128 ROH The Chicago Spectacular Night 1 12/8/2006

ROH 128 – The Chicago Spectacular Night 1 – 8th December 2006

The Chi-town market has been one of the most important stops on Ring Of Honor’s non-stop touring schedule, so the promotion are aiming to make their last visit to the city in 2006 something special. It’s a two night stand with a number of big matches signed for both nights. Homicide ending his issue with Chicago’s own Adam Pearce and an elimination tag match headline tomorrow night. Top of the bill for night one is Bryan Danielson (returning from Pro-Wrestling NOAH) to defend his World Title in a Steel Cage against Samoa Joe, with whom he’s been at odds since Mania-weekend. The rest of the card seems a bit of a mish-mash but we’ll see what we get. Obviously this event takes place in the Frontier Fieldhouse in Chicago Ridge, IL. Commentary provided by Dave Prazak and Jimmy Bower.

ROH VIDEO WIRE (01/12/06) – The host is Samoa Joe, who seems chirpy because Bryan Danielson dodge him anymore and gets his hands on the World Champion in a cage this weekend. He also promises that he’ll end Homicide’s time in ROH at Final Battle 2006. He then moves on to his issues with NOAH. He’s fed up with the Japanese guys coming to ROH like tourists and he slapped KENTA to send a message. Now he wants them to send a guy over for a fight.

– Homicide says he’ll destroy Adam Pearce in their Strap Match on Night 2 of the Spectacular. Despite his new friendship with Joe, he doesn’t mind beating him at FB06 either.

– The Lords Of The Ring (Daniels and Sydal) cut a promo but are interrupted by Aries and Strong who waste no time in demanding a title shot. Daniels promises them one for this weekend.

Brent Albright sits in the ring. He’s done proving himself, and tonight he’s here to make money.

Bryan Danielson claims he was a huge success in NOAH. He’s adjusted to wrestling with his injured shoulder and will end the myth of Samoa Joe in the cage. He also announces Jimmy Jacobs as his first partner for the elimination tag match tomorrow night. Lacey makes sure Jimmy is aware of the need to destroy Colt Cabana tonight as well.

Kikutaro vs Tank Toland

I think the last time we saw Kikutaro was May so I suppose he was due another cameo. Not that I particularly care about him. The joke has more than gone stale…he’s probably good for a live crowd though. Tank is still getting chances I suppose, despite his largely indifferent showings over the last month. If he can’t at least have a watchable match with the crowd-pleasing likes of Ebessan I’d suggest there’s no real future for him.

Kikutaro seems willing to test his strength against the muscular Toland. Quickly he decides he’d rather have the referee wrestle Tank instead. Poor Toland isn’t enjoying the tomfoolery of his Japanese opponent. Kikutaro wants an arm-wrestling contest and the fans call Tank a pussy until he agrees. Ebessan simply gets up again and stamps on the gullible Toland’s head. Finally Kik gets distracted by the referee and clobbered with a clothesline by Toland. Most of his offence is WWE-style stuff which doesn’t endear him to the crowd, but he does hit a nice high knee into a spear sequence for 2. He traps Kikutaro in the middle of the ring with a butt-ugly arm hold but can’t get a submission victory. Dragon screw by Kikutaro, then the ever-popular Shining Wizard for 2. He gets preoccupied yelling at the crowd and hilariously gets suplexed by Toland. A sit-out powerbomb wins it for Tank at 08:17.

Rating – ** –
Credit where credit is due since that was probably my favourite Kikutaro match since The Final Showdown. Granted that isn’t saying much since I don’t particularly like him but still. It was the decent performance of Tank as the straight-guy that made the match tick. He sold Kik’s comedy really well, and got some decent heat from the sparse crowd (clearly Friday night in Chicago doesn’t draw as well). He needs to work on his offence since some of it was really lousy – but this was the first match where I saw something in Toland that made him seem worthy of a spot. If he can work in a few more noticeable moves and ditch the WWE-esque clubbering and rest holds then he’s got a chance.

Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Irish Airborne

I’m not really sure what the booking logic behind this is. The Crists are being fazed out of ROH after failing to progress from their initially promising start in ROH. They’ve been beaten repeatedly by the Briscoes already (Death Before Dishonor 4 and Epic Encounter 2) too. I think this is more indicative that now the Briscoes are done feuding with Homicide and Joe, they’re at a bit of a loose end creatively. A handsome victory here keeps them over as we end the year and go into 2007.

Jake and Mark start in front of a surprisingly split crowd. Crist just about manages a springboard headscissors then tags out to his brother Dave. He trades blows with Jay before running into a hurricanrana from the older Briscoe. Sidewalk slam/leg drop combo gets the Briscoes a 2 as they isolate Dave. Crist hits a spinning heel kick and joins his brother for STEREO SOMERSAULT DIVES OVER THE ROPES! They think about the Irish Air Raid but Mark makes the save with a slingshot Ace crusher on Dave. He forearms the sh*t out of Jake and throws him into a Yakuza kick from Jay for 2. Splash mountain neckbreaker scores as well but still only good for a nearfall. Jay gives Dave the MILITARY PRESS DVD! SPRINGBOARD DOOMSDAY DEVICE finishes Jake at 05:21.

Rating – ** –
A comprehensive dismantling that effectively kills all credibility Irish Airborne have, but both teams put a lot of energy in and with that sort of time allocation, they probably couldn’t have done a whole lot more. I’d write this off as a total squash, but a lively one. You can watch it for free at ROHvideos.com apparently so I’d say go check it out.

During the pre-show Pelle Primeau challenges Shane Hagadorn for the Top Of The Class Trophy tomorrow night. He’ll need a much bigger attendance if he plans to do any crowd surfing…

Brent Albright vs Homicide

Since debuting at Suffocation Albright has looked highly impressive. After his initial defeat to Chris Daniels he’s decimated a few jobbers and put in an impressive showing in Black Friday Fallout’s Gauntlet Series to earn a full-time roster spot. This is a real test of his undoubtedly impressive skills. Homicide is arguably the focal point of Ring Of Honor as they end the year pretty much basing the entire creative movement around his quest for the World Championship. How will Albright fare against one of the most experienced men on the roster?

For some reason Homicide refuses to shake hands with Albright, provoking the Shooter to jump him. Homicide recovers with a sweet hurricanrana then baseball slides Brent on the floor when he looks like he has the tope con hilo scouted. He spends the next minute or so splattering Albright’s head all over the guardrails. Brent shows his toughness by refusing to stay down. Homicide decides he wants to use a chair next. Why is he wrestling heel? In the end that backfires since Albright ends up socking him in the ribs with the chair instead. Cide thinks about an early Cop Killa only to be dropped on his neck with a back suplex. Albright hits that awesome swinging knee strike in the ropes and seizes total control of the contest. Homicide goes for the eyes but still gets hurled into the steel railings again. He does finally manage a swinging DDT that leaves both guys shaken up. A belly to belly suplex gets Homicide a 2-count. He tries a crossbody off the apron to the floor and gets caught! Albright runs him shoulder-first into the ringpost. Remember Homicide has had shoulder problems since Steel Cage Warfare, and Albright uses the Crowbar to win matches. Homicide hits the Three Amigos with arm selling but is slow to capitalise. He climbs the ropes only for Shooter to pull him off into an ARM STUNNER! Homicide gets desperate and tries his Lariat but it misses. HALF NELSON SUPLEX! CROWBAR! Homicide gets a rope but Albright refuses to break the hold. He’s disqualified at 12:58.

Rating – ** –
The last few minutes (basically from Homicide’s shoulder injury onwards) were great but I was mildly disappointed with what came before. Not that it was a bad match, but everything felt so tedious and slow. There seemed to be no real flow to the contest, and I was baffled by Homicide’s use of heel tactics. I know he’s gangsta and has a history of doing that stuff but he’s supposedly the top babyface in the promotion right now. Needing chairs and eye rakes just to hang with a newcomer (although admittedly an impressive newcomer) just does no favours for him.

We get some explanation for Brent Albright’s refusal to break the hold. Samoa Joe makes the save leading to Albright retreating up the ramp. Bryan Danielson comes out and hands Brent a wad of cash. He paid Albright to do a number on Homicide’s trick shoulder. What a jackass. And that’s what Albright meant when he said he’s here to make money. He’s now known as ‘The Gun For Hire’…

Matt Cross vs Davey Richards vs BJ Whitmer vs Christopher Daniels

It’s good to see M-Dogg getting more opportunities since he’s looked good in both his outings since he debuted at Motor City Madness. The rest of this match has a bit of a thrown together feel to it. Davey is still bouncing around the midcard, although he picked up a big win against Austin Aries at the last show. BJ Whitmer’s issues are with Jimmy Jacobs, and although he has history with Chris Daniels, they buried the hatchet in one of the most awful segments of 2006 at Destiny.

The crowd is so quiet you can hear everything the four men say to each other before the bell. Richards and Daniels start in standard Chris Daniels-meaningless armwork fashion. Davey skips away from an armdrag to nail one of his own but Daniels springs off the ropes to get himself an advantage again. Tags to Whitmer and M-Dogg, who jumps in from the top to double stomp BJ’s arm. Cross’ speed is a little too much for Whitmer (including him cartwheeling off the top rope), until BJ finally catches up to boot him in the face. Multi-rev satellite headscissors on Daniels but the former Prophecy members have managed to get some momentum going on the ROH rookie. Dogg runs into a tilta-whirl backbreaker by the Fallen Angel in the midst of what Prazak dubs a ‘mini-Prophecy reunion’. The inevitable Cross comeback occurs as he flips out of the corner into a rapid-fire enziguri on Daniels and tags out to Davey. He gets 2 on Whitmer following a German suplex. Handspring enzi hits Daniels, but Cross flies in straight off that with a springboard double stomp to Richards. There are repeated instances of Daniels/Whitmer miscommunication now as the Prophecy reunion disintegrates. ALARM CLOCK on Cross…TWISTING TOPE SUICIDA ON WHITMER! M-Dogg prepares to do his own dive but Daniels kicks him in the stomach and ARABIAN PRESSES TO THE FLOOR himself! SASUKE SPECIAL FLYING HEADSCISSORS BY CROSS! If possible he hit that cleaner than Jack Evans! Daniels hits Davey with the BEST MOONSAULT EVER for 2. Richards recovers with a Ligerbomb but Whitmer breaks the pin. Richards tries the handspring enzi but Whitmer CATCHES him in mid-air for a JACKHAMMER! Cross tries more high-flying and screws up a satellite DDT. In the end Dogg and Richards fight on the top until Daniels comes over. REVERSE SUPER RANA ON CROSS…BUT HE JUST USES THAT TO MOONSAULT ONTO WHITMER! Daniels capitalises and Koji Clutches BJ. Cross breaks it with a springboard senton then a Juvi Driver for 2. Richards slaps the taste out of Matt’s mouth but can’t quite nail the Super DR Driver. Cross misses a shooting star double stomp (yep) and Richards tries a kimura only to have Whitmer break it. SIT-OUT TOMBSTONE PILEDRIVER ON CROSS! Whitmer gets the victory at 16:51.

Rating – *** –
I was all prepared to start lamenting this match at around the seven minute mark. It was everything people complain about in these four corner matches – with it breaking down to a senseless tag match with guys allowing their opponents to attempt pinfalls and so on. But then all of a sudden everyone went crazy. Matt Cross brought some unreal high-flying, Davey was on with his athleticism and explosive striking, Whitmer was a powerhouse and Daniels became a great base for the other three to work the sh*t around. Look past the total ignorance of the legal man rule and the last 10 of this are spot-tastic entertainment value. And I’d suggest M-Dogg just earned himself a roster spot.

Jimmy Rave vs Nigel McGuinness

This is a rematch from their underrated and physical bout at Dethroned. There Rave was attempting to get revenge after McGuinness called him a joke (that comment came at The Bitter End) and after the gruelling contest (won by Nigel with his Rebound Lariat) he appeared to have earned Nigel’s respect. But McGuinness threw some toilet paper as a bit of a joke, and we all know how angry that makes Jimmy. They had a “shoot” b*tch fight leading to Rave storming out of the building and now to this rematch. I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by the first one so I eagerly await this.

Jimmy doesn’t even let McGuinness get his shirt off before laying in the right hands. Nigel responds by superkicking him in the face then using an armwrench to take Rave down. That is followed by the wristlock suplex as he attacks the arm in customary fashion. Cobra clutch lariat gets McGuinness a 2. To the apron where Rave hits the unprotected STO much as he did at Dethroned. And just like in that match Nigel hits the FLOOR REBOUND LARIAT…but he appears to injure his ankle in the midst of that. Apparently he can’t even get the momentum to get up for his corner headstand. Rave goes straight after the leg, demonstrating his new aggressive in-ring style. Nigel goes to the floor but his opponent pursues him out and smashes the leg into the metal barricade. This is a little slow for the totally dead crowd but I’m digging Rave’s total focus on the injured leg. Interesting commentary points from Bower and Prazak who point out that Jimmy isn’t a submission wrestler and doesn’t have a leg-orientated finisher. McGuinness resorts to a violent-looking headbutt to get some distance. He tries the cobra clutch lariat for a second time but this time Jimmy ducks it to hit a spear. Crappy Wizardo scores as does Ghanarea, but they don’t work the leg and don’t get the job done. He can’t manage to hit the Pedigree but does chop Nigel’s leg out from under him before he can hit a Rebound Lariat. PEDIGREE NAILED! Nigel KICKS OUT AT ONE! Triple H HATES ROH! Spinal Cut then the TOWER OF LONDON but Jimmy kicks out. He tries it a second time but Jimmy counters with a missile dropkick. Rebound Lariat blocked by another leg attack. HEEL HOOK! That’s the debut of Rave’s new submission hold. McGuinness surprisingly taps out at 12:05.

Rating – *** –
Yet again these two have put on a really good, uncomplicated wrestling match. The story they went for wasn’t rocket science, but they stuck to it throughout the match and it paid off at the climax with the debut of Rave’s new hold. McGuinness’ selling of the leg injury was superb. The point of this match was to complete the rebirth of Jimmy Rave. After the losing streak and his unconvincing win against Homicide, this was the match where he cemented his new, post-Embassy, more aggressive style, complimented with a devastating new finishing hold. After his bouts with Bryan Danielson, McGuinness has a reputation for being one of the tougher guys on the roster. Unlike that BS win over Cide at Black Friday Fallout, this is the win that puts Jimmy on the ROH map once again.

Rave demands an apology from Nigel for throwing toilet paper at Dethroned but McGuinness flat-out refuses. HEEL HOOK AGAIN! McGuinness is selling that hold like a trooper.

INTERMISSION – Dave Prazak is unimpressed by Bryan Danielson paying off Brent Albright tonight. He informs Dragon to concentrate on Samoa Joe tonight. Danielson says it’ll be the easiest cage match in wrestling history. He also introduces Jimmy Rave as his third partner in the 6-man elimination tag tomorrow night – simply because he was so impressed with what Jimmy did to McGuinness.

Adam Pearce/Shane Hagadorn vs Delirious/Ace Steel

It feels like ages since Ace has popped up. Not that I mind too much, I’ve never been the biggest fan of the guy. This is hometown territory for him and Pearce though. Delirious has issues with Pearce and Hagadorn. At Glory By Honor 5 Night 2 the Scrap Daddy beat him thanks to the assistance of his new ‘man servant’ Hagadorn. He also had his problems with former-Commissioner Cornette, and we know that Pearce is enormously loyal to him so.

Amusing moment in a pre-match pose-off between Ace and his opponents…when Pearce slips off the middle rope. Steel then tries to speak Deliri-ese in order to communicate with his partner. It’s the two Chicago boys that start the match and they wrestle like they’ve wrestled each other hundreds of times, which they probably have. Pearce and Hagadorn both fall to the floor in a heap. Delirious gets in with the Top Of The Class Trophy holder and wrestles circles round him. Shane gets trapped in the ring until an illicit Pearce clothesline from the apron on Ace switches the momentum of the match. Hagadorn distracts the referee as Steel forces his way past Pearce to make an unseen tag. Next Adam uses a leather strap (presumably the one he’ll use tomorrow night with Homicide) to choke on Steel the corner. Delirious throws a baseball cap into the ring and Ace tries to batter Hagadorn with it…with minimal impact. Eventually he does evade the clutches of his opponents and get the tag. Shane tries to run away from his on-fire opponents but gets slingshotted in over the top rope. Cue some Pearce/Hagadorn inadvertent gay sex position fun before Delirious hits Adam with the Panic Attack. He saves Steel from Pearce’s jumping piledriver, then Ace uses Delirious’ head as a battering ram to knock him to the floor. SPINAL SHOCK on Hagadorn, then the Cobra Stretch. DeliriAce win at 11:10.

Rating – ** –
Basic and formulaic, but again I think it’s worthy of this rating because everyone did their thing pretty satisfactorily. Delirious and Ace were amusing and surprisingly effective and cohesive as a unit and, as I expected, Pearce and Hagadorn continue to make for an amusing heel duo. They’re just easy to hate y’know? Fine for the post-intermission spot.

Jimmy Jacobs vs Colt Cabana

Thanks to his raging and reckless infatuation with Lacey, Jimmy Jacobs is now fighting a war on two fronts. We saw at Dethroned how violent the issue with his former tag partner (and former Lacey’s Angel) BJ Whitmer has become. Now he has to face the consequences of what he and Lacey did to Colt Cabana last time we visited this building for Irresistible Forces. There Cabana ended his brief relationship Lacey because she’s a ‘huge b*tch’. He tried to help new friend Jimmy see the light but ultimately Jacobs sided with Lacey and together they put a wicked beating on Colt. Jimmy’s mission tonight isn’t to win but to cripple his OTHER now-former tag partner.

Jimmy Jacobs looks crazy-psyched up for this. He unleashes some extreme profanities, added to at ringside by Lacey’s ‘stop yelling and punch him in the face’ comment. They take swings at each other but Cabana gets distracted by Lacey. He grabs one of her shoes looking for revenge from Irresistible Forces. He ends up bending Jimmy over in the corner and grabbing Lacey in order to gesticulate that she anally pleasures Jacobs. Finally Lacey manages to trip him in the apron allowing Jacobs to hit the trampoline double stomp. Next he climbs onto the railings to hit a flying elbow smash. The next few minutes are basically spent brawling around ringside, featuring some trademark insane Jimmy Jacobs guardrail bumps. Cabana applies the Billy Goat’s Curse but Lacey gets into the ring and throws powder into his face. That’s a DQ loss for Jacobs at 07:21.

Rating – ** –
To be honest, I was a little disappointed. I wasn’t expecting them to put on a 4* epic at this stage of their feud, but after the sheer mayhem of the brawl with BJ Whitmer at Dethroned I had higher hopes here too. This elaborate interlinked feud with Jacobs, Lacey, Whitmer, Cabana and to a lesser extent Daizee Haze is pretty unique and is definitely one of the more exciting things going on in ROH right now but this match was more in here for storyline advancement than match quality. That being said, I was very impressed with the level of intensity Jacobs (and Lacey doing a good job outside the ring) brought to the contest. It was his performance that really made this brief match a semi-decent back and forth duel. Jimmy is the key to the success or failure or this complex plot and right now he is SO spot on with his tortured emo lover gimmick that it just sucks you in.

Daizee Haze rushes to the ring to get into one with Lacey, but this time it’s Lacey that gets the upper hand and gives her an Implant DDT. She then holds Daizee prone for Jimmy to nail her with a big spear. Cabana thinks he’s about to get his hands on Lacey, but in runs Brent Albright to give him an EXPLODER SUPLEX! Clearly Bryan Danielson isn’t the only guy who’s been hiring Albright’s services this evening. Brent and Jacobs hold Cabana’s legs apart for Lacey and a HIGH HEEL STOMP TO THE NUTSACK! F*CKING HELL! I winced just watching that. BJ Whitmer runs in for a late save. Man, this storyline just keeps getting more people added to it.

That’s not actually the end of the in-ring stuff. Delirious comes to the ring and babbles at Whitmer, apparently recruiting him to his team for tomorrow night’s 6-man tag. Nigel McGuinness then limps to the ring. Since Jimmy Rave is on American Dragon’s team tomorrow night he wants to be on Delirious’ team too. Looks like tomorrow night’s main event is set.

Austin Aries/Roderick Strong vs Matt Sydal/Shingo

For large parts of 2006 we’ve seen Matt “I team with anyone” Sydal test himself against his (now former) Generation Next team-mates. I suppose this is now a theme that’s continuing since, at this point, his only significant victory was in a tag team contest back at Supercard Of Honor. Tomorrow night he and Chris Daniels defend the Tag Titles against the former champions, but tonight he teams with Shingo, who of course has problems with Roderick Strong as we saw at the last Long Island/New Jersey weekend. I’m also fairly sure that Sydal, like Shingo, is a member of the (now defunct) Blood Generation faction in Dragon Gate. Incidentally, this is under Dragon Gate rules, which loosely means that tags aren’t necessary (but optional) when a team has an offensive advantage. It’s a little complex. I think you can also roll out at any time.

Sydal acts all cocky with his title belt, whilst it’s apparent that Strong and Shingo still don’t like each other. I like the attention to past angles right there. After barely doing anything Matt starts limping around the ring. I think that’s a legit injury. He and Strong are pretty respectful of each other given their history, but Roddy gets the upper hand with a tilta-whirl backbreaker. Shingo makes the mistake of putting a headscissors on Aries and eats dropkick. Sydal noticeably can’t get the elevation he usually gets on a standing Cannonball leg drop. There’s still tons of powder in the ring from the Lacey angle and it goes everywhere as Austin hits an Asai moonsault for 2. He hits the ropes again for a slingshot corkscrew elbow to Sydal as he is draped over Rod’s knees. The fans are pretty quiet again which makes Danger’s pro-Sydal screaming at ringside borderline irritating. Her man has been stuck in the Aries/Strong corner for sometime though. He finally saves himself by getting the knees up to Austin’s slingshot senton and finally Shingo is able to get into the ring. He chinlocks Aries and uses his power to dominate the former World Champion. Sydal takes a hint from that (and possibly because his knee is still bothering him) by working an abdominal stretch. He eventually gets too cocky after a dropkick and Strong ploughs through him with a knee to the back. Aries tries to lay some shots in on Shingo but gets his eyes raked for his trouble. Swinging sleeper slam gets the Japanese import a 2-count. ELEVATED LUNGBLOWER/FACEBUSTER double team combo from the Blood Generation boys. Sydal goes for the jumping super rana but Aries hangs onto the ropes. He continues his resurgence with a rana on Shingo then gets the tag to his partner. Sydal hits a standing moonsault on Aries for 2 (Dragon Gate rules folks) then a RUNNING MOONSAULT PRESS TO THE FLOOR! Shingo blocks Aries’ brainbuster and gets 2 with a gutwrench throw. Strong in with a superplex, but Shingo no sells. Sydal takes Roderick into the corner but Strong rolls through his super rana attempt. SHOULDER STANDING SPIKE DDT BY SYDAL! That almost won it for BloodGen. Matt and Aries show their familiarity as both Aries’ brainbuster and Sydal’s Slice are blocked. CHOP SUPER BRAINBUSTER COMBO ON SYDAL! SHINGO SAVES AT 2! How wasn’t that the finish? Sydal blocks the Missile Dropkick Bomb as Shingo lands a lariato on Roddy for 2. Strong catches Sydal on his shoulders allowing Austin to rattle out an ELEVATED DEATH KICK! 450 SPLASH! Aries and Strong take a hard-fought victory by pinning Sydal at 19:21.

Rating – *** –
In many ways that was similar to the four corner match from earlier in the show. It started in underwhelming and somewhat basic fashion (although this was perhaps necessitated by Sydal’s injury in this instance) but once it kicked into higher gear made for a riveting ride down the home stretch. The top rope chop brainbuster move totally should’ve ended it though. The DG rules lead to a few moments of confusion. They are far too interpretative and in truth, all they actually seem to facilitate is more spots and less need for the referee to feel obligated to enforce a legal man. It makes for exciting matches (see the Dragon Gate tags from the Milestone Series for proof of that) but it’s not always easy to follow. In conclusion, this wasn’t the best match you feel these four are capable of, but it was pretty good. In theory Aries, Strong and Sydal needed to keep stuff back from each other for tomorrow night’s Tag Title clash. Unfortunately Matt’s injury put pay to it. I thought he played up the new cocky streak to his character very well though. Definitely something to keep an eye on.

Bryan Danielson vs Samoa Joe – ROH World Title Steel Cage Match

Like I said earlier, these two have basically had a rivalry that stretches back to Wrestlemania weekend. It was then that Samoa Joe officially challenged Danielson to a title match. But he was still preoccupied with the CZW feud at that point. Finally the issue between these two exploded in the Cage Of Death ROH vs CZW finale when Danielson attacked Joe and his bad knee despite the fact they were both on the same side. That led to their “Fight Of The Century” clash, which went to a 60-minute draw. Joe was obviously pretty keen on a rematch (just as CM Punk had been in 2004 when he kept going 60 with the champion) but Danielson didn’t oblige. They eliminated each other from Survival Of The Fittest 2006 by going to another draw (20 minutes this time) in their qualification match, after which Dragon attacked Joe using the title belt that Joe made so famous during his run. A scheduled title match at Irresistible Forces was abandoned when Danielson refused to put the belt on the line. Instead Commissioner Cornette made it No DQ and promised Joe a title shot if he won. Joe did win that match by choking AmDrag unconscious, and immediately made the challenge for tonight’s cage match.

Both men make it a priority to launch each other into the cage but early attempts prove unsuccessful and it breaks down into a striking game. Obviously that favours Joe and the champion ends up trying to escape the cage. He eventually does try to trade blows with Joe…so the Samoan KICKS HIM IN THE BALLS! That was pretty brutal. Dragon looks to bail and sneak a victory for the third time in the opening minutes but gets hauled down from the top rope again. He does it one more time, but this time when Joe tries to stop him Danielson uses it to get a free shot to the face. Nevertheless Joe responds by elbow smashing him against the cage and busting the champion open. This has been totally one-sided so far. Homicide is at ringside (he looks high) and he tosses Joe a ghetto fork. I guess that’s payback for Brent Albright injuring him earlier. Dragon is already covered in blood and the fork does nothing but worsen matters…although Joe is so much less convincing it using it than Cide. Danielson can barely stand at 10 minute as Joe gets all the free shots at him he wants. He tries to flee the cage again and Joe goes up after him this time. JUMPING TOP ROPE ENZIGURI! Danielson gets a shoulder up at 2. Joe goes the submission route next, powerbombing Dragon into first an STF then a Crossface (with forehead clawing). Danielson blocks a Musclebuster and climbs again. All of a sudden Joe thinks about climbing out for victory. That’s the mistake Dragon has been waiting for. BACK SUPERPLEX ON JOE! He follows that with a swandive headbutt then a Regalplex for 2. Crossface Chickenwing applied only for Joe to stand up and sling him into the cage again. Danielson tries the same roll-up that he tried at Irresistible Forces and gets trapped in the CHOKE! This time he doesn’t allow himself to collapse though, and rolls off the ropes into a pinning position so Joe is forced to release. LARIATOO by Joe gets 2. Dragon traps Joe in a tree of woe then hits MMA ELBOWS ON THE KNEE! Now he tries to escape again! This time he manages to get over the top of the cage. BUT JOE CATCHES HIM WITH A CHOKE! Danielson is choked to unconsciousness, but Joe doesn’t have the strength to drag him back in. The limp champion drops to the floor to retain his title at 20:39.

Rating – *** –
Good match, certainly nowhere near as bad as I’ve been led to believe. The story they told was effective and believable and the finish was inventive and unique. My main problems with this match certainly do not emanate from its execution which was fine. I just didn’t especially ENJOY the story they opted to tell, no matter how well they did it. I know Joe is the bad-ass, and he did it well. I know Danielson is awesome as a cunning (perhaps cowardly?) champion. But this was a steel cage match between two of the biggest names in Ring Of Honor. I think I (and certainly the crowd in Chicago) expected something a little more substantial than essentially 20 minutes of Joe beating the sh*t out of Danielson, who spent most of the match running away and ultimately won all because Joe had knackered himself out. It wasn’t the definitive, explosive and memorable end anyone wanted to see between two legends in the short history of this promotion. The whole thing felt flat.

Davey Richards feels like something is missing after another defeat. He promises to win tomorrow.

The show ends with Adam Pearce cutting arguably the best promo anywhere in 2006. Words here can’t do it justice. He says Homicide was selfish during the CZW feud, doesn’t care about the fans and levels the blame for Cornette’s departure on him and his fans. He even points out that in the grand scheme of things he’s nowhere near as big a star as Cide. But tomorrow he doesn’t care about winning, he just wants to fight Homicide till he can’t fight anymore. Awesome stuff. If anybody is in any doubt about whether Pearce deserves a spot on the roster watch this promo (and his match with Homicide tomorrow night). It WILL change your mind…

Tape Rating – ** –
This is one of only two shows in Ring Of Honor’s almost five years of existence not to have achieved one match that clocked at 4* or higher. That’s not to say it’s a bad show because of it, but when the promotion puts out so many releases it becomes VERY difficult to advocate purchasing this when it doesn’t really have a stand-out match to make it worthwhile and a pretty silent crowd throughout. BUT focus on the positives – there isn’t a bad match on this show, and four matches that hit 3*. That makes it better than the majority of 2002 shows. I’d also much rather watch a consistently solid event like this with no 4* match than something like The Bitter End with bizarre booking and a totally flat main event. But with no big match it’s just impossible to recommend anyone but completists get this. And those completists will, I’m sure, enjoy the exciting climax to the four corner survival, the solid double main event of Danielson/Joe and the DG tag match, with another good Rave/McGuinness encounter tucked in there as well. This event also features the debut of Albrights “Gun For Hire” character, Jimmy Rave’s Heel Hook and Adam Pearce’s spectacular promo. As a completist myself I certainly didn’t hate this event as much as some.

Top 3 Matches

3) Austin Aries/Roderick Strong vs Matt Sydal/Shingo (***)

2) BJ Whitmer vs Matt Cross vs Davey Richards vs Christopher Daniels (***)

1) Bryan Danielson vs Samoa Joe (***)

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