130 ROH International Challenge 12/22/2006

ROH 130 – International Challenge – 22nd December 2006

2006 has felt like a long year for Ring Of Honor. Critically it has received rave reviews. The lengthy feud with Combat Zone Wrestling had everyone talking, the promotion ventured across the Atlantic to run shows in the UK and KENTA’s streak of impressive performances got everyone talking, most notably when he took on Bryan Danielson at Glory By Honor 5 Night 2 – a show which is winning numerous votes as best show of the year too. But personally I think since then ROH has gone a little off the boil. The “Road Of Homicide” storyline just hasn’t had the sizzle many thought it would. The Bitter End is really indicative of the shortcomings of the storyline as the big blowoff with Steve Corino bombed, and Jim Cornette (the catalyst to the “Road” storyline) went out in farcical circumstances. But whether one has enjoyed the angle or not, it all comes to an end this weekend, and I am definitely excited. These two shows represent the pay-off for sitting through a number of sub-par efforts (I’m thinking about Epic Encounter 2, Gut Check, Survival Of The Fittest, Motor City Madness and The Chicago Spectacular Night 1 in particular). And given ROH’s traditional double-shot formula of stacking the second night and using the first show as set-up, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this one might be disappointing – but the card is pretty good. Claudio Castagnoli is set to say goodbye to ROH, but before that he joins Chris Hero as the Kings Of Wrestling face the Briscoes in an indy dream clash. Roderick Strong defends the FIP Title against Davey Richards and the main event sees Chris Daniels and Matt Sydal defend their Tag Titles against the Blood Generation combo of Shingo and the returning CIMA. There’s also a fourway packed with bad blood since it involves Nigel McGuinness, Jimmy Rave and the opponents in tomorrow night’s big title clash, Bryan Danielson and Homicide. We’re in Hartford, CT (new building after the fiasco last time in East Windsor which led to a tent being needed for the second time in Ring Of Honor’s history). The hosts are Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard, who returns to commentate for the first time since How We Roll in May.

ROH VIDEO WIRE (14/12/06-21/12/06) – Homicide hosts and he talks about his long history with Ring Of Honor. But when it comes down to it he feels like he’s cursed since he’s never won a title. This promo is shockingly awful. Although at least it’s more understandable than Cide usually is. He reminds us that if he doesn’t win the title this weekend he’s quitting. Is it me or does it mean less coming from a guy that’s had millions of in-character hissy-fits and quit anyway?

– Bryan Danielson says he’s adapted to his shoulder injury and it doesn’t affect him anymore. But he wonders if Homicide can say the same thing after Brent Albright re-injured his shoulder in Chicago. This promo is really good…which makes a real change from Homicide. Danielson ends by encouraging the NYC fans to riot after he wins…since he’s a ‘one man riot squad’.

– Clips from FIP with Davey Richards demanding Strong give him a title shot. The end up having a pull-apart brawl. That’s fine since ANYTHING GOES in FIP.

The Lords Of The Ring open the show since it’s a big night for them. Daniels puts over the title belts and their importance. Sydal is more interested in putting himself over. He says he’ll ‘carry the load’ for the team since he ‘totally gets the Dragon Gate style’.

Larry Sweeney walks in on the end of the previous promo and almost goes purple in the face since he’s so excited to be here. He’s not telling anyone why he’s in ROH yet though.

Samoa Joe comes to the ring and gets everyone hyped for the show. No point in showing this whatsoever and it could’ve been cut.

Jason Blade vs Pelle Primeau

Holy jobberoo…is this ever a match I didn’t want to see. Gabe clearly sees something in Blade since he’s giving him repeated opportunities now. Primeau is getting over as the guy everyone loves to root for even though he gets his ass kicked. In terms of calling a winner this is actually pretty tough. Do you give a win to Primeau since he needs to win every so often to keep the mystique around him alive and prevent him more the side of Mikey Whipwreck or Spike Dudley…as opposed to going the way of Dunn & Marcos? Or do you give it to Blade? Primeau’s gimmick is that he loses a lot. If you’re serious about getting Jason Blade over surely he needs to beat someone like Pelle? Tough call…although I’m really not too fussed either way. I could live without both these guys on the roster in truth. I’ll say I want Jason to win since I prefer his entrance music.

They keep it nice and basic to start with but I notice Primeau looking smooth in what he does. Blade dropkicks him to the floor then takes to the sky with a RUNNING SWANTON to the floor! He keeps going with a Jerry Lynn-style leg drop over the middle rope then a jumping heel kick from the floor to the apron as Pelle struggles to recover. Primeau tries a monkey flip but can’t stop Blade landing on his feet. He does score with a satellite DDT for 2. But he takes way too long going to the top rope and gets caught with a sit-out powerbomb. Blade tries rolling back suplexes but Primeau blocks those. SUPERKICK instead then a horrible moonsault. Blade picks up them win at 04:29.

Rating – ** –
I always try to give credit where it’s due, and until that hideous moonsault which served as the finish, this match was actually way above my expectations. Jason Blade basically did what he always does which is neither good nor bad, but I was impressed by Primeau. He’s still very inexperienced but he held his own in there, and the way he bumped around made Jason look way more impressive than he has in prior outings. For a throwaway, spotty opener this served its purpose.

Eddie Edwards vs Austin Aries

This is essentially a try-out match for Edwards. He’s fresh back from a tour with Pro-Wrestling NOAH where he impressed a few people sufficiently to warrant this opportunity. Personally I’d never heard of him before he went to Japan but I’ll give him a shot. I like his look – specifically the dreads. He’s certainly been given a high-quality opponent for his debut.

Edwards has ‘Die Hard’ on his tights. I thought that was pretty cool. He impresses Lenny Leonard with his quickness as he is able to nail a couple of early armdrags. But he clearly hasn’t been studying his tapes since he puts Austin in a headscissors, which ALWAYS results in a dropkick to the head. Eddie returns fire with a standing enzi then a powerful clothesline. Grounded abdominal stretch applied as the newcomer looks to press home his advantage over a former World champion. Aries escapes a powerbomb but Edwards hits the ropes and boots him in the head to block any kind of comeback attempt. He tries to pull Double A off the top rope but Aries blocks that move. Slingshot corkscrew press then an Asai moonsault put Edwards in trouble. Eddie steps out of the way of Aries’ traditional running dropkick then scales the ropes to nail a missile dropkick. STANDING SHINING WIZARD gets 2! He tries that piggyback move from the top again but it isn’t successful again. KICK OF DEATH! BRAINBUSTER! 450 SPLASH! Aries wins at 07:22.

Rating – ** –
I can’t have been the only one who was quietly impressed by Edwards there? He wasn’t ridiculously awesome and had a few clumsy moments, but under the circumstances I thought he had a solid debut. Aries was cool in that he let Eddie dominate the match and show off what he could do, which also worked well from a crowd point of view since they were into it waiting for the inevitable Aries comeback. Personally I thought Edwards had a pretty sound grasp of how to work an opponent over. He kept it simple, worked the head and neck area plenty and showed agility on a couple of occasions – most notably with a standing Shining Wizard variant. I definitely wouldn’t mind giving him another look. He’s better than Jason Blade at any rate. The match as a whole was perfectly decent.

Jimmy Jacobs is using red face paint to give the illusion he’s crying blood. Basically using the accidental cut he sustained at the last show and turning it into part of his gimmick. He cuts another great interview. In his bloodstained existence he calls Lacey the only real thing of beauty…until BJ Whitmer stabbed her in the face with a spike. He berates Whitmer for ruining it and promises he’ll change his life the way he changed Lacey’s.

Adam Pearce vs Delirious

This is another little spin-off from Jim Cornette’s time in the promotion. Delirious constantly hassled him for bigger matches, and Cornette finally turned to his Lt. Commissioner Adam Pearce to teach Delirious a lesson. We saw that at Glory By Honor 5 Night 2 when Pearce won a match between the two (with the aid of Shane Hagadorn – who is at ringside again here). Obviously now Delirious is looking for revenge.

Rather than shaking Delirious’ hand, Pearce just kicks him in the head. I’ve actually wondered why more people don’t do that. Delirious quickly clotheslines Scrap Iron to the outside and takes the fight to him there as well. He counters a back suplex into a headscissors, but gets caught going for a crossbody and Pearce drops him with a ribbreaker. Delirious still keeps fighting, but is distracted by Hagadorn and that finally allows Adam to get a real advantage. Predictably he uses the tried and trusted ‘choke Delirious with his tassels’ technique to keep him beaten down. Camel clutch applied in the middle of the ring. Incidentally, Pearce’s interaction with the crowd in this thing is quite amusing. Delirious tries a desperation roll-up but Hagadorn pulls the referee out. Pearce tries his jumping piledriver but Delirious bites his leg. Next Hagadorn intervenes when the lizard-man tries the Panic Attack…and AGAIN when Delirious has the match won with a small package. Flying headscissors does score though, and then a leaping lariat. Panic Attack nailed and that signals time for Shadows Over Hell. Shane tries to stop him so Delirious BITES him. But inside the ring Pearce has knucks, and Delirious does the flying splash right into them. That’s enough for a cheap win for the Scrap Daddy at 06:11.

Rating – ** –
Just like the first two matches, that was fine for what it was. The crowd were into it since both Pearce and Hagadorn are highly effective at what they do, and Delirious is ALWAYS over. I’m not sure anyone cared enough about this issue to see it extended to a third match…but I suppose Pearce is coming off the best weekend of his ROH career (including the CZW feud) with his performances with Homicide at the Chicago Spectacular so it may be a case of striking while the iron is hot and giving him a mild push.

After the match Pelle Primeau runs in and demands a title shot from Hagadorn. Delirious takes advantage and gives Shane Adam Pearce’s jumping piledriver.

Jimmy Jacobs/Mercedes Martinez vs BJ Whitmer/Daizee Haze

Intergender tag action to keep this red-hot feud going. During the 8-man elimination tag at The Chicago Spectacular we saw BJ inadvertently stab Lacey in the face with Jimmy Jacobs’ spike. An enraged Jacobs then decimated Whitmer’s problematic ankle with a chair. We know the history between the two and it only seems to be escalating. Tonight Jacobs teams with Mercedes – who is being paid by Lacey apparently. Daizee will be disappointed since she would’ve enjoyed getting her hands on Lacey herself. She’ll still be looking to win since the whole issue with her and Lacey began when Lacey doubted Daizee’s status as one of ROH’s top female athletes.

No handshakes or anything here, it’s straight into a big brawl. Martinez cleverly pulls down the ropes to send Whitmer to the floor. MARTINEZ HITS A TOPE ON WHITMER! DAIZEE WITH A PLANCHA ON JACOBS! That was a pretty cool intergender moment. Jacobs and Whitmer continue fighting on the floor as Mercedes and Daizee show off a few spots in the ring. ROH have tried something a little different here and are showing both fights via a split-screen. It’s quite off-putting. Martinez gets 2 with a sweet brainbuster before the men rejoin us. Jacobs tries to spear Daizee just like he did in Chicago but this time Whitmer makes the save with a spinebuster. Mercedes tries to slug it out with BJ, but before he can return fire Jimmy does succeed with a spear on him. DOUBLE FISHERMAN BUSTER on Whitmer, but Haze breaks the fall. They try to do the same thing to Haze, but she reverses it with a double DDT. Tornado Daizee Cutter on Jimmy, but he is still able to hold her open for a Mercedez Yakuza kick. Whitmer grabs both his opponents…TWO PERSON EXPLODER SUPLEX! Martinez landed right on her head their. HEART PUNCH…YAKUZA KICK…LARIAT BY WHITMER! How the f*ck is Mercedes still alive? JACOBS SAVES WITH A SENTON BOMB! Whitmer catches Jacobs going for the Contra Code and hoists him onto his shoulders. Daizee STANDS ON JIMMY to hit a flying splash on the unconscious Martinez. The match is over at 07:35.

Rating – *** –
The split-screen brawl section of this match was a little weak, both in that the guys didn’t really do a whole lot in the crowd, whilst in the ring the girls seemed to be working more of an exhibition “look what moves we can do” style as opposed to the grudge match this was supposed to be. HOWEVER, the intergender portions of this match were great. They took advantage of the fact that Mercedes is a taller female athlete and (thanks to her SHIMMER work) is pretty over as a hard-hitter to give her some BELIEVABLE exchanges with Whitmer. Plus the chaos at the end with her taking numerous brutal shots was awesome. I think she was legitimately knocked out in that double exploder spot so she deserves a lot of respect just to finish the match. Haze is easily the worst of the “good” female wrestlers on the US scene right now. Girls like Lacey, Del Rey, Martinez, Rain and even Danger simply dwarf her talent. She sort of reminds of Jeff Hardy in that she’s got a bunch of spots, but seems to find impossible to get through a match without making something look REALLY sloppy.

SIDENOTE – I just found out that due to injuries sustained in this match Mercedes will most likely miss all of 2007 and not return till spring 2008. Mad respect to her for the beating she took here, and my best wishes to her as she returns to full health.

Brent Albright runs in immediately after the match. Lacey is paying him too remember. He gives Whitmer a big powerbomb then turns his attention to Daizee. Jimmy Jacobs wants to use his spike on her but Whitmer gets up and takes the SPIKE TO THE HEAD in her place. He’s bleeding thanks to that noble gesture…but fortunately Colt Cabana is soon on his way out to even the numbers.

Brent Albright vs Colt Cabana

Cabana, of course, is the other guy who has suffered at the hands of Jimmy Jacobs and Lacey – who is paying Albright to injure him in this match. Colt will be looking to take out some of his anger on Brent, thwart Lacey’s plans then move on to get his hands on Jacobs somewhere down the line.

Albright starts the match on the floor since Cabana has seized control of Jimmy’s spike but it’s pretty clear this is going to be a wrestling match not a brawl like the last one. Albright reacting angrily to the ‘you got fired’ and calling it a ‘vicious rumour’ is funny. He shows his immense ability on the mat as he rides Cabana for fun – and it’s not like Colt is a bad wrestler in his own right. The wrestling at the start of this match is actually really decent, and cleverly interspersed with some comedic moments too. The antics of his opponent and the persistent heckling from the crowd appear to have thrown the Gun For Hire off his game. Indeed, Colt almost snatches a victory whilst using the referee as a distraction. Having had enough of the silliness, Albright switches to using his power to give him an advantage which proves to be an effective tactic. Outside the ring he effortlessly lifts Cabana to drop him over the guardrail then comes back inside to apply a Crossface. He was Benoit’s protégé in the WWE after all. Colt escapes only to be taken down with an exploder suplex for 2. SWINGING KNEE STRIKE scores, but Colt pops back up to nail him with a clothesline. Albright tries to evade the Flying Asshole but Cabana jumps to the second rope then jumps straight off into a modified butt-butt instead. Quebrada press scores for 2. He tries coming from the top but this time Brent is able to escape the move and score with a BELLY TO BELLY INTO THE TURNBUCKLES! HEAD DROP DRAGON SUPLEX! CROWBAR! But he hasn’t worked the arm enough in the match and Cabana is able to fight the hold to the ropes. Despite a now-injured arm Cabana shows his resourcefulness but using his legs to roll Albright up and grab victory at 13:43.

Rating – *** –
Good match, to the point that, from a character perspective at least, I’d say this was Albright’s best Ring Of Honor match to date. Sure he looked impressive decimating jobbers, and I thought the matches against Daniels and Whitmer were good…but here he combined all the things he’s already impressed us with and played well off Cabana’s act to produce a decent heel performance. The match was really well structured too which helped. Colt’s early comedy kept into things following on from the Whitmer/Jacobs brawl, and Albright’s reactions were sufficient to ensure a good level of heat when he started dominating Cabana in the middle portion. The finish was also exceptionally clever and kept up the mystique and credibility surrounding Albright’s Crowbar finisher. He hadn’t worked the arm all match which is why Cabana escaped – but just using it once rendered Cabana’s arm worthless and he needed a roll-up (something he criticised Danielson for beating him with after Chi-Town Struggle) with the legs just to escape and avoid more damage.

Kings Of Wrestling vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe

This is the first sighting of Hero and Castagnoli since they lost the belts to Daniels and Sydal at Dethroned. They’re still using ‘We Are The Champions’ as their entrance music which is fine by me (a huge Queen fan). Claudio Castagnoli had signed a deal with the WWE by this point and it was expected that this weekend would be his final two ROH shows before heading off to one of the E’s developmental territories. Tonight ROH are booking this as a big dream match between two of the premier tag teams on the independent scene. The Briscoes have been one of the top duos in ROH since they started teaming together in 2003, whilst the KOW have impressed in places like PWG, CZW, Chikara and more before finally making their way to ROH in 2006. This should mark an interesting change of pace for Jay and Mark. They’ve been heels all year but they’ll be working face tonight against the super-unpopular Kings. Should be interesting to see how it works out.

Jay and Hero test each other’s skills from the bell. Every time Hero gets too cocky and starts his usual crowd-playing antics he gets caught with some offence from Jay. Mark tries to get some momentum going but falls victim to a Saito suplex. Tags again and the Briscoes hit a big double biel on Castagnoli. Hero is required to break the pinfall after Jay lands a second rope Rocker dropper, but it’s the Briscoes in total control of the match at the 5 minute mark. Naturally it takes some Hero interference to allow Claudio to nail the Match Killer then tag out. He then shows us another reason why everyone should like Chris Hero – the fact that he uses springboard double axehandle smashes. Mark is now isolated, end even when he gets himself an opportunity to tag out following a double springboard crossbody block he finds Hero racing across the ring to knock his partner off the apron. In the end it takes a German on Hero then a flapjack on Castgnoli to finally allow him the hot tag to Jay. The Kings try to team up on him but Mark stops that with a double missile dropkick. STEREO SUICIDE DIVES BY THE BRISCOES! Headscissors FROM THE TOP by Castagnoli on Jay. Hero gets the tag and gets a 2 with a cravat neckbreaker. The big boot/Dislocator combo scores but Mark promptly drags his brother across the ring to tag him out. Somehow Mark manages to hit a springboard axe kick with Double C perched on the top rope. Hero escapes the splash mountain neckbreaker but the Briscoes still ground him with a double tackle. They set up for the springboard Doomsday Device, but Castagnoli runs in with his briefcase. The referee spots him and cuts that off…but meanwhile Larry Sweeney has appeared to sock Jay in the mouth. Hero takes advantage and rolls Jay up for 3 at 15:11.

Rating – *** – A cut above anything else we’ve seen on the show so far…but you get the feeling these guys have a lot more in the tank. They both have so many offensive moves in their locker that they didn’t bring out here. But that really serves to show you how good the two tandems are. Even when they work within themselves they can still put on a commendable little match. I have a few niggling criticisms but whatever. It’s a decent effort, with an interesting conclusion in the debut of Sweeney (who people have been waiting to see in ROH for some time).

In a cool post-match touch Larry tells Hero he has a locker room backstage so they don’t have to bother going out through the crowd. That’s a nice way to end the gimmick of Hero coming through the crowd before it got old and tired.

INTERMISSION – Delirious doesn’t seem too impressed with the antics of Pearce and Hagadorn.

Jimmy Rave vs Nigel McGuinness vs Homicide vs Bryan Danielson

The ROH Title obviously isn’t on the line tonight. Obviously there are two key storylines within the four men in this match. The big one is Homicide and Dragon in the same match, the night before they clash for the World championship. In Chicago Danielson paid Brent Albright to injure Homicide’s shoulder which really reignited the long standing rivalry between those two. They both have an opportunity to damage each other before the big one tomorrow. Rave and Nigel have been at odds since The Bitter End when McGuinness called Rave a joke. Since then they’ve traded wins in competitive singles bouts, but at the Chicago Spectacular Jimmy made the Englishman tap out twice to his new Heel Hook submission. Remember also the history between Danielson and McGuinness, whilst it was Homicide who was pinned by Rave at Black Friday Fallout to end his lengthy losing streak.

Despite his best efforts to get his hands on Rave, Nigel ends up starting the match with Homicide who does well to hold his own with the wrestling skills of his opponent. They finally force their hesitant counterparts in the match – Danielson and Rave – to tag in. Those two test each other’s strength for a while then decide it’ll be more fun to double team McGuinness instead. Nigel recovers to hit a wristlock suplex on Dragon, but the champion tags out before Homicide can get in with him. Rave tries to go to the top rope but Homicide drags him away with a superplex. He whips Jimmy into Nigel’s headstand mule kick proving the babyfaces can instigate some impromptu double-teaming too. McGuinness goes for a Rebound Lariat but Danielson (from the apron) holds him down so Jimmy can get a free shot in. That leads to both Rave and Danielson stretching the rules and combining well to work him over. It’s traditional ROH four corner survival randomly turns into a tag match stuff…but I can’t help but think what a good team Danielson/Rave would be. McGuinness gets a hammerlock DDT on Jimmy only for AmDrag to stop him tagging. McGuinness finally hits a Spinal Cut on Dragon then a lariat on Jimmy and does get the hot tag to Homicide. TOPE CON HILO on both the heels! Homicide is relishing the opportunity to get involved with Danielson, but he promptly tags out again. Nigel clocks Rave with a cobra clutch lariat for 2. TOWER OF LONDON gets 2. THAT ARM SUBMISSION! YES! He hasn’t done that in ages…unfortunately Dragon breaks it up with a diving headbutt. Homicide drops him with an Ace crusher…but Dragon blocks the Cop Killa by launcing Cide SHOULDER-FIRST into the ringpost! Meanwhile Rave gets 2 with a Crappy Wizard. Samoa Joe is at ringside checking on Homicide’s shoulder. REBOUND LARIAT nailed, but the referee is busy with Joe it seems. Dragon sneakily tags in and traps Nigel in a SMALL PACKAGE! He wins at 14:35.

Rating – *** –
Not the best 4CS ever but there have also been a lot worse. It definitely did a great job of building to tomorrow night’s title match with a number of well-done Homicide/Danielson teasers, but never really letting them properly go at it with each other. The same can be said for Rave/Nigel. We’ve seen them wrestle a lot and whilst they were obviously always going to be in this match more than the two in the main event tomorrow, it never felt like overkill between them. The finishing sequence was great as well…in terms of excitement and the clever booking around Cide’s shoulder. It’s also clever because there’s already simmering problems with Joe and Nigel over NOAH.

CLIPS – We see shots of Strong/Richards in FIP which I believe was to determine a #1 contender to Bryan Danielson’s title. Dave Prazak’s heel commentary is brilliant. Then shots of Strong winning the FIP Title and getting challenged by Davey.

Roderick Strong vs Davey Richards – FIP Heavyweight Title Match

As we just saw from those clips, this is an issue almost entirely set up in Full Impact Pro. Roderick finally achieved what he felt was his destiny when he beat long-time rival Bryan Danielson to claim the FIP Title. Richards is also desperate to get a hold of the FIP’s top prize and has got himself in line for a title shot. The pull-apart brawls between them have been so heated that Strong didn’t want to wait for the next time they’re all in Florida, instead he wanted the match here in Hartford. It’s a nice addition to the card too! Remember Strong has changed the rules a little bit for his title defences. Basically it means he’s added count-out stipulations, and the belt can change hands under those circumstances.

Despite their clashes in FIP this has a fresh feel to it and I find myself pretty excited as the bell rings. Richards quickly forces Roddy to the floor for a rethink after dominating the first exchange. Davey then pauses to mock some guy in the front row who is pissing everyone off. Moronic fans piss me off. The early moments are getting lost here as retarded fans ruin it with their heckling. Richards and Strong eventually snatch the attention back for themselves by increasing the pace but come up evenly matched at the end of it. Repeated armdrags give Davey the advantage and enable him to hit chops into that stepover kick. He uses ground holds now to keep the defending champion on the mat and start wearing him down but finally misses a second rope leg drop which allows Roderick to take over. To the floor where Strong sets Richards up for a few chops. Back in the ring he uses a leg full nelson followed by a camel clutch them a surfboard to stretch Richards’ back. Strong demonstrates a bit of cockiness by teasing a stalling vertical suplex, but instead putting Davey down again for another chop. Stranglehold camel clutch applied after a backbreaker but the challenger is able to find a rope. A slingshot suplex sends Richards to the apron, but he is clever enough to avoid Roddy’s Canadian backbreaker. Strong blocks a springboard dropkick attempt only for Richards to rally for a TORNADO DDT ON THE APRON! But somehow he manages to beat the count-out and make his way back in the ring to hit a falcon arrow. Davey responds with a springboard dropkick. Back suplex backbreaker by Roderick returning to target Richards’ back. Davey decides to get up though, and grabs Strong for ROLLING GERMANS! That doesn’t get a pin, and soon Strong is on his feet with an Alabamaslam. Gibson Driver blocked and Richards heaves Strong into the ALARM CLOCK! HAMMERLOCK DDT gets Richards a 2 count. He tries the SSP but took too long going to the top and Strong gets the knees up. The champion almost secures victory with his half nelson backbreaker. Davey tries his handspring enzi but succeeds only in flipping right into the Sick Kick. Both men battle over a suplex to the floor, resulting in Richards booting his opponent off the apron for a twisting tope suicida. The match spills up the aisle and onto the metal ramp. Strong ends up dumping Richards onto the steel then running back to the ring to win by count-out at 21:27.

Rating – *** –
The match did enough to scrape 3* but I wasn’t too impressed by it. These are two young guys who are capable of having great matches with complimentary opponents (I’m thinking about Danielson/Strong, Richards/Rave and so on) who are able to hide their weaknesses and bring out the best in them. Working each other the whole thing never really felt like it clicked. The first 10 minutes were totally lost to crowd heckling, but whilst the fans might have been cocks, Strong and Richards were never really doing anything of note inside the ring to grab the fans and make them shut up. It finally seemed like the match gained some direction with first Davey getting an advantage, then Strong recovering to start attacking the back. But then they ditched that, decided to no sell pretty much everything and keep popping each other with an assortment of high impact moves that just made no sense. The finish was a real mess as well in truth. I think this match is an example of why neither guy is ready to be ROH’s top guy and carry the promotion quite yet despite hovering around the upper midcard all year.

Samoa Joe cuts a promo informing Bryan Danielson that Homicide will be ready for tomorrow night’s title match.

Christopher Daniels/Matt Sydal vs CIMA/Shingo – ROH Tag Title Match

This should be a good main event to round off a solid night of action. It’s the first defence by the Lords Of The Ring after Sydal’s injury meant they didn’t defend against Aries and Strong in Chicago. They are faced by the Blood Generation duo of Shingo and the returning CIMA. He’s back in ROH for the weekend, and will be warmly welcomed after three outstanding showings over Wrestlemania weekend. Sydal should be hugely familiar with his opponents since he regularly teams with them in Japan.

Cima fondles Daniels’ bald head instead of shaking hands. Even Daniels can’t help but laugh. He starts with Shingo but has problems dealing with the power of the Japanese youngster. Sydal tags and does better by using his speed which leads to Shingo bringing Cima in for the first time. Matt bails clutching his previously injured knee so Fallen Angel gets in again to trade armdrags with Cima. Shingo comes in from that and once again uses his muscle to keep Daniels on the ground. The Japanese team are now in firm control of the contest, but Daniels is able to escape the ring after hitting Cima with a tilta-whirl backbreaker. The champions get 2 after Daniels body slams Sydal into a senton. Back suplex/springboard elbow combo finds the mark as well forcing Shingo into the ring to break the pin. Cannonball leg drop misses and Cima capitalises by double stomping Sydal in the face. Shingo swings Matt into a powerbomb and uses a stepover toehold which will do damage to the already-questionable knee. BloodGen combine for Shingo to leapfrog hilo into Sydal’s midsection, then hold him in place for Cima to come from the top with a DOUBLE STOMP! Shingo holds Sydal’s neck against the turnbuckle for Cima to dropkick the ass and therefore compress the spine. He starts biting Sydal’s knee as he works the leg of his frequent partner in Dragon Gate.

Shingo dishes out a swinging sleeper slam to keep Matt trapped in the ring. DOUBLE GUTBUSTER, then an elevated ace crusher by BloodGen gets a 2. But Sydal keeps coming back, and he finally spins into a DDT on Shingo. Hot tag to Daniels, who STO’s Cima into DDT’ing his own partner! He tries an Arabian press to the floor but Shingo blocks it. Cima flies to the floor with a tope. TOP ROPE MOONSAULT BY SYDAL! Back inside Matt gets 2 with a Slice. I guess this is Dragon Gate rules since there’s no way Matt was legal. Shingo blocks a standing frankensteiner attempt which Lenny attributes to Sydal’s bad knee. Powerbomb into the turnbuckles into a gutwrench throw forces Daniels to make a diving save at 2. Cima puts Daniels in a deathlock then suplexes Sydal at the same time for good measure. Daniels hits a lungblower on Shingo then holds him in position for Sydal to nail a crossbody. Cima blocks the Fall From Grace…THEN NAILS AN ICONOCLASM! PERFECT DRIVER GETS 2! Daniels gets up to DVD Cima. Koji Clutch on Shingo…CIMA SAVES WITH A MAD SPLASH! Sydal DDT’s Cima…LARIATOOOOOO BY SHINGO! Doomsday Crossbody by Blood Generation. Shingo gets 2 with the Last Falconry (pumphandle Angle Slam), but then gets accidentally superkicked by Cima. BME ON SHINGO! SYDAL PRESS! The champions win at 23:51.

Rating – **** –
Cracking tag team bout right there. It started slow but in classic Dragon Gate fashion all four men gradually stepped on the gas as the match progressed leading to a thrilling crescendo of wild moves. And unlike Strong/Richards, it wasn’t the type of senseless ‘you hit a move, now I hit a move’ stuff that abandoned any story they’d set up early in the match. Sydal, still selling the knee, was noticeably restrained in the closing moments in order to further the story, and therefore add to the drama. CIMA oozed class whenever he was in the ring. The guy is so entertaining and immensely fluid when going spot for spot with guys in this kind of situation. Really this was exactly the sort of match you were expecting between four talented individuals. How many sweet tags has ROH done this year?

CIMA rounds off his great night by kissing Sydal’s knee better during the standing ovation. Quality…

Bryan Danielson has a chuckle at Homicide’s expense and points out that he’s used to wrestling with shoulder problems – unlike Homicide. Tomorrow night he’s keeping the belt.

Tape Rating – *** –
Given that every ROH weekend is now a double shot, it’s inevitable that the show on the first night will generally suffer a little bit. Not every show can be a knock-out. But contrary to the opinions of some guys who read my reviews – I really don’t expect every one to be Manhattan Mayhem, Death Before Dishonor and so on. But Ring Of Honor have one of the most talented rosters around and, even on a “lesser” show such as this one, the talent should be able to put on a solid night of action. This event should be a template for that. There wasn’t a bad match in sight. We opened with solid enhancement matches with chances for Blade, Primeau and Edwards to shine. After progressing the Pearce/Delirious storyline we went to the more meaningful matches. The intergender tag and Cabana/Albright both served their purpose and kept the crowd with then. Kings/Briscoes was a really decent match which debuted Larry Sweeney and set us up for Double C’s “farewell” tomorrow night. The four corner survival was brilliantly booked to advance numerous angles without going overkill on any of them. Strong/Richards was disappointing rather than bad, and we ended a top-to-bottom consistent night of action with a really good main event tag match. There’s nothing that screams MUST BUY about the event but if you kept every show, or even the majority of shows, I’d give this a decent recommendation.

Top 3 Matches

3) Bryan Danielson vs Nigel McGuinness vs Jimmy Rave vs Homicide (***)

2) Kings Of Wrestling vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe (***)

1) Christopher Daniels/Matt Sydal vs CIMA/Shingo (****)

Leave a Reply