ROH 98 – Supercard Of Honor – 31st March 2006
These two shows in Chicago were hyped to the moon. Gabe and co. were desperate to cash in on the increased potential fanbase with the WWE in town for Wrestlemania and duly lined up to veritable SUPERCARDS for the Chicago fans to enjoy. This double disc release is certainly the most significant show of the calendar year thus far. From top to bottom it’s an incredible release with duelling headline matches – the Dragon Gate imports all pile into the ring at once for the Do Fixer vs Blood Generation match which Dave Meltzer has given the coveted 5* to, and the third ROH clash in the epic rivalry between Bryan Danielson and Roderick Strong. If that wasn’t enough there’s also the SHIMMER ladies in a Six Woman Mayhem (check out SHIMMER Volumes 3 & 4 by the way, both are tremendous – reviews to come), the wars between ROH/CZW and Homicide/Colt Cabana rumbling on. The Embassy are in tag action, Matt Sydal continues his rivalry with his stablemates, teaming with AJ Styles against Aries and Evans, The Embassy are here, Jim Cornette is here, and there’s a surefire MOTYC as the snoozefest feud between Ace Steel and Chad Collyer ends on this event too. It’s a long release though, and if that wasn’t enough there’s bonus features in Jimmy Jacobs’ ‘The Ballad Of Lacey’ (in case you missed it on the Best In The World release) and an FIP bonus match featuring Jerrelle Clark who’s going to be big in ROH when they decide to give him a chance. He’s RVD’s second coming if you ask me – and he could be even better. Enough rambling, lets get to this mammoth affair. Your hosts will be Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard.
Remember the last show ending with Jim Cornette finding out who knocked his front teeth out at Tag Wars 2006? He reveals that it was Low Ki, and he whacks Ki with ‘lifetime ban’ from ROH. Hopefully despite the ‘life plus 99 years’ ban the two parties will find a way to work together again in the future. Ki’s best stuff in the US has always been with ROH, and whether they like it or not, ROH owe a decent amount of their success to Low Ki and his prolific form on their early shows.
Earlier in the afternoon Chris Hero antagonises some ROH fans as they queue to get into the building. A woman tries to slap him, and it actually was so pathetic it’s believable she might even not be planted.
CIMA promises us that tonight the Dragon Gate guys will deliver cutting edge pro-wrestling.
MARCH TOP 5 RANKINGS –
1. Roderick Strong (has been due a title shot since January. He gets it this evening)
2. Jimmy Yang (strange to see him so high. He needs a victory after losing to Ryo Saito)
3. Christopher Daniels (is hot after beating Samoa Joe at Dragon Gate Challenge)
4. Alex Shelley (returned to winning ways in a tag match last night)
5. Samoa Joe (coming off back to back high profile defeats)
The crowd is HUGE – but the first thing they hear is that Colt Cabana is unable to compete tonight due to injuries sustained in Detroit yesterday. Jim Cornette is brought out, and he arrives alongside BJ Whitmer, who himself is on crutches after his brutal match with Jimmy Jacobs. Corny promises ROH will provide the wrestling fan with everything that Wrestlemania 22 won’t. Then he moves on to CZW – apparently we’re blaming BJ’s injury on a sneak attack by the CZW guys which seems retarded but whatever, I’ll roll with the kayfabe. He promises to hit the next hardcore invader he sees with his baseball bat. But he says tonight he’ll be giving hardcore wrestling a chance – and has invited some of them here tonight to see what they can do. He brings out two little masked guys with some weapons…this is a weird ass way to kick off one of the biggest shows in the history of the company. He calls out Samoa Joe and Adam Pearce to kick the sh*t out of them to send a message to CZW. I guess we’ll consider that a little tipping of the hat from ROH to sports-entertainment and a unique way to start off a huge weekend of professional wrestling.
Shane Hagadorn vs Flash Flanagan vs Delirious vs Ricky Reyes
This would be your standard stick as many guys as possible on your big show match then. Hagadorn is still young, still green and still doing is halfway entertaining goofy heel thing. Delirious is winless for a long time and more over than anyone else around. Ricky Reyes is rapidly losing momentum again after starting to get over with his student killer gimmick. Delirious is still a hapless, winless lovable loser. Flanagan has actually been in ROH twice before. He appeared as Slash Venom at Glory By Honor 3 and was Prince Nana’s first Weapon Of MASK Destruction towards the tail-end of 2004. He’s a brawler and spends most of his time working in Puerto Rico, but is being given another shot in ROH.
Delirious showed last night that he can basically work a match by himself he’s so entertaining, and he’s pretty much the only reason the crowd have to care here. Reyes starts with Flash so we’ll get a look at the debutant early. Their stuff is a little sluggish but Delirious keeps it fun by doing laps around them as they wrestle. Hagadorn tags and looks to lead a student fightback against Ricky. The Pitbull cuts him off with a belly to belly suplex. Delirious freaks Shane out with some more crazy antics but Flanagan has had enough of the silliness and initiates a 3-on-1 attack on him. Reyes comes away from that giving Hagadorn some suplexes but Flash is still there and he climbs to the top. Delirious shoves him off and promptly misses a missile dropkick on Reyes. Flanagan gives the lizard man a spinebuster but has his superplex blocked. SHADOWS OVER HELL SCORES! Hagadorn grabs the mask and gets hit with a Michinoku Driver. Reyes gives Delirious a swinging neckbreaker…DRAGON SLEEPER! The crowd audibly gasp in disappointment. They know nobody escapes that hold – Delirious taps in 06:54.
Rating – * – As expected it was a nothing match but it was kept brief so it was passable. The star goes to another entertaining performance from Delirious, who carried this match by himself, just as he pretty much carried the opening 10 minutes of last night’s tag match on his own too. He’s so over he has to get a push eventually. Flanagan looked like nothing special but didn’t get any time to shine so maybe he could be forgiven. There were a couple of half-decent Reyes/Hagadorn exchanges too, but for the love of god don’t book that as a singles match.
Reyes appears to want to use Delirious to make a statement and puts a beating on him. He objects to Delirious being on the ROH roster because he’s a big joke and loses all the time. Julius Smokes helps Reyes tear up Delirious’ mask.
Chad Collyer chuckles about how he messed Ace Steel up so bad last August. He says he’ll be repeating that feat tonight. Ace Steel also supplies a half-decent promo, but I really don’t care. As long as the First Blood Match doesn’t entirely suck I’ll be happy.
Jimmy Rave/Alex Shelley vs Jimmy Yang/Claudio Castagnoli
Presumably The Embassy are looking for some revenge on Yang after he and Bruce Leroy humiliated them at Best In The World. This is the first time Alex Shelley and Claudio Castagnoli have been in the ring together since their fine 20-minute draw last October. Remember, Prince Nana has unified the arguing pair of Rave and Shelley and has now made Tag Team gold his top priority. They made a statement last night by beating Danielson and Delirious. They team up again tonight and are joined by Masato Yoshino tomorrow night for a 6-man match. Going 3-0 in tag competition this weekend puts them right in line for a shot at Aries and Strong – and the prospect of that match is mouth-watering.
Shelley negates the martial artistry of Yang by trapping him on the mat but he quickly tags out after Jimmy slaps him in the back of the head. As usual Rave tries to stall, allowing Yang to bring in Claudio to work him over. Rave produces a nifty flip off the ropes to headlock Double C, but the Swiss competitor comes right back with armdrags and some ass-touching fun. He starts taking it to both members of The Embassy, then starts using their own limps to beat each other up. Yang moonsault kicks both of them in the corner leading to them collapsing doggy style. That was a terrific little comedy segment, but The Embassy act quickly to re-establish control by isolating Yang. He produces a twisting low enziguri on Shelley and evens things out though. Rave tags and tags Yang to the corners of the ring to beat him down. Yang connects with more kicks in the corner on Shelley, but he manages to bait Yang into flying shoulder-first into the ringpost. Rave makes it worse by throwing him into the front row. Getting him in the ring, he goes to the shoulder Yang just injured with a Masterlock. Shelley gets 2 with a Lionsault before The Embassy break out the neckbreaker/spear combo. Rave dives off the top straight into a spinning heel kick but Alex is in the ring quick enough to cut off any potential tag. Shelley has his superplex blocked just like Flash Flanagan did in the previous match and Yang lands a missile dropkick. Double C gets the tag and produces an immense European uppercut sequence on both opponents. Match Killer on Rave gets 2 before Shelley saves. He counters the Alfa Mari Water Slide but Yang is back and dropkicks both opponents to the floor. POETRY IN MOTION CROSSBODY TO THE FLOOR BY YANG! Claudio looks for uppercuts on Rave but the Crown Jewel gets a flash pin out of nowhere to put he and Shelley 2-0 for the weekend at 16:03.
Rating – *** – Put any kind of finish on that and you’d be talking 4* or more. All the work was really good. There are few better heel teams around right now than Rave and Shelley who are so good at being so loathsome they run the risk of becoming babyfaces in the process. Castagnoli produced a performance in his only meaningful match of the whole triple shot to give everyone a reminder of what he’s capable of, and Yang did the babyface in peril act well before producing the only real big highspot of the contest. The finish did feel a little flat though and didn’t really accomplish a lot. The roll-up means that Rave and Shelley protected Claudio which was good, but it didn’t make Rave and Shelley look particularly dominant, and given that The Embassy have a small issue with Yang, surely he’d have been better taking the fall here?
Chris Hero runs in through the crowd and steals a microphone to yell at Claudio for turning his back on CZW over the past couple of shows. Hero says Double C has a bullseye on his chest and attempts to throw chairs at him until security drag him away.
Chad Collyer vs Ace Steel – First Blood Match
I don’t know whether to be excited or apprehensive about this match. On the one hand, these two have zero chemistry, are barely over and the match is sure to suck. But on the other hand, this feud has limped along on a part time basis since last August and it’ll finally be over. It started when Collyer f*cked Ace up big-time with a sneaky chairshot at Punk The Final Chapter. He then proceeded to dodge Steel and laugh about it as ‘Crazy’ Ace got…well, even more crazy. They clashed in an Anything Goes tag encounter (along with Nigel McGuiness and Claudio) in January and that sucked too. Tonight you can breathe a sigh of relief – it ends how it started, with somebody bleeding. At least we’re in Steel’s hometown so we might get some crowd heat…
Ace goes into the crowd and retrieves a sign to batter Collyer with, but Chad runs away and grabs a chair. Ace accidentally punches the chair allowing Collyer to take the advantage. He bites Steel’s head trying to get some blood and get the hell out of there. Ace reels off right hands in the corner with sections of the fans chanting ‘bleed’ along with every shot. Collyer returns fire with headbutts and more biting attempts as Steel grabs at his nose. Pretty this is not. Steel evades a knee drop and kicks Collyer to the floor for a TOPE SUICIDA! Obviously in the First Blood environment each trip into the notoriously sharp and damaging guardrails takes on a greater significance so their scrap around ringside takes a more meaningful twist. Collyer with a BULLDOG on the floor but there’s no blood. He struggles getting a segment of guardrail into the ring but finally manages to position it in the corner. Steel fights the Irish whip into it though…ONLY TO GET HIPTOSSED INSTEAD! There’s still no blood and Steel manages to ram Chad’s head into the steel a few times too. He gets a chair but Collyer blocks his swing and dropkicks the seat into Ace’s face. Despite having a chair wrapped around his neck he manages to drag Collyer from the top rope but opts not to use the chair on him, going for the guardrail segment to cause more damage. TOMBSTONE ON THE BARRIER! Chad is out on his feet and if he wasn’t already bleeding Steel connects with a big swing with the chair and there’s a trickle of blood at 11:53. After the bell Ace gets in one more bonus chair shot for kicks…
Rating – ** – You know what, that wasn’t actually too bad. It was short enough that after a boring first few minutes it didn’t really drag, and there were some cool spots with the rail at least. Technically it was actually an excellent story, as EVERYTHING they did to each other was centred on the face trying to draw blood. The problem was that whilst it was technically fairly decent, it lacked any kind of intensity, emotion or crowd heat. In truth that sums up both these guys. They’re not bad wrestlers, but they’re not great either and we rarely, if ever, have a reason to care about them. And not to sound like a sadist but Collyer’s bladejob was pathetic. After Steel pissed blood in August he deserved more than a tiny little scratch. It made a flat match end in a similarly flat manner.
Dave Prazak is with the Rottweilers. It’s dark and Homicide is wearing sunglasses. He gloats about giving Colt Cabana a concussion and says their feud is done after Detroit.
AJ Styles/Matt Sydal vs Austin Aries/Jack Evans
The competitive in-fighting between the ambitions Matt Sydal and his superior members who want him to forego his own ambition for the good of the group rumbles on here. He teams with the man who’s proposition started the spat against one half of the Tag Champions and Jack Evans, who is in his last weekend with the company before jetting off to Dragon Gate for months. So far Sydal has come up winless in two attempts against his team-mates and would love to get a win back here. AJ and Sydal are a fun team and their match with the Dragon Gate chaps last night was great fun even with Styles performing at 60%. If ups his game tonight this has classic written all over it.
Jack and Matt go from the bell and have a pretty sequence culminate with Sydal dropkicking Evans in the face. Styles throws Jack into his corner and demands the tag from Aries. Remember when Austin first broke out in 2004 and everyone called him the new AJ Styles? The crowd is probably 60-40 in favour of Aries if you’re interested, and they get a little annoyed as AJ tags out. Just like at Arena Warfare Aries and Sydal have some surprisingly competitive mat-exchanges. They trade Japanese armdrags, with Austin coming off better from that. Sydal tries to capture Aries with the grounded headscissors and doesn’t let Aries use his dropkick counter. Aries counters…and Sydal uses the dropkick counter to the grounded headscissors! Same position again, and this time Austin fakes using the dropkick only to kick Matt in the chest. INTENSE lock up between Aries and Styles. AJ ducks the springboard elbow but Austin comes right up to duck a heel kick. Sydal drops Aries with the enzicanrana to give his team the advantage. Styles nails his traditional knee drop but Double A gets the knees up on Sydal’s standing moonsault and manages to tag out. The all-GeNext team try to work over their stablemate, with Aries getting 2 off a bridging Golden Gate Swing. ASSISTED STANDING PHOENIX SPLASH…POWER DRIVE ELBOW! Styles obviously has to make a save after that sequence. Evans tries to impress his partner with a brainbuster but Sydal manages to German suplex Jack on top of his head.
Styles viciously press slams Evans from the hot tag only for Aries to break the pin. With that one move he has isolated Evans for his team and they go for his back with a backbreaker/cannon ball leg drop combo. Evans nails a handspring elbow but Sydal SPINNING HEEL KICKS HIM IN MID-AIR off a springboard for 2! AJ goes for the back some more with his version of the MutaLock…changed into a neckbreaker. Styles and Sydal execute a nice double suplex neckbreaker before Matt unleashes a bow and arrow stretch – all working over that injured body part. Somehow Evans manages to dive in between both his opponents to secure a hot tag out of nowhere. CORNER DROPKICK ON STYLES! Jack scales the ropes…BIG SPLASH ON SYDAL! AJ counters the brainbuster of Aries but eats a capoeira kick from Evans. Sydal gives him an enziguri…ARIES COUNTERS THE STYLES CLASH WITH THE CRUCIFIX BOMB! Sydal stops the Heat Seeking Missile…HERE IT IS DRIVER! Evans takes Sydal into the corner – and we see Matt has a broken nose. SASUKE SPECIAL RANA TO THE FLOOR ON AJ…WHO CATCHES JACK WITH A MOTHERF*CKING STYLES CLASH! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? ARIES WITH THE HEAT SEEKING MISSILE ON AJ! But Styles was able to heave Evans into the ring first! SYDAL WITH A SHOOTING STAR PRESS! He finally gets a win over his GeNext stablemates at 17:47.
Rating – **** – It gets the same rating but that was better than the AJ/Sydal vs GeNext tag from the Fourth Anniversary. Thoroughly enjoyable, innovative and exciting tag team wrestling throughout there, with a climactic sequence that just has to be seen to be believed. That Sasuke Special into the Styles Clash is one of the craziest spots I’ve ever come across. There was some neat psychology as well, as Styles and Sydal worked over Jack’s back – and he didn’t hit one crazy flippy move after that – having to modify his aerial offence with a big top splash instead. Consider AJ redeemed after a phoned in performance last night, today he showed up and we saw an even better match as a result. Jack is improving with every outing at the moment (and with his pending tour of Dragon Gate, who knows how good he’ll be when he returns) whilst Aries and Sydal are vying with Bryan Danielson and Roderick Strong for MVP after the opening quarter of 2006.
That match gets the standing O treatment. Everyone shakes hands, even Sydal with his bloody nose, to prove that Generation Next are still on the same page.
Christopher Daniels is in buoyant form after his win over Joe last night. Allison Danger bigs up the SHIMMER six-way later. Daniels says he will uphold the Code Of Honor and shake hands…but he refuses to say when he’ll shake his first hand.
Dragon Kid/Genki Horiguchi/Ryo Saito vs CIMA/Naruki Doi/Masato Yoshino
All six Dragon Gate imports for this weekend in the ring at once, it’s Do Fixer vs Blood Generation. If you weren’t convinced of how good these guys are after a couple of awesome matches at last night’s Dragon Gate Challenge then this will erase any of your doubts. Dragon Gate is famous for it’s tag and trios action and now you’re putting six of their top stars in the ring together, the results should be awesome. These DG entrance themes are awesome! I suspect my PBP on this match won’t be.
Yoshino and Genki go first, don’t expect anything to be slow. Horiguchi gets in some armdrags and now it’s Doi with Dragon Kid. Kid flips around with an armdrag then 619 fakes a dive to big applause. Cima dropkicks Genki but then he inadvertently knocks Doi off the apron. Saito/Yoshino…and Masato is almost too quick for the cameraman as he runs the ropes. Saito wipes out the speed-merchant with a tilta-whirl sidewalk slam. Do Fixer try to do some damage to Yoshino as they have him isolated and hit a nice flurry ending with a Horiguchi bulldog and a low dropkick by Saito. Yoshino drags D-Kid into his corner where all of BloodGen get in some stiff strikes. ONE HAND back drop throw from Cima, and he gets 2 with a back senton. Dragon brings in Saito to slow Cima down and keep him on the mat. Naruki comes in and goes chop for chop with Ryo. Kid with a 619 OFF Saito…THEN A THREE-WAY DROPKICK BY DO FIXER! Horiguchi gets pulled into the BloodGen corner before Yoshino comes in and works over his balding head with hairmares. Stunt rider stretch by Yoshino whilst Cima and Doi keep his partners at bay. Doi stomps Genki down for the ULTRA-FAST CANNON BALL SENTON! Blood Generation have Horiguchi isolated, as Cima and Yoshino elevate him for a somersault senton by Naruki. Cima positions his head against the turnbuckle and DROPKICKS THE ASS! Leapfrog hilo to the midsection by Doi, then a springboard hilo to the same spot by Yoshino. Cima to the top for the DOUBLE STOMP TO THE RIBS! That combo is so awesome! Doi goes for a suplex but Genki counters with one of his own and gets the hot tag. Overhead belly to belly by Saito. DÉJÀ VU HEADSCISSORS BY DRAGON KID! SOMERSAULT PLANCHA FROM GENKI!
SPRINGBOARD MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR BY THE DRAGON KID! Cima and Saito square off in the ring as the pace is starting to BURN now. Saito powerbombs Cima…FISHERMAN EXPRESS gets 2! Cima blocks a German and DOUBLE STOMPS THE STOMACH! Saito gets triple teamed in the corner before they put Kid on Doi’s shoulders for a second rope bulldog by Cima. Running neckbreaker drop by Yoshino, then he goes upstairs for a CRAZY HANG-TIME DROPKICK! STUNNER BY DRAGON KID! DOI POWERBOMBS HIM ON HIS FACE! Horiguchi is back but Doi gets the knees up from the dropkick! Doi 555 countered with an inverted DDT by Hori! DOI 555 NAILED SECOND TIME…FOR 2! Saito catches him on the top rope and lifts Doi onto his shoulders. Dragon Kid climbs up both of them…MEGA-SUPER FRANKENSTEINER OF TOTAL DEATH! FLYING BODY SPLASH BY SAITO…BUT DOI KICKS OUT! Yoshino puts his foot through Dragon’s face…but Genki blocks the Schwein of Cima and DDT’s him. EVERYONE HITS CRAZY SPOTS ON EVERYONE! SAITO SUPLEXES YOSHINO ON HIS HEAD! SPRINGBOARD RANA BY DRAGON KID BUT DOI SAVES! Kid to the top again…VENUS STRIKE BY CIMA! BEACH BREAK FROM GENKI TO CIMA! STILL F*CKING TWO COUNTS! DOUBLE STOMP ELEVATED NECKBREAKER TRIPLE TEAM ON SAITO! ELEVATED LUNGBLOWER ON HORIGUCHI! SCHWEIN ON DRAGON KID! CIMA HAS KILLED EVERYONE…BUT STILL DRAGON KID KICKS OUT! ‘Please don’t stop’ – Chicago. Doi goes for a top rope Doi 555 but Dragon Kid counters with a SUPER ACE CRUSHER! DRAGONRANA NAILED! DO FIXER WIN AT 20:34.
Rating – ***** – And that will be up there at the end of 2006 for MOTY I assure you. You can call it a spotfest but it has to be up there as one of the best spotfests of all time. The pacing of that match is honestly something I’d put up against anything else anywhere. It hardly started slowly but the way those six men built and built until the raging climax which literally felt like it was going to end for upwards of five minutes – THAT’s what a superb job they’d done. All six athletes did their home promotion proud and can go back to Japan knowing they’ve probably put on the US match of the year. Believe ALL the hype you hear about this match. Stop reading this review now and go buy this DVD. My PBP was struggling to keep up from the opening bell and doesn’t do this match justice at all.
Even CIMA has to respect what all six athletes have just done in the ring. He shakes the hands of his opponents – and pisses off Doi and Yoshino in the process. If you watch Dragon Gate I imagine that’s probably significant for their storylines.
INTERMISSION – Nigel McGuiness cuts a promo from “Japan”. He says he’s defending the Pure Title all over the world (he’s never defended the belt in NOAH – although he does bring it to the ring with him I believe). He brags about all the people he’s beaten in defence of the belt, and complains that people call Bryan Danielson the best wrestler in the world. He calls himself the ‘real world champion’ – and just like that another issue is born. Danielson/McGuiness looks like it’s going to happen…
Lacey vs Rain vs MsChif vs Daizee Haze vs Cheerleader Melissa vs Allison Danger
Check out a SHIMMER DVD if you want to see how talented some of the women on the independent scene are. I’ve seen Volume 1 and it’s well worth a look (I actually own 3&4 too, but haven’t got round to watching them). The SHIMMER women are in action throughout the Wrestlemania weekend, mostly in dark matches but here they’re all thrown into the ring together to truly give this event a supercard feel – to showcase some decent women’s wrestling too. Lacey is my favourite, and she’s joined in this Six Woman Mayhem match by her frequent tag team partner, the equally beautiful (and gifted) Rain. MsChif is freakishly flexible, and freakish in numerous other ways. Daizee and Allison you should be familiar with since they’ve been in ROH for a while. Cheerleader Melissa is fairly new on me – although apparently she has some great matches on SHIMMER 3&4 so, check those reviews when I get round to them.
From the bell everyone goes for flash pins which would look a lot better if all the ladies not involved weren’t just standing around. Daizee clubs MsChif from behind and it seems they’ll be legal. Lacey quickly comes in though only to be stomped in the face by the Haze. Cobra clutch backbreaker from Lacey sends Daizee out and Allison is next, drop toeholding Lacey over the bottom rope for a CURB KICK! Melissa wants MsChif in a continuation from a SHIMMER feud but MsChif’s flexibility makes her hard to catch until Rain dropkicks her in the chest. Bubba Bomb on Danger by Lacey, and Rain adds to that with a dropkick to the face. Cue a nice five woman submission spot…which Lacey ruins by throwing Daizee to the floor. Cheerleader gets her head stomped into the bottom turnbuckle by MsChif. TOP ROPE PLANCHA FROM MSCHIF! Five women on the floor as Haze climbs the ropes…MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR! She brings Allison back inside and gives her the Mind Trip but Lacey makes the save. Big spots from everyone ending with MsChif nailing Rain with a Baldo Bomb, then taking a Glimmering Warlock from Danger. CODE GREEN by MsChif on Allison, but Lacey returns with her implant DDT. Daizee with the heart punch, but Rain gives her the Acid Rain. AIR RAID CRASH by Melissa but her nemesis MsChif breaks the pin. Inverted cloverleaf on MsChif until the Haze kicks her in the face repeatedly. GREEN MIST BY MSCHIF! That takes Melissa out of the ring and MsChif drops Rain with her Desecrator DDT and wins in 08:44.
Rating – ** – Rambling, incoherent and a bit of a mess but the level of talent the women displayed was undeniable. The real struggle for them came in trying to adapt to a spotfest style match, particularly since their awkward, uncertain affair came after the visual beauty of the Dragon Gate match. MsChif deserved the win since she was the undoubted star, but Cheerleader Melissa also shone as her most frequent opponent. Lacey and Rain didn’t really get to show what they can do, whilst Daizee Haze seemed to be at the centre of most of the miscommunication problems they had – maybe she was having a bad night. I think a six woman tag would’ve been better but the problem is, with Daizee as a heel in ROH it was four heel women to two babyfaces. Not in the same league as the great fourway from Best In The World last weekend then, but still a solid showcase of what you’ll see in SHIMMER.
Homicide vs Mitch Franklin
Originally we were getting Homicide vs Cabana in a Fight Without Honor tonight, but the concussion Colt suffered last night in the Falls Count Anywhere match means he isn’t risked ahead of tomorrow’s big blow-off. Instead Homicide has a jobber match with Mitch Franklin, an ROH school student who’s about 3 foot tall and really disgusting looking. I think he was one of the “hardcore wrestlers” under a mask, meaning he’s already taken one pasting tonight already. Poor little ugly critter.
The fans want Colt Cabana, but of course, he isn’t here tonight due to injury. The chants piss Homicide off though and he wastes no time in taking Mitch off his feet and kicking him in the spine. Franklin musters up a poor crossbody from the top but Cide comes right back with a face-first powerbomb. A t-bone suplex from Homicide gets 2. A diving headbutt misses but he still nails the COP KILLA to put Mitch out of his misery in a mere 02:33.
Rating – DUD – Keerrrrrr-splat. That would be the sound of the squash we just witnessed. Mitch is as green as his tights…
Colt IS here tonight though, and he comes from the back ready for another fight. Is this a match or not? I’m guessing not, but a ref is following them around bollocking them though. Cabana uses the guardrails to assault Cide but his head is giving him problems. BACK DROP THROUGH A TABLE! In the ring again and he hits a Canadian gutbuster then goes after Smokes. Homicide seizes the opportunity and rattles Colt’s skull with a chair. He’s bleeding as Cide gets a ladder to repeat the move that gave him a concussion in Detroit. DDT ON THE LADDER! Now Cabana’s head is placed in the rings…CHAIR TO THE LADDER – REPEATEDLY! Homicide promises that if Colt comes back tomorrow night he’ll kill him. That’s assuming he’s not already dead…
And the shenanigans continue…because Chris Hero and Necro Butcher arrive to piss on ROH’s parade again. Hero complains that what Homicide just did to Cabana wasn’t ultraviolent like CZW, bringing Adam Pearce and Claudio Castagnoli to the ring for a fight. Hero and Double C disappear quickly…whilst the Scrap Daddy PRESS SLAMS Necro off the apron. Into the crowd they go, where Butcher starts throwing chairs like a homeless lunatic. That doesn’t last long – after a suplex into a row of chairs Pearce starts throwing some of his own. Eventually Hero returns for the save…allowing Necro to go for a RUSSIAN LEGSWEEP OFF THE APRON THROUGH A TABLE! Jim Cornette comes out by himself…BASEBALL BAT SHOT FOR NECRO! HERO MAKES CORNETTE TAP LIKE A B*TCH!…SAMOA JOE IS HERE! JUMPING ENZIGURIIIIIIIIIIIIII FOR HERO! BJ Whitmer is there too and he lands a chair shot on Hero for good measure before security carries their unconscious bodies out of the building. Chalk up another engrossing ROH/CZW segment. And since Samoa Joe is here for a fight…
Samoa Joe vs Jimmy Jacobs vs Christopher Daniels
Originally BJ Whitmer was scheduled in this one, which would’ve been good since he started 2006 with an issue with both of these men. However, he was injured last night, so Jimmy Jacobs steps in to replace him. Jimmy’s entrance, with emo song and cell phones has really caught on tonight. Daniels pinned Joe in singles competition last night as their feud comes to an end. Can Joe get a pin back tonight in a three-way, and tomorrow night in a four-way for that matter?
Jacobs goofs around but Joe and Daniels only want at each other. They keep swatting Jimmy away like a little emo fly. In the end he stomps on their feet and dropkicks away at them. Daniels knocks him down with a jumping heel kick before Joe rejoins the fray. Daniels foes for Last Rites but settles for slamming Jimmy ONTO the Samoan. Arabian press on Joe gets 2. STJOE on Daniels. Jacobs looks for a springboard crossbody only for Joe to walk out of the way. He walks straight into a big jumping knee and tumbles to the floor with Daniels. That’s all Joe needs to hit an ELBOW SUICIDA! OLE OLE KICK for Daniels. Jimmy tries to mount Joe with punches but he throws him away and wipes out Daniels with a big boot. Lacey gets onto the apron to yell at Joe…and Jacobs goes mental when Joe puts his hands on her. Lacey takes an inadvertent elbow to the face in the melee whilst Daniels gives Joe blue thunder. Joe responds with a powerslam and a cross armbreaker. Lacey is having a tough time convincing Jimmy to get back in the ring and leave her alone. Daniels misses the BME and gets nailed with a spear by Jacobs. SENTON BOMB on Joe! Jacobs gets 2 on Daniels with a choking STO. IMPLANT DDT on the Fallen Angel – that’s Lacey’s finisher. Daniels gives him a backbreaker but Jacobs counters Angels Wings with a hurricanrana. Joe catches his Contra Code attempt with a CHOOOOOOKE! He’s tapping at 09:14. Joe wins and gets more of Chris Daniels tomorrow night.
Rating – *** – Only brief but a whole lot was packed in and I had a blast watching. All of a sudden the goofy Jimmy/Lacey angle has got really entertaining, and Jacobs has enough comedic talent to make it work opposite two wrestling machines like Joe and Daniels. Chris Daniels is the master of the triple threat by the way. It’s such a hit or miss match stipulation, and is normally blighted by two guys wrestling with one guy randomly lying on the apron – but Daniels always seems to have entertaining and innovative outings with two opponents. That whole segment from the Homicide/Cabana brawl through to this match was so much fun.
SHILL – ROHVideos.com and the ROH Video Recap (the online show hype videos for each show). They’re putting those onto the DVD’s soon so I hear.
Bryan Danielson vs Roderick Strong – ROH World Title Match
The third instalment in the trilogy that people are already comparing to the Joe/Punk series. The first match in Connecticut saw tempers flare in a super-stiff 30+ minute encounter which saw Dragon turn heel halfway through and win after being knocked out. The second in Chicago went 45+ and had people raving. In an epic battle Danielson was able to knock Strong out with the MMA elbows. Since then they’ve brawled in FIP, and Roderick Strong made Danielson submit in an awesome Tag Title match in Dayton at Tag Wars 2006 to earn this shot. This has been a hugely absorbing show – can these two round it off in fine style. Spare a thought for the crowd here, it’s been such a long night this match is starting around midnight.
Some extremely crisp work on the canvas is your first action of this bout which should be a classic. Dragon takes the lead, trying to show off his superior skills but Strong frustrates him by hanging in well. BIG CHOP by Strong changes things round and after just one of those strikes the World Champion retreats to the floor with a handprint on his chest. Five minutes in with Danielson BRIDGING out of a mounted knucklelock! He goes to work on Roderick’s arm but he doesn’t do enough damage and Strong is able to send him to the floor again with another chop. Dragon threatens to walk out on the match but Roddy gets on the mic and bates him back in with some profanity. B*TCH SLAPS FOR STRONG! But the Floridian comes back by raking at Danielson’s nose. He tries to steal AmDrag’s Mexican surfboard but Dragon kicks him away. He chops and slaps at Roddy, but this time it’s Strong that kicks his opponent away during a Mexican surfboard attempt. Strong looks to work over Danielson’s arm but the champion finally finds a way to counter free with a dropkick. He doesn’t give Roddy a clean break in the corner, elbowing him in the head and following right up with a knee drop to keep him reeling. Goku Raku stranglehold applied, but again Roderick is more than able to find a counter and apply the hold in return. MORE CHOPS by Strong – this time connecting with a series of them. Dragon quickly takes him down and puts him in a bow and arrow to cease that. He ties the challenger up in the ropes next, clawing at the face to really punish him. For the first time Roderick looks a little worse for wear and immediately Danielson gets cocky, using his range of strikes for the first time. Inevitably Strong hits a couple of chops and nails a jumping keel kick off Danielson’s Sayama flip. SWINGING gutbuster then a lariat by the challenger gets 2! This time he is able to rip off Dragon’s Mexican surfboard, which will all do damage to his midsection and back. Danielson goes for the Marufuji pinning combination to steal a fast one but only finds 2. Strong has a superplex blocked and AmDrag flies from the corner nailing a diving European uppercut. His turn for a Mexican surfboard now, again complete with raking at the face to make it that much worse.
Danielson is once again in control, and again gets cocky, standing on Roddy’s face. A fan calls him Bob Backlund so he obliges the guy by giving Strong an atomic drop – how’s that for fan interaction? The Benoit headbutt is good enough for another nearfall, then he cranks on an abdominal stretch to really slow this one down. We’re already 25 minutes in and this one seems like it’s just getting going. Strong thinks he’s broken free of the hold but he hits the ropes and heads straight into the stretch again – great frustration spot there. Strong makes the mistake of giving Danielson a clean break and immediately eats a STIFF elbow to the face. Dragon goes for Cattle Mutilation but too close to the ring’s edge. Instead he grabs at Strong’s (right – therefore chopping) arm and snaps it back. These first 30 minutes have been nothing but beautiful wrestling. Danielson scales the ropes for another Flying Wolverine but takes WAY too long posing and Strong is able to roll away. CRADLE BACKBREAKER…for 2! Again the pace quickens with Roddy on offence, and again he lands some fierce chops. He lands a superplex on his second attempt, but he’s worn down and the second he takes to regain his bearings costs him a pinfall. STRONGHOLD but Strong is battered and hasn’t done enough damage to the back yet. Dragon rolls to the floor but Roddy goes after him with DIVING ELBOW off the apron! In the ring again and Danielson unleashes ROLLING GERMAN SUPLEXES! CROSSFACE CHICKENWING! Roddy finds the ropes again. Danielson throws Strong knee-first into the ropes and like a predator he attacks the leg within seconds. Bear in mind he’s working the right knee to make sure Strong can’t use backbreakers. Anytime Danielson works the legs of an opponent it means we’re almost sure to see the awesome bridging deathlock. He repeatedly slaps Roddy in the face, and grabs a hold of his arm whilst retaining the deathlock. That’s negating his chops and his backbreakers all in one move – Dragon really is the best wrestler in the world folks. He’s also the most old-school wrestler in the world it seems, using a spinning toehold on Strong. GUTWRENCH POWERBOMB BACKBREAKER…but Roderick immediately collapses in pain. Figure 4 leglock now as Danielson continues to rattle through pretty much every 70’s/80’s submission hold in existence. Strong blocks a dragon suplex only to get dropkicked in the leg. The fatigued crowd (it’s now approaching 1am) is finally coming alive now and getting behind Roddy. He blocks a back superplex but Dragon is able to meet his crossbody attempt with a dropkick. Boston crab applied but the challenger still isn’t tapping.
CATTLE MUTILATION ON DANIELSON! But with a damaged arm and leg it’s nowhere near as effective and Dragon slides away. Strong to the apron…SUPLEX TO THE FLOOR for American Dragon! Roderick chases Danielson around ringside throwing chops…BUT ENDS UP CHOPPING THE RINGPOST! HOLY SH*T that sounded brutal! Danielson once again looks like a predator as he stomps Strong’s hand into the concrete. Roderick gets back in the ring but all that means is that his hand gets stomped into the canvas instead. Danielson tries to make him ‘tap out to a wristlock’…but Strong refuses. Dragon rubs the injury in Strong’s face by laying in some chops of his own. MORE b*tchslaps at 45 minutes. Strong fires back with LEFT HANDED CHOPS! PSYCHOLOGY OWNS YOU! To the floor again, only for Danielson to heave him into the crowd. SPRINGBOARD PLANCHA THROUGH THE FIRST THREE ROWS! Strong gets back in the ring…MISAWA MISSILE DROPKICK! Bryan Danielson is cranking it up now. MMA ELBOW STRIKE FLURY…COUNTERED TO THE FIREMANS CARRY GUTBUSTER!!! WITH KNEE SELLING!!! GIBSON DRIVER…DRAGON KICKS OUT! ROLLING HALF NELSON BACKBREAKERS…FIREMANS CARRY BACKBREAKER! But Strong takes an age to make a cover because that flurry killed his knee. STRONGHOOOOOOLD! It’s modified because the injuries means he can’t drive the knee into the back, and can’t lock his hands properly either! Strong goes to the top rope but goes after him and NAILS the back superplex to get a 2. CATTLE MUTILATION LOCKED IN! Strong edges to the ropes…SO DANIELSON ROLLS HIM TO THE MIDDLE OF THE RING AGAIN! STILL STRONG ESCAPES! Dragon goes for Mutilation but ends up driving knee strikes to the head. Strong gets to his feet and starts belting the champion with forearms. ROARING ELBOW – DRAGON SUPLEX – CROSSFACE CHICKENWING! STRONG MAKES THE F*CKING ROPES!! But he’s practically unconscious so Danielson takes him to the top rope. Strong recovers enough to lift Dragon onto his shoulders…SUPER FIREMANS CARRY GUTBUSTER! OH MY GOD! FIVE MINUTES LEFT IN THE TIME LIMIT! Strong thinks about the Stronghold but decides to cover instead…and that indecision means Dragon can kick out! STROOOOONGHOOOOOOOOLD! DANIELSON COUNTERS WITH A ROLL-UP – THREE COUNT!! DRAGON WINS! DRAGON WINS! 56:04 is your match time. That would be your MOTY so far…again.
Rating – ***** – Did you even have to ask what this would get? I can’t believe this isn’t generating more MOTY buzz. Hell, given how much press the DG 6-man has gotten in the last couple of months, how this match has slipped so under the radar is beyond me. It’s almost wrestling perfection, and is right up there with some of the best matches in ROH ever. It combined the popular peaks and troughs match style from Vendetta (with long periods of Danielson dominance followed by quick, exciting blasts of Strong offence) but this time had the phenomenal psychological depth that made their first encounter at This Means War so enjoyable. In almost an hour (bar the slightly awkward progression to Roderick’s super gutbuster – but they’d been going over 50 minutes by then) there was nothing but faultless action on display – and EVERYTHING had a purpose. The opening segment was sheer brilliance, as Danielson tried to wrestle circles round Strong, firstly because he’s a dick, and secondly because he doesn’t want to get chopped – but Roderick kept finding a way to counter and hit chops. But Dragon IS a better wrestler so he slowly worked his way on top until Strong almost stole it at around 30 minutes with a flurry of offence. But then the real majesty started. Danielson pounced on a leg injury to reduce the potency of the backbreakers, and he’d been working the right, chopping arm of his opponent all match – both his opponent’s key weapons were taken away from him. That was what made the last 10 minutes so exciting. Strong was finally able to string together a ton of his big moves, but you KNEW it was killing him and he never once forgot to sell those injuries. Bryan Danielson will get a hell of a lot of credit for his performance in this trilogy and he deserves it because he has CARRIED all three matches – but Roderick Strong deserves a ton of credit too. He more than held his own in the psychologically complex, slow burning heel turn match in October, then in November it was his babyface charisma that electrified the Chicago crowd at Vendetta. Here he showed all of that, some amazing selling and for the first time in the trilogy actually LOOKED like a credible and viable World Champion. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think he’s ready yet (then again, right now I’m thinking Dragon should have the belt for the rest of eternity so), and there are at least five guys I’d prefer to see get a shot first, but he is young and has so much potential. He’ll get his time. If you want to see wrestling at it’s most beautiful – watch this.
Mr Charisma Lance Storm congratulates Danielson in another promo and promises tomorrow night he’ll be coming full-force for the ROH World Title.
Dave Prazak finds Colt Cabana who absent-mindedly mumbles about Homicide…
Tape Rating – ****1/2 – Yes, you did read that right. I truly believe this is ROH’s best ever show, despite the fact that, in terms of consistent match-quality, there are far better ones out there. The reason this was so good as that, on Wrestlemania weekend, ROH truly delivered an epic, legitimate ppv-feeling “supercard”. From the goofy sports-entertainment opener, to great tag team wrestling – both classic (the Embassy tag) and new-age innovation (the GeNext tag), to women’s wrestling, to a grudge match, to a crazy, unpredictable, ECW-style off-format segment with Homicide, Cabana, CZW etc and rounding things out with not one but TWO contenders for MOTY so far, if not best ROH match ever. Wrestling purists will probably find tomorrow night’s much-pimped Better Than Our Best event preferable, but in terms of mass appeal – this show is probably as good as Ring Of Honor has ever done. As for which 5* match is better – it depends what you’re looking for. You won’t see a match like the trios tag again on US soil this year (unless the Dragon Gate boys come back) and it was truly something special. But I’m much more a fan of the mat game, and Danielson/Strong was beautiful. In the same way the 90’s AJPW epics were just so awesome to watch because of how perfect they were, in its own way so was Danielson/Strong. It perhaps wasn’t as exciting as a Misawa/Kawada or Misawa/Kobashi match, but it was wrestling perfection of a kind you rarely see – especially in the US. Join me next time when I review Better Than Our Best – a show that is now widely regarded as the best ROH event ever. Oh, and check out your bonus features, since Clark/Stevens from FIP is a decent little match. Erick Stevens in particular has got in MUCH better shape since I last saw him.
Top 3 Matches –
3) AJ Styles/Matt Sydal vs Austin Aries/Jack Evans (****)
2) Do Fixer vs Blood Generation (*****)
1) Bryan Danielson vs Roderick Strong (*****)