO…but Delirious still almost surprises him with a roll-up. He drops him on his head with a brainbuster and again he almost surprises him with a win. LARIATOO…WRIST CLUTCH EXPLODER! At 09:29 Whitmer is finally able to keep Delirious down.
Rating – ** – I was entertained throughout so I’d call it a success. Whitmer has always been good as the big man dominating the smaller opponent and that showed through here as he brutalised Delirious with some big spots. And it’s all made much more effective when his opponent has the crowd behind him, bumps well and has enough going for himself to put together good comebacks when the time is right. The crowd is hot tonight by the way…
Clips of a three-way elimination between Derek Dempsey, Shane Hagadorn and Davey Andrews. This is for the new Top Of The Class trophy which has been set up for the students to fight over. Hagadorn gets eliminated by Dempsey after a clothesline from Andrews. Davey wins it with an abdominal stretch. I’d rather have seen the match in full rather than the Cornette promo…
Generation Next are all here (including a very orange-looking Austin Aries). This weekend they’re sending a message to The Embassy. Roderick Strong and Jade Chung are all lovey dovey in the back.
Nigel McGuiness vs Claudio Castagnoli – ROH Pure Title Match
This has been brewing for some time. Nigel beat Claudio in his ROH debut back in July, but since Double C was promoted to the full-time roster at the Kobashi weekend in October their issue has escalated. They clashed in a fourway at Unforgettable, then Castagnoli scored an upset win over the Pure Champion at Enter The Dragon. Claudio earned this shot after he met Nigel’s own stipulation and avoided defeat against Alex Shelley at This Means War…but after that match McGuiness bloodied him up with the iron. Both men have a score to settle…
Castagnoli clotheslines McGuiness rather than shake his hand then breaks out a series of innovative roll-ups. Diving uppercut to the neck sends Nigel rocking to the outside. Detroit has some serious love for Claudio. Neutraliser locked in early and it forces McGuiness to take a ropebreak. The Pure Champion at last manages some offence, drawing Castagnoli’s first break with a cross armbreaker. Claudio ducks the headstand double boot and European uppercuts McGuiness across the ring but the champ goes to the arm again with a hammerlock. Wristlock takedown nailed and Nigel follows it with a stranglehold crossface. Spinning X-Factor (Match Killer) from Double C into the tumbling uppercut. McGuiness cuts off his momentum again with the hammerlock DDT. Headstand again but Claudio climbs up the ropes for a TOP ROPE NEUTRALISER! DIVING UPPERCUT OFF THE TOP! Castagnoli goes for the tumbling uppercut again but it’s countered with the TOWER OF LONDON! Claudio uses his second ropebreak to escape being pinned. Castagnoli tries a headstand of his own but his arm is injured and McGuiness kicks him in the back/shoulder region. Torture Wrack Driver (Alfa Mari Water Slide) nailed by Claudio, but Nigel shoves the ref away and goes to the eyes. He grabs the iron…and plays dead! The ref thinks Castagnoli hit him with it and DQ’s the challenger at 10:14.
Rating – *** – Great match which focused more on being a good wrestling contest than it did on the Pure Title rules. Cheeseball finish aside (which was good for keeping both athlete’s heat intact) everything was solid, well put together and logical wrestling. Castagnoli again proved he can work a match without solely relying on European uppercuts (although he does use an awful lot) and Nigel worked a solid match around the arm before breaking out the cheap tactics to retain. A few sloppy spots aside, another decent McGuiness defence.
Homicide and Julius Smokes are all pissed at Colt Cabana but they’re outside so it’s hard to see them. Cide says he’s cutting out Cabana’s tongue. Smokes b*tches about Eminem…
Sal Rinauro/Chad Collyer vs Roderick Strong/Jack Evans
Originally slated to be a Tag title defence until Tony Mamaluke got injured, instead Chad Collyer is thrown into the mix ahead of his showdown with Ace Steel tomorrow night in a tag match. If Generation Next can secure a win over Sal then they’ll still be in line for a shot down the road, and Roderick needs a win to get some momentum going into his rematch with AmDrag in Chicago.
Whacky Chad tries to out-wrestle Strong from the bell and gets a measure of success until he walks into a jumping heel kick. Evans tags and is too flippy for Collyer to handle so he gets a poke in the eyes. Rinauro and Evans fly through a nifty counter sequence with Jack winding up hitting a dropsault. Sal headscissors Roderick into the turnbuckles and GeNext’s enforcer bails. Rinauro goes for a pescado but gets caught and PRESS SLAMMED INTO THE RAILS! Cue some trademark GeNext double teaming with the suplex flip splash combo for 2. QUEBRADA KICK by Rinauro right into Evans’ forehead. Collyer tags and runs right into a corkscrew enzi. Strong press slams Jack into him in the corner for a nearfall. Collyer is a lunatic so tries to get into a chopping war with Roddy. Evans goes for a handspring elbow and gets GERMAN SUPLEXED INTO THE BOTTOM ROPE! Sal gets 2 with a second rope springboard suplex but he’s got an injured back from that guardrail spot. Standing corkscrew senton from Evans enables him to make the hot tag. Fireman’s carry gutbuster on Rinauro but Collyer makes the save. Chad blocks the half nelson and dumps Roddy on his head with a Saito suplex, only to eat a flipping neckbreaker from Jack. SPRINGBOARD CORKSCREW ENZI by Sal then he gets 2 on Rod with a hurricanrana. Strong knees him in the face and Jack is back. POWERBOMB MOONSAULT DOUBLE STOMP TO THE BACK! I love that double team! Collyer inadvertently clotheslines his own partner…SKIPPING A GENERATION PHOENIX SPLASH! THAT’S F*CKING CRAZY! GeNext pin Rinauro and pick up the win at 14:03.
Rating – *** – Cracking spotfest tag with some nifty formula work and a hint of body-part psychology (Sal’s back) thrown in as well. It’s been a while since we saw Strong and Evans team together and nobody does crazy aerial display tags better. It’s no wonder Dragon Gate want them to tour there. It wasn’t as good as the Whitmer/Jacobs match at Manhattan Mayhem, or the Shelley/Delirious one from Nowhere To Run, but it was still good. Really underrated match that you don’t hear enough about.
It’s time for a star-studded fourway with an excess of heat thrown in for kicks as it’s supposed to be Joe vs Daniels vs Homicide vs Cabana…but that doesn’t happen. Homicide and Cabana brawl before Samoa Joe has got to the ring, and Chris Daniels makes no attempt to break them up. It ends up in the crowd again and both guys do their best to end their careers with a SUPERPLEX OFF THE BLEACHERS THROUGH A TABLE! That was a pretty suicidal end to a wild brawl. Jim Cornette charges out to hastily rebook the match and brings out Adam Pearce and Jimmy Jacobs to fill in.
Christopher Daniels vs Jimmy Jacobs vs Adam Pearce vs Samoa Joe
In a shocking breach of kayfabe, Jimmy arrives playing to his hometown fans in full on HUSS gear. He’s got the crazy tights, the music, the fuzzy boots etc. Adam Pearce will need to impress the Commissioner after b*tching so much earlier. Meanwhile Joe and Daniels still have heat from the summer when Daniels caused Joe to be eliminated from the World Title match at Redemption, and their Pure Title match at Night Of The Grudges 2. They’ll be wrestling one-on-one again tomorrow.
The substitutes are the guys to start, with Pearce trying to bully Jacobs until he gets bitten in the hand. Daniels takes a multiple rotation headscissors before Jimmy tags out to Joe. The Samoan scores the first significant offence with the running knee strike into the facewash. Fallen Angel retaliates with forearms but slips on the middle rope as he goes for a springboard reverse elbow. STO Slam countered and Daniels hits a jumping heel kick for 2. Pearce tags in with his old-school tribute act. In fact, it’s when he strays away from it with a springboard crossbody that Joe is able to take over on him with the chop/kick/knee drop sequence. Jacobs comes in with a flurry of jabs then runs straight into a spinebuster. Scrap Daddy with a spinning heel kick as well – that’s not old school! Daniels gives Jimmy a tilta-whirl backbreaker and stays on that body part with a couple of hard Irish whips. Pearce gets 2 with a second rope elbow drop, then Daniels tries to one-up him by getting 2 with a falcon arrow. Pearce off the top rope with a diving headbutt. Joe has to break the pin from a running powerslam. Backbreakers from Daniels as the bald men continue their isolation of Jacobs. It degenerates into an argument over who can beat him up better which allows Jimmy to spear Daniels and make the hot tag to Joe. Big boot into a running senton on Pearce then a powerslam into a cross armbreaker on Daniels. E Honda slaps and kicks on the Fallen Angel leave him flat on his face. Daniels with the flatliner and the BEST MOONSAULT EVER but Jimmy breaks the cover. He HUSSes up and hiptosses Chris to the floor. TOPE SUICIDA MISSES! Pearce low blows Joe but Daniels breaks the jumping piledriver with a stepping enziguri. ANGEL’S WINGS allows Daniels to pin Joe for the first time in ROH at 17:08.
Rating – *** – Not particularly exciting, especially following the GeNext tag team exploits but it was a really solid fourway. Adam Pearce again entertained me with his gimmick, although in truth, he and Jacobs spent far too long in the ring considering they were the last talented guys in the match. Obviously Joe and Daniels needed to be kept apart for tomorrow night though, so expecting much more is maybe a little foolish. It did it’s job of building to Vendetta’s Joe/Daniels match adequately.
INTERMISSION – DP is with Double C who demands a rematch with Nigel McGuiness.
Allison Danger vs Daizee Haze
Women’s action to preview Dave Prazak’s new SHIMMER promotion. Essentially he’s putting together a company to showcase the best of US women’s wrestling. Their first DVD is out now and is getting some pretty decent reviews so I may check it out.
Daizee starts hot with an armdrag and a clothesline but Danger comes back with an armdrag of her own. Slingshot half crab by the Prophecy member but she doesn’t lock it on for long, getting 2 from a duo of rolling suplexes. The Haze with a clothesline off the second rope then a missile dropkick from the top rope. Allison to the floor…HAZE WITH A PLANCHA! Back in the ring Danger does her best to knock Daizee out with a big forearm. DAIZEE CUTTER and Haze wins at 03:24.
Rating – * – Too short to be much of anything, but as far as female wrestling goes, it was much better than anything you’ll see in the WWE outside of Trish, Victoria and Alexis Laree. I’ll check out SHIMMER eventually. Apparently Martinez/Del Ray from their first show is an MOTYC, and Lacey (in my opinion the best American female worker going) is in the main event so.
Alex Shelley vs Austin Aries
This is a rematch from Manhattan Mayhem, and another instalment in a feud which has been raging since Final Battle 2004 when Aries booted Shelley out of Generation Next. Shelley tried to play nice and make friends to help him take on GeNext, but that didn’t work out so he “bought in” to The Embassy, adding a whole new twist on the Shelley-GeNext feud. It has degenerated into all out stable warfare, and it will come to an end in just under a month in a big cage match. Aries beat Shelley last time round, retaining his World Title in the process. Jade is accompanying him tonight.
The referee sort of forces Aries to give his opponent a clean break and Shelley responds by spitting in his face then running away. More bodily fluids come out as they take it in turns to blow snot into each other’s faces. Springboard back elbow from Aries, then Shelley traps him in a headscissors. Normally that’s a mistake but Alex has the dropkick scouted and jars his neck into the mat. Eventually Aries is able to hit that dropkick though. Nana distracts Aries so he back drops Shelley on top of the Embassy crew. HEAT SEEKING MISSILE wipes out Nana, Rave and Shelley! Alex blocks Austin’s usual slingshot reverse elbow then hits a springboard double stomp to the arm. Aries does more damage to the arm by missing the power drive elbow. Shelley drags the ref away whilst Jimmy and Nana take a few cheap shots. Armbar DDT scores, and Alex goes right into a bridging hammerlock from there. He looks for a tornado armbar DDT but Aries blocks and hits a DDT to counter. He uses kicks to rock Shelley since he can’t use his arm now then gets 2 with a slingshot corkscrew splash. He can’t whip his opponent because of the arm and Shelley smacks him about with a running elbow. AIR RAID CRASH for 2. BORDER CITY STRETCH! COUNTERED TO THE FISH HOOK CROSSFACE! Shelley blocks the brainbuster but gets Russian legswept into the turnbuckles. RUNNING CORNER DROPKICK! Aries looks for the 450 but Nana shoves him off the top. He tries to hit Austin with his crown but Jade low blows him, and in the melee Aries rolls Shelley up at 14:40.
Rating – *** – A more heated battle than their World Title match turned out to be (which is a shame since that should’ve been the culmination of Shelley’s quest for vengeance against his former friend). Aries is a much better babyface than he is a controlling heel, and Shelley is at his best as a heel so the dynamics just worked far better. The opening exchanges were also much more purposeful than the Manhattan Mayhem encounter too. The problem was, the “relaxed rules” aspect enabled more outside interference, and the sports-entertainment finish really hurt it. I’d also have preferred to see Shelley get a win back here. Generation Next will get their big feud-ending win in the cage, why not give Alex a career-boosting singles victory along the way? One more rematch too please…
Shelley and Rave go to town on the out-numbered leader of Generation Next and Abyss comes out to join the fun. Finally AJ Styles’ music hits and AJ, Sydal and Daizee Haze come to the rescue.
Jimmy Rave/Abyss vs AJ Styles/Matt Sydal
AJ had a big feud with Jimmy Rave for most of 2005, ending at Glory By Honor 4, so he’ll obviously love the chance to get his hands on the guy that tried to steal his finisher again. He’s also had his share of battles with Abyss in TNA. Matt Sydal is in GeNext so there’s his motivation right there. Will Rave choose tonight to debut his new finisher?
Jimmy is hesitant to get into it with Sydal after he is showered with toilet paper once again. Styles tags and he’s equally unwilling to fight him either so runs to Abyss. Styles steps off the monster’s back into a rana. He backflips when Abyss has his dropkick sequence scouted then nails his dropkick second time of asking. Abyss is huge though and dishes out press slams for both babyfaces. Duelling enziguris knock the big man out and Styles press slams Rave out after him. SYDAL WITH A RUNNING MOONSAULT ON RAVE! STYLES WITH A SOMERSAULT PLANCHA ON ABYSS! Enzicanrana on Rave by Sydal but Abyss drags him outside for a murderising on the railings. Rave targets the back after that. He puts him in a surfboard right in front of his partner but drags him away before he gets a chance to tag. Abyss dominates some more, and he’s able to just stand there as the plucky Sydal goes for a crossbody. Jimmy hits a neckbreaker then works that body part with a chinlock. Abyss literally crushes Matt with a running body avalanche and Styles has to break the pin. Sydal finally uses his quickness to make a tag and AJ soars in with a springboard forearm on Rave. ASSISTED PELE on Abyss! HELICOPTER BOMB for Rave but Abyss stops the Styles Clash and kills him with the torture wrack drop. Rave hits a spear on Sydal for 2. Matt flips out of Ghanarea and hits a standing moonsault for 2. ULTRA SWINGING BLACK HOLE SLAM! AJ counters the Black Hole Slam when the monster tries to do that to him and scores with a MODIFIED STYLES CLASH! SPIRAL TAP SCORES…CRAPPY WIZARD BY JIMMY! SYDAL NAILS THE MOONSAULT BELLY TO BELLY! He pins Jimmy Rave at 14:20.
Rating – **** – Make AJ and Sydal a regular team now, they rule. Jimmy Rave teaming with anyone also rules because his heelish stylings are so damn good now he is nearly faultless at the isolation stage of the formula tag match. That’s why this match gets 4* and the tag from earlier only 3*. That was a sprint, a gymnastics display if you will. In this one all the high spots meant something. This Embassy/GeNext feud is producing some storming matches.
Dave Prazak has caught up with Nigel McGuiness who is sticking to his story. He claims Claudio hit him with an iron and if he wants a rematch he has to earn it.
Bryan Danielson vs Chris Sabin – ROH World Title Match
Sabin’s first ROH appearance since the Second Anniversary Show I believe. I also believe he got his hands on one of those World Title open contracts through TNA. He’s in his hometown of Detroit so taking the belt home here would be something pretty special. Bryan Danielson showed a new, more aggressive side to him last time against Roderick Strong, and has a rematch coming tomorrow night whether he retains the title here or not.
‘You’re both awesome’ – Detroit. That’s a new one on me. Dragon looks aggressive again as they go to the mat, but Sabin is able to hang with him early. Danielson responds by not giving a clean break and grinding his head into Sabin’s face…then slapping him. The former X-Division Champion has the audacity to try to control the current ROH Champion with a wristlock and eats dropkick. He’s not intimidated and slaps Dragon right back. Danielson camel clutches Sabin and rakes the face like he did to Roderick Strong last week. Nice hurricanrana by Sabin sends Dragon all the way to the floor. FLYING HEADSCISSORS OFF THE APRON! HAIL SABIN! He tree of woes the champ and runs in with a basement dropkick. He goes for a second but changes it up to a TREE OF WOE NECKBREAKER for 2. Running kick to the back of the head – this is all softening Danielson up for Cradle Shock. Dragon does his best to European uppercut Sabin out of his boots, then takes a page out of the Rod Strong playbook by hitting a series of backbreakers. Literally he goes for like five of them, and stays on it with a bow and arrow. Backbreaker number six finds the mark leaving Sabin in a mess and prone for an abdominal stretch. He uses the ropes for extra leverage as his descent to the darkside continues.
Sabin tries to chop AmDrag who gets pissed off and comes back with backbreaker #7 for 2. Argentinean backbreaker applied but Sabin rolls free and connects with a dropkick. Inverted jawbreaker, then a couple of boots to the neck. RUNNING LIGERBOMB for 2! Sabin goes for a springboard crossbody but gets caught in CATTLE MUTILATION! It’s not held for long because of the neck and the CM pin gets 2. Mexican surfboard time, working most parts of the body. An EIGHTH backbreaker leaves the challenger in prime position for a diving headbutt…but Chris moves. Springboard swinging DDT on Danielson, followed by a bridging camel clutch. Sabin blocks the Crossface Chickenwing but Dragon still hits a German suplex – then can’t bridge because of the neck. Now he gets the Crossface Chickewing but he hasn’t worked the arms so Chris gets to the ropes. Regalplex blocked but Danielson blasts out a roaring elbow. Sabin botches a springboard dropkick and AmDrag floors both of them with a running clothesline. Sabin up first – HAMMERLOCK PILEDRIVER GETS 2! He looks for Cradle Shock but no dice. To the ropes where Dragon blocks a superplex and crotches Sabin. BACK SUPERPLEX NAILED! STRONGHOLD!! SABIN TAPS! Danielson retains at 24:25 and sends a big message to his next opponent…
Rating – **** – Where the hell is Sabin’s ‘please come back’ chant? I’ve been singing this guy’s praises to anyone who will listen and he delivered in this main event. He’s totally under-utilised in TNA and could really excel in ROH given half a chance. American Dragon puts on another title match that told a tremendous story. Obviously it was all about setting up for his rematch with Roderick Strong, so he set out to destroy Sabin’s back just the way Roddy likes to do – to the extremity of stealing his finisher. Sabin sold that well and worked the neck during his offensive sprees to set up for his finisher. It’s a shame he messed up the springboard dropkick to the neck since that would’ve been a hot nearfall but, no biggy. I’m not saying he needs to be main eventing every week but Ring Of Honor could use this guy. I’m a big fan…
DP tries to get a word with Roderick Strong but he’s too wrapped up in Jade Chung. He promises to do his talking in the ring tomorrow night.
Tape Rating – *** – I complained after This Means War because of the amount of skippable filler that occupied large portions of that show between the big matches. This show addressed that problem wonderfully, and is probably the best release since the Kobashi weekend. It lacked an MOTYC but everything aside from the fun opener and the brief women’s match was 3* plus, with the last two matches cranking it up still further. This show doesn’t get a lot of hype and I’d say it’s really underrated. The big matches from tomorrow night’s Vendetta release get a lot of hype but that show will have to be damn decent to top this.
Top 3 Matches
3) Austin Aries vs Alex Shelley (***)
2) AJ Styles/Matt Sydal vs Jimmy Rave/Abyss (****)
1) Bryan Danielson vs Chris Sabin (****)