ROH 97 – Dragon Gate Challenge – 30th March 2006
Just like in 2004 when Vince ran Wrestlemania at Madison Square Garden, ROH has again chosen to cash in on the WWE’s annual extravaganza in one of their regular markets by holding perhaps the biggest weekend the promotion has ever put on. The Milestone Series’ next stop is Ring Of Honor’s inaugural triple shot weekend, featuring this show in Detroit, then two nights in Chicago (where the surprisingly decent Wrestlemania 22 was hosted) to come. The talent line-ups for these events are staggering in truth. All the big ROH names are here. Bryan Danielson, Generation Next, the TNA guys, Homicide, Colt Cabana, The Embassy, the SHIMMER women, and of course, the much publicised appearances of six Dragon Gate talents (including the return of CIMA). It should be a special weekend with all three shows receiving glowing praise. This event is the return to Detroit after the successful (and enormously underrated) debut show, and is centred around the “challenge” in the title, with ROH and Dragon Gate going head to head in a best of 3 series. It’s Jimmy Yang vs Ryo Saito, Styles/Sydal vs Genki Horiguchi/Dragon Kid and in a 6-man dream match, it’ll be Generation Next against Blood Generation. Elsewhere there are grudge matches between Homicide and Colt Cabana, Samoa Joe and Chris Daniels (those feuds end in a series of matches this weekend) and the former tag partners BJ Whitmer and Jimmy Jacobs. The Embassy’s feud with American Dragon should also close tonight – in general a big kick-off to a big weekend. Detroit, MI is your setting. Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard are, of course, your hosts.
Best In The World ended with Jimmy Rave and Alex Shelley arguing. Nana ends that conflict by threatening to stop writing their big fat checks. They’re going for the Tag Titles as of now.
Lacey tries to psyche Jimmy Jacobs up for his match with Whitmer tonight. Jimmy is only interested in loving, not fighting, and asks if she saw his music video. She promises Jimmy a reward if he hurts BJ…and he chooses giving her a foot massage as his reward. That’s weird. This angle is weird…
MARCH TOP 5 RANKINGS
1. Roderick Strong (gets his World Title shot tomorrow night)
2. Jimmy Yang (beat Jimmy Rave in New York)
3. Christopher Daniels (rebounded from a loss to Cabana by beating Shelley in NYC)
4. Alex Shelley (has lost both his matches this month and is in danger of dropping out)
5. Samoa Joe (lost the huge tag main event last show but wasn’t pinned so remains strong)
Colt Cabana walks to the ring as the show starts and says he can’t wait any longer for Homicide.
Colt Cabana vs Homicide – Falls Count Anywhere Match
This feud is scheduled to end this weekend with a three match grudge series. It’s Falls Count Anywhere tonight (after the crazy superplex from the bleachers that we saw at Showdown In Motown that took them both out of a fourway), a Fight Without Honor scheduled for the first Chicago show, then a good, old-fashioned Street Fight to finish things off. Both these two missed the last event after suffering injuries in an off-camera brawl at Arena Warfare. Homicide is desperate for Colt to play dead and give up, whilst Cabana needs to beat Homicide to move on with his life and get over his fears. It’s not ground-breaking stuff but it’s been an intriguing issue that is set to culminate now.
Naturally there’s no waiting around for a handshake here. Cabana starts hot with a lariat and Homicide quickly hops through the ropes to the floor. HIPTOSS into the front row from the Chicago-native. They’ve wasted no time in utilising the match stipulations. Homicide gets the advantage and suplexes Colt into a row of chairs. It’s dark (again – lighting is becoming a real issue for ROH, Arena Warfare and Best In The World were awful) but you can make out them fighting up to the bleachers before coming back to ringside. Cabana drags out a ladder and sets it in the corner of the ring. He slingshots Cide right into it then adds more punishment with a Stinger splash. Ace crusher from Homicide. He sandwiches Cabana’s head in the rungs. CHAIR SHOT TO THE LADDER! Colt is knocked out and Cide has no problem pinning him at 05:24. Still Cabana can’t find the peace he so craves.
Rating – ** – An energetic and refreshingly brief brawl to start the big weekend. One of the main themes of this triple shot will be the Homicide/Cabana blow-off so it was important they throw in some more violence tonight without giving too much away. This definitely achieved that with another brutal spot to end the match. Cabana was legit concussed from that by the way.
Dragon Kid, Ryo Saito and Genki Horiguchi (representing the Do Fixer faction from Dragon Gate) cut a promo saying they’re here for a fight.
Christopher Daniels talks about the history with Samoa Joe. He’s never been able to get a win and tonight is his last chance to beat him in a singles match.
Chad Collyer vs Ricky Reyes
Somewhat of a throwaway match this, since neither really has an agenda tonight. Collyer is scheduled to end his rubbish feud with Ace Steel tomorrow in a First Blood match, whilst Reyes is still choking people out left and right with his dragon sleeper in the hunt for the Tag Titles. Chad had a fun undercard match with Reyes’ partner Rocky Romero in Chicago in 2004 though, so maybe this could be similarly entertaining.
Mat-based opening which probably allows Collyer to negate the striking advantage of his opponent. He connects with a couple of dropkicks and sends Reyes to the outside. Ricky avoids a baseball slide then drags Chad back into the ring with an elevated DDT from the middle rope. He rakes the eyes and follows up the neck damage of the DDT with a neckbreaker. He shows off the striking power but Collyer is able to duck a kick and land a German suplex. The bridging pin is only able to get 2 though – maybe his weakened neck didn’t help. Collyer neckbreakers Reyes now then goes back to the German but it’s still not good enough. Swinging neckbreaker by Reyes for 2. Collyer counters the fisherman buster and gets 2 with the Toilet Flush. Ricky counters a slam with a triangle choke and switches to a cross armbreaker. COLLYER CLOVERLEAF! That counter was SWEET! Reyes is able to crawl to the ropes. Chad dropkicks the knee but Reyes doesn’t let him reapply the Cloverleaf. Collyer tries a bridging pin only to be met with the DRAGON SLEEPER! He taps at 07:11.
Rating – ** – Given an extra couple of minutes that actually would’ve been as good as Collyer/Romero from Death Before Dishonor 2. It wasn’t perfect but Collyer is often at his most entertaining and crowd-engaging when he plays the underdog technician to a violent striker (such as his matches with Romero, or Low Ki from the Weekend Of Thunder) and again the energy they put in was enough to keep people interested. It doesn’t really make sense to job Chad out right before a “big” match tomorrow night – probably indicating how little even the bookers care for the Collyer/Steel feud. I think this match actually proves he has potential in ROH – he just needs to find the right way to demonstrate it. Reyes is having an impressive year on the undercard. Much like when he and Romero were Tag Champions though, he is now looking for a break-out match to really get him over.
Blood Generation (CIMA, Naruki Doi and Masato Yoshino) say they’re number one.
Samoa Joe keeps it short and sweet about Christopher Daniels. He’ll beat the Fallen Angel once again – just like always. Then he’ll demand a handshake.
Jimmy Jacobs vs BJ Whitmer
‘The Ballad Of Lacey’ is now Jimmy’s entrance theme, and he encourages people to wave their cellphones/lighters in time. I wish people would let the HUSS gimmick die by the way. It’s annoying chanting it for no reason. Anyway, this obviously comes about after BJ quit Lacey’s Angels and gave Jacobs the Wrist Clutch Exploder after losing a tag title match at Dissension. Lacey herself doesn’t even want Jacobs to win tonight – simply to hurt BJ, who returns to action following his destruction at the hands of the CZW roster in the ECW Arena.
Lacey has a hard time focusing Jimmy’s attention on the match. Eventually he does go to the wrestling and lands a multiple-revolution satellite headscissors. Whitmer goes after Lacey and Jacobs gets angry. He goes for a pescado only to be caught and launched into the guardrail. He takes some pretty fierce bumps into the metal, almost ending up in the crowd. In the ring again and BJ continues to beat Jacobs from pillar to post. Finally he goes for a powerbomb out of the corner and Jimmy is able to counter with a headscissors into the turnbuckles. Springboard double stomp to the back of the head follows that as Jacobs is finally able to land some offence. He positions Whitmer’s head against the ringpost and dropkicks it for 2. That leaves his opponent reeling and Jacobs is able to execute the double stomp trampoline. He goes to the top now but BJ gets the knees up to block the senton bomb. Jacobs runs straight into an exploder suplex that leaves both men down. Contra Code blocked and Whitmer drops Jimmy into the turnbuckles. ROLLING HEAD DROP SUPLEXES! JACOBS ROLLS THROUGH A POWERBOMB FOR 2! Whitmer goes for a stalling vertical and BOTH MEN end up crashing over the top rope to the floor. Jacobs climbs onto the apron and goes for the Joe/Punk rana…ONLY FOR WHITMER TO POWERBOMB HIM INTO THE RAILINGS! Back in the ring BJ gets 2 with a brainbuster. Now he decides to go high risk and gets crotched on top. Jacobs goes to the top rope after him…and Whitmer goes for a superbomb. HE SLIPS…HOLY SH*T THEY BOTH CRASH TO THE FLOOR! How the F*CK is Jacobs not dead, his head and neck clipped the rope and ring apron on the way down. DANGEROOOOUUUS! Meanwhile BJ Whitmer can barely walk due to an injured ankle. Incredibly Jacobs STILL kicks out once they crawl back inside. Jimmy fights off the exploder and nails the CONTRA COOOOODE! He has the match won but Lacey gets on the apron and orders Jimmy to kill Whitmer. He sets BJ up on the timekeepers table but doesn’t get to go for the senton bomb because he blows kisses to Lacey instead. BELLY TO BELLY SUPERPLEX BY BJ…LARIATOOOO! That’s enough to finally put Jacobs down in 15:16.
Rating – **** – Utter carnage would be an appropriate way to describe that. It started as a nice, pleasant back and forth match, BJ playing the role of big, dominant aggressor well, whilst Jacobs worked the neck with some nice smaller guy offence. Then they went head drop crazy. THEN they had two of the scariest botched spots ever as they both ended up on their faces on the floor. Finally they threw in a hot (and cleverly worked from a storyline point of view) finish too. It’s up there with the best singles matches either one has had in ROH, whether they meant it or not. This is really turning into a break-out year for Whitmer, as he just keeps KILLING himself and is earning the respect of the fans.
BJ seriously looks to have injured his ankle during that powerbomb mess up, which isn’t a good way to start his weekend. Anyway, he wants a handshake with his former friend. Instead Jacobs spits at him and exits stage left. Whitmer grabs a mic and b*tches at what CZW did to him at Arena Warfare. Apparently Chris Hero and Necro Butcher are here tonight.
Ryo Saito vs Jimmy Yang
The first match in the Dragon Gate Challenge sees the Open The Dream Gate champion (what the hell sort of title is that – it almost makes you want to watch DG for the name alone!) Ryo Saito take on Jimmy Yang, who is fresh off a big victory over Jimmy Rave at the last show. Communication shouldn’t be an issue here since Yang has extensive experience wrestling in Japan. This is my first time seeing Saito but my first impressions are that he’s fairly sizeable for a DG competitor. He’s got some size to him and comes in with a big reputation.
Yang makes a strong opening statement by slapping Saito in the face. He also does perhaps the best executed nip-up out of a grounded headscissors I’ve ever seen. Saito slaps Yang in the back of the head, returning the compliment from earlier. He hits a hurricanrana then a facebuster before dropkicking Yang to the floor. Saito tries some comedy to stall on a test of strength and ends up getting kicked into the corner by Jimmy. He responds by throwing Yang over his own head with a belly to belly into the turnbuckles. He starts to work on the back and the neck which, according to Prazak and Leonard, is because he uses a variety of suplexes to beat his opponents. Yang crotches him on the top rope then kicks him off the ring apron. Leg grapevine applied by the ROH representative. Next it’s an Indian deathlock where they pause to slap each other again. Saito reels off some intense open-hand chops to the chest so Yang sweeps his legs and nails a TWISTING low enziguri for 2. He goes to the top rope but Ryo meets him with a dropkick to the gut. Belly to belly suplex again from Saito keeps Yang grounded. ROLLING FISHERMANS! Apparently that’s called the Fisherman Express and it gets 2. Saito goes to the top now, and this time it’s Yang with a defensive strike as he meets him with a spinning heel kick. A brainbuster lays Saito out for YANG TIME! Saito kicks out. He drops Jimmy on his head with a DDT then scales the ropes again. FLYING BODY SPLASH for 2. Yang misses a moonsault press…PREMIUM BRIDGE! That’s Saito’s Dragon Suplex finisher and that puts Dragon Gate 1-0 up in the series at 11:53.
Rating – *** – It wasn’t anything too incredible and was mostly just an exhibition of what each guy can do, but after a slow start it wound up being ok. It’s always interesting to see an outsider come in and debut some new spots and the same applies here with Saito and his suplex variations. I don’t think Yang brought his best to the ring here (he’s really a hit or miss competitor I’ve noticed) but they put together a much more coherent, flowing match than Yang/Strong from Arena Warfare. Luckily that’s the only singles match a Dragon Gate competitor will be involved in this weekend. Tag team wrestling is much more their “thing” anyway. You’ll get a far better impression of what these guys are capable of later in the tag and trios matches.
Jimmy Rave/Alex Shelley vs Bryan Danielson/Delirious
This is the final chapter in The Embassy’s issue with American Dragon which date back to the final show of 2005 when they scouted Danielson during his match with Marufuji. He beat Xavier at Unscripted 2, Jimmy Rave at the Fourth Anni show and Alex Shelley in the ECW Arena. That has made Bryan Danielson so confident that he allowed The Embassy to pick his partner to face them on this show. They chose Delirious since his won/loss record is appalling…did you know he has NEVER won a singles match? Poor Delirious. Shelley has new tights again – he must spend a fortune on ring gear.
In the usual TP war Rave accidentally lashes a roll into Daizee Haze’s head, how has nobody spotted that before! The Embassy team dive to the floor to avoid Delirious’ mental fit as the bell rings. Shelley is supposed to wrestle him but Delirious sings ‘The Final Countdown’ instead. The lizard man more than holds his own on the mat though so Rave tags in and drapes him in the Ghanaian flag. Delirious starts eating it. Danielson makes his first in-ring appearance and goes to work on Alex’s arms. Mexican surfboard for him but he escapes by raking the eyes. Delirious tries to talk strategy but they have some problems. AIRPLANE SPIN by Delirious! Dragon tags and shows Delirious how to do an airplane spin right, and Delirious freaks out again – running in circles around the ring. Rave is probably at the point of vomiting now. Danielson gets 2 on him with a slingshot suplex. Shelley tries to make friends with Dragon and gets poked in the eyes for his trouble. BIG SLAPS in the corner followed by a bow and arrow stretch. The Dragon and the lizard hit some double-teams on their opponents but Danielson gets distracted by Nana. The Haze tries to get a shot in on the World Champion and Shelley takes his chance by throwing him into the railings. A double clobbering by Rave and Shelley continues the abuse on AmDrag. They use quick tags and various cheap tactics to keep Danielson isolated from Delirious in the corner. Finally Danielson back flips (because he messed up the Sayama flip) out of the corner and dropkicks them both allowing him to get the hot tag. Rave goes for the Pedigree only to take a COBRA CLUTCH backbreaker for 2. Delirious traps him in the corner for the PANIC ATTACK! SHADOWS OVER HELL MISSES! Shelley goes for Sliced Bread but Delirious blocks and Danielson WIPES HIM OUT with a missile dropkick. DUELLING CATTLE MUTILATIONS BY DELIRIOUS AND DRAGON! Rave gets out to the floor so Danielson dives after him with a TOPE SUICIDA! Shelley and Delirious kick lumps out of each other as Nana and Haze distract the ref. SLICED BREAD #2 ON DELIRIOUS! RAVE CUTS DANIELSON OFF WITH A SPEAR! The Embassy win in 20:56.
Rating – **** – It was borderline 4* since some of the action was a little slow there, but the finish was hot and the first 10-minutes were notable because it was essentially Delirious’ one-man show. It’s the first time he’s really been booked with three of ROH’s bigger names and he certainly didn’t look out of place either from an entertainment or a wrestling point of view. He was always going to take the fall but before that he looked very impressive. Maybe not quite the break-out performance he needs to get a singles push, but he lived with the top guys and if the booker EVER wants to execute on him and move him up the card, matches like this prove he can go. As a finish to the Embassy/Danielson feud it was a little underwhelming though.
INTERMISSION – Prazak catches up with a messed up Colt Cabana. He again makes the point that he’s still standing, and he’s coming back for more of Homicide in Chicago.
Claudio Castagnoli vs Shane Hagadorn
How the hell did Hagadorn wind up on this card? Was there so little else for Castagnoli to do (now his feud with McGuiness is over, he is at a loose-end) that there was no choice but to let him wrestle this guy? Hagadorn is, at least, probably the most entertaining of the students because he works a cliché’d, heelish style which separates him from the rest of the bland, green, limited student performers that occasionally scrape their way onto DVD releases. Davey Andrews was just getting passable but he’s gone on hiatus now so. If a student HAS to be on your home release, you’d probably want it to be this guy. Double C has to start at the bottom again having failed to beat Nigel McGuiness once more at Best In The World. This is quite an innocuous triple shot for him. Tomorrow night he teams with Jimmy Yang against The Embassy, whilst he’s not even on the main card for the second Chicago show.
Castagnoli intimidates Hagadorn with some luchador flips. The fans chant ‘who are you’ at Hagadorn. He tries to nip up just like Claudio did but he’s too fat. Shane starts choking Claudio in the corner to get an advantage, and gets 1 from a hip attack. Springboard reverse elbow by Double C leaves both reeling. He rocks Hagadorn with Europeans and gets 2 with the diving uppercut to the neck. Ogawa trapping headkick in the corner by Shane. He appears to continue the puro theft by going for Emerald Fusion…but Claudio picks him up into the Alfa Mari Water Slide and we’re done in 04:01.
Rating – DUD – That sucked. Aside from the CZW stuff Castagnoli doesn’t have a whole lot going for
himself right now. Hagadorn has potential but right now the heat he gets isn’t so much good heat as…”you’re working heel and we don’t want to see you wrestling so we really have no other choice BUT to boo you” heat. But then again, Jimmy Rave started in a similar place back at Reborn Completion and right now he’s perhaps one of ROH’s most consistent performers so. He is a cut above anything else to come out of that damn wrestling school.
Speaking of CZW, Hero and Necro are in the house. Does Necro ever change his clothes by the way? Hero talks about his history with Claudio, much to the crowd’s dismay. He b*tches about him turning his back on Hero and CZW last week in New York, and tries to give him a second chance to join CZdub. BJ Whitmer limps in to get his licks on the invaders, and Castagnoli again chooses a side – by helping Whitmer.
Dragon Kid/Genki Horiguchi vs AJ Styles/Matt Sydal
The next match in the DG Challenge looks to be a pretty decent one. Genki is possibly my favourite performer from the limited DG/Toryumon stuff I’ve seen. He’s an awesome wrestler and tends to work in a lot more grounded stuff with the whacky high-spots that the promotion is known for. Look out for his Backslide From Heaven and Beach Break inverted piledriver. On the flipside D-Kid is, in my opinion, one of the more overrated. He can do some incredible things, but much like his mentor Ultimo Dragon, I just find him a little too predictable. He has the potential to be really awesome but just seems to rely on what he KNOWS works and doesn’t change up much from match to match. Since ROH are 1-0 down in the series Styles and Sydal are in a must-win situation.
It’ll be Hori and Sydal getting us underway with Genki showing off his swank mat skills and Sydal doing well to stay with him. AJ tags and convinces Horiguchi to tag out with a few armdrags. Headscissors by DK and he 619 fakes a dive. Satellite abdominal stretch on Sydal by Kid as Genki surfs on Styles’ back. Genki double stomps Styles in the ribs as the Do Fixer combo look to isolate the Phenomenal one. Sydal is able to tag though and the ROH crew nail a sweet cannonball leg drop/backbreaker combo for 2. Dragon Kid tries to break a pinfall attempt only for Styles to grab him and heave him out of the ring. Sydal hits a dropsault in the corner on Hori. Genki enziguris Sydal and connects with a suplex. Hot tag to Dragon who wipes out his opponents with kicks. He and Styles f*ck up the Déjà vu headscissors…SPRINGBOARD MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR! RUNNING SOMERSAULT PLANCHA BY GENKI! I’d say that was a nice recovery! Styles drops D-Kid with a back suplex for 2. Tornado DDT by Genki via stepping off Sydal’s face! Styles gets the knees up to block a springboard moonsault and Sydal quickly makes it worse with his standing moonsault. DOUBLE SPRINGBOARD ARABIAN PRESS FROM KID! AJ drops Genki on his head with a German then hits the back drop faceplant for 2. Dragon Kid blocks the Wrack Bomb and goes upstairs. DRAGONRANA NAILED…BUT SYDAL SAVES! Enzicanrana sends DK to the floor for a RUNNING MOONSAULT PRESS! Horiguchi almost rolls Styles up. BACKSLIDE FROM HEAVEN gets 2. STYLES CLAAAAASH! ROH even things at 1-1 in 12:31.
Rating – **** – A few very obvious communication problems didn’t take away from the electrifying fast-paced action of this one. You can call it spotty if you want (and it was) but it doesn’t change the fact that these guys went at 90mph and simply tore it up with some wonderful sequences. If AJ had been working anywhere near his best (usually reserved for TNA these days I’m afraid) it could’ve been even better. Easily the best ROH match featuring Dragon Gate talent yet, and a much better idea of what these imports are capable of than the three singles matches we’ve seen them feature in so far.
CIMA/Naruki Doi/Masato Yoshino vs Austin Aries/Roderick Strong/Jack Evans
It’ll be trios action to decide the Dragon Gate Challenge, with members of Blood Generation taking on members of Generation Next. CIMA has been in ROH before, beating AJ Styles in a decent contest at last August’s Dragon Gate Invasion show. He’s DG’s real superstar and has an incredible arsenal of moves. Yoshino used to wrestle as YOSSINO and I haven’t seen him since he started using his real name. Doi I can’t remember seeing, but look out for his F-5 variant finisher, the Doi 555. The double and treble team moves in this should be a real spectacle. Generation Next have made that their speciality since the day they were formed, whilst DG/Toryumon has been DEFINED by incredible team moves since the promotion opened it’s doors. This could easily be called a dream match.
No handshakes from Blood Generation since they’re heels, Cima/Strong from the bell. Strong shoulder tackles Cima who nips straight back up into a dropkick. Strong does the same thing and floors him with a chop. He goes for the firemans carry gutbuster but Cima almost counters into the Schwein, before both go for a flurry of pins. Doi wipes out Evans with a running elbow but Jack bounces right back with a DOUBLE JUMP headscissors (which almost entirely missed). SPRINGBOARD FLIP SPLASH TO THE FLOOR! Aries/Yoshino…and HOLY SH*T Yoshino moves at the speed of light! He DOUBLE STOMPS Strong’s FACE! He tries to do the same thing to Aries and takes a Ligerbomb. Springboard double stomp from Evans gets 2. When did Jack learn to kick like Low Ki? Roddy tries to cave Yoshino’s chest in with a sick chop. Back drop swanton by Strong and Evans, followed by a STANDING moonsault by Roderick. INSTANT REPLAY elbow drop by Austin for 2. This match is so fast I barely have time to do the pbp. Slingshot elbow/backbreaker combo from the ROH Tag Champions. Yoshino nails a running swinging neckbreaker drop on Aries and gets the tag to Cima. Evans goes for a springboard and flies right into an ACE CRUSHER! Cima and Doi position Jack’s head against the middle turnbuckle then Cima dropkicks his ass, compressing the whole spine. Naruki nails a super-fast CANNONBALL senton. Dan Maff’s version got nothing on that.
Jack gets put in a tree of woe for Masato Yoshino to dropkick his chest. BloodGen seem to be focusing on Evans’ midsection now, with Cima locking in a Sharpshooter with Naruki keeping everyone else out of the ring. He props Jack up against the ropes for Doi to LEAPFROG into his ribs. Yoshino vaults off Doi AGAIN into the ribs of Evans. Doi holds him up now as Cima goes upstairs…TOP ROPE STOMP TO THE CHEST! DOUBLE QUEBRADA INVERTED DDT from Evans to Yoshino and Doi allowing him to finally get a tag. Aries Finlay rolls Cima…SAVAGE ELBOW BY STRONG! GUERRERO FROG SPLASH BY ARIES! Cima DRAGON SCREWS Aries in the ropes! DOUBLE NECKBREAKER BY YOSHINO AND DOI…DOUBLE STOMP BY CIMA! ELEVATED LUNGBLOWER ON ARIES! CIMA WITH A TOPE SUICIDA! THIS IS MENTAL! Strong blocks the Doi 555 WITH THE GIBSON DRIVER FOR 2!! Half nelson backbreaker countered by Doi into a Sky High. Shinbreak back suplex on Yoshino by Austin, then the RUNNING DROPKICK! Aries goes to the top only to get shoved to the floor by Naruki. DOI 555 ON JACK! DOUBLE VAN TERMINATOR BY CIMA AND YOSHINO! STRONG WITH A FIREMANS CARRY GUTBUSTER ON YOSHINO! HALF NELSON BACKBREAKER ON DOI! SUPERPLEX FLIP SPLASH MISSES…SUPERKICK BY CIMA! SCHWEIN! Cima pins Evans in 16:01.
Rating – ****1/2 – Pop this match in and prepare for your jaw to hit the floor especially if, like me, you’ve never been exposed to a great deal of Dragon Gate stuff. In technical terms this was indeed a “spotfest” but it’s still an undeniable MOTYC and another one of those “must-see” matches ROH throws out so often. Usually inter-promotional “dream” matches involving foreign wrestlers never work out this well due to language barriers etc, especially when the match is of this style, but this was off the charts (I’m guessing Strong & Evans’ existing DG tour experience helped). The sequence where CIMA hit about four awesome moves in less than 10 seconds has to be seen to be believed. Buy the DVD for this one alone…and look forward to tomorrow night’s Blood Generation vs Do Fixer 6-man, which some pimp as the best match ever to take place in ROH.
The pre-match hype video for the Joe/Daniels main event goes on forever and means you’ve already seen EVERY spot they’ll do in the match. It’s time to see their feud in ROH end.
Samoa Joe vs Christopher Daniels
There’s almost too much history to cover, hence the video. This started in 2002 when Chris Daniels bought Joe into ROH as a paid assassin for The Prophecy. But they never got on well and Joe ended up leaving The Prophecy for Steve Corino’s rival faction, The Group. The Prophecy ended up overcoming The Group at Night Of The Grudges, but when Daniels turned his attention to Joe’s ROH Title, he failed in his quest, losing at Glory By Honor 2. After the Fallen Angel’s TNA-hiatus their feud reignited at Redemption during the World Title fourway when both caused each other’s elimination. Daniels wound up eliminating Samoa Joe from Survival Of The Fittest 2005 and pinning him in a fourway in the debut Detroit show, but he lost singles matches at Night Of The Grudges 2 and Vendetta. At Final Battle 2005 and Hell Freezes Over they had more violent exchanges, and their feud was set to come to a conclusion in a double-header of matches at the Ohio double shot at the end of January – but Joe was injured. Now, finally, it IS time for their final singles match in ROH (although they face each other in a three way dance and a four corner survival at the two Chicago shows). Can Daniels finally get the win, or will Joe further prove his dominance and force Daniels to shake hands?
Daniels pisses off Joe by coming out to ‘The Champ Is Here’ and wearing the X-Division Title he won from Joe. I don’t think the pro-ROH fans liked it so much though. Anyway, Joe tears into Daniels in the aisle and the fight is on. They take it in turns to launch each other into the metal railings, then finally do bring it into the ring so the bell can ring. Daniels is aggressive, showing his desperation to get the win, but Joe keeps him at bay with a legsweep. FLYING knee strike wipes Daniels out. He goes for the Musclebuster early but Daniels fights his way free and bodyscissors’ the Samoan over the ropes. ARABIAN PRESS TO THE FLOOR! Daniels doesn’t stop attacking, such is his desire to win. He hits a swinging DDT off the second rope for 2. He goes for a satellite headscissors but gets dropped on his face. BRUTAL kicks to the torso from the Samoan…and that’ll teach him for flaunting that X-Division belt (even though Joe did it at Final Battle 2005 lol). Daniels fights it but he gets put into the Samoan crab, miles too close to the ropes though. He tries to mount a comeback on Joe in the corner but hurtles straight into the STJoe. A little Ole Ole Kick anybody? NAILED! A little more Ole Ole Kick? YOU GOT IT! Back in the ring Joe hits the running knee in the corner and again tries to end it with the Musclebuster. Daniels rolls his way free…HANGING CHOKE! Daniels counters with a palm strike…FALL FROM GRACE SCORES! Daniels is the first man to his feet and he’s able to get 2 again with the blue thunder driver. A running STO gets a nearfall too, is there anything he can do to put Joe away? BIG BOOT then a senton splash by the Samoan. Fallen Angel runs into Joe’s powerslam but gets his shoulder up at the pinfall. Powerbomb into the STF but Daniels doesn’t look like he’s going to tap. Allison Danger has to intervene, grabbing Joe’s leg allowing Daniels to hit a stepping enziguri. Last Rites blocked INTO THE CHOKE! Daniels escapes…ANGELS WINGS! JOE KICKS OUT! Daniels is irate…TRIPLE BME COMBO! Daniels FINALLY gets a definitive win over Joe at 15:36.
Rating – **** – Perhaps a candidate for most underrated match of the entire weekend. I’d heard nothing about this match going into it at all, but it’s really one of the most impressive they’ve ever worked against each other. By this point, after years of wrestling each other in ROH, UPW, TNA and other indies, you’ve seen them wrestle a zillion times. You’ve seen all the spots they did here over and over again. Yet somehow they managed to have probably the hottest crowd reaction of the whole show (including the crazy BloodGen/GeNext match) – through their incredible workrate and story-telling. Whenever Daniels was on offence he conveyed his desperation to beat Joe with everything he did. Every movement he made was some form of wild, frantic attack to put Joe down. Then whenever Joe took control, his offence was mostly big power moves, looking to dominate and put down his familiar foe. This kind of psychology flowed throughout the match, putting over the simmering dislike between the two and that meant, despite the relative lack of hot nearfalls in the stretch you were still SUCKED into it. The finish capped this off perfectly, with Joe kicking out of the Angels Wings, leading to Daniels snapping and literally double jump moonsaulting Joe into oblivion. It’s not an all-time classic but I can’t believe people aren’t saying more about this.
There won’t be a handshake because Hero and Necro Butcher are in the ring again! Daniels wants to fight but Allison Danger convinces him to leave well-enough alone and walk away. Meanwhile Hero is still babbling away on the microphone quite happily. Samoa Joe gets into the ring though…and nobody holds him back. He tries to kill Hero but Necro is right there to help his CZW ally out. They double team him until BJ Whitmer arrives and BREAKS A CHAIR over their heads! Students manage to drag them kicking and screaming from the building, leaving Joe and BJ to take the adulation of the fans. Samoa Joe officially declares himself as part of the ROH/CZW war. AWESOME rallying cry promo.
Lance Storm says he wants to be a part of Danielson’s title reign. Wow his promo’s are electric!
Jim Cornette finds out (over the phone) who knocked his tooth out in Dayton at Tag Wars 2006. We don’t though, since that’s where the show fades out…
Tape Rating – **** – And that was the worst of the three shows this weekend? Man alive this weekend is going to be staggeringly good then. I thought Showdown In Motown was one of the most underrated shows of 2005, and in similar fashion, the second Detroit show right here gets similarly little run. With five matches breaking the 4* barrier, I can’t believe people aren’t more excited about it. I’ll admit there is only really one MUST-SEE match that makes buying the DVD worthwhile, but there’s so much more to compliment it. The ROH/DG trios match is superb, but Whitmer/Jacobs, Joe/Daniels and the tag matches (Styles/Sydal vs Do Fixer and Dragon/Delirious vs Rave/Shelley) all do enough to enter 4* territory, and there’s more support with Yang/Saito and some decent, brief opening matches two. I’m already desperate to see Supercard Of Honor and Better Than Our Best (what goofy names) to see how they’re supposed to top this effort. Strongly recommended…
Top 3 Matches
3) BJ Whitmer vs Jimmy Jacobs (****)
2) Christopher Daniels vs Samoa Joe (****)
1) CIMA/Naruki Doi/Masato Yoshino vs Austin Aries/Roderick Strong/Jack Evans (****1/2)