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126 ROH Black Friday Fallout 11/24/2006

ROH 126 – Black Friday Fallout – 24th November 2006

Now we’re into ROH’s closing stretch of 2006 shows, with only three weekends (six shows) between now and the end of the year. This weekend should be interesting since Bryan Danielson is on neither event (he’s in Japan with NOAH) so other guys should get a real chance to shine. From here we go to a big weekend in Chicago at the start of December before rounding things off just before Christmas with Final Battle 2006 weekend. And judging from some reports I’ve read, this release is supposedly the worst of all those six. I find it hard to believe it’s any worse than The Bitter End which I just finished reviewing so, I’m anxious to get cracking. It’s a unique card, with a main event pitting Chris Daniels and Matt Sydal against Davey Richards and Delirious. Four guys who don’t usually get the opportunity to main event, so it’ll be good to see how they react with more time to play with and so forth. The Kings Of Wrestling defend the Tag belts against Aries and Strong for a final time, this time under No DQ rules due to what happened in Philadelphia. Samoa Joe and Jay Briscoe clash in singles for the first time since the At Our Best bloodbath of 2004, and there’s a gauntlet match featuring guys like Nigel McGuinness, Brent Albright, BJ Whitmer and Jimmy Jacobs too. This is in Lake Grove, NY. Hosts are Dave Prazak and Jimmy Bower. Jared David has stepped down from commentary duties (after doing a solid job in the past six months) and Bower is filling in till the long-awaited return of Lenny Leonard – which I believe is FB06 weekend.

ROH VIDEO WIRE (16/11/06) – Roderick Strong hosts this edition. He is painfully bad at it. If he uses the phrase ‘let me tell you’ one more time I’ll cry. He’s the new FIP Champion and he says he’ll be defending the belt on ROH shows from now on – including against Shingo this weekend. Thankfully most of this wire is highlights of past shows.

The Kings Of Wrestling appear to be hosting their own press conference. They get heckled by an off-camera crowd, but vow to fight off all challengers and maintain their World Tag Titles.

Brent Albright is here to make money and beat people up. And tonight he’s got lots of guys to beat up since he’s in the gauntlet match.

Daizee Haze vs Nikki Roxx vs Lacey vs Allison Danger

Opening a show with a women’s match in front of the notorious Long Island crowd seems like a bit of a risk, but I’ll roll with it. Obviously this will be nothing more than an exhibition. If you want to see what these girls can really do, get yourself some SHIMMER. In terms of ROH issues, look out for Lacey and Daizee Haze. Lacey objected to Daizee being put in a marquee female match at Honor Reclaims Boston (it was Haze/Martinez on that event) and slapped her in the face as a result. Roxx makes her ROH debut. Dave Prazak has a jones for her in SHIMMER and has pushed her pretty hard, especially since her match with Amazing Kong on Volume 5. And finally Lacey is coming to the ring using ‘The Game’ by Disturbed. It’s an awesome song and she uses it everywhere else on the indies so I’m happy to see she’s at last using it in Ring Of Honor as well.

Lacey slaps Daizee to start the match and they quickly descend into brawling. Danger comes in to trade forearms with Lacey. Nikki joins up with her and they team up to choke Lacey over the middle rope. Roxx hangs Lacey in a tree of woe and dropkicks her, but gets suckered in by Haze who promptly takes her down with a swinging Stunner. Daizee acts swiftly to evade Allison’s curb stomp but Lacey breaks her submission hold. Lacey avoids tagging into the match though, meaning Allison has to endure a beating at the hands of Haze and Roxx. She tries a Chris Hero-style tumbling headscissors but Nikki blocks it and they battle over a rolling pin. With Danger down Lacey decides she wants in the match, taunting Daizee in the process. Danger tries a Stretch Plum but gets booted by Haze, leaving both women down. Tags all round and Roxx hits Daizee with a tilta-whirl backbreaker. BARBIE CRUSHER on Danger, but she’s not legal. Daizee is, and she scores with the Heart Punch/Yakuza Kick combo. Lacey blind tags Haze, and gives Roxx the Implant DDT to steal a win at 08:28.

Rating – ** –
A couple of sloppy moments but that was mostly solid, with some great work from Lacey and Daizee to drive the match forward from a storyline point of view. It seemed like these four women held the attention of the problematic Lake Grove fans for almost 10 minutes, and that really speaks volumes for what a decent job they did of what could’ve been a totally forgettable match. Aside from the Barbie Crusher (which is an awesome move), Nikki Roxx didn’t add much. I’m yet to be convinced by her in SHIMMER either to be honest.

Homicide says he’s run Steve Corino and Jim Cornette out of ROH, and wants to do the same to the Briscoes tomorrow night in Edison. Adam Pearce has apparently challenged him to a strap match in Chicago, and he gladly accepts that. Final order of business is to call Jimmy Rave a joke.

Brent Albright vs Pelle Primeau – Gauntlet Match

This is the first leg of the Gauntlet Series, which also features Nigel McGuinness, BJ Whitmer, Jimmy Jacobs and Jason Blade. It’s quite a mish-mash of talent from jobbers (Primeau and Blade) to guys with main event experience so I’m not really sure what to expect. Albright debuted at the last Midwest weekend and took Chris Daniels to the limit in a solid wrestling match, then destroyed Trik Davis the next night to truly announce himself as part of the roster. He’ll be looking to rocket up the card by racking up some wins over some experienced names in this series. Primeau comes in off the back of two big wins – the Six Man Mayhem at Motor City Madness and the four way at The Bitter End. Can that momentum take him past another mountainous opponent?

It doesn’t take long for Albright to start tossing Primeau around. He hits an unrealistic-looking hurricanrana, but goes to the well a second time and gets dropped over the ropes. GERMAN SUPLEX! HALF NELSON SUPLEX! CROWBAR! Pelle taps in 02:05.

Rating – DUD –
Total squash, and since I’m someone that can’t quite get on board with Primeau even having a spot in ROH, I really didn’t enjoy that. The guy is so tiny that it just doesn’t look believable when he does a hurricanrana on someone as big as Albright. He’s young and he’s already developed a lot and got the lovable underdog gimmick nailed down (and Spike Dudley made an entire career of that in ECW after all)…but he needs to get a little better with his comebacks.

Brent Albright vs Jason Blade – Gauntlet Match

I’m curious to know what exactly Blade has done elsewhere on the indies that means he continually warrants getting shots in ROH. Not that he’s bad, but he’s been getting try-out matches for a year now and has never once looked like setting the world on fire. Last time we saw him was in a four corner match at Destiny in June I believe.

The fans are loving Brent after his demolition job on Primeau. He starts kicking Blade in the back without any real trouble. Jason throws out a couple of armdrags…but Albright’s response is to grab him for an EXPLODER suplex. That was cool. Blade reverses a vertical suplex into a small package, and when that fails he tries another elaborate roll-up to attempt to snatch victory. It’s only worth 2 though, and Brent uses the size advantage to engulf him again. He hotshots Blade again. GERMAN…HALF NELSON…CROWBAR! Blade taps like Primeau at 04:25.

Rating – * –
It followed the same format as the decent Albright/Davis squash from Irresistible Forces, but wasn’t quite as well executed so I didn’t rate it as highly. I liked the idea of Blade using flash pins to try and upset the bigger man, but he was sloppy in his execution a number of times, and his presence ultimately served no other purpose but to provide another body for Albright to steamroll through. Brent is looking decent again though, and that explosive finishing sequence rules in so many ways.

Brent Albright vs BJ Whitmer – Gauntlet Match

This is the first real test for Albright, as he has to face an ROH veteran and established tough SOB. But will he be feeling the strain having already been through two guys? Whitmer returned from his ankle injury during the previous two shows, and will be looking to get past Brent as his arch-enemy Jimmy Jacobs is in this Gauntlet Series too.

The opening is much more tentative this time round. They’re both basically the same size and after decimating his two previous opponents Albright struggles to similarly control Whitmer. He tries to grab the arm for the Crowbar, but BJ immediately slides to a rope. The general theme thus far is Albright trying to overpower and out-wrestle BJ but not being able to do it. Both men resort to strikes instead and eventually it’s Albright that goes down. He recovers with a belly to belly suplex. Whitmer up with an exploder that has Brent going to the floor to recover. The newcomer has clearly done his homework though, as he goes after the ankle that Whitmer had surgery on. Neither commentator picks up on the link to Whitmer’s injury through. Albright swings it into the guardrail a couple of times to do more damage. Eventually Jimmy Bower does remember that Whitmer is fresh back from an ankle injury. Albright tries a half crab, but BJ fights out of that and nails another exploder suplex. He sells the ankle well during his initial comeback sequence as the match passes 10 minutes. Spinebuster gets 2 but the fans are starting to turn on the match. Damn Long Island fans. ANKLELOCK! Whitmer is trapped in the middle of the ring but he manages to drag himself to the bottom rope. Albright hauls BJ up. GERMAN SUPLEX DUEL! Whitmer manages to string together 2 German suplexes in a row, and Albright is out of it. He’s pinned at 13:21 (meaning almost 20 minutes of action for him tonight).

Rating – *** –
That was too slow for the LI crowd, but I was digging it. It just felt like a total war between two very big and evenly matched guys. I loved the fact that Albright attacked the ankle – since it makes him look like a great wrestler, and makes the point to Jimmy Jacobs and the ROH fans that BJ’s ankle is fully healed and can no longer be considered a massive weakness. The finish was appropriate to the battle that preceded it too. Albright, having already wrestled too matches, just couldn’t take any more of this ultra-physical match. Not to everyone’s tastes but if you appreciate slower matches in a more heavyweight style then you’ll get something out of this. Kudos to Brent Albright who looked good in the first three matches. The crowd is actively pissed off that he’s eliminated. For a new guy on the roster that’s pretty good going…

I won’t even rate the next match. Jimmy Jacobs basically sprints to the ring and pins Whitmer (following a low blow) before BJ even realises he’s there. Clever way to advance their feud without wasting their first big singles interaction in a gauntlet match.

Jimmy Jacobs vs Nigel McGuinness – Gauntlet Series

So much for gauntlet matches being about testing a wrestler’s endurance and stamina. This is the final match and it’s between the last two entrants. Having rewatched Generation Next (the show) recently I’ve been wanting to see these two wrestle again. They had a fun little match then, but they’re both practically unrecognisable now, such are the improvements they’ve made since May 2004.

Unsurprisingly Nigel has things entirely his own way as they trade holds to start. Jacobs really needs a different tactic to hang with McGuinness here. Nigel has a counter to everything JJ tries. Finally he hits the multi-rev satellite headscissors and clings desperately to a headlock, despite Nigel dropping him with a back suplex. McGuinness eventually breaks the hold with his wristlock takedown. Jacobs has worn him down a little though, and is able to pop up first to land a neckbreaker. Nigel sends Jimmy shoulder-first into the turnbuckle then gets 2 with a wristlock suplex. BRIDGING double chickenwing submission. Damn that looks painful. As does his giant lariat, but Jacobs kicks out at 2. Jimmy fights the Tower Of London but misses his torpedo headbutt (inadvertently) and is heckled by the fans. RINGPOST DROPKICK! Jacobs just goes 150% every time he’s in the ring. But he gets distracted by Lacey allowing Nigel to pummel him with uppercuts then another clubbing lariat for 2. He headstands into the rear kicking Final Cut out of the corner, but Jacobs manages to throw him out of the ring to get some recovery time. He dives after Nigel with a tope suicida and takes a really heavy landing there too. He tries a Contra Code from the apron but has it blocked. Super Lariat ducked…MID-RING TOWER OF LONDON! Jacobs kicks out again! McGuinness thinks one more Tower should do it, but Jacobs has recovered enough to evade that and nail his SENTON BOMB! REBOUND LARIAT BLOCKED WITH A SPEAR! Contra Code doesn’t work again, and Nigel wins it with the SUPER LARIAT! The time for that match was 14:27.

Rating – *** –
It’s matches like this that make me wish I gave out ½ star ratings, because it really deserves a higher rating than Whitmer/Albright…but just was nowhere near good enough to make 4*. I know McGuinness is having a tremendous 2006, but I thought it was Jimmy Jacobs who made this match with his incredible work rate. Some of the bumps this guy takes (from his own moves) are totally ridiculous. Pelle Primeau should also watch this match and take notes as to how Jimmy was able to make himself and his offence look credible despite being in there with a much bigger guy. I have a criticism of Nigel though. What is his finisher exactly? Is it the Tower Of London? If so why does it NEVER work first time? Is it the lariat? If so why does he use it at least 3 times per match? Is it the top rope elevated lariat? If that’s the case, why hasn’t he been winning more matches with it? Like I said, he’s having a tremendous year, but I just wish he’d stop devaluing his finishers by having so many people kick out of them, or by over-using them. It’s lazy wrestling and using moves he KNOWS will get a cheap pop from a crowd, and it’s hurting his long-term value to ROH and his potential to be a future World Champion and somebody to carry the promotion.

To be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed a gauntlet match more than this one. I’ve never been a massive fan of the format to be honest, but this was really as good as it gets, with some excellent booking. The opening portion was used to continue putting Albright over. He looked tremendous on his debut weekend, and I think Gabe realises Brent has the potential to be a total beast on this roster if booked right. The Whitmer/Albright match was good and did nothing to hurt either man’s long-term credibility (although the Long Island crowd got bored and turned on BJ as a result). The Whitmer/Jacobs feud was advanced without having them wrestle each other…and we ended with the really fun McGuinness/Jacobs match, which felt really fresh considering it was the first time we’ve seen them wrestle each other since 2004. I’m not anxious to see another gauntlet match any time soon, but this was ok. Credit to Gabe and the wrestlers for making it work.

The Briscoes continue their streak of golden promos. They can’t pronounce ‘Shingo’ properly but they tell him to man up when he faces Mark tonight anyway…

Kings Of Wrestling vs Austin Aries/Roderick Strong – ROH Tag Title No DQ Match

I think this is acknowledged as Roddy and Austin’s last shot at the belts whilst the Kings Of Wrestling are the champions. We know the history here. Hero and Castagnoli cheated to end the epic title reign of Aries and Strong at Glory By Honor 5 Night 2. Then in the rematch at The Bitter End they attempted to cheat again using Claudio’s briefcase…but Aries got a hold of it too, and was spotted by the ref putting it to use earning the KOW and sneaky disqualification victory. To ensure no more funny business and a clean winner in their final match, there are no disqualifications here. The first match was great, the second match was dull. What does the rubber match have in store?

Aries and Strong don’t wait for the Kings to get to the ring, instead opting to attack them in the crowd as they make their entrance. Has the bell rung here? The fight makes it to ringside of course, where we get the obligatory multiple guardrail whips. Castagnoli gets back dropped back into the front row and Aries dives over the rails after him. That turns out to be a mistake though because Claudio ends up using the environment to drop Aries ribs-first on the rail. He manages to recover enough to evade a Hero double axehandle which goes on to level Claudio instead. He misses a dropkick in the corner, and the Kings take advantage by taping him to the ringpost, therefore allowing them to totally double team Strong. That’s a pretty cool idea. I then chuckle as Castagnoli starts choking Roddy with his tie. A guardrail section is brought into play with Double A still taped up in the corner. The rail is propped up between two chairs, but Aries gets himself free before they can use it. He PRESS SLAMS HERO THROUGH THE BARRICADE! Then they use the chairs for a DOUBLE BACKBREAKER on them for Claudio. CHOP BRAINBUSTER scores but Hero pulls the ref out of the ring. Aries makes him pay for that with a Heat Seeking Missile. Gibson Driver on Castagnoli gets 2. The champions bring a table in, and in another amusing moment, Claudio puts his feet on it for leverage when trying to pin Aries. Hero rolls Aries up, but he breaks the pin by cracking him with the briefcase. BRIEFCASE KICK OF DEATH ON CLAUDIO! Hero tries to use the ringbell but runs into Death By Roderick and the Sick Kick (Strong’s big boot) for another 2. Now it’s the challengers that look set to use the table…until Shingo runs in. HE RIKES TABLES! He powerbombs Roderick Strong through the table then walks off. Hero and Castagnoli take advantage with a DOUBLE HERO’S WELCOME to win. I had no clue when the bell rang for an exact time but the match went around 15 minutes.

Rating – *** –
That was a lot of fun. Probably not the best way to get the most out of the abilities of these two teams, but we’ve seen them wrestle twice, and the heat between them was such that a big brawl was probably an appropriate way to end their little feud. If I hadn’t enjoyed that backstage segment at Irresistible Forces so much I’d have complained about the finish. Was it really necessary to have Shingo run in? I know they’ve got an FIP Title match tomorrow but couldn’t they have furthered that angle in FIP? Or just not bothered, since there was already a satisfactory level of dislike between the two men following the first match. This match didn’t touch GBH5 in terms of quality, but it entertained me, and was something a little different from these four guys. I enjoyed Aries and Strong using the KOW entrance to their advantage, or Hero and Castagnoli tying up Aries in the corner (Aries, incidentally, sold the whole deal so well). It’s a little disappointing that the Kings couldn’t get a clean victory over Aries and Strong though.

INTERMISSION – Gary Cappetta interviews Shane Hagadorn. Shane says that Adam Pearce is mourning the loss of Jim Cornette, but confirms that he has challenged Homicide to a Strap Match, and will make him relive the strap-whipping he got at Death Before Dishonor 4.

Shingo vs Mark Briscoe

There’s not a whole lot of reason for this match, and I’m again left a little confused by the booking of Shingo who, as I said during the last Midwest weekend, is now pretty much an ROH regular for the foreseeable future. He was a face when he wrestled Jimmy Rave on debut. Then he was a heel when he wrestled Roderick Strong. He was a heel earlier in this show when he put Strong through a table. But now he’s booked against Mark Briscoe, who’s been a heel opposing the two top babyfaces in the promotion (Homicide and Joe) for months. It’s a little hard to follow. Not that heel vs heel matches are always bad – check out Daniels vs Xavier from Bitter Friends, Stiffer Enemies.

Shingo refuses to shake hands. Clearly he doesn’t rike the Code Of Honor as much as he rikes tables. Mark is the first man to increase the pace with a spinning heel kick and a flapjack. Shingo gets hung up in the ropes then knee’d in the head, and that leaves him in place for Briscoe’s slingshot double stomp. Belly to belly suplex gets Mark a 2. He misses a second rope corkscrew senton and Shingo hits him with a swinging sleeper slam. He takes it to the floor and uses a ring chair to choke Mark since he rikes hardcore. He keeps using chokes and eye rakes to keep Briscoe down. When they stop working he uses sneaky low blows instead. You can’t deny that Shingo is a funny guy. STO sets Mark up for the Manriki but Briscoe edges to a rope. Mark eventually kicks Shingo away and scores with a double springboard crossbody. RUNNING SUICIDE DIVE TO THE FLOOR! Back inside Mark hits repeated urinage suplexes for 2. Shingo turns the tide again with a modified Shattered Dreams (I’m not kidding) into an elevated DDT. Briscoe catches him on the top rope to hit his springboard Ace crusher for 2. Cut-Throat Driver is blocked though and Shingo almost wins it with a gutwrench throw. Shingo again evades Mark’s finisher and plasters him with a lariat. Blood Fall wins it for Shingo at 12:23.

Rating – ** – This match had it’s moments – mostly from Shingo who is strangely watchable in his current heel role…but by and large it was just a bit dull. I’m also not a fan of how Mark Briscoe had to basically work babyface in order to put Shingo over. The guy has been in the midst of a main event feud with Joe and Homicide as a heel for months (the blow-off for which is tomorrow night), but we’re supposed to forget that for the sake of this random midcard match? Don’t get me wrong, I think Shingo has a ton of potential and I’m loving his character, but in truth his comedic heeling is pretty much all I took from this one.

Roderick Strong hits the ring for a standard angry ‘you screwed me’ brawl.

Jimmy Rave vs Homicide

I’m trying to remember if these guys have had a singles match before. Anyway, Rave is in the midst of a colossal losing streak, and now comes up against Homicide, who is probably the hottest guy in ROH now having just beaten Steve Corino and getting ready for his World Title shot in a months time. Rave debuts new music again here (‘Land Of The Rising Sun’ if you’re interested – and it works well) but has his work cut out to end his problems in this match. Homicide is so focused on all his other upcoming opponents (Danielson, the Briscoes and so on) that his only mention of Rave in his promo earlier was to call him a joke. Will he regret that lack of focus?

Toilet paper for Rave is now banned. The match gets off to a slow start with both competitors testing each other with various holds. Four minutes in and they’re still persisting with the fairly pedestrian pace. Rave spits in Homicide’s face and gets slapped then shunted to the floor. Julius Smokes gets involved and clotheslines Jimmy for no apparent reason. Homicide comes alarmingly close to dropping Rave on his head with a belly to belly suplex that draws a 2. Nerve hold applied because after a lethargic opening 7 minutes we needed a rest hold. At least Cide is hammering on the neck which obviously sets up for his finishers. Jimmy goes to the floor again but knows to look out for the tope con hilo and manages to spear Homicide into the railing. Back inside with Rave trapping his opponent in a grounded abdominal stretch. Chinlock next, then a standing version of the abdominal stretch into a back suplex. Swinging neckbreaker gets 2 after a couple of minutes with almost nothing happening. Jimmy misses a running knee in the corner and topples over the ropes. TOPE CON HILO NAILED! That signals the start of a Cide comeback as he armdrags Jimmy from the top rope then hits a neckbreaker. He gets 2 with an ugly ass Tiger Driver. A battle on the top rope ends with Cide hitting a sloppy DDT from the second rope. Three Amigos nailed and Homicide continues the nostalgia trip by going for a frog splash, but there’s no water in the pool. Ghanarea gets Jimmy a 2. They screw something else up and just crash into each other in the middle of the ring. Rave recovers from that with a Crappy Wizard. Homicide hits a frankensteiner but Rave still has enough to duck the Lariat and connect with his spear. PEDIGREE gets 2. If Triple H was an ROH fan, he isn’t now. Rave randomly goes counters a suplex with a small package and scores a shock victory at 18:07.

Rating – * – That was really quite terrible. It was slow, there was no real cohesion or attempts to put any kind of story together, there were numerous ugly spots and screw ups, a lousy finish and some needless and pointless interference too. Both men are capable of far better than this. Where was the energetic heel Jimmy Rave of his matches with CM Punk, Bryan Danielson or Davey Richards? And what was Homicide on out there? I know he’s a star in TNA now but he really seemed to amble through this match and noticeably treated it as a “B-show” outing. His babyface performance was as languid as Jimmy’s heel showing. At almost 20 minutes this was a real struggle to sit through, and ultimately did nothing for either man. Jimmy ending his losing streak came off as lucky, whilst Homicide loses a ton of momentum (and credibility as a future ROH Champion if this performance is anything to go by) by losing to a guy who’s been jobbed out left, right and centre.

The Briscoes charge the ring to soften Homicide up for tomorrow night’s Street Fight. That, of course, brings Samoa Joe to the ring and we have our next match.

Jay Briscoe vs Samoa Joe

It’s the first time these two have clashed in a singles match since their famous steel cage bloodbath at the At Our Best show in March 2004. They also had another really solid World Title match to main event Tradition Continues in October 2003 so I’m eagerly anticipating this – both men have improved SO much. I shouldn’t need to outline much of the recent history here. Homicide and Joe have been feuding with the Briscoes since the summer when their alignment with Jim Cornette reignited old issues between Jay, Mark, the Notorious 187 and the Samoan Submission Machine.

Joe has his way with Briscoe from the bell, swinging him into the guardrail then setting him up for the vaunted Ole Ole Kick. The rail segment absolutely crumpled under Joe’s boot on that one. Back in the ring and Joe relentlessly kicks away at Briscoe as he staggers from one corner to the next. Jay eventually blocks the running bootscrape with a kick to the head. Impressively he gets Joe over for a suplex then slows the pace with a chinlock. He chokes the Samoan in the corner as well in an attempt to keep his bigger opponent struggling. The inevitable Joe comeback begins as he reels off slaps then literally catches Briscoe in mid-air to drop him on his face. The STF/crossface sequence has Jay struggling for a rope, but he finds one and then manages to power Joe into a DVD for 2. Five Star Frog Splash gets 2 as well. Jay rolls down Joe’s back as he goes for the Musclebuster and comes up with a BACK DROP DRIVER. Shades of the At Our Best cage match there. But he dives from the top again into a kick to the head. MUSCLEBUSTER wins it for Joe at 11:57.

Rating – ** –
Hugely disappointing considering the matches they’ve had in the past, but for what it was it’s not so bad. It’s basically a mildly elongated copy and paste of your run of the mill Joe iMPACT match. That essentially means Joe totally dominates his opponents, lets them get a few moves in then obliterates them at the end. I was expecting more. At least Joe’s presence perked the crowd up after two rather dull matches.

Delirious/Davey Richards vs Christopher Daniels/Matt Sydal

So after a somewhat tedious second half of action, this is your main event. Despite the fact that we’ve seen all these guys in numerous tag matches already this year, and there’s no real reason for Richards and Sydal to be teaming together again, the position of this at the top of the card makes it feel really fresh. It’ll definitely be different from the traditional 25-minute Bryan Danielson match, and variety is the spice of life so. Daniels and Sydal have their shot at the Kings Of Wrestling tomorrow night so will want some momentum going into that match. Delirious has scored a couple of wins over Sydal recently (Survival Of The Fittest 2006 and Suffocation) so Matt will be looking to even that score. Richards is still hovering around without any real direction and could use a big main event win.

Matt Sydal’s new ring gear is really awesome, makes him stand out and look far more professional. Daniels and Richards start with a good job on commentary from Bower who puts it over as one of ROH’s founding fathers against the future. Richards surprises Daniels with a few kicks then makes the tag to Delirious. Sydal quickly enters too so their rivalry is renewed inside 5 minutes of the match. As you’d expect it’s all even stuff between the two very familiar opponents. Matt hits his enzicanrana then monkey flips Delirious across the ring and that secures his team an advantage. Delirious boots Daniels down and has to tag out and get some recovery time on the apron. Davey scores with chops into the stepover kick so Daniels throws him out of the ring then lowers the ropes for Sydal’s RUNNING MOONSAULT! The Lords of the Ring are definitely in control after that, with Matt hitting a slingshot basement dropkick. Flying elbow/back suplex combo gets 2 as Richards struggles to recover. Sydal applies a headscissors sparking an amusing duel between Allison Danger (screaming ‘tap’) and some of the fans (urging Davey not to). Sidewalk slam/Cannonball leg drop combo nailed. Sydal and Daniels are starting to look really fluid as a team. Davey suplexes Sydal onto the top rope and makes a very necessary tag to his partner. He then holds Matt in place for Delirious to hit a running dropkick to the face. Delirious looks for the Cobra Stretch but it’s way too early, so Delirious breaks out a Cobra Clutch swing instead. Richards and Delirious seem to be targeting Sydal’s back and neck, continually kicking at that area on top of moves like back suplexes and backbreakers.

‘Shut up Allison’ – Richards. Handspring Enziguri blocked with a dropkick enabling Sydal to make the hot tag to Daniels. Delirious stops Daniels hitting Angels Wings so he STO SLAMS him right on top of Davey. Daniels things about the Fall From Grace but Delirious stops him with the Never Ending Story. FROG SPLASH Crossbody from Richards out of the corner. SOMERSAULT SENTON TO THE FLOOR BY DELIRIOUS! I loved how Sydal tried to stop him but Delirious jumped off just in time. Sydal gets repeated 2’s on Richards with the Slice then the standing moonsault. ALARM CLOCK KICK by Richards, then a SCREWDRIVER for 2! DR Driver then the Here It Is Driver blocked, and Richards flips Sydal into an inverted cloverleaf (apparently the Kondo Clutch). Daniels saves allowing Sydal to flatliner Richards into the KOJI CLUTCH! Daniels does the same thing on Delirious to prevent him blocking it but there’s no submission. DOUBLE ELEVATED DDT on Sydal! Daniels drags Davey to the floor for an ARABIAN PRESS! Meanwhile Delirious gives Matt the Panic Attack. Sydal knows to look out for the Shadows Over Hell though and goes up after Delirious. RUNNING GERMAN SUPERPLEX FROM RICHARDS! SHADOWS OVER HELL! DANIELS SAVES! HANDSPRING ENZI then the TWISTING TOPE SUICIDA ON DANIELS! Delirious hangs Sydal on the top rope for a neckbreaker that gets 2. He can’t quite get the Cobra Stretch so he tries to steal Sydal’s moonsault belly to belly. BEST MOONSAULT EVER BY DANIELS! SYDAL PRESS! LOTR win at 26:51 and prepare for the Kings Of Wrestling tomorrow night with a victory.

Rating – **** – Another quality tag match as Ring Of Honor continues to re-invent tag team wrestling in 2006. The opening 15 minutes were fine in that both teams did a solid job of isolating an opponent and so on, but a little unremarkable. The last 10 minutes, however, really made this one something special. There was just so much goodness, from great spots to really clever moments of subtlety. Check out Sydal doing Daniels’ Koji Clutch. Or Delirious getting beaten because he was trying to steal Sydal’s finisher. I wouldn’t say this was a MUST-SEE MOTYC but it was a great “ROH-style” tag team match with a solid foundation leading to an explosive finale. It saved what had otherwise been a lacklustre show.

Lacey berates Jimmy Jacobs for not winning the Gauntlet Series. She also doesn’t care that he beat BJ Whitmer – since she wants him to cripple BJ. He looks like he wants to cry…

Tape Rating – ** –
After championing Honor Reclaims Boston as ROH’s return to form after a disappointing autumn run, I’m starting to look a little silly. They’ve followed it up with two somewhat mediocre efforts. Don’t get me wrong, this was definitely better than The Bitter End (the lack of stupid booking, Jim Cornette, Konnan and a main event that delivered ensured that), but it could’ve been so much better. The first half of the show was solid. The SHIMMER opener was fine, I liked the gauntlet match despite traditionally hating the concept (largely thanks to Whitmer/Albright and McGuinness/Jacobs being good) and the Tag Title match was decent too (although their GBH5 match was still better). But only one of the “big” post-intermission matches delivered. Homicide/Rave was dreadful, and Joe/Briscoe was nothing on their prior encounters and came off as very phoned-in. Granted the main event tag was really good – but I don’t think that’s enough to merit buying this show. Good as it was, ROH has done a large amount of good tag matches this year and there are much better ones out there (Aries/Strong vs Briscoes – Unified, Aries/Strong vs Danielson/Lethal – Tag Wars 2006, Strong/Evans vs Briscoes – Best In The World, KENTA/Marufuji vs Danielson/Joe – Best In The World…and so on). To conclude, this isn’t awful. Top to bottom it’s a decent wrestling show. But a number of the marquee matches fail to deliver and it’s hard to advocate anyone other than completists buying this.

Top 3 Matches

3) Nigel McGuinness vs Jimmy Jacobs (***)

2) Kings Of Wrestling vs Austin Aries/Roderick Strong (***)

1) Christopher Daniels/Matt Sydal vs Delirious/Davey Richards (****)

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