134 ROH Fifth Year Festival: NYC 2/16/2007

ROH 134 – Fifth Year Festival: NYC – 16th February 2007

We celebrate half a decade of Ring Of Honor goodness with the Fifth Year Festival. Six shows spanning five different locations kicks off tonight with the first show of 2007 and the prestigious Manhattan Center. The centrepiece of tonight’s card is the debut of NOAH’s Takeshi Morishima, who faces Samoa Joe on the first night of his ROH farewell tour. Homicide returns to the scene of his emotional World Title win to defend against Jimmy Rave in the main event, plus lots more as well. Hosts are the excellent duo of Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard. We’re in Manhattan, NY.

ROH VIDEO WIRE (31/01/07) – Jimmy Rave with a decent little promo vowing to win the World Title in New York…thanks to the Heel Hook.

– Samoa Joe is emotional, and with good reason. He announces that he’s leaving Ring Of Honor, with the Fifth Year Festival now serving as his farewell tour – so his last show is March 4th in Liverpool. The tone of this interview doesn’t suggest that TNA gave Joe much of a choice about quitting.

Jimmy Rave does one of those retarded not-facing-the camera interviews. Tonight he ensures he gets the respect he deserves by winning the ROH World Title.

ROH has a shiny new ring canvas for this show. Pelle Primeau is scheduled to be in the opening match – and he issues an open challenge. Takeshi Morishima answers the challenge – and comes out to Samoa Joe’s music. Morishima kills him in 4 seconds following a Back Drop Driver. He says something in Japanese which is apparently calling out Joe. Nigel McGuinness comes out from the back to calm his fellow NOAH athlete. That’s a hot way to start the show. Adam Pearce and Shane Hagadorn make an unwelcome appearance to laugh at Pelle, so Delirious decides to lend a hand.

Adam Pearce vs Delirious

These two have had an issue dating back to the days of Jim Cornette as Commissioner. Delirious has been trying to score a decisive victory over Pearce for several months now, but always seems to come up short thanks to a variety of underhanded tactics – either by Pearce or his manservant Hagadorn.

Delirious runs out from the back and is non-stop in his attack. Hagadorn has to grab a leg and distract him to stop it – and even then the Top Of The Class Trophy holder ends up getting kicked into the guardrail. SUICIDE FLIP on Pearce and Hagadorn. He tries the Cobra Stretch but Pearce uses a low blow to escape. Pearce is a real heat magnet anyway, and the crowd aren’t impressed when he starts pulling tassels from Delirious’ mask. He continues to dominate Delirious whilst playing up to the hostile Manhattan Center fans but finally he gets too cocky and tries to toss Delirious into the crowd. Cobra Stretch locked in but Pearce fights it and runs him into the turnbuckles. Flying headscissors and a leaping lariat from Delirious. They to the classic Flair-esque press slam off the top rope, and that leaves Scrap Iron in position for the Panic Attack/Shadows Over Hell sequence. That looks to have it won but Hagadorn distracts the referee. Pearce pulls out brass knucks, but this time he accidentally socks Shane with them. Delirious has his own knucks, and he stuffs them into his mask. LOADED MASK HEADBUTT! Delirious gets some retribution and the three-count at 08:00.

Rating – ** –
Fine choice to open the show, with the ever-popular Delirious at last getting his win over the ever-loathsome Adam Pearce. There are some that continue to question Pearce’s continued presence on shows and I just don’t understand why. He’s a natural heel, has incredible promo ability and whilst he won’t be winning the World Title any time soon, he can have good matches in the right environment too.

Daniels and Sydal tell the imaginary far away off camera man that they’re upset that they’re not getting the credit they deserve as Tag Team Champions. They want to prove themselves as deserving champions at the expense of former champions Aries and Strong.

Daizee Haze/Alexa Thatcher vs Dangerous Angels

This is a SHIMMER attraction match – although I haven’t actually seen Alexa Thatcher in SHIMMER yet. She’s worked for JAPW a fair bit though apparently, and she’s only 19 years old. The Dangerous Angels are the team of Allison Danger and Sara Del Rey. This is their debut as a team in ROH but I believe they’d already worked together in SHIMMER by this point in time.

The Haze and Danger trade a few nearfalls and get a generous round of applause for it. Del Rey tries to powerbomb Daizee but gets taken over with a hurricanrana. Thatcher and Haze team up for a stereo dropkick that gets 2. Lacey appears at ringside and drags Daizee to the back. That leaves poor Alexa alone. Sara finisher her off with the Royal Butterfly at 03:16.

Rating – DUD –
The only point was to keep the Lacey/Daizee issue alive without having them wrestle again. Mission accomplished, but the match was too short to mean anything.

Shingo vs Jimmy Jacobs vs Jack Evans vs Xavier – Four Way Fray

Xavier was an unannounced last minute replacement but the former ROH Champion gets a big ovation. Davey Richards was originally scheduled for this match but he’s injured. This is the ROH debut of the Four Way Fray match format, but I believe it’s been used fairly regularly in FIP. The rules are different from the regulation four corner survival in that it’s elimination rules and all four men are allowed in the ring at the same time. That means the action will be hectic from the word go.

Xavier is heeling it up like crazy and winds up Jack immediately. Evans and Shingo show some cohesiveness as they’ve teamed up in Dragon Gate before. Jack looks set for a Space Flying Tiger Drop but Xavier cuts him off. Shingo and Xavier stiff each other ending with Shingo dropping the other man with a powerbomb. SPACE FLYING TIGER DROP MISSES! Evans is a total lunatic. Shingo drops Xavier and Jacobs with a flatliner/DDT combo. Xavier comes back with some retro knee strikes in the corner. Jacobs tries to give him the Contra Code but he picks him up for a powerbomb…rolled into an alley-oop…ROLLED INTO A PILEDRIVER! BLOOD FALL ON XAVIER! Evans is in with a reverse rana. He eliminates Xavier at 04:23 with a BRIDGING back slide. Shingo gets 2 on Jacobs with his Gallon Throw. Contra Code blocked…SHINGO LARIATO and Jacobs is gone at 05:49. The final two are the Dragon Gate tag partners – and ROH Tag Title challengers tomorrow night – Evans and Shingo. Evans slingshots into a flipping headscissors and Shingo goes to the floor. Space Flying Tiger Drop NAILED this time. He tries a handspring elbow but gets caught and dropped over the ropes. SHINGO LARIATO for 2. Evans tries a flying knee strike but gets German suplexed for another nearfall. He manages to hit that knee second time around but he’s too slow to cover. Evans knocks Shingo off the top rope. 630 SENTON! It’s over at 09:51.

Rating – *** –
That was way better than I expected. Not that I was expecting it to be bad, but it was just so refreshingly different to the usual four-way matches you see in ROH. I hope they bring the Four Way Fray back at some point in future. Same goes for Xavier, who looked impressive in his little cameo – much as he did at Unscripted 2 almost a year ago. It’s fitting that he got to be a part of the Fifth Year Festival, but it’d be good if they could find a semi-regular spot for him. Evans and Shingo looked unsurprisingly good since spot-packed, fast-paced matches are their forte. Only downside was that Jimmy Jacobs was a little wasted. Never mind though, he’s in the midst of TWO major feuds right now and I’m sure will have a more prominent role in future shows.

Samoa Joe’s music plays again, and this time it actually is him coming out. He cuts a crowd-pleasing, appreciative promo to kick start his farewell tour. He sets the place on fire and gets everyone in the building chanting ‘ROH’. He then calls out Takeshi Morishima, but gets Nigel McGuinness instead. Nigel informs him that ‘you don’t call out Morishima…Morishima calls out you’. Joe isn’t impressed with that and they come to blows. That’s fitting as they’ve got a match set for March 3rd in Liverpool.

Brent Albright vs BJ Whitmer – Tables Are Legal Match

This is another extension of the Whitmer/Jacobs feud. Albright is Lacey’s paid hitman and has got involved in BJ’s business repeatedly. Most recently he caused Whitmer to lose his Last Man Standing match to Jimmy Jacobs at Battle Of The Icons. Given that BJ has been doing crazy sh*t in ROH since 2003, who knows how extreme this one could get. It’s also Albright’s highest profile match since joining from the WWE in October last year.

Whitmer stops to pose on the ropes as part of his entrance…AND ALBRIGHT THROWS HIM THROUGH TABLES ON THE FLOOR! That’s a pretty extreme way to start the match. Brent has his way with Whitmer for the next few minutes as an obvious consequence of that bump. He sets up a table in the corner but it’s BJ that finally recovers to suplex him through it. He only went through the edge of it though so Whitmer drags Albright up and gives him a second exploder through the rest of the table. Albright actually recovers fairly quickly from that and sets up another table outside the ring. He tries a back superplex through it, but BJ turns in mid-air and they both CRASH through. In the ring again and BJ hits a knee to the head then a brainbuster. He may even have had the match won but he pulls Brent’s shoulders up at 2. Clearly he wants to inflict more damage, and demonstrates that intention by stacking two more tables outside. Albright evades the awesome bomb though. German suplex…HALF NELSON SUPLEX! Whitmer NO SELLS and drops Albright with a lariat. Both guys struggle to recover, but it’s Albright that gains the advantage using a shard of broken table. POWERBOMB THROUGH TWO TABLES ON THE FLOOR! But the time it takes Albright to get BJ back in the ring means that’s only good for 2. Brent hangs one table over the ropes in the corner, then tries for another but it just won’t work with him…SO HE STOMPS THE SH*T OUT OF IT! The crowd went literally apesh*t for that. In the end (this is taking an age to set up) he has two tables set in mid-ring and the third in the corner. His intention is to powerbomb BJ off the corner table through the tables in the ring. But BJ has other ideas. SUPER EXPLODER THROUGH THE TABLES! Whitmer wins at 13:55.

Rating – *** –
Absolutely crazy match, and it never lost the crowd because each spot with the tables was progressively more violent than the last. That’s an impressive feat of pacing when you’re dealing with a match like this. My main problem with it was that whilst the violence was excellent there were just too many glitches. There were two or three table mishaps, and it took an eternity for Albright to set the three tables up for the finishing spot. I still had a whale of a time watching the match – it’s the best either man has had in months – the problems are going to hurt the rating somewhat.

Christopher Daniels/Matt Sydal vs Austin Aries/Roderick Strong – ROH Tag Title Match

This is a rematch from August 06’s Gut Check show, when these two teams had perhaps the most underrated match of Aries/Strong’s entire run with the tag belts. It was originally scheduled for night 2 of The Chicago Spectacular but Sydal had to sit that one out injured. That means Austin and Roddy have been waiting a long time for their shot at the Lords Of The Ring. It’s also an interesting role reversal, as Matt Sydal (returning from Japan as Dragon Gate’s Open The Brave Gate champion) was so frequently a challenger to Aries and Strong throughout 2006.

Daniels and Strong have an impressive, evenly matches opening stint culminating with Roddy dropping Daniels with a jumping heel kick. Sydal tries a cocky flipping counter to something Aries tries and gets forearmed in the face. He still acts pretty cocky when he evades Aries’ usual headscissors dropkick. Both challengers go to the floor, and Daniels dives after them with a tope suicida. Sydal thinks about his own dive but Double A cuts him off. It’s the former champions who control the contest now, with their former stablemate Matt Sydal at their mercy. A cool moment of this in peril segment comes with Roderick catching Sydal as he dives to tag and muscling him into a hard-way German suplex. Strong continues bringing the awesomeness as he changes a stalling vertical suplex into an over the shoulder gutbuster for 2. Sydal lands a spinning heel kick and makes a much-needed tag to the Fallen Angel as we hit 10 minutes. Ironically Daniels decides to attack Strong’s back, delivering a crisp backbreaker before tagging out to a refreshed Sydal. I enjoy Matt’s cocky knee jig dance before hitting a slingshot dropkick in the corner – what a chump. Daniels is back, and he takes a few chops before dropping Strong into the Koji Clutch which Aries has to break. Finally Strong takes Daniels down with a slingshot BACK suplex and gets the hot tag to Austin. HEAT SEEKING MISSILE on Sydal.

Daniels tries to tag Aries back in but gets smothered with a corkscrew splash. Aries tries a quebrada…but his ankle messes up on the ropes and he lands STRAIGHT on his head. That looked really nasty, so it’s amazing to see he’s ok. Daniels blocks the Chop Brainbuster and Sydal takes Aries down with the Slice. KNEE JIGGING STANDING MOONSAULT GETS BOOTS! But Aries seems to have injured his leg with that botched quebrada. He can’t actually walk it seems. INVERTED TOMBSTONE by Sydal but Roderick makes the save. Slingshot Jackhammer gets Strong a 2. Sydal catches Strong on the top but can’t hit a frankensteiner and Roddy obliterates him with a jumping Sick Kick. The former champions set up for the Missile Dropkick Bomb but Daniels knocks Aries off the ropes. Sydal tries to spring off Strong’s shoulders like he’s done to Claudio Castagnoli in the past – BUT STRONG CATCHES HIM WITH A GUTBUSTER! That was an awesome counter sequence. Daniels saves Matt from the Gibson Driver and lands hard on Strong with an Arabian press. Fall From Grace nailed but Rod kicks out. He holds Strong over his knees whilst Sydal stands on his back to hit his standing moonsault. Aries still can’t walk by the way. He screams in pain as they land the CHOP BRAINBUSTER. Aries is thinking about the 450 but Daniels makes another save. DVD on Austin. SYDAL PRESS…BEST MOONSAULT EVER! The champs retain at 20:44.

Rating – **** –
I haven’t heard an awful lot of praise for this one but I thought it was a really high quality tag team bout. I think the frightening botch on Aries’ quebrada took the crowd out of the match little, which hurt the finish because leading to that point we’d seen 15 minutes of engaging tandem wrestling. That being said, all four of these guys are amazing wrestlers and they adapted well to Aries’ injury and still finished the match on a high. The Gut Check match was better but don’t sleep on this.

Sydal celebrates like a sh*thead after the match and has to be pulled away by Daniels. Davey Richards appears in the ring…and Strong attacks Aries from behind with a half nelson backbreaker – just like he did to Alex Shelley at Final Battle 2004. Richards and Strong announce that they’re forming the No Remorse Corps. Jack Evans comes out to get pull Strong off Aries – since they’re both his friends. He refuses to team up with Aries against Strong and Davey in the future though.

I think Roderick’s heel turn would’ve been more effective had it been given some kind of build up. I’m not necessarily talking about obvious dissension with Aries – but how about ANY reason for him to want to split up and go his own way. I know they lost 2 straight falls to the Briscoes at Dedicated – but they won the next night. Why not have Richards go over Aries there? That would give Strong a reason to want to split up (constantly losing) – and a reason to want to team with Davey. This was obviously a premeditated decision to form the NRC. But it wasn’t like Strong wrestled the match half-assed. What would’ve happened if he and Aries had won the belts? Was he still going to turn on Austin anyway? Don’t get me wrong, it was a shocking heel turn. It’s great to see Davey Richards FINALLY get a decent angle going and intriguing to see a new heel group formed. But I just think it was a little sloppily done. But it’s easy to play armchair booker and criticise whilst watching a DVD. Lets see where we go with it from here.

INTERMISSION – Rebecca Bayless interviews Homicide, which seems to be her only job in ROH. I don’t actually understand much of what Homicide says, or Julius Smokes for that matter. I assume it was something about not wanting to lose to Jimmy Rave tonight. Is it me or is Rebecca Bayless’ lovably moronic interviewing technique really starting to grow on you? I think she’s getting her fair share of criticism which doesn’t seem fair – it’s not like she’s any worse than Gary Capetta!

Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Nigel McGuinness/Colt Cabana

Apparently Nigel and Colt, who have a lengthy history with each other as friends and rivals, have decided to attempt to restart their tag team in 2007. What better way to test their skills as a unit than to face the Briscoes who have been red hot thus far this year? They’ve already tasted GHC Jr. Heavyweight Tag gold, beat Aries and Strong in 2 straight falls and defeated the Havana Pitbulls thus far. They’re obviously right in the hunt for an ROH Tag Title shot, so a loss here would hurt them.

The Briscoes show they’re treating this as a big match by clubbing Nigel out of the ring straight away. Colt tries a few nifty roll-ups on Jay but is flattened with a double flapjack then a facewash combo in the corner. Mark tries a springboard only for McGuinness to drag him off the apron. He and Colt play European uppercut tennis with Jay before tag format is established. Nigel goes after the arm as he often does, scoring with a hammerlock DDT then a hammerlock heel trip before headbutting the shoulder. Jay manages to fight him off though, allowing Mark to come in with a slingshot double stomp. Toothy Briscoe shows some heelishness by pulling on the ropes to get extra leverage on a grounded headscissors. McGuinness hits a wristlock takedown and that means he can tag out to Cabana, who back drops Mark to the floor – straight into his brother. Cabana springboards to the floor onto both of them as well, although looks a little relieved he didn’t injure himself in the process. Mark hits a double springboard crossbody to put the Briscoes in control of the match again. Cabana nails a tornado snap suplex on Jay to get a hot tag to McGuinness…who suplexes one Briscoe onto the other. His first lariat of the evening gets 2. His second lariat gets 2 as well. Mark knees him in the head and comes off the ropes with a springboard splash though. They block Cabana’s bionic elbow but CC wipes Mark out anyway with a quebrada. Jay saves his brother from a double team Tower Of London, and the Briscoes score 2 with a splash mountain neckbreaker. Jay and Mark to the top with both opponents down. STEREO FROG SPLASHES but it’s not good enough. Nigel wipes Mark out with his final cut out of the corner sequence. DOUBLE TOWER OF LONDON but Jay breaks the fall. He obliterates McGuinness with a mafia kick. Jay Driller blocked so he hits a DVD instead. Nigel avoids the springboard Doomsday Device as Cabana flies in with a missile dropkick. REBOUND LARIAT! Nigel and Cabana are victorious at 14:34.

Rating – *** –
Another really good tag team match. From 2004 when ROH really struggled to put a tag division together, we’re now at this point where ROH has enough talent to put on numerous good tag matches on every show. It wasn’t as good as Daniels/Sydal vs Aries/Strong earlier, but that match had the benefit of an extra five minutes. However, I didn’t think this one was formatted as well. It felt like 9 minutes of the Briscoes dominating two guys, with an explosive final few minutes tagged on the end which felt a little out of place with the rest of the match. I also really don’t agree with the decision to have the Briscoes lose. After January they’re on such a hot streak, and lets face it, sooner or later they will be Tag Champions. I know Nigel is this expected to be ROH’s next big homegrown main eventer but putting him over the Briscoes in THEIR environment doesn’t seem such a good idea IMO.

Samoa Joe arrives and tries to fight with Nigel again, but Colt Cabana manages to separate them. Morishima then marches through the curtain and it looks like we’ve got this clash of the titans now.

Samoa Joe vs Takeshi Morishima

This is the most anticipated match on the show, regardless of whether it main events or not. They blew the roof off this very building in September at Glory By Honor 5 when they had a brawl in the ring whilst Morishima was simply visiting (along with Mohammed Yone and Takashi Sugiura). Since then Joe has declared a full on war with NOAH, slapping KENTA and getting into numerous confrontations with Nigel McGuinness along the way. He’s now on his way out of ROH but he still wants to back up his words and defeat the debuting Morishima who is seen as the next big thing in Japanese heavyweight wrestling. He’s got a lot to live up to if he’s the next big thing.

They come to blows and the fight is on. Morishima immediately established that he’s stronger than Joe by shoulder blocking him to the floor, then diving off the apron with a shoulder tackle. CARTWHEEL BODY AVALANCE IN THE CORNER! New York is loving the agility of Mori, who has been insanely aggressive from the outset. He chokes Joe over the ropes as he continues to dominate the early going. Joe tries to fight back so Mori wipes him out with a jumping ass strike. BIG MAN MISSILE DROPKICK! Morishima is f*cking huge so that’s quite a sight. But he makes the mistake of trying to come off the ropes again, and after five minutes of abuse Joe is able to floor his opponent for the first time with a big boot. He rattles Mori’s skull in the corner leaping enziguri then bootscrapes the face as the crowd rallies behind the ROH competitor. Morishima’s nose is bleeding (as it does in basically every match) so Joe goes after it with SAVAGE kicks to the face. He bails so Joe takes to the air with the ELBOW SUICIDA. OLE OLE KICKS do more damage to the bloody nose. But Morishima isn’t finished yet, and upon their return to the ring he catches Joe with a sidewalk slam. TWISTING ASS ATTACK on a grounded Joe. I seriously mark out for that move. Joe is quick enough to avoid another body avalanche though and STO’s his opponent down. Another enzi scrambles his brain and Joe demonstrates his own considerable power by heaving Morishima up for a DVD. He simply can’t get him up for a powerbomb though, and Morishima is able to sit his big ass down on Joe’s chest. To the top rope again but this time Mori is caught. SECOND ROPE ENZIGURI! MUSCLEBUSTER! MORISHIMA KICKS OUT! They collide in the middle of the ring going for a shoulder block, and Mori floors Joe with a colossal lariat. He uses a Thesz press but Joe finds a way to get a shoulder up at 2. Back Drop Driver blocked so Morishima gives Joe a SICK urinage suplex instead. BACK DROP DRIVER…for 2! Northern lariat nailed, but Joe catches him as he comes off the ropes again. HALF NELSON SUPLEX! CHOOOOKE! Morishima tries to escape it with a Back Drop Driver but Joe is smart enough to avoid it. It’s locked on in the middle of the ring, and Mori is out at 18:09.

Rating – ****1/2 –
That was an awesome heavyweight war, and Joe’s best match in ROH since Fight Of The Century. The superb NYC crowd played their part two and made this match seem like a huge deal, as two massive beasts butted heads for almost 20 minutes. It wasn’t the smartest match in wrestling history but for they really nailed it and stole the show. I’m not sure it is worthy of quite such a high rating, but it’s miles better than some of the things I’ve given 4* to already in 2007 so I needed to show that in my rating. My only criticism – why is Joe winning here? I know he’s a legend, but this was Morishima’s debut. He’s a future World Champion and the guy ROH is relying on (and I assume paying a good deal of money to book) to carry the promotion once Joe is gone. He NEEDS to be putting Mori over on his way out here. Aside from paying lip service, Joe winning does nothing here except make Morishima look weaker ahead of his World Title match. Don’t get me wrong, he’ll still be over like anything since he was mega-impressive here. But I’m so confused as to why Joe won here. Unless TNA were involved…but I really hope that’s just my suspicious mind forming a wild conspiracy theory.

5TH YEAR FESTIVAL VIDEO – This is the first of six video packages highlighting various aspects of Ring Of Honor. This one features what I guess ROH has deemed the top feuds of the past year. They are Nigel/Rave, Nigel/Danielson, Danielson/KENTA, the Road Of Homicide, Homicide/Cabana, Cabana/Jacobs, Jacobs/Whitmer, ROH/CZW, Homicide/Corino, Briscoes vs Homicide/Joe, Briscoes vs Aries/Strong, Aries/Strong vs Matt Sydal and Danielson/Joe.

Homicide vs Jimmy Rave – ROH World Title Match

Remember back at Black Friday Fallout when Jimmy Rave ended his losing streak in totally random fashion by beating Homicide? Well, here we are four months later and he faces the same opponent again, except this time with arguably more momentum than he’s had in his entire ROH tenure. But he faces Homicide in his hometown, in front of the New York fans that roared him to victory less than two months ago when he topped Bryan Danielson to win the World Title.

Rave wastes no time and takes it straight to the World Champion. Homicide manages to send him through the ropes though, leaving him prone for the dreaded TOPE CON HILO! Julius Smokes gets a free shot at Rave as well, in plain view of the referee. Jimmy goes to the top rope and hits a top rope plancha to the floor, proving he’s putting it all on the line tonight. He gets 2 with a swinging neckbreaker , and I note that Jimmy has a substantial backing in the crowd tonight. Armbar on Homicide’s chronically injured shoulder but it’s way too early for a submission. Homicide defies that damage to pull of a Tiger Driver then a bridging T-bone suplex for 2. STF applied which will obviously start weakening Rave’s neck for the Lariat and/or Cop Killa. Jimmy fights free though, and picks this moment to begin attacking the champion’s leg. He soon has Cide crawling around on the mat feeling the leg. He pulls out one of Homicide’s ghetto forks…but the referee stops him using it. But unbeknownst to Todd Sinclair J-Train just handed Homicide a second fork and he keeps it out of sight of the official as he starts using it to make Jimmy bleed. They go to the apron where Rave hits a BRUTAL STO. Now Homicide is struggling with a bad wheel and a bad back. He still tries to hit the Cop Killa only to be wiped out with the CRAPPY WIZARD! Ghanarea nailed as well, then a big spear for 2. Cide tries to go to the top but Rave pulls him down with a superplex. Greetings From Ghana blocked with the THREE AMIGOS. Again Homicide takes an eternity climbing the turnbuckles though…but this time he blocks the superplex attempt with a second rope DDT. Senton bomb gets 2…where the hell did that come from? Cide tries a frankensteiner but gets caught. SECOND ROPE RAVE CLASH! ILLEGAL MOVE! WHERE’S THE DQ? Homicide kicks out at 2 anyway. HEEL HOOK LOCKED IN! Smokes gets on the apron to distract both official and Rave in order to save the title. Homicide with the LARIAT for 2. Cop Killa, no, HEEL HOOK AGAIN! Homicide gets to the ropes valiantly. COP KILLA! Homicide wins in 18:52.

Rating – **** –
After disappointing efforts with Chris Hero and Samoa Joe (both much better wrestlers than Jimmy Rave in my opinion), Homicide’s title reign finally gets a noteworthy match. That was miles better than I was expecting. It had a really tough job following Joe/Morishima and the crowd took some time to get into the match, but they worked really hard and built to an awesome finish. Like always I’ve got a few criticisms but it doesn’t take away from an enjoyable World Title match. Joe/Morishima really should’ve main evented though. This match just LOOKED far weaker and less believable coming after the sh*tkicking contest between those two massive individuals.

Becky Bayless wraps up the show, and finds Jack Evans unconscious in a corridor. Her acting skills are extraordinary. There’s apparently someone off camera…but just like with the Milestone Series in 2006, the Fifth Year Festival will end each show with a ‘to be continued’ cliff hanger.

Tape Rating – **** –
Probably the worst of the Manhattan Center shows thus far but it was still a really commendable effort with lots of great wrestling and three matches hitting the 4* barrier. Indeed, maybe it’s an indication of how good the wrestling was tonight that my biggest complaints about the show are booking related. Perhaps Gabe was having a rare off night. I didn’t agree with the decision to put Joe or the Nigel/Colt team over. I thought the Strong heel turn/NRC formation was a little clumsy and I thought the wrong match main evented. But these are relatively minor concerns. This is a return to form for Ring Of Honor after a fairly mundane double shot in January. Joe/Morishima is must-see.

Top 3 Matches

3) Homicide vs Jimmy Rave (****)

2) Christopher Daniels/Matt Sydal vs Austin Aries/Roderick Strong (****)

1) Samoa Joe vs Takeshi Morishima (****1/2)

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