ROH 96 – Best In The World – 25th March 2006
Onward we go with The Milestone Series then, and we’re roaring into Manhattan again with a stacked show that Gabe Sapolsky has pimped as ‘better than Manhattan Mayhem’, a show which most (including me) deem to be the best ROH show ever. This is off the back of ROH’s debut in the ECW Arena where they ended up on the wrong side of an ass-kicking at the hands of the CZW roster. Chris Hero and Necro Butcher have an open challenge to turn up on the show tonight. The main event features the returns of KENTA and Naomichi Marufuji. They both impressed at Final Battle 2005, and tonight they’ll team up against an ROH dream team of Samoa Joe and World Champion Bryan Danielson. Nigel McGuiness gives one last Pure Title shot to Claudio Castagnoli and the Briscoes have their biggest match since returning two shows ago – against Roderick Strong and Jack Evans. We’ve also got Daniels/Shelley in an interesting match, an Aries/Reyes rematch and a SHIMMER fourway. Now we go to Basketball City in Manhattan, NY. Hosts once again are Prazak and Leonard.
The DVD opens with the continued footage from the ROH/CZW riot from the end of Arena Warfare. Zandig has a microphone and rants as the ROH fans chant ‘boring’. The ROH students are in the parking lot in a fight of their own but nobody really cares about that. In the ring the CZW guys tear up the guardrails and anything that says ‘ROH’ on it and leave BJ Whitmer in a mess. The guy has staples in his back and forehead. Talk about suffering for your art. But he just got made into a star – something he hasn’t managed before despite being around since 2003. He’s out injured and not on this show.
MARCH TOP 5 RANKINGS
1. Roderick Strong (beat Jimmy Yang who’s at #2 – give the man a title shot already)
2. Jimmy Yang (needs to rebound after that loss to Rod Strong)
3. Christopher Daniels (his loss to Colt Cabana will hurt him)
4. Alex Shelley (lost his World Title match. Wrestles Daniels tonight)
5. Samoa Joe (should move up the rankings after beating Colt Cabana at Arena Warfare)
Jimmy Rave vs Pelle Primeau
This is one of those jobber matches being taped for ROHVideos.com. Pelle is one of the students from the wrestling school and he takes a good beating. This is Rave’s first appearance since losing his World Title Match at the Fourth Anniversary Show so will need to hit the winning trail again.
Jimmy Rave is HATED tonight. Apparently this is the first time ROH has broken 1000 fans in Manhattan. Rave takes Primeau down and punches the crap out of him right away. In the corner he stiffs the young guy and generally makes a mess of his face. Pelle hits a springboard crossbody out of nowhere but Jimmy promptly wipes him out with a spear. Greetings From Ghana ends it at 01:57.
Rating – DUD – Much as you’d expect, a complete squash. I like Pelle though, he does have a knack for taking a real (Spike Dudley-esque?) beating. He also looked a lot more fluid in there than guys like Davey Andrews or Shane Hagadorn have so, maybe he’s got a future.
Prince Nana gets on the microphone and runs down Bruce Leroy (some martial arts guy from a random martial arts film I’ve never heard of) since he’s in the front row tonight. Apparently everyone in the crowd knows who he is though. His real life friend Jimmy Yang comes out to defend his honour and we have an impromptu match.
Jimmy Rave vs Jimmy Yang
This could be an interesting match since Rave provides a good heel wrestler to work around the fluent but spotty style Yang works. This should have ramifications on the Top 5 since Jimmy Rave wants back into them, and Yang is on the way down after losing to #1 ranked Roderick Strong at Arena Warfare.
Rave stomps Yang down but the Korean heel kicks him in the corner to take control. Sayama kick landed, as does a nifty superkick and Rave is in a heap. He uses the ropes to hit a nice rolling heel kick in the corner but Nana distracts him allowing Rave to knock him off the apron. Back inside Rave drops Yang with a neckbreaker for 2. He applies a full nelson which is guaranteed heat these days thanks to Chris Masters. Yang breaks it to hit a standing moonsault then slap on a hammerlock to keep his opponent grounded. He misses a shoulder tackle in the corner and collides with the metal ringpost. Rave capitalises by shoeing him in his exposed neck. He works it further with a chinlock as the HOT crowd gives him still more heat. If anyone is more over than Jimmy Rave tonight I’ll be shocked. He puts Yang on the top rope but isn’t able to hit a superplex. Nana climbs onto the apron only to take a DIVING HEEL KICK! Rave ducks another spinning heel kick attempt and spears Yang for 2. Moonsault press misses and Rave dropkicks the knee allowing him to nail the CRAPPY WIZARD! But Yang quickly rolls him up and steals the victory in 06:32.
Rating – ** – Very sports entertainment, but the crowd was hot and it was a lot of fun. I’m a huge Jimmy Yang fan and I felt he modified his offence a little here to sell the neck that Rave was working. It’s taken him longer to adjust to the ROH style than James Gibson did for instance, but he always looks like a solid worker and if this issue with Rave develops into a feud we could see some good stuff. As I predicted, the always over Rave provides an excellent grounded opponent for him to work around.
Nana and Rave try to do a beat down after the match but that Bruce Leroy comes to his aid with a MEGA-WORKED kick on Nana (after which Jimmy Rave runs away rather than face him lol). Cool segment that has actually given Yang some purpose in Ring Of Honor.
Mercedes Martinez vs Allison Danger vs Daizee Haze vs Lacey
Womens fourway action to promote Dave Prazak’s SHIMMER Women’s Athletes organisation. I promise I’ll get my review of SHIMMER Volume 1 up soon since it’s worth checking out. Martinez/Del Ray and Haze/Lacey are both tremendous matches. Obviously this is ROH though, meaning despite being a face in SHIMMER, Daizee is part of The Embassy and a heel. It’s Martinez’s ROH debut tonight and she’s also a really solid female worker. I just ordered Volume 3 of the series which also has a decent card. The SHIMMER women will also be a big part of the forthcoming Wrestlemania tripleshot weekend (although only actually making the main show once).
Lacey and Daizee immediately renew their rivalry by starting in the ring. Haze gets the best of the opening exchange with a nice roll-up sequence. Lacey attempts a cross armbreaker but Daizee rolls right out of it into a headlock. MORE nearfalls from Haze before they pause. Lacey tags Mercedes by slapping her in the face. Danger tags too and these two women start belting each other with forearm strikes. Allison tries to shoulder tackle Martinez but can’t, so she goes to a nice double underhook deathlock instead. Daizee breaks that with a kick to the head then Lacey clotheslines Martinez to piss her off again. Lacey traps Danger in the corner and double knees her in the back. A Russian legsweep gets 2. Daizee comes in with a couple of dropkicks to the neck and face. Danger comes back by brutally drop toeholding her over the bottom rope. CURB KICK gets 2 on the Haze. Tags all round allowing Mercedes to finally get her hands on Lacey. ROLLING BRAINBUSTERS! GERMAN SUPLEX! SPINEBUSTER ON HAZE! Danger drags Lacey to the floor as Daizee hits a facebuster on Martinez. Haze tries to piss the crowd off by NOT diving off the top only for Mercedes to SHOVE HER OFF ANYWAY! Daizee goes for the Heart Punch on Danger on the floor ONLY TO BE SWUNG INTO THE GUARDRAILS! In the ring Lacey counters Martinez’s Fisherman Buster with a LUNGBLOWER! FISHERMAN BUSTER NAILED THIS TIME! But Mercedes isn’t legal – Allison Danger made a blind tag. MISSILE DROPKICK by Haze! Meanwhile Allison rolls Lacey up to get the win at 10:30.
Rating – *** – There were a few near-botches but on the whole that was fantastic, action-packed four corner action that, in truth, was a lot better than a lot of the recent male fourways. Incidentally, it was also better than the fourway main event of SHIMMER Volume 2. Martinez looked awesome in her ROH debut, whilst Daizee Haze surprised me with her wrestling ability. I’ve always thought she was a little spotty but she adapted her style to be a heel and made it work. Allison and Lacey were the veterans here, having been with ROH for a long time and they didn’t disappoint. Lacey IS the best American female worker around right now in my opinion and if a womens division is going to take off in ROH, then she will be right at the centre of it. If you liked this, get yourself some SHIMMER.
Chris Hero and Necro Butcher are in the ring. Hero sets Necro on Jason Blade and Kid Mikaze who were on their way to the ring anyway. Poor little jobbers. Apparently Blade and Kid M had an open contract which the CZW boys accepted. Butcher picks up both Jason and a chair and SLAMS HIM ON THE CHAIR! Mikaze taps to a front choke from Hero. CZW’s saviour calls out Adam Pearce next, looking for revenge after he attacked Necro at Dissension. Scrap Iron obliges them and takes Necro into the crowd for a big fight with chairs. Pearce eventually scoops Butcher up for a SLAM THROUGH THE TIMEKEEPERS TABLE! He forgot about Hero though who kicks him in the balls. With the Scrap Daddy laid out, he gets the microphone AGAIN to call out Claudio Castagnoli – his tag partner, student and best friend. He wants Double C to help him and join CZW’s side. EUROPEAN UPPERCUT ON NECRO! ‘F*ck CZW’ – Claudio. Hero and Necro flee and this LONG ass segment ends. It could’ve been trimmed by quite a bit and still accomplished the same things – putting Adam Pearce over and Claudio choosing ROH over his mentor.
Alex Shelley vs Christopher Daniels
I’ve seen this happen elsewhere but this is a first-time effort for ROH. Once again a match has major Top 5 ramifications. Both competitors are in them but both are coming off significant losses at Arena Warfare. Incidentally both of these have now challenged for and failed to take the World Title from Bryan Danielson. I love Shelley’s entrance music. Daniels new robe is PIMP!
Shelley spits water in Daniels face to take the advantage right away, and follows it up with a slap. He quickly runs to his entourage on the floor to avoid the wrath of the Fallen Angel. He lands another slap on Daniels and literally runs away as he gets chased with a chair. Now Nana distracts Daniels, allowing Shelley to jump him from behind. Finally Daniels is able to slap the taste out of Shelley’s mouth and he runs away again, angrily refuting Manhattan’s suggestion that he got b*tchslapped. He sweeps Daniels’ legs but gets caught with an atomic drop as he attempts to jump in from the top rope. Shelley chops Daniels in the corner but he returns fire and goes back to the arm he’s been working over with most of his offence thus far. He elbow drops the shoulder then armbars Shelley, who escapes by raking his boots across the face and dropkicking Daniels in the back. He hits a neckbreaker, then goes after the legs before applying a nice deathlock which effects both body parts. The crowd is hot for this with duelling chants. Shelley gets 2 with a bulldog, and gets another one shortly after with a lionsault (which gets ‘Y2J’ chants from the fans). He cuts off a Daniels comeback by raking the eyes then kicking him in the face. A top rope guillotine scores but Daniels swats a slingshot move aside and lays his opponent out with a stepping enziguri. Shelley kicks out after a tilta-whirl backbreaker and a running STO, then plants Daniels with a superkick. Front dropkick to Daniels’ head lays him out again but he hits back with a blue thunder driver. He goes for the BME but no dice. Shelley gets the knees up from an Arabian press. ANGELS WINGS! Daniels wins at 14:34.
Rating – *** – Very solid affair all round that felt like it got cut off just as it had started getting really interesting. The match pitted the cocky shortcuts of Shelley against the experience and ability of Chris Daniels and made for pretty entertaining stuff. Most of the bodywork went nowhere (Shelley completely forgot about selling his arm, just as Daniels completely forgot about focusing on it) but I think that was a consequence of the shorter than ideal time allowance. They’d just got going on the matwork, which the crowd was very into, when they had to go into their go home sequences and had to forget about it. I’d love to see a rematch – although I seem to find myself saying that a lot with Alex Shelley. He’s so under-utilised in this company, which is a shame.
Nigel McGuiness vs Claudio Castagnoli – ROH Pure Title Match
This feud has stretched for a long while now, and it’s Claudio’s last opportunity at the Pure Title. Since beating him at Enter The Dragon Double C has pretty much been out of luck against his main nemesis. In two title matches Nigel has cheated to beat him, despite the best intentions of Commissioner Jim Cornette. I’ve loved their series of matches (although the universal reception to them hasn’t been as glowing as mine), hopefully they can now blow off the issue in some style. Nigel’s NOAH commitments mean he struggles to make shows on a regular basis right now. I think a lot of people are sensing a title change here.
McGuiness tries to suck up to the referee during the usual reading of the rules but Claudio mauls him with a flurry of European uppercuts. He takes it to the floor but Nigel comes back at him there, throwing him into the guardrails and hitting a running uppercut. Castagnoli ties Nigel up in an inverted surfboard but he’s able to roll free without using a ropebreak. Diving uppercut to the neck scores and gets Claudio 2. He goes for the Neutraliser but McGuiness squirms to the ropes to escape at the cost of his first break. He headstands into the corner for a KICKING FINAL CUT which gets 2. Wristlock takedown keeps Claudio on the back foot. McGuiness slows it down by applying a cobra clutch then dropping Double C with the hammerlock DDT. Cobra clutch again, working the arm and choking the fight and hatred out of his Swiss opponent. ‘God Save The Queen’ – Manhattan. WRIST CLUTCH suplex on Claudio. He drives his arm into the ropes to do more damage to it. Nigel goes for the wristlock takedown again but Claudio counters with the Match Killer, leaving both guys down. Springboard reverse elbow scores for the challenger, and he shoves McGuiness out…FOR A GODDAMN RUNNING CORKSCREW PESCADO! McGuiness hangs Castagnoli up in the corner then climbs the ropes. He misses a Low Ki-style double stomp but recovers to hit a running uppercut to the neck. TOWER OF LONDON! CLAUDIO KICKS OUT! Nigel goes for his finisher a second time only for Castagnoli to flip out. ALFA MARI WATER SLIDE…FOR 2! EUROPEAN UPPERCUT DUEL! Castagnoli blocks the rebound lariat…ALFA MARI WATER SLIDE AGAIN! Nigel kicks out again! Double C goes upstairs which is just stupid. TOWER OF LONDON AGAIN! But Castagnoli is too close to the ropes! He goes for a desperation backslide only for McGuiness to kick out. REBOUND LARIAT! Nigel retains again, and clean this time, at 12:57.
Rating – **** – I really mean that, it was every bit as good as the Aries title defence, and a great way to showcase the fact that Pure Title Matches can be grudge matches too. These two guys really carried the hatred and intensity from the word go, with Castagnoli flying out of the blocks to get some revenge on his weasel of an opponent. It was hard-hitting throughout, and the culmination of the match was all about who could put the other one away, not about who could cheat the best, who could get rid of all the ropebreaks first etc. I think this is a really underrated match quite frankly, and Nigel’s improvement as a performer since winning the belt is remarkable. I really hope he can get back to a more regular schedule with ROH because all of a sudden he’s gone from second rate (but still good) Doug Williams to a unique and able performer in his own right and there is still a lot of steam left in his lengthy reign as Pure Champion.
INTERMISSION – GMC is waiting for Nigel McGuiness, but it’s so goddamn dark you can’t see him.
Cut to probably the funniest thing ever – ‘The Ballad Of Lacey’, by Jimmy Jacobs. It’s a whiny emo song written for his love. The internet jargon is hysterical. This song makes the somewhat silly Lacey/Jimmy angle all worthwhile. ‘Lacey…you’re the American Beauty and I’m Kevin Spacey’. The sight of Jimmy pouring candle wax on himself in leopard skin underwear is mildly unsettling however.
Capetta has McGuiness now. He takes a shot at AmDrag, calling himself the real World Champion.
Ricky Reyes vs Austin Aries
The back story here is pretty much the same as it was at Hell Freezes Over. Aries is pissed off that Ricky Reyes bullied all his students. In that match Aries got the win but couldn’t get out of Ricky’s vicious dragon sleeper, and got choked unconscious with it after the match. Unless he comes up with a counter for that move he could lose this time around. Remember Reyes and the Rottweilers consider themselves in the hunt for Tag Titles which Aries and Roderick Strong are in possession of.
Aries sends Reyes through the ropes with an armdrag. Ricky comes back by trapping Aries in a front facelock, trying to control his explosive opponent. Aries escapes with more armdrags. He bates Reyes into the grounded headscissors but the Rottweiler blocks the dropkick counter by driving his head into the canvas. Aries instead counters out by swivelling into his own headscissors. Reyes tries to pop up and kick Aries in the face but he ducks. Aries pops up out of a headscissors but now it’s Reyes ducking the dropkick. Austin dropkicks Reyes in the side then drills him with a power drive elbow to the ribs. Snap sidewalk slam does more damage to that area and gets him a nearfall. He does his own instant replay on a knee drop which is pretty cool. Swinging neckbreaker by Reyes gets 2, and Ricky starts beating on the neck like a savage, dropping Aries on his head with a back suplex then cranking the head. He goes for a second back drop but Aries fights it. They sock each other with big forearms before Austin gets the advantage with a HEAT SEEKING MISSILE! Slingshot corkscrew splash gets 2, so does a lionsault. Reyes blocks the brainbuster…BRIDGING HEAD DROP SUPLEX for 2. He pelts Aries with stiff kicks then lays him out with a jumping knee strike. Shinbreaker/back suplex combo by the Tag Champion. RUNNING CORNER DROPKICK gets 2 again. Brainbuster is almost countered to the dragon sleeper but Aries muscles Reyes into the Finlay roll. 450 Splash misses…REYES ARMDRAGS ARIES INTO THE BUCKLES! DRAGON SLEEPER LOCKED IN! Aries gets his feet in the ropes but Reyes refuses to break the hold. Aries gets another win (by DQ) without being able to break Reyes’ dragon sleeper at 11:27.
Rating – *** – Another great undercard effort by Ricky Reyes, who is always impressive these days, no matter how small his role on the card is. The second Gabe wants this guy to step up, I think he’ll deliver. Meanwhile Aries is on a great run in 2006. This is his second fun outing with Reyes, and he’s got the McGuiness and Sydal matches to go alongside some commendable Tag Title matches too. He’s been tremendous pretty much since the start of 2005 and his World Title run in fact.
Roderick Strong and Jack Evans come to save their partner…which of course brings out their opponents tonight the Briscoes and we go seamlessly into their big match.
Roderick Strong/Jack Evans vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe
This is a dream match for a lot of long-time followers of Ring Of Honor. For a long time the Briscoes pretty much defined the ROH tag division. When they began their hiatus in August 2004 they left a gaping hole there. The Havana Pitbulls were given the tag belts but never really lived up to the hype, and it was Evans and Strong who began to excel. In fact, along with Whitmer and Jacobs, they were pretty much the be all and end all of the ROH Tag division at the start of 2005. Now with the Briscoes back and repeatedly jumping Generation Next in their quest to regain their Tag Titles they come up against the men who replaced them at the forefront of the tag team scene. Obviously a win for them pretty much guarantees them a title shot, considering Roderick Strong is one half of the tag division.
Mark hits Roderick with a spinning heel kick then a SOMERSAULT PLANCHA as Jack takes to the air with a SPRINGBOARD FLYING HEADSCISSORS ON JAY! That’s insane, and now the match actually starts. Mark makes the save with a springboard dropkick and goes to work on Evans’ leg early on. Together the Briscoes work on isolating the high flier of Generation Next. Jack flips out of the corner causing them to knock each other out and he gets the tag after a spinning kick on Mark. Strong press slams Evans into Mark for 2. All the other guys spill to the floor for Jack to BACK FLIP FAKE on one dive THEN HIT A SPRINGBOARD FLIP SPLASH TO THE FLOOR! He dishes out more awesome kicks and gets a ton of hangtime on a hard knee drop for 2. This time it’s Jay tagging in to make the save for his partner and the Briscoes get a double team flurry in on Roddy. Strong ducks a mafia kick from Jay allowing GeNext to nail a BACK SUPLEX/FLIPPING NECKBREAKER COMBO! That was incredible, and Mark has to break the pin. Strong back suplexes Evans into a senton then hits a standing moonsault. Corkscrew Red Star Press from Evans finds the mark too, then Strong CHOPS THE SH*T out of Briscoe’s chest. Jay comes back with a flipping neckbreaker out of the corner and gets a tag.
Axe kick/Yakuza kick combo by the Briscoes has Jack scrambling to stop a pin. Roderick tries to chop Mark Briscoe and gets pummelled with a barrage of forearm strikes. He pulls out his first backbreaker of the match to get a tag. Jack stiffs Mark again and comes up with a STANDING 450! ANKLELOCK by Mark! Rod leans into the ring to pull his partner to the ropes but the damage is done and the Briscoes are going to work on Evans’ leg again. They do some serious damage and look set to do more after Mark cuts off a tag. Jay applies a figure 4 and draws Strong into the ring to allow some classic Briscoes cheating. SPRINGBOARD QUEBRADA by Evans, but of course that hurts his own leg and it takes him an eternity to get the hot tag. GIBSON DRIVER on Mark for 2. They set up for the powerbomb moonsault double stomp but Jay makes the save. HEAD DROP URINAGE on Strong by Mark. Jay looks for the Jay Driller but Roddy blocks and SLAUGHTERS Jay with a big boot. Evans is able to swing both Briscoes into a double DDT but his knee is still killing him. He goes for all or nothing with the 630 but Mark crotches him. Strong saves…SUPERPLEX FLIP SPLASH ON JAY! Mark makes the save and drops Jack on his head with a fisherman buster. SPRINGBOARD DOOMSDAY DEVICE BY THE BRISCOES! STRONG SAVES! FIREMANS CARRY GUTBUSTER ON JAY! HALF NELSON BACKBREAKER FOR MARK! SKIPPING A GENERATION PHOENIX SPLASH! GENEXT WIN AT 19:31! UNBE-F*CKIN’-LIEVABLE!
Rating – ****1/2 – Strong and Evans win the match and looked awesome, but more importantly than that, the Briscoes are back to reclaim their crown as the best team in the USA with an excellent showing of their own. On a show which still has KENTA and Marufuji to come these four men just went out and put on the 2006 MOTY up to this point, and a truly state of the art match that has to be seen to be believed. Despite being so laden with big spots you barely had time to breath for 20 minutes, this was actually an incredibly psychologically sound match. The whole thing was a big struggle for control with each team continually having to up the stakes and pull something more devastating out to keep the advantage. The work on the leg to ground Evans was exceptional and was sold well despite all the dives Evans did (everyone was followed by some form of selling) and had some great pay-offs like the superplex flip splash double team. In fact, aside from the return to form of Jay and Mark, Jack Evans was the other major impressive factor in this match. Somewhere along the way (maybe it’s all the Dragon Gate action he’s seeing) he’s become a great wrestler. His strikes (mainly kicks) are stiff and impressive, in tag matches like this his limited mat skills are disguised and he sold that knee like death, taking a hell of a beating to make the Briscoes look impressive. I could rave about this all night…but there’s still another potential tag team MOTY to come in the main event. If you didn’t believe me before folks, Ring Of Honor IS delivering on their promise to bring back tag team wrestling.
Massive standing ovation for that match and rightly so. The sell-job continues after the match as Roderick has to carry Jack to the back since he can’t walk.
We cut away from that to a Colt Cabana promo. He and Homicide aren’t on the show tonight due to injuries they sustained in a brawl at Arena Warfare that wasn’t even captured on film due to the CZW riot. I’ve become a real fan of serious Cabana and this feud, but I’m ready to see it ended. We get the point. Cabana is terrified but needs to face his fears and overcome Homicide. Homicide wants to beat the respect and submission into his adversary. It ends at the Wrestlemania triple shot, then they can take what this issue has done for their characters and move onto something new. Colt’s promo after the scissor attack at Vendetta was better.
KENTA/Naomichi Marufuji vs Bryan Danielson/Samoa Joe
If one tag team dream match wasn’t enough, here’s another dose of it. KENTA and Marufuji are perhaps the best team of the decade thus far and seeing them together in ROH is pretty damn cool. They are faced with an ROH dream team of the World Champion Bryan Danielson and the biggest name in the promotion, Samoa Joe. Remember Danielson and Marufuji crossed paths at Final Battle 2005, in a closely fought battle which Danielson just edged with a roll-up. In that Marufuji seemed to have a lot of AmDrag’s trademark stuff scouted and had answers to it all, he very easily could’ve been World Champion that night. KENTA is also returning to ROH having previously successfully defended his GHC Jr. Heavyweight Title against Low Ki in a late MOTYC. Incidentally, he and Samoa Joe had some heated clashes on a recent show in Mexico so there’s an issue brewing between those two as well.
Joe refuses to shake hands with Kenta before the bell to put more emphasis on their heat. Danielson and Marufuji start so we don’t have to wait long to get a rehash of their Final Battle match. Just like last time they seem very even. Kenta gets the tag and he and the fans want Joe in. Danielson doesn’t wrestle how anyone else tells him to though so he refuses. He tries to get some mat-wrestling going with the GHC Jr. Heavyweight Champion but he runs across the ring and BOOTS Joe in the face. Now AmDrag makes the popular tag and Joe gets his hands on Kobashi’s protégé. Kenta takes him in the corner for a kick flurry…BUT JOE FIRES BACK WITH KICKS OF HIS OWN! Having suitably slapped each other about Marufuji tags to go for Poetry In Motion…but Joe counters with an STJoe. Chop/kick into the knee drop sequence allows the Samoan to bring the World Champion back in. The fans want to see a Mexican surfboard…so like usual Danielson stomps the knees instead. Earthquake running Banzai drop to the knee keeps the pressure on that as Team ROH look to isolate Fuji. Danielson kicks him to the floor where Joe slings him into the metal railings. Marufuji tries to chop at Dragon who rakes his eyes to stop that. He half crabs Fuji and yells across the ring at Kenta like a prick. Now it actually is Mexican surfboard time – and Joe makes it worse by drilling Naomichi with a kick whilst he’s in the hold. Marufuji finally manages a drop toehold/low dropkick combo and gets the tag. KENTA AND JOE BRAWL ON THE FLOOR!
He comes back into the ring to take it to the World Champion only to have Joe come after him and stomp him in the head. Slingshot elbow from Marufuji, followed by a slingshot kick of disrespect from his partner. Kenta breaks out the throat thrust which rocks, before Fuji camel clutches Danielson allowing him to land a kick to the chest. They switch places allowing Marufuji to get a running start on a brutal dropkick for 2. Tiger Mask flip from the champ, into a ROARING ELBOW and both guys are floored at 20 minutes. Hot tag to Joe who throws the Japanese guys around like dolls. He does his best to kill Kenta with a big boot and a senton splash. Kenta kicks him in the back of the head and nails a back suplex. Joe is too strong for Marufuji to shoulder tackle but he goes down from a weird ass kick. He’s also too heavy for Fuji to scoop slam…or suplex! Marufuji is too quick for Joe, until he runs into his powerslam. STF on Fuji as Danielson keeps Kenta outside the ring. Just like with Kobashi he switches to a Crossface then a Rings Of Saturn to make it harder to find the ropes. DIVING HEADBUTT by the World Champion. They go through a hella-roll up sequence. FINAL BATTLE ROLL-UP ONLY GETS 2 THIS TIME! Danielson goes for the Crossface Chickenwing but it’s too close to the ropes.
Marufuji goes for the Shiranui…COUNTERED TO THE CATTLE MUTILATION JUST LIKE WITH ALEX SHELLEY! Kenta has to break the hold. SUPERKICK…SHIRANUI NAILED! JOE SAVES! Fuji hangs Danielson in the corner for the SPRINGBOARD VAN TERMINATOR! He calls for the avalanche Shiranui but Dragon counters with a BACK SUPERPLEX! Tags all round and it’s Kenta who knocks Joe down with a big boot. SPRINGBOARD MISSILE DROPKICK for 2. Kenta nails the tornado guillotine then climbs the ropes again for a diving lariat. He goes for a suplex only to be dropped on his face by the Samoan. He goes for the Musclebuster but Marufuji saves with SUPERKICK! STRIKE FLURRY BY KENTA! E HONDA SLAPS FROM JOE! LARIATOOOOOO! AmDrag gets the tag and together they chop at Kenta. DRAGON SUPLEX…CATTLE MUTILATION! The CM Pin gets 2 and Kenta gets to his feet to block the Chickenwing. REGALPLEX but Marufuji stops the pin. JOE GIVES HIM THE ELBOW SUICIDA! Danielson to the top rope…AND KENTA RUNS UP AFTER HIM IN A SINGLE BOUND WITH THE SUPER FALCON ARROW! DANIELSON COUNTERS GO 2 SLEEP WITH THE MMA ELBOW FLURRY…KENTA ROLLS THROUGH! GO 2 SLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP! KENTA PINS THE WORLD CHAMPION!! 33:35 is your time.
Rating – ****1/2 – Another thrilling tag team match, and if it’s possible, they actually managed to top Briscoes/GeNext and put on an even better match. There were a few slower moments and a couple of communication errors, but in almost 35 minutes you can look past this. I think the reason I enjoyed this is because it was so different to your usual KENTAfuji tag match. They’re a great team, but you become kinda used to them doing very modern, spot-heavy matches (much like the previous match in fact). But this was a different animal altogether. It was actually reminiscent of the 90’s AJPW tags in many ways, in that it was an epic struggle throughout. Two teams, four of the very BEST IN THE WORLD going at it to see which pair were the best. The references to past matches from Danielson (both the Final Battle exchanges and the way he used the counter he learned for Sliced Bread #2 on Marufuji’s Shiranui) rocked my world, and the simmering heat and occasional violent eruptions between Joe and KENTA were superb, and left you begging for a singles match. And of course, the finish paves the way for a Danielson/KENTA ROH Title match if NOAH will let him job to an American wrestler with NJPW connections. The last 7-8 minute stretch was just non-stop excitement. If you’re losing your faith in KENTA or you don’t think Marufuji is capable of stepping up with guys like Kobashi as NOAH is pushing him to do so in 2006 watch this match. They’ll make you a believer.
Even after what they all just went through Joe and KENTA don’t shake hands, and get into a shoving match as KENTA picks up the ROH Title belt. KENTA gets the microphone…wait, he speaks English? ‘What’s up New York City??’ – KENTA. He promises he’ll be back in ROH very soon, it seems like Joe will be there waiting for him. Joe calls him a b*tch then walks out. ‘Hey Joe…I can’t understand English’ – KENTA. That’s perhaps the funniest moment in ROH this year. And more of KENTA in ROH is a very good thing.
Lance Storm hasn’t got handsome or charismatic since last December and Steel Cage Warfare then. He says that Bryan Danielson offering him a shot at the ROH Title is a match that could get him out of retirement. (That’s annoying since it was announced in February on the website that we’d get Danielson/Storm for the World Title on April 1st in Chicago – why act like he hasn’t agreed yet?)
It’s been a bad night for The Embassy. Yang beat Rave, Daniels beat Shelley and Bruce Leroy kicked Nana in the face. Shelley accuses Rave of cancelling his plane ticket at Unscripted 2. Rave says he was screwed out of the World Title because he wasn’t pinned, Shelley says he got the sh*t kicked out of him whilst he only lost on a fluke roll-up. They almost come to blows as we fade away with another ‘to be continued’ moment…
Rating – **** – As good as Manhattan Mayhem? Not quite I’m afraid. That show had a much better flow to it, and once it got going just bombarded you with 4* matches. That’s not to say this isn’t an exceptional event, second only to Tag Wars 2006 in this whole calendar year. The two main events are consecutive MOTYC’s and absolute must-see matches, regardless of whether you like your wrestling to be state of the art, spot-heavy sprints (Briscoes/GeNext) or you miss the days of AJPW and the gruelling warfare of their main event tag matches (KENTAfuji vs Danielson/Joe). Elsewhere there’s an underrated Pure Title match, and the SHIMMER fourway, Daniels/Shelley and Aries/Reyes are good too. Definitely the best show of the Milestone Series so far. Next stop is the Wrestlemania weekend, featuring three shows and some of the most talented line-ups you’ll ever see – including Dragon Gate wrestlers, Lance Storm, the end of the Cabana/Homicide and Joe/Daniels feuds, Danielson/Strong 3, AJ Styles, the SHIMMER women and much more besides. ROH just goes from strength to strength. Do yourself a favour, go out and buy this DVD, and buy all seven Milestone events whilst you’re at it.
Top 3 Matches
3) Nigel McGuiness vs Claudio Castagnoli (****)
2) Roderick Strong/Jack Evans vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe (****1/2)
1) KENTA/Naomichi Marufuji vs Bryan Danielson/Samoa Joe (****1/2)