132 ROH Dedicated 1/26/2007

ROH 132 – Dedicated – 26th January 2007

Following what Gabe himself termed a ‘mini off-season’ for the promotion, going over a month without running a show, Ring Of Honor kicks off it’s 2007 campaign. It is “dedicated” to the memory of Doug Gentry – former RF Video staff member, and known as Ray Murrow when he did commentary on ROH shows between 2002-2004. Since I’ve been doing a lot of re-reviewing older shows as we speak it’s weird to think that he has now tragically lost his life. Focusing on the positive though, it’s another year of ROH, and once again they’re face with the daunting prospect of topping what they achieved the year before. Whether it was ROH’s ‘best’ year or not is up for debate, however, 2006 was certainly its most successful year thus far and will make for a hard act to follow. Tonight’s evented by another chapter in the Aries/Strong vs Briscoes rivalry – this time in a 2/3 Falls Match. New champion Homicide defends the World Title against Chris Hero. Joe begins his war against NOAH as he wrestles Nigel McGuinness. Jack Evans and Rocky Romero make their returns after lengthy absences too. We’re in Braintree, MA with Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard.

ROH VIDEO WIRE (28/12/06-19/01/07) – I’ve seen up to Good Times Great Memories, and thus far the Video Wire has largely been used as nothing more than a highlight reel with hardly any new material, and certainly no hosts, such as we saw with Cabana, the Briscoes, Homicide and so on. Hopefully that means I won’t have to type as much in the Video Wire recap from now on.

– Christopher Daniels and Mohammed Yone compliment each other on their hair. What the hell?

– Jimmy Jacobs debuts his new music video ‘Kiss 2 Kill’. As a song I much prefer it to his two previous Lacey-inspired songs. The video is pretty f*cked up though.

Rebecca Bayless (yes, the girl that used to be in Special K) is also returning to ROH tonight. She’s the new interviewer-type person. Show opens with her in the ring to do the traditional first interview with the new World Champion. I say ‘interview’ but it’s next to impossible to understand what Homicide is saying. Thankfully Larry Sweeney interrupts him fairly quickly. Sweet’n’Sour seems less than impressed with Cide as Ring Of Honor champion. It’s all a big distraction so Chris Hero can come in through the crowd and attack Homicide though. The returning Rocky Romero arrives to make the save for his Rottweiler friends, but it turns out Rocky has an agenda as well. He wants to know why Homicide hasn’t called him a year. Smokes and Homicide don’t want to have an argument in public though, so they walk to the back…leaving Romero to wait for his opponent.

Rocky Romero vs Davey Richards

This is a corking way to open up a new year for ROH. I believe this is Rocky’s first show since Steel Cage Warfare in December 2005. He spent a lot of 2006 with NJPW where he found a lot of success under his Black Tiger IV guise. He’s now committed to Ring Of Honor for this year though. In my opinion Davey Richards was one of the unsung heroes of the midcard throughout the last couple of months of 2006. He lost more than he won, and his total lack of push, gimmick or angle caused fans to lose interest in him, but his match quality was consistently good. I’m sure he’ll get something more to work with at some point this year. These two had a highly praised match in PWG (I think) so I’m eagerly anticipating a competitive opening bout between them now.

No handshake from Richards which is interesting. Both men are attempting to throw kicks within a minute but none actually connect. They trade a couple of submissions then Davey takes a chill pill on the floor. Romero lands a couple of slaps but Richards keeps his cool and cleverly captures him in a headlock. He’s able to escape though, trapping Richards in an anklelock then hitting the ropes for a potent kick to the chest. Hard kicks to the legs by Davey, only for Romero to use a kick of his own to floor him. Rocky misses a baseball slide and Richards TAKES it to him with repeated kicks. STIFFNESS DUEL ON THE FLOOR! And that was after Davey had mafia kicked Romero into the front row. In the ring again and it’s Richards that manages to get himself a slight advantage. But just as Prazak and Leonard point out how evenly matched the two competitors are its Romero coming back into it with an elaborate abdominal stretch. Davey tries to trade chops but Romero chokes him in the corner so hard that he tumbles to the floor. Richards comes back from that by dropping him chest-first over the ropes. Superplex attempt blocked by Romero but he goes on to miss a missile dropkick and Davey takes full advantage by dishing out a backbreaker for 2. Rocky fights back with a flurry of palm strikes, but he runs full-on into a tilta-whirl backbreaker. His midsection is taking a pounding now. Suplex from the apron blocked with a knee strike, and he pulls the ropes down to send Davey to the outside. TOPE SUICIDA by Romero, who humorously gets up and spits at the referee for no apparent reason. Bridging German suplex gets him 2. STEPPING KNEE to the jaw, then a falcon arrow and Richards only just manages to kick out. He fights like crazy to avoid the Tiger suplex, but Romero counters the Ligerbomb with a rana. Flying headscissors caught and Richards powerbombs him INTO the turnbuckles. Ligerbomb nailed second time of asking and it gets 2. Davey is getting vicious now, taking it out of the ring once more for a mean body slam on the hard concrete. Romero pops up and SLAMS Richards in return. Davey has a kick ducked and his leg slams into the metal ringpost. Romero is on that in a flash. Dragon screw scores, but Richards fends off more damage with an enziguri. He tries the DR Driver but his leg injury makes it difficult. Romero counters into the ANKLELOCK but Davey kicks away. Double underhook DDT into the 14:59. Rocky rolls into the ANKLELOCK AGAIN! He holds on tenaciously then grapevines the leg. Richards has to tap at 18:53.

Rating – **** –
That was such a good match to open the show and year. Richards and Romero are very similar stylistically and meshed really well. Obviously one would expect the entertainment value of lots of stiff kicks and they were fun, but there were other aspects of the match I really enjoyed too. There was an undercurrent of intensity running through the whole thing – particularly visible whenever the two were on the floor. Be it the big chop/kick duel they had out there, Romero randomly spitting at the ref or the exchange of body slams on the concrete. The finish was smart too. Rocky has never been great at focusing on a body part for a long period of time, and finishes a lot of matches with that random anklelock. It was nice to see then construct a semblance of story around the finish to make it more dramatic. Didn’t like the way Romero no-sold the ribs/back Richards worked on in the middle portion though. Still, it’s good to have him back on the roster since he’s a talented individual. Richards continues his own streak of great performances too. He has to get noticed soon…

Jimmy Rave is backstage and cuts a weird promo looking away from the camera. He attributes his recent success to the Heel Hook, and will use it to win the World Title on February 16th.

Eddie Edwards vs Jack Evans

This is the first time we’ve seen Jack in an ROH ring since Glory By Honor 5. Obviously it’s great that his career is really taking off in Dragon Gate but it’s good to see him back as well. His extended tours in the orient are, however, ensuring that he just keeps getting better and better in the ring. Edwards gets a second look tonight. I thought he looked decent in his debut at International Challenge versus Austin Aries so I’m glad he’s brought back.

Evans flat-out dwarfs Eddie in the charisma stakes. Edwards tries to control him with a wristlock but just can’t hold him down at all and winds up taking a headscissors. Jack flips out of a couple of hiptosses then launches himself into another headscissors variant, then a dropsault. Just before Evans made him look like a total b*tch Eddie manages to floor him with one big chop. Springboard corkscrew kick sends Edwards to the outside of the ring. Jack tries a headscissors from the apron…BUT EDWARDS CATCHES AND POWERBOMBS HIM INTO THE SIDE OF THE RING! That’s a crazy bump for a nothing match like this. Jack courageously kicks out at 2, so Edwards maliciously stretches him in an STF. Eventually he gets too cocky though, and Evans manages to kick him to the floor. SPRINGBOARD SOMERSAULT PLANCHA! Rather than just re-enter the ring Jack comes back in with a slingshot double jump corkscrew press – this guy is just wild! He gets 2 with a jumping knee strike. Edwards almost takes his head off with a missile dropkick, then demonstrates his ability to hit flying knee strikes and gets 2 with it as well. Jack tries a handspring elbow but gets caught in an impossible to describe belly to back gourdbuster. Edwards has a superplex blocked, which just can’t be good. 630 SENTON! Evans wins at 08:29.

Rating – ** –
I don’t mean this disrespectfully or critically towards Edwards, but that was a total carry-job by Jack. If you prefer – it was the consummate one-man show. He’s such a crowd-pleasing wrestler, in terms of his natural charm and charisma, his flashy moves to the way he bumps absolutely brutally to make his opponent look good. This was NOT a squash win for Evans, but in truth he comes away having looked more impressive this way than if it had been. Edwards again looked solid and fine for the occasional undercard jobber spot but really this was all about Jack. If ROH can keep him for more than 2 shows at a time without him vanishing to Dragon Gate he’ll be a real asset in 2007.

Adam Pearce/Shane Hagadorn vs Delirious/Pelle Primeau

Two feuds intersect here. As we saw at International Challenge, Pearce and Delirious still have a score to settle with each other. Their issue dates back to the time when Delirious was a thorn in the side of former Commissioner Jim Cornette. Meanwhile the partners here, Hagadorn and Primeau are pretty much stuck in a constant rivalry since they’re the only two students (bar the now-absent Davey Andrews) from the ROH Wrestling School that have so far gotten any kind of sustained exposure on main shows. They’re both pretty over though, which is testament to their skill at playing the roles they’ve been given. I still need more convincing on Pelle however.

Pearce is wrestling in goggles which apparently have the power to see through ‘fat chick’s clothes’. In true heelish fashion Pearce and Hagadorn attack their opponents before the bell. The babyfaces mount a swift fightback though, with Delirious dropping Shane on top of Pearce. He holds them both prone for running dropkicks from Pelle. They try to work over Scrap Iron’s arm and tag in and out frequently in order to maintain their advantage. Primeau comes from the corner into a headscissors on Hagadorn but Pearce clubs him from behind, then tags in to go to work on the inexperienced youngster. In the midst of the isolation Delirious vanishes from the apron and reappears behind Adam Pearce on the apron and attacks him from there. PRESS SLAM INTO THE RINGPOST by Pearce. He then comes into the ring to wipe out Primeau with a shoulder tackle. Pelle shows some courage and tries to fight back, only to run into a Pearce chokeslam. Hagadorn gets 2 with a hip attack followed by a Russian legsweep. SCOOP TOMBSTONE has 2 as well, with Delirious diving into the ring to make the save. An elbow drop/backbreaker combo again grounds Primeau who desperately needs a tag. Finally he lands a headscissors on Shane, then a tilta-whirl DDT on Pearce for the hot tag he needs. Never Ending Story clotheslines on Pearce proceeded by the Panic Attack. SHADOWS OVER HELL nailed but Pearce isn’t the legal man. Delirious launches Pelle into a hilo on Hagadorn. Primeau tries to fly to floor but gets caught and powerslammed INTO the railings by Pearce. COBRA STRETCH on Hagadorn who taps before Pearce can save. Delirious and Pelle win at 11:17.

Rating – ** –
This will probably be the low point of the show, which is a shame because I thought it was a solid formula tag match with everyone playing their required part well. Primeau and Delirious are natural babyfaces, and the same can be said for Pearce and Hagadorn in the heel department. Despite the obvious limitations of the rookies I’m sure these guys could’ve had a better match if needs be. As is, for where they were on the card, this was fine. Then again…I’m somewhat partial to the dickhead heel Pearce/Hagadorn team anyway.

The Briscoes cut a promo staring off camera in the same fashion as Jimmy Rave earlier. What the hell is that about? It looks retarded. They’re proud of their achievements on a tour of NOAH (where they won the Jr. Heavyweight Tag belts) but tonight begin their quest for the ROH Tag Titles by beating Aries and Strong in two straight falls.

BJ Whitmer/Colt Cabana/Daizee Haze vs Jimmy Jacobs/Brent Albright/Lacey

There’s too much history to go over here, and most of you will know it all anyway. Essentially Whitmer and Cabana have both suffered at the hands of Jacobs and Lacey and are desperate for revenge. At Honor Reclaims Boston Lacey also sparked a feud with Daizee Haze by slapping her in the face too. She’s hired Albright to help put out all three opponents, hence he’s on the team too. This is definitely the most intriguing issue in ROH right now, if only because of how much of the roster it actually involves. Gabe deserves credit for the elaborate storyline he’s managed to weave out of what initially started as a really goofy Jimmy <3 Lacey gimmick.

The heels attack during their opponent’s entrance so this match is jump-started fairly rapidly. They pair off meaning it’s Whitmer/Jacobs, Cabana/Albright and Haze/Lacey fighting each other all around the arena – to the extent that it’s difficult to know what’s going on. Jimmy tries his multi-revolution headscissors but Whitmer simply flings him to the floor then dives at him with a tope suicida. Daizee hits the Steve Austin Thesz press/mounted punch combo on Lacey. Albright sweeps her legs from under her allowing Lacey to nail the Implant DDT. BJ breaks the fall on that but Albright saves her before he can do any damage. There’s a bit of a lull in the action next as Jacobs and his paid off partner work over Cabana with a numbers advantage. Finally Colt jumps at them with a messy quebrada press. He gets some momentum going and lands the Flying Asshole on both male opponents sandwiched in the corner. Lacey evades the ass but gets caught by Whitmer. Colt and Daizee (who has a massive bruise on her head) pull out a table…but Jacobs saves her before she goes through it with a spear. Haze takes her out with the Yakuza Kick meaning all three of them can beat on Jimmy. Daizee gets some revenge on him too by taking a run-up and kicking him in the balls. Finally Brent saves his partner with some wild chair swinging. GERMAN SUPLEX ON DAIZEE! Her landing was borderline obscene. Now it’s Team Lacey’s turn to make use of the table. JACOBS SENTON BOMBS HER THROUGH IT! Lacey gets the pin at 10:45.

Rating – *** –
Not the best match of this feud by a long shot but there was heaps of effort and energy throughout, complete with a lively finish which the crowd ate up. Kudos to Daizee Haze who took some serious abuse in that match (much as Mercedes Martinez did at International Challenge). The size of the bump on her head is pretty sickening.

Nigel McGuinness vs Samoa Joe

We’ve seen these two wrestle a number of times down the years. Nigel McGuinness’ famous Pure Title run started when he defeated Joe for the belt for instance. However, this time they go to battle thanks to Joe’s declaration of war on Pro-Wrestling NOAH. He b*tchslapped KENTA in Philadelphia, got into a shoving match with Morishima in Manhattan, and has an open challenge to NOAH for February 16th. However, tonight he faces Nigel who is determined to defend the honour of the company he proudly competes for in Japan.

McGuinness delivers a stern ‘respect me’ slap to Joe to let him know just how serious he is. Joe’s response – brutal kicks to the chest. Nigel tries a few uppercuts but runs into the ST-Joe then another barrage of kicks. He continues to dominate with his devastating array of strikes but McGuinness keeps getting up and coming back for more. He tries the Rebound Lariat only to be chopped to the floor. Joe further mauls him with the elbow suicida but that seems to aggravate his permanently injured knee. OLE OLE KICKS anyway! He actually got his leg stuck in the guardrail on the second one. But despite the success on the floor Nigel is still able to rebound off the ropes back to the floor and hit a lariat out there. That’s his first significant offence of the match and McGuinness looks to capitalise by working the arm as he frequently does. That weakness means he is now able to fight back when Joe tries to blast him out of the ring with more strikes. Essentially he’s used his superior technical ability to overcome Joe’s power advantage. Cobra Clutch Lariat countered with a standing enziguri and the Samoan his able to score 2 with a powerslam. He tries to cross armbreaker Nigel but his own arm hurts him too much. Powerbomb into a Samoan crab/STF/Rings Of Saturn submission sequence but Nigel is able to crawl to the ropes. He does the headstand mule kick (which Joe really should’ve had scouted considering how many times they’ve wrestled) for 2 though. Shortarm Lariat connects this time but once again Samoa Joe finds a way to kick out. Nigel flips away from the Musclebuster, and counters a second ST-Joe attempt with a superkick. BIG BOOT BY JOE…LARIAT BY MCGUINNESS. Tower Of London gets 2, but that move has no credibility as a finisher anymore anyway. Joe blocks a second Tower but McGuinness has the sense to roll backwards to escape the Choke. BIG BOOT AGAIN as Nigel goes for another headstand. MUSCLEBUSTER gets 2. The crowd love that, but in my opinion people shouldn’t be kicking out of Musclebusters. Joe tries his own lariat but only gets 2 again. Nigel rolls free as Joe attempts the Musclebuster again, but Joe pops up with the CHOKE! It’s over at 18:16.

Rating – *** –
Not their worst match together, but not their best either. The majority of the story-telling was good, but the whole thing felt lethargic. You knew they had a couple of higher gears to go into but they never got anywhere near hitting them. Usual Nigel criticisms apply again – too many lariats, forgetting his arm-work etc. At least the arm stuff had a purpose in this match, i.e. negating Joe’s immense advantage due to his striking superiority. Considering this was supposed to be a Joe vs NOAH battle of respect there was a noticeable lack of intensity.

Jimmy Rave runs in to put Joe in the Heel Hook (that’s vengeance for Joe’s actions at Final Battle) but McGuinness makes the save – just as Joe did in NYC. They’re even now.

INTERMISSION – Rebecca Bayless goes backstage and says a bad word as she sees the size of the welt on Daizee’s head. Colt Cabana is pretty angry but his promo isn’t so hot. I just realised, Becky has stolen GMC’s job. It won’t be ROH without Capetta being a tool!

Jason Blade vs Shingo vs Jimmy Rave vs Christopher Daniels

There’s not a lot to say about this one. It’s classic ROH throw four guys in the same match and see what happens stuff. Sometimes it works and we get a hell of a match, and sometimes it’s pretty dull and predictable. Daniels is one half of the Tag Champions but Matt Sydal is in Dragon Gate this weekend. Shingo’s extended tour FROM DG continues into 2007. Rave still has issues with Nigel McGuinness as we saw before intermission, and has a World Title shot in February. Jason Blade has spent the past 18 months trying to secure a permanent roster spot and still hasn’t managed it.

Lenny Leonard is pretty generous when describing how impressive Blade has been in his limited ROH appearances to date. At least Jason repays him by hitting a sweet hurricanrana on Shingo. He looks less impressive when Daniels tags in and he semi-botches a hiptoss then telegraphs some armdrags like hell. Rave tags in so the two biggest names in the match can go at it. Daniels gets the best of their exchange so Jimmy turns tail and goes to the floor. Shingo/Blade again with the Japanese wrestler in complete control. Blade tries something from the top rope but gets press slammed off after Rave distracts him. Sit-out powerbomb gets Shingo a 2 and he effortlessly floats into a half crab right out of it. With Blade beaten down Rave is much more willing to get involved in the match. In classic four corner survival action it becomes a make-shift tag match with Rave and Shingo isolating Blade from Daniels. They try one double-team too many though, and Blade hits the ropes for a springboard crossbody. Hot tag to the Fallen Angel who lands offence on everyone. Fall From Grace gets 2 on Rave. He prepares for Angels Wings only for Shingo to clobber him. Shingo then takes a swing at Allison Danger, only for her to give him a satellite headscissors. Jimmy spears Daniels for 2. He dragon screws the leg but before he can think about a Heel Hook Blade takes him out with a missile dropkick. Blade gets 2 on Shingo with a powerbomb. Are they even legal? SHINGO LARIATOOOO followed by the LAST FALCONRY, but Daniels breaks the fall. Shingo gives Daniels a TKO for 2. Daniels comes back with the Koji Clutch. Unbeknownst to him though, Rave had blind-tagged himself in. HEEL HOOK on Daniels, and he taps at 12:25.

Rating – ** –
It wasn’t a bad match, but I think innocuous would be a fair assessment. Once again Jason Blade failed to look anything other than average – there must be guys more deserving of a spot than him on the indy scene. I enjoyed Jimmy Rave’s antics and Shingo shone in the last couple of minutes with all four guys hitting spots, much as you’d expect given his Dragon Gate experience. However, nothing was overly memorable really. Does Rave now get a Tag Title shot since he made Daniels tap? Does he even have any friends to team with?

Homicide vs Chris Hero – ROH World Title Match

This is the second year in a row that ROH’s first show of the year has featured Chris Hero challenging for the World Title. A year on from his controversial and unexpected debut, Hero is now well-established as part of the roster. At Final Battle 2006 he walked out on the Kings Of Wrestling to join up with his new agent Larry Sweeney. Sweet’n’Sour immediately proved his worth as an agent by negotiating this title shot. After fighting so hard and overcoming so many obstacles it’d be a real shame for Homicide if he lost his coveted belt in his first defence. Hero/Sweeney’s new music rules.

It takes an age for this one to actually get going due to Hero’s antics. Homicide tries to mat-wrestle with his opponent, and he’ll need to be at the top of his game to rival Hero in that department. I am seriously struggling to concentrate because Hero and Sweeney are so amusing together. ‘I’m a manly man’ – Hero. He comes back in and slaps the dreaded cravat on the champion. Homicide’s response is to slap him in the face. After more stalling Cide tries to speed things up, dropkicking Hero to the floor then taking it to him out there. This is the champion’s environment, and he gets the advantage brawling around ringside. That is until Larry Sweeney distracts him anyway. That doesn’t go anywhere though since Homicide regains control inside the ring and wears Hero down with a 14:59 Stretch. STF next but this isn’t 2003 so Cide isn’t getting anywhere near winning with it. The challenger finally fights back with a couple of sentons from various positions then goes to a chinlock. All the initial energy in this match has totally gone. Hero gets 2 with a neckbreaker, then he distracts the official so Sweeney can choke Homicide with a towel. STALLING atomic drop gets 2 as well. The problem here is that the pace of the match is just so slow. It’s like a Rob Van Dam match, except less exciting spots and more stalling and crowd playing. Hero springs off the top rope but misses a moonsault press. He sidesteps the traditional tope con hilo but Cide adjusts his game to hit a cannonball senton off the apron. Tornado DDT blocked but he nails an Ace crusher instead and Hero is only just able to kick out. Three Amigos nailed (eventually) but the champion takes way too long scaling the ropes. CRAVAT-OCLASM gets 2! Hero misses a moonsault though and Homicide drops him with a belly to belly. He can’t hit the Cop Killa though and Hero nails him with a flipping neckbreaker then a release suplex. Sweeney tries to throw the belt to Hero but gets caught by Julius Smokes. COP KILLA and it’s over at 18:39.

Rating – ** –
After an entertaining first 5 minutes that turned horrible in a hurry. I haven’t been that bored during a Ring Of Honor match in a very long time. I found the Hero/Sweeney combo really entertaining at first, but as the match wore on and it became nothing but non-stop Hero stalling and everything got really hard to watch. Homicide, who has been built up like the ultimate bad ass over the last six months looked like a chump, reduced to playing the vanilla babyface opposite the shenanigans of his opponent. I’ve been one of Hero’s staunchest supporters since he came to ROH but this was just horrible. Not that Homicide’s performance was anything to write home about either.

Jack ‘from the heavens’ Evans says he wants some ROH gold in 2007. At least he looked at the camera, unlike numerous other promos tonight…

Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Austin Aries/Roderick Strong – 2/3 Falls Match

These two teams clashed repeatedly in 2006 with the ROH Tag Titles on the line. Then it was Aries and Strong defending, and it was Aries and Strong coming out victorious every time. Their final match at Unified is considered one of the best tag team matches in Ring Of Honor history. The Briscoes are determined to make 2007 their year, and want to kick it off by finally beating their former rivals. Remember, Mark promised they’d win in 2 straight falls in this match.

Aries and Strong do a good job of grounding the agile Mark from the bell and work hard to keep him from his brother. The tag does eventually come though, only for Jay to make the cardinal sin of putting a headscissors on Aries. The inevitable dropkick catches him in the head. Jay’s a tough dude though, and he proves it by going chop-for-chop with Roddy too. Five minutes in and it’s pretty much a stalemate. Stranglehold camel clutch by Jay on Austin, but Strong breaks it quickly. Aries drops Mark with a back suplex and tags out to Strong. Roddy holds the younger Briscoe over his knees allowing Double A to slingshot in with a twisting elbow drop. Mark hits a DOUBLE JUMP moonsault press on Roddy allowing him to tag out to Jay. He dives to the floor with a somersault plancha on Aries leaving Jay and Strong in the ring. Both Briscoes get sent to the floor with a low bridge of the ropes, and Austin takes full advantage with the Heat Seeking Missile. Strong gets 2 on Jay with his first backbreaker of the match. He shows his power too with an incredible stalling vertical suplex. But finally Aries/Strong combo go for one double-team too many and the Briscoes strike. Mark slingshot double stomps into Roderick to buy his partner some time…but Aries takes a flying leap off Jay to knock him off the apron before he can tag. Jay fights both opponents away as they try to superplex him.

Diamond Dust on Strong and he finally tags out to Mark who breaks out some REDNECK KUNG FU! GUTWRENCH SUPERPLEX on Roddy then a springboard knee drop for 2. They try the Splash Mountain Neckbreaker on Aries but Strong makes the save with a Black Hole Slam. Slingshot suplex/Frog splash combo on Mark gets 2. The Briscoes recover well though, both kicking Roderick in the jaw. Mark looks for the springboard Ace crusher…COUNTERED WITH A MID-AIR DEATH BY RODERICK! Double backbreaker then the CHOP BRAINBUSTER nailed. Jay saves Mark from the 450 Splash. SPIKE JAY DRILLER! The Briscoes win the first fall at 20:14. After the obligatory rest period the Briscoes pounce and continue to beat on Strong with a splash mountain neckbreaker. TOTAL ELIMINATION draws Aries into the ring to save his partner. They set up for the springboard Doomsday Device but Aries saves his partner. Half nelson backbreaker from Roddy to Jay and he makes a desperate hot tag to his ex-World Champion partner. Mark evades a brainbuster and they go over the ropes. DVD ON THE APRON! Mark is surely a non-factor now. Holy no-sell, he’s back and he saves Jay from a chop brainbuster. SICK KICK on Jay as he was looking for the Jay Driller on Aries. Mark tries a springboard crossbody but gets nobody. 450 SPLASH…but Jay breaks the pin. Aries can’t hit the brainbuster on Jay. SPIKE JAY DRILLER AGAIN! The Briscoes win 2-0 at 25:15.

Rating – **** –
In some ways that was similar to Joe/McGuinness earlier in that it wasn’t the worst match this lot have put on, but it wasn’t the best either. However, where the difference (and the extra rating star) lies is that, after a somewhat truncated and lacklustre start, these two teams did slip into a higher gear and it made for a more exciting match. Some of the no-selling was a little ridiculous (such as Mark popping up from the DVD on the apron insanely quickly) but I guess I can turn a blind eye to that. The crowd was caught a little cold by the Briscoes winning in two falls, which is a shame in truth because the finish felt totally flat despite a hot final five minutes.

Homicide promises Joe that they’re going to fight like they did in 2003/4 tomorrow night in New Jersey. Joe swears that he’s getting his belt back.

Tape Rating – ** –
I’m rating this one pretty harshly and I’ll explain why in a minute – but first the good. This was a very solid start to another year. There wasn’t a bad match on the card and it began and ended with two really good matches. Romero/Richards and the 2/3 Falls Match are worth checking out. But now the negatives – a lot of the show is forgettable. Stuff like Evans/Edwards, the fourway and the Pearce/Delirious tag just didn’t make much of an impression. Add to that the fact that the “marquee” matches were all, to varying degrees, disappointments. Joe/McGuinness was fine but lacked the intensity and fire you’d expect from the two of them. Homicide/Hero totally tanked and bored everyone to tears. And whilst the main event was a great match, it wasn’t a patch on their classic at Unified, and the 2-0 finish will have sent the crowd (and any first time viewers on DVD) away feeling flat. Final reason I’m being harsh? Outside of Romero/Richards everything on this show has been done better elsewhere. There are better matches in the Jacobs/Lacey/Colt/Whitmer feud. Joe and Nigel have had better matches (my favourite is at The Future Is Now). Homicide and Hero had a better match last June at In Your Face…and I’ve seen an IWA-MS bout I liked more too. And I’ve already talked about the Unified Briscoes vs Aries/Strong match being better. Bottom line here – this isn’t a BAD show. It’s a perfectly adequate way to start a new year. But I can’t give it anymore than a mild recommendation because, in ROH terms, it’s simply not that GOOD either.

Top 3 Matches

3) Samoa Joe vs Nigel McGuinness (***)

2) Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Austin Aries/Roderick Strong (****)

1) Rocky Romero vs Davey Richards (****)

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