ROH 91 – Tag Wars 2006 – 27th January 2006
Jim Cornette promised that a mark of his Commissionership would be the re-emergence of the tag team division so any event named ‘Tag Wars’ is clearly going to be a significant moment in that. Tonight’s event features the 2006 Trios Tournament, as well as a big first defence of the Tag Titles for Strong and Aries. The Trios Tournament wasn’t exactly tremendously well received last year (although I thought it produced two tremendous trios matches along the way) so that has led to some tweaks this year. The prize remains the same (the ability to book your own matches), but this year only four teams will enter as opposed to eight. Generation Next, The Embassy, Lacey’s Angels and Italy (yep) have representatives. There’s also the renewal of the defining rivalry from Ring Of Honor’s first year of business – as Low Ki wrestles Christopher Daniels. The main event features World Champion Bryan Danielson renewing his rivalry with BOTH tag champions to challenge for their belts – and he has handpicked wrestling’s hottest free agent Jay Lethal as his partner. It’s a promising line-up for the first Dayton, OH show of the year. Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard call most of the action. Jimmy Bower will probably pop up at some point too – he normally does.
Bryan Danielson says he’s going to get another victory over Roderick Strong tonight and add a third title to his collection. Jay Lethal brags that when they win tonight he’ll have the one championship that has evaded his mentor Samoa Joe.
The Embassy (including Daizee Haze) are in confident mood after laying out American Dragon at the end of Hell Freezes Over. Shelley says Nana paid Spanky to teach him Sliced Bread #2 – a move apparently guaranteed to beat Dragon if he hits it on him. The problem is that Shelley and Rave bicker over which one of them should actually be the one to BE World Champion. Nana keeps them focused on the Trios Tournament – since if they win that they could both get title shots.
JANUARY TOP 5 RANKINGS
1. Jay Lethal (lost to Chris Daniels last show but has a Tag Title shot tonight)
2. KENTA (will drop out in February because he’s gone back to Japan)
3. Alex Shelley (teamed with #4 ranked Jimmy Rave to win a tag match)
4. Jimmy Rave (along with Shelley laid out the World Champion previously)
5. Christopher Daniels (justified his spot by beating #1 ranked Jay Lethal)
BJ Whitmer/Jimmy Jacobs/Adam Pearce vs Jimmy Yang/Jack Evans/Matt Sydal
He complained last show that he wasn’t being booked right, but tonight Adam Pearce has a big chance by teaming with Lacey’s Angels in the Trios Tournament. Whitmer comes in off a hot match against Samoa Joe, whilst Jimmy Jacobs revealed in a promo on the last show that he’s in love with Lacey. Generation Next were beaten finalists in last year’s event, but since Strong and Aries both have other commitments tonight, Sydal and Evans have enlisted the help of the returning Jimmy Yang to team with them. We haven’t seen Yang since he lost his first three matches back in October. If they win tonight, would Sydal use his booking power to get him and new partner AJ Styles a tag title shot at his GeNext colleagues?
The Angel’s jump their opponents from the outset but Yang comes back with a beautiful moonsault kick on Whitmer. Pearce knocks Evans out of the ring, perhaps bitter that Jack stole the win from him in Six Man Mayhem. He clobbers Sydal UNTIL HE RANA’S HIM OVER THE TOP ROPE! ASAI MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR! FLYING HEADSCISSORS BY JACOBS! SPACE FLYING SASUKE SPECIAL RANA FROM EVANS! HOLY F*CKING SH*T THIS IS INSANE! After all the melee Pearce and Whitmer use their power to isolate Matt Sydal and start to work him over. Jacobs joins Whitmer in the ring for the powerbomb senton double team. BJ cuts off a Sydal comeback with a spinebuster. Scrap Iron drops him on his head with a brainbuster. He goes to tag Jacobs who seems a little preoccupied with Lacey. He does get in the ring eventually and keeps Sydal down with a nice variant on a neckbreaker. Pearce and Whitmer go for a double back drop but Sydal dropkicks OFF Pearce into a DDT on BJ. He gets the hot tag to Yang who lands on his feet when Whitmer German suplexes him then plays possum to allow him to connect with a kick combo for 2. MOONSAULT PRESS gets another nearfall. Jimmy comes in and spears him but Evans comes in to drop Jacobs with a fisherman buster. Pearce goes to the top for the SUPERFLY SPLASH! But he’s not the legal man! Sydal standing moonsaults Adam but he’s not legal either. Rolling suplexes by Whitmer…but Sydal still legal so there’s no pin. SPRINGBOARD CORKSCREW PRESS BY YANG and he is legal. Evans blocks the Contra Code…but Lacey crotches him as he goes for the 630. Jimmy Jacobs goes apesh*t when Evans grabs her. He ignores the match to check she’s alright and Sydal seizes the opportunity to hit the HERE IT IS DRIVER! 630 SENTON BY EVANS! He scores the pinfall at 11:23.
Rating – **** – One of the best openers in ROH history there. Incredible action from the first bell to the last that just didn’t stop. I haven’t seen an opening sequence as jaw-dropping as this one had since Low Ki/Amazing Red back in 2002. That Sasuke Special by Jack was unreal. From the crazy series of dives there was a decent heat segment on Sydal, but that seemed like an excuse for all the competitors in the match to catch their breath before they kicked into high gear again for the climax. The sequence where nobody knew who the legal men were except the referee was a nice touch – demonstrating the seriousness with which the Cornette regime is pushing the reinvigorated tag division, and the Jacobs/Lacey angle, whilst goofy and a little too WWE for my tastes, at least had an affective use here. Awesome to see Jimmy Yang back as well. He’s one of my favourite wrestlers around at the moment. Everything he does is so fantastically fluid and smooth. He’s almost TOO cool at times…
BJ Whitmer and Adam Pearce are both furious with Jimmy for dropping the ball, but he’s still more concerned with checking on Lacey’s wellbeing.
Jimmy Rave/Alex Shelley/Abyss vs Tony Mamaluke/Sal Rinauro/Jay Fury
The Embassy must be the favourites to win this thing – for one thing they’re the only entrants that aren’t a makeshift team. They’re on a hot streak having recovered from losing Steel Cage Warfare with Jimmy Rave and Alex Shelley both shooting into the Top 5. Plus they have Abyss…nuff said. Mamaluke and Rinauro were originally scheduled to compromise Team Italy with Milano Collection AT, but the announcement of his quitting the company was made right before this show, and he was replaced at the last minute by Jay Fury. Fury has impressed in Full Impact Pro where he regularly teams with Jerrelle Clark who’s also made a few appearances in the last six months (even showing some RVD-esque potential against Rod Strong at Survival Of The Fittest). He’s kinda chunky but apparently he’s a nifty cruiserweight. Anyone I talk to who buys FIP shows like this guy so, here’s his chance in ROH. Who will advance to face Yang/GeNext in the final?
Fury shows no fear on his debut, starting with Rave who, as usual, is somewhat tentative. Jimmy rather arrogantly slaps the debutant in the back of the head but Jay bounces back with a series of armdrags and Rave takes a powder. Shelley/Mamaluke naturally have a very fluid mat exchange. Mamaluke grabs an arm and stretches forcing Alex to the ropes. A bridging hammerlock is applied next by the SERIOUS one. Shelley gives up trying to out-wrestle him and escapes by biting his hand. Fury gets 2 on Rave after a somersault senton. The former tag champions double suplex Jimmy with Jay flying off the top with a crossbody block as well. Rave lays out Rinauro (his partner in 3 Guys That Totally Rule in NWA-Wildside) then brings Shelley back. He avoids a Sal pescado and Daizee Haze wipes him out with a crossbody off the apron. The Monster gets the tag for the first time and gets to brutalise Rinauro in the corner. Rave relentlessly chops him and when Rinauro gets his arms up to block the shots he get chopped IN THE FACE! Abyss almost throws Sal through the ceiling with a press slam. Shelley gets cocky though and allows Sal way too close to his corner and he manages to tag out to Fury. JAY-TRIX ENZIGURI! Rave and Shelley head to the outside again but Jay gives chase with a SPRINGBOARD CORKSCREW SOMERSAULT PLANCHAAAA! In the ring Mamaluke and Rinauro take it to Abyss. Double stomp rocker dropper scores but as Jay Fury tries to slingshot his way in Nana hauls him off the apron. Rave wipes out Rinauro with a spear as Abyss TORTURE WRACK DROPS Mamaluke. Fury is on the top rope again but MISSES a shooting star press. SLICED BREAD #2 on him by Shelley…and Spanky has clearly taught him well because that’s enough to get the win at 15:47. The Embassy advances to the finals to face Generation Next one more time.
Rating – *** – Not quite as good as the opener but still better than most of the matches from last years tournament. Jay Fury looked good in flashes, especially that Jay-Trix thing (thing Trish Stratus’ Matrix duck except he just nips up off his shoulders instead). What really impressed me was the work of Rave and Shelley in wearing down Sal Rinauro. They’re so good at being dicks it simply MAKES the babyface in peril segment work, regardless of who that guy is. Abyss was used pretty sparingly, but he’s only got so many POWAH moves and with another match to go, he’ll probably break out the big guns in the final. I know this was ultimately just an undercard match, but unlike the first match which was perfectly designed to be a 10 minute sprint, I really felt this one could’ve easily gone another 10 minutes without losing the crowd or my interest. It felt like they hadn’t really scratched the surface of the potential interactions between the six men involved when it was over.
CABANA/HOMICIDE UPDATE – Jim Cornette voices over a video package featuring the escalating violence between the two. They’ve both been kept off this weekends events so they won’t try to murder each other this weekend. (OOC – they’re both injured).
Chad Collyer vs Claudio Castagnoli
Apart from pointing out this is a battle of the Double C’s I have very little to say about this match. I suppose the winner would move somewhere towards the front of the cue for a Pure Title shot since they’re both part of that division – but then again, Collyer’s tag team partner is currently the champion so would he really want the shot? For Claudio, beating Nigel’s part-time partner would be a good way of sending his nemesis a message and getting back in the hunt for the belt.
‘We want Mohawk’ – Dayton reacts badly to Collyer letting his hair grow back. After the two exciting Trios Tournament matches to start the night, the slow matwork between the Double C’s feels a brake-screeching change of pace. Essentially it works out they’re both pretty even – Collyer is goofy, Cladio says ‘AYYY’. Finally Castagnoli gets an advantage by dropkicking Chad through the ropes but the smaller man knows to avoid the uppercut suicida. Claudio goes for a running uppercut in the corner but Collyer moves aside and he collides shoulder-first with the ringpost. Chad gets aggressive on the floor, ramming the arm into the metal post again. From the crowd unruly spectators lead chants of ‘boring’, but as of now the commentators don’t acknowledge their presence. Collyer is still working the arm as one of the hecklers from the crowd repeatedly urges Castagnoli to do something – funny that. Claudio certainly doesn’t team with anyone that hates ROH in CZW does he (wink wink)? He springboards off the second rope and lands on top of Chad, and both men go down. You can actually see the hecklers in the crowd now – it’s Chris Hero and Necro Butcher…CZW IN DA HOUSE. Castagnoli hits the Match Killer for 2 but this whole match has almost become irrelevant to the CZW guys. Collyer gets a 2 with the Toilet Flush. Castagnoli’s Alfa Mari Water Slide garners another nearfall…but Chad Saito suplexes his opponent and applies a version of the Anaconda Vice. It’s like the Ace Steel match from August again as Chad goes for a chair. Speaking of Ace…he comes from the back to stop Collyer using the chair. Claudio rolls him up to win it at a looong 10:56.
Rating – * – They deliberately worked a really slow paced match to pander to the ‘boring’ stuff that Hero and Necro were running in the crowd. The ROH/CZW angle interests me more than any Castagnoli/Collyer match ever could so I’m happy this match was sacrificed for the inter-promotional deal. It did go on a little too long though, plus no matter how hard they try, Collyer/Ace will NEVER be interesting. The sickest blade job ever didn’t do it, Chad’s goofy shenanigans won’t do it…nothing!
Ace Steel gets a few shots in on Collyer before he runs away up the aisle. He gets on the mic and says that he’s got a contract for a singles match with him in Chicago at ROH’s Wrestlemania weekend Triple Shot. There’s a grudge match I bet you can’t wait to see…
Ace Steel vs James Keenan
If you follow 1PW or IWC (although I think he left there recently) you’d know that Keenan really does have potential and is a lot of fun as a cocky, brash young heel. Ace just called him a ‘CM Punk clone’, and comparisons to early Punker are actually pretty accurate. It’ll be interesting to see if ROH gives him any opportunity to run with the ball at any stage in 2006 the way 1PW has over here. This is the first time Ace has actually wrestled in an ROH ring for AGES. Punk’s last show I think…
Hero and Necro continue to be disruptive. Ace acts all angry, partly because he’s Crazy Ace, partly because he’s pissed off with Collyer and wants to take it out on Keenan. Again the action is slowed down and somewhat basic to play to the CZW invaders. So much so that the commentators aren’t really talking about the match at all. Jimmy Bower has arrived to irrationally hate on CZW in funny fashion too. SJK with a chinlock…yep, a chinlock. ‘Sinclair…try not sucking’ – Fan 1. ‘Why does Sinclair have more heat than Hero’ – Fan 2. Referee Todd Sinclair is not popular. Keenan is in danger of doing something interesting as he gets 2 with a tree of woe lungblower. Butterfly facebusters into a Tiger Driver by Steel, who is completely distracted by Hero and Necro now. Horsecollar on Sterling but he lets it go to yell at Chris Hero. He challenges them to jump the rail and fight. Necro looks drunk…really drunk. Finally they jump the rail and this match is over in place of an all out RIOT at 7:29.
Rating – DUD – Match sucked…CZW invasion and Chris Hero in ROH rules. I know which matters more…
‘Get those motherf*ckers’ – Bower. The locker room empties to run the invaders off…these scenes are pretty wild. Hero gets dragged backsage and thrown out the front door – even Low Ki and Christopher Daniels are helping out! In the ring everyone else is stomping on Necro Butcher. Jim Cornette’s mouth is pouring with blood – someone knocked his tooth out in this lunacy. He goes apesh*t at Gabe (yes, on camera Gabe) who screams that they’re not booked. He marches to the ring to cut one of the best promos in the history of ROH and literally tears Hero, Necro, CZW and garbage wrestling a new one. I’d give you quotes but it’s really something you need to see for yourself. This whole segment has made the past two dull matches worth while…hell, it made twenty bucks for the DVD worthwhile. He promises that anytime CZW wants to disrupt ROH shows he’ll have the locker room kick their asses.
INTERMISSION – Generation Next join Dave Prazak. Aries has confidence that they’ll beat Danielson and Lethal, but is more interested in reprimanding Matt Sydal for going after their belts. He says GeNext is about doing things for the good of the group and he should step down (that seems rich coming from the guy that bickered with the former leader over who should challenge for the World Title, then ended up kicking him out but). Jack Evans keeps Sydal from answering because he wants him focused on winning the Trios Tournament. Wasn’t Generation Next about taking all the top spots in ROH? Clearly what the group was about evolved when they actually GOT all the top spots.
Clips from Main Event Spectacles are shown. Tomorrow night it’s Danielson vs AJ Styles for the World Title. AJ has beaten Dragon twice in ROH and now Danielson wants to exorcise that demon and finally score a victory over the Phenomenal one. That’ll be your main event for the return to Cleveland.
Delirious vs Nigel McGuiness
Clearly this is non-title since Delirious has won maybe three matches in almost two years with the company. His spot on the roster is apparently in danger if he doesn’t start wracking up some wins soon. He’s wildly popular but has the worst won/loss record imaginable. Nigel seems kinda stuck in limbo at the moment. He’s beaten his only major rival for the Pure Title twice now, and doesn’t have any other major challengers. He destroyed Tony Mamaluke at Hell Freezes Over in convincing fashion though.
Delirious loses his mind as usual until Nigel almost knocks his head off his shoulders. The lizard man keeps working his way out of chinlocks so gets a slap from Nigel. He scores with an enziguri and blocks the rebound lariat with a slap of his own. McGuiness headstands and that just confuses poor Delirious who ends up walking into a mule kick. Hammerlock DDT then a wristlock takedown as he begins to go to work on Delirious’ arm. ‘You’re a wanker’ – Dayton…’you don’t even know what that means’ – Nigel. Dayton got served. Delirious dropkicks Nigel into the corner for the Panic Attack. Headscissors takedown very nicely counters an attempted McGuiness back drop. SHADOWS OVER HELL…misses. McGuiness decapitates Delirious with the rebound lariat and gets 2. Kick to the spine into a final cut as Delirious hangs from the corner. TOWER OF LONDON! Delirious is done at 06:48.
Rating – ** – As far as throwaway squashes taped for free airing on their website goes, this was actually ok. It was certainly a lot better than either Claudio/Chad or Ace/SJK to give you some perspective. Oddly, Delirious got to look a lot more credible against Nigel than Tony Mamaluke did.
SIDENOTE – Originally we were supposed to get two Samoa Joe vs Chris Daniels matches this weekend. A 30-Minute Iron Man Match tonight and a No Holds Barred Match tomorrow so they could blow off their feud. Unfortunately Joe went down late with a staph infection and couldn’t compete so Low Ki was brought in as a late replacement. It changes the dynamic of the weekend somewhat, and takes away two of the events’ marquee matches, but we get Ki/Daniels tonight and Ki/Evans tomorrow. It’s not like they’re the worst replacements the world has ever known.
Low Ki vs Christopher Daniels
In 2002 the defining rivalry that put Ring Of Honor on the map was Low Ki’s war with Christopher Daniels and his Prophecy. Ki pinned Daniels on the first two shows, then overcame him in the Iron Man at show 5 to become the first ever ROH Champion (despite the fact he never pinned Daniels – whilst the Fallen Angel did manage a pinfall on him). However, at Unscripted Ki lost the belt as he fell victim to a masterful plan from Daniels to gain control of the belt – using Xavier to defeat Ki. They never had a blow-off singles match although Ki, along with AJ Styles did get REVENGE ON THE PROPHECY at the show with the same name. Since then a lot has changed. Both have had extended absences, both characters have changed substantially. Back then Ki was the darling of the ROH faithful, now “gangsta Ki” is loathed and deals out vicious beatings wherever he goes. Daniels, then the top heel in the company, is now positioned as one of the top babyfaces. He’s also in the Top 5 so a win for Ki would probably put him in their and put him in line for a title shot.
Ki gets backed into the corner but as usual counters with a hanging armbreaker then springs to the floor like a marmoset. They have a mat sequence which seems far more meaningful than most guys when they do this sort of thing as you can literally sense the struggle for control. Ki comes to his feet first and attempts to collapse Daniels’ lungs with vicious elbows to the sternum. Arm capture neck vice by Daniels, then a jumping heel kick as Low Ki escapes the hold. He tries to suplex the Rottweiler off the apron but ends up taking a SHOTGUN DROPKICK and crashing into the railings. Low Ki vigorously attacks the ribs with shoulder charges and short forearm strikes. Back inside he uses a grounded gutwrench to keep applying pressure. Now he uses a staple of his moveset – the bodyscissors. He pulls back on the shoulders to make it harder for Chris to squirm to the safety of the bottom rope. He repeatedly stomps the chest…then turns his attention on Allison Danger! Daniels takes avantage with a flurry of roll-up attempts…STANDING GHETTO STOMP TO THE CHEST! Ki drives the shoulder into the midsection a few more times but Daniels hits a flatliner to create some distance. He follows up with a tilta-whirl backbreaker then a running STO for 2. Ki goes for the ribs but eats a urinage slam. Daniels thinks about a BME but Ki gets to his feet and crotches him. Low Ki to the top only to have the tree of woe Ghetto Stomp countered with a palm strike. ARABIAN PRESS TO THE FLOOR by Daniels! He follows that up with a crossbody for 2…which is annoying since I thought he had injured ribs. He is slow to take advantage though. Ki slams him chest-first into the canvas then hangs him from the corner once again. TREE OF WOE GHETTO STOMP! He kicks Daniels onto the announce table…BUT HE MOVES AND KI STOMPS THROUGH THE TABLE! Now they’re both a mess and struggle back into the ring for a weary-looking slug-out. Daniels sidesteps the shotgun dropkick but Ki blocks Angels Wings. DRAGON CLUTCH…COUNTERED but Ki blocks Last Rites. Daniels goes for Angels Wings again and Ki back drops his way out and lands on top. Daniels has no strength in his ribs to bridge out, and his arms captured. Ki scores the three count at 20:54.
Rating – **** – That was a long, methodical match so if that isn’t your thing, you won’t enjoy this like I did. I don’t mean methodical in a Bryan Danielson kinda way – his long matches are full of little details and technical nuances. No, this was a ruthless 20 minutes of hard-fought wrestling between two very even competitors. The opening sequence was a tremendous struggle for control on the mat, then followed Low Ki attacking the ribs relentlessly for over 10 minutes. It wasn’t always exciting to watch but it was a brutal example of working a body part and sticking with it. Apart from that top rope crossbody, Daniels did a tremendous job of selling those ribs – he literally wrestled most of the match with one arm permanently wrapped around himself to alleviate the pain – it’s little things like that that I appreciate. I think the finish was a disappointment to the live crowd – who want to see a big finish, be it through a Ghetto Stomp, a Ki Crusher, Angels Wings, Last Rites, BME etc…but it was a logical one based on how the match had gone. Daniels literally couldn’t escape because his opponent had done so much damage to his ribs. It felt like this match could’ve taken place back in the 80’s and seemed quite at home. A wildly different vibe to their matches in 2002…but I found myself liking this more.
Daniels talks about how TNA forcing him to stay away from ROH has changed his perspective. He’s now in ROH because he wants to be, and now for the first time he wants to show respect to a man who beat him. He extends his hand to Low Ki in an absolutely monumental moment for long-term followers of the product. Low Ki snatches the mic and says history has a way of coming full circle. He repays the favour from 23rd February 2002…and walks out on Christopher Daniels rather than show respect. That was awesome set-up for the scheduled main event for the 100th show (coming April 22nd) which was a Ki/Daniels/Dragon rematch. Unfortunately Ki quits after this weekend so that never got to happen…
Jimmy Rave/Alex Shelley/Abyss vs Jimmy Yang/Jack Evans/Matt Sydal
This is the final of your 2006 Trios Tournament – the winning team gets booking rights so a lot is at stake. Rave and Shelley have both made waves about going after the World Title, and went so far as to assault Bryan Danielson at the last event. Generation Next were unsuccessful finalists in last years tournament so will be looking to make up for that. A win for their stand-in partner Jimmy Yang would be huge since this is his first show back since losing his three debut matches in October. It’s also a renewal of the Embassy/GeNext feud which raged from the summer of last year until Steel Cage Warfare when Generation Next beat The Embassy in a memorable cage showdown. Here’s a thought – if The Embassy win and Abyss cashes in for a title shot – how awesome would Dragon/Abyss be? Alex Shelley trying to teach him how to throw toilet paper at the crowd is also awesome by the way.
Rave and Yang kick off to sarcastic ‘lets go Jimmy’ chants from the Dayton fans who have been red hot tonight. Rave does his usual hesitancy schtick so Yang bizzatchslaps him. The Crown Jewel is pissed off but Yang responds by hammerlocking him into a rear b*tchslap instead. Shelley kicks Sydal in the ribs then uses a simple blatant choke in the corner with the tag rope. The babyfaces look to work Alex over but he TESTICULAR CLAWS Sydal which allows him to make a tag. Abyss pulls Matt to the floor and hurls him into the railings. Daizee Haze rubs her betrayal of Sydal in at Vendetta by slapping him. Abyss tags in legally and hits a WARRIOR SPLASH for 2. Shelley tags and is horribly heckled by the crowd for his disgusting hair. SKULLF*CK on Sydal should shut them up though. Rave goes to the top rope but Sydal throws Shelley into his balls. Enzi on Alex…THEN A SPRINGBOARD FRANKENSTEINER ON RAVE! Hot tag to Yang who gets 2 with a Sayama kick/superkick combo. Rave cuts off his momentum with a spike DDT. The Monster takes the tag and crushes Yang so his partners can wear him down. Rave and Shelley argue with each other about who gets to rest on the apron. They settle on Rave, who steps out of the way of Yang and the Korean shoulder charges nothing but the ringpost. He whips Yang into the crowd as Abyss proudly shows the ref how’s he’s learnt to do The Embassy hand signal. Rave gets some payback for those slaps earlier but gets too cocky and has his top rope crossbody countered by a Yang heel kick. Hot tag to Jack who gets 2 with the standing corkscrew SSP on his former leader Alex Shelley. Sydal standing moonsaults Rave but in the melee Abyss has been tagged. He throws all three of his opponents aside and dominates them. HE PRESS SLAMS SYDAL TO THE FLOOR! Abyss wants to fly….but Shelley is a c*nt and blind tags him out! SHELLEY SLAPS ABYSS! The Monster almost loses it but somehow Alex manages to chill him out. BLACK HOLE SLAM FOR SYDAL! SPRINGBOARD MARTIAL ARTS KICK BY YANG! CRAPPY WIZARD FROM RAVE! What an exchange! Evans hits a Busaiku Knee on Shelley and says it’s 630 time. SLICED BREAD #2! GREETINGS FROM GHANA! Rave steals Shelley’s pin at 23:40.
Rating – **** – It wasn’t as stand-out exciting as the opening semi-final, but it was probably a better straight-up WRESTLING contest. The babyface trio are all high-fliers, so the general plot of the contest was the heel Embassy trio dominating the fliers, who every so often made comebacks with their high-impact, exciting offence. Yang again looked impressive – one of the most frustrating things about wrestling is when guys stall thinking of what to do next, and Jimmy just never looks like he’s doing that. He has such a natural feel and flow to his style. The Embassy dissension storyline was well done because you could tell it wasn’t so much a dislike of each other as in traditional stable-friction angles, just professional jealousy with both Rave and Shelley fighting to be the top guy and be the one to dethrone Danielson. That was a good ending to a vastly improved tournament from last year…
Austin Aries/Roderick Strong vs Bryan Danielson/Jay Lethal – ROH Tag Title Match
When AmDrag won the World Title the first person he gave a shot to was Austin Aries – a way to show respect to the man he’d already had three classic battles with in the past. Now it’s time for Austin to make his first Tag Title defence, and he’s returning the favour. Obviously we know of the rivalry between Danielson and Aries, but there is some very bad blood between the American Dragon and Aries’ partner. Both their World Title matches last year made it into my Top 10 MOTY and it hasn’t stopped there. At Hell Freezes Over they went at it again in the FIP Title Match, and in the end it was Danielson who wormed his way into Strong’s title shot and ended up winning it. If Roddy, or Aries for that matter, want a shot at Dragon’s gold, they need to pin him here. Danielson’s partner, wrestling’s hottest free agent, Jay Lethal has already spelt out his motivation. He wants to win the belts here and add winning them to beating Low Ki in the list of things he’s done and Samoa Joe hasn’t.
Danielson winds Strong up during the handshakes by slapping him in the face. He chops Roddy and immediately tags out so he doesn’t have to face the consequences. Lethal acts like he’s going to give Strong a clean break then cracks me up with a hilarious kick to the shin. CRADLE BACKBREAKER! Lethal goes crawling to his corner but Dragon wants no part of the Messiah of the Backbreaker. He does give Jay a nice massage though. Aries tags and Lethal busts out the funky cartwheel hiptoss into a low dropkick we saw against Chris Daniels. Lethal headscissors’ Austin on the mat which NEVER works. He tries to cover up from the inevitable dropkick so Aries waits and KICKS HIM IN THE FACE! He attempts a chop but he knows who’s better and tags to Roderick who does his best to cave in Jay’s chest. Lethal goes to the eyes…running facewash? Joe is gonna kill you Lethal. Danielson in for the Mexican surfboard, but switches to raking at the face. Lethal takes some free shots at Rod whilst Aries argues with the official. The challengers make rapid fire tags in and out, hitting repeated body slams along the way. Eventually Strong blocks one and CHOPS Dragon some more. He runs to the floor to escape and Lethal comes to help him out. Double chops on the outside by the challengers. Lethal elbow drops the back which has already been messed up by the 50 zillion body slams earlier. POWER DRIVE ELBOW! Is Jay trying to piss everyone on the roster off? He applies the stranglehold with a knee lodged in the spine and cuts off his fightback with a hard back suplex.
Danielson with more face raking but Roddy manages to worm his way free and get the tag to Austin. GUERRERO SPLASH for 2. AIRPLANE SPIN…tag to Strong in mid-spin…AND NOW HE CONTINUES IT! That’s a cool sequence in the same building where Dragon beat Homicide with the infamous never-ending Airplane spin. He tags out to Lethal who chops Aries in the corner as Dragon proclaims him to be the ‘best chopper in ROH’. He pitches Austin to the floor…OLE OLE KICK BY LETHAL! In the ring we get a nice slingshot heel kick combo by Danielson and Jay. AmDrag with a superplex which gets 2. We’re well past 20 minutes by the way. The challengers scale opposing turnbuckles…STEREO DIVING HEADBUTTS MISS! Hot tag to Roddy who brings the pain with big time chops. Backbreakers next, ending with a head and arm backbreaker on Lethal for 2. Aries with a missile dropkick then the RUNNING DROPKICK on Dragon. BACK SUPERPLEX for Roderick Strong, who’s back has been killed in this one. Roaring elbow to the neck into the jumping DDT from Lethal. CATTLE MUTILATION…broken by Austin. HALF NELSON BACKBREAKER…AS LETHAL SHOVES ARIES OFF THE TOP ROPE! He avoids a pescado though – HEAT SEEKING MISSILE! Danielson and Strong have another chop war until Dragon goes to knock Roderick out with a roaring elbow. CATTLE MUTILATION AGAIN! He looks for the Crossface Chickenwing…DOUBLE KNEE GUTBUSTER! GIBSON DRIVER…DANIELSON KICKS OUT! HALF NELSON BACKBREAKER! STRONGHOOOOOOOLD! DRAGON TAPS! DRAGON TAPS! 29:21 is your time…man what a classic!
Rating – ****1/2 – That would be your first ROH MOTYC for 2006 then. Forget the Liger tag, forget the Kobashi tag, forget the Saints/Briscoes series, this was the best tag team match in ROH history. A simply phenomenal effort by all four guys. Danielson and Lethal were sensational as a heel tag team. The Dragon/Strong feud was reignited in brilliant fashion with their exchanges. Jay Lethal’s transformation to cocky yet utterly clueless prick was completed fantastically with his performance. The way he stole moves from Joe, Aries and Strong just made you desperate to see him killed. In fact, my only criticism of this match is you never quite get the pay-off for all Jay’s jerking off. Because Strong had to beat Danielson to earn another rematch, you never got to see the massacre on Lethal he deserved. Incredible stuff though, and if that won’t kick start the division, nothing will. Congratulations to all four men, that rocked.
Lacey’s Angels are backstage – with Jimmy distracted by Lacey’s legs. He’s in ‘loooooove’, and Whitmer is furious. He yells at Lacey for calling him a ‘big dumb man’ at Buffalo Stampede (WHAT!? Wrestlers don’t watch these DVD’s and see all the things that get said about them!) too. He demands Jimmy focus because they’ve got a Tag Title shot tomorrow night.
DP asks Sydal for his decision – will he reconsider his decision to tag with AJ and go for the belts? He avoids the question and says he’ll answer tomorrow night in Cleveland.
Tape Rating – **** – Hell Freezes Over was a disappointment – but as usual ROH rebounds in a major way. There’s something for everyone on this DVD. The Trios Tournament is wonderfully entertaining. Whilst no one match meets the standard of Joe/Dragon/Walker vs Spanky/Gibson/Nigel from last year, and three of the four teams being somewhat thrown together, the new format delivered to produce a much better show and three very watchable matches. Ki/Daniels wasn’t what I was expecting but I really liked it. The CZW angle and Jim Cornette promo are must see stuff and we round off with the best tag match in Ring Of Honor history. What’s not to like? I’ll admit there’s a bit of a lull in the middle but Collyer/Castagnoli and Steel/Keenan were deliberately slowed to fuel the CZW stuff, and McGuiness/Delirious was fun for a little squash. I really can’t state enough that you should go buy this.
Top 3 Matches
3) Jimmy Yang/Jack Evans/Matt Sydal vs BJ Whitmer/Jimmy Jacobs/Adam Pearce (****)
2) Low Ki vs Christopher Daniels (****)
1) Austin Aries/Roderick Strong vs Bryan Danielson/Jay Lethal (****1/2)