ROH 139 – Fifth Year Festival: Finale – 4th March 2007
The Fifth Year Festival ends tonight with another stacked card from the shores of England. This review is particularly exciting for me since it’s the first time I’ve seen the show since I sat front row for it back in March. It was a hell of a night live so lets see how it holds up on DVD. Main event is Samoa Joe’s last match in Ring Of Honor. He faces perennial friend/enemy Homicide in one last match. Two of the biggest feuds in ROH come to England too, with the Whitmer/Jacobs and McGuinness/Rave deals hopefully getting settled tonight under various stipulations. Throw in a big Tag Title match and the Briscoes wrestling each other and you’ve got a hell of a card. Once again we’re in the Liverpool Olympia. Commentary is again excellently handled by Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard.
ROH VIDEO WIRE (01/03/07) – It’s all highlights of recent shows. Skip it if you’ve seen them.
BJ Whitmer and Jimmy Jacobs continue their homoerotic death match in the dungeon to start the show. They also brawled in the crowd about 20 minutes before the event started but it didn’t make the DVD.
The Briscoes promise to make each other up tonight in their singles match. Stupid rednecks…
Delirious vs Colt Cabana
This one should be comedy gold. Both guys lost their matches last night and won’t want to fly back to America without at least one victory from their weekend across the pond. Colt decides that he’ll come out impersonating Big Daddy since he’s in England. Delirious doesn’t need to do that. He’s weird enough as is.
Cabana puts most of his Big Daddy costume on Delirious as he sits rigid in the corner before the bell. The bell finally does ring, and it’s Cabana that flips his lid and loses his mind. Delirious gets angry and accuses Colt of stealing his gimmick. He responds by launching fans’ hats into the ring, then throwing the doll that Cabana used as part of Big Daddy gimmick. ‘Baby killer’ – Liverpool. Cue more baby-tossing antics between crowd and wrestlers. Delirious puts it in his mouth and gets ‘eat the baby’ chants. A wrestling match threatens to break out, with Colt doing classic Big Daddy offence. He insults Big Momma Delirious…and the fans demand he apologise to Delirious. Cabana acts like he’s going to hug his opponent but ends up putting him in a wristlock. He twists Delirious’ mask around so he can’t see. Delirious promptly tries to start pinning referee Todd Sinclair. Eventually he realises he’s got the wrong guy thanks to Todd’s somewhat larger stomach. Sinclair takes the ‘jelly belly’ comments personally and shoves Delirious over too. Delirious labels Colt’s mask tampering as ‘despicable’. Seriously, this match will have you in stitches. He hits a flurry of lariats then gets in an argument with the ref over counting. Colt goes for the mask again and gets ‘that’s despicable’ chants. Panic Attack blocked for Cabana to hit the ‘Despicable Driver’ (tornado snap suplex) for 2. Flying Asshole nailed before they trade nearfalls. Delirious manages a roll-up out of the corner to win at 11:43.
Rating – *** – It’s hard to rate since there was barely any actual wrestling at all. It was, however, side-splittingly funny and easily the best comedy match since the Delirious/Ebessan/Evans/Joe fourway at The Final Showdown in May 2005. Not much else to say really. It’s a match you need to see to appreciate. I laughed live and I’ve laughed again watching it back on DVD.
Roderick Strong and Davey Richards plan on having NO REMORSE on their way to winning the tag belts tonight. BJ Whitmer and Jimmy Jacobs brawl past them…
Eden Black/Jetta vs Dangerous Angels
This is billed as a SHIMMER exhibition match despite the fact that only Del Rey and Danger have actually worked for Prazak’s all-female promotion. Since this show ‘Jezebel’ Eden Black has worked there so I guess it counts. Last night we saw the British duo challenge the Angels to a match to back up their claim of putting on the best women’s wrestling in the world. Black has been getting a lot of praise for her performances recently so I’m anxious to see what she can do in the ring.
Jetta has got a big mouth on her but has her work cut out when standing opposite Del Rey. Sara slaps her in the face and she promptly tags out to Black. She comes up with a nifty counter to Danger’s monkey flip – holding onto the legs for a jack-knife pin. She then botches a simple knee to the midsection. Fortunately she then brings Jetta back in, and her loud mouth makes her an easy heel to distract everyone from the sloppiness. Allison SLUGS Jetta with a brutal forearm strike for 2, but the British woman rakes the eyes to stay in the ascendancy. Black puts a triangle choke on Danger but Del Rey breaks it before she can do any real damage. Rolling cradle next, with neither woman able to hold the shoulders down. Tags all round and Sara pulverises Jetta with big boots. Eden hits a ‘Blacksploitation’ (crucifix driver) for 2, but Danger nails her with the Lovelace Choker then a knee to the head. Del Rey polishes Jetta off with the Royal Butterfly at 06:28.
Rating – * – I don’t think either of the British women were in the DA’s league unfortunately. Jetta was perfectly watchable since she had a bit of a charisma to her, but looked a little green and had to be visibly dragged through the opening chain-wrestling by Del Rey. Eden Black was supposed to be the bigger star of the two, and she looked WAY out of her depth. Maybe she was nervous or whatever but I don’t think she hit a clean spot in the whole match. Hopefully she does better in SHIMMER.
The Dangerous Angels don’t have a lot of time to celebrate their win since their distracted by a disturbance in the crowd. It’s Whitmer and Jacobs fighting again, and this time they can’t be stopped so their match takes place now.
BJ Whitmer vs Jimmy Jacobs – Falls Count Anywhere Match
Will this be the match that finally ends the 14-month long feud between these two? Remember, Lacey has sent Jimmy to England with one instruction. He doesn’t have to win this match, he simply has to physically injure Whitmer. If he does that all that Lacey’s been whispering into his ear comes true. Live I only saw about half this match because of the time they spent in the crowd, so I’m eager to see what I missed out on. I fully expect it to be better on DVD than it was live.
They’re at the back of the building in the bar area, and Jacobs is on the attack despite Whitmer throwing him through a row of chairs. Jimmy fakes a punch on a fan. The pikey flinches like anything, gets laughed at by Prazak on commentary, then about a minute later yells out ‘you can’t hit me you c*nt’. That was almost as funny as Cabana/Delirious. They fight all the way up to the top of the Liverpool Olympia, where Jacobs listens to the voice of some scouser and clubs BJ with a fire extinguisher. It comes back to bite him in the ass since Whitmer throws him down an entire flight of stairs. He tries to throw JJ off the balcony, but Jimmy desperately holds on. Back at the bar, Jimmy climbs up the wall to hit a FLYING HEADSCISSORS! Is that enough insanity? No, it’s not. He climbs the stairs again. PLANCHA OFF THE BALCONY! What an emo nutter. Next he uses a row of chairs to get a running start on a flying elbow drop to the floor. That’s only good for a 2-count though. Almost 7 minutes in and they finally appear at ringside. Jimmy pulls out the railroad spike next. How did he get that through customs? RUNNING STAB TO THE HEAD! Whitmer is absolutely PISSING blood now. It’s literally pouring out of his head – and sick Jimmy Jacobs starts rolling in it on the canvas. The amount of blood quickly becomes rather frightening. Jimmy goes for the mounted spiking so Whitmer tries to counter with an electric chair. STAB TO THE HEAD…REVERSE RANA! He goes for the Contra Code…BUT WHITMER REVERSES WITH THE ADRENALINE SPIKE! Jimmy kicks out at 2. Whitmer forearms Jacobs so hard he rockets through the ropes to the floor. BJ gives chase and that’s so not good. He blocks Jimmy’s spear with a knee to the head. BRAINBUSTER ON THE F*CKING RAMP! Whitmer wins at 12:32.
Rating – **** – Absolutely brutal match. In fact, it’s probably my favourite Whitmer/Jacobs match thus far. The first half of the match was one of the most energetic and innovative crowd brawls I’ve seen (and this is coming from someone who tends to LOATHE plodding, fight in the fans segments). And the high spots they busted out there meant they could easily have lost the crowd in the second half, but the disgusting amount of blood loss meant the brawl actually got better still when they made it to the confines of the ring. Hats off to both guys for a hell of an effort.
Jimmy Rave says he’ll tear Nigel McGuinness apart tonight in the Fight Without Honor in order to get the respect he rightfully deserves.
Pac vs Matt Sydal
Open The Brave Gate Title isn’t on the line here if you’re interested. Pac had a hell of a debut last night, taking Roderick Strong to the limit. In the end he lost that match but still wound up with a lot of new fans. Tonight the high-flying star gets to test his skills against one of ROH’s resident high-flying top dogs (you can decide for yourself whether Evans or Sydal gets the mantle of top flier). Remember, wins equal future bookings in ROH. Sydal beat Delirious in a 2/3 Falls match last night and will want to end this tour of the UK with a 2-0 record.
Sydal continues his dickish streak from last night by demanding the ref mop up the blood from the previous match. They start with the typical flippy counter sequence, with Sydal generally coming out on top and looking thoroughly pleased with himself. Pac is sporting enough to offer Matt a clean break, but Matt tries to capitalise by running at him. Pac is smart to it and hits a series of armdrags. Sydal tries his own armdrags but Pac counters. He puts a jumping heel kick in Sydal’s jaw, but Sydal comes up with a spinning heel kick. That was an AWESOME one-upmanship segment. Matt does his cocky, sitting in the corner clothesline then puts Pac in an abdominal stretch. Standing Cannonball leg drop gets 2 because he was too cocky on the cover. Pac tries to kick him in the head so Sydal kicks out the knees. He botches a springboard headscissors but Matt quickly covers it by acting like he blocked the move. Bow and arrow stretch next, then a crossface as Sydal continues to take Pac to school. He tries a frankensteiner, but Pac dives between his legs meaning he crotches himself. He rocks Sydal with a series of kicks into a dropsault. A springboard dropkick knocks Sydal off the apron. CORKSCREW MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR! But he gets a little too confident following that and takes too long going back to the top rope and is caught. Cyclorama blocked and Pac hits a SPRINGBOARD PHOENIX SPLASH for 2. Sydal fires back with the MIND TRIP! STANDING MOONSAULT for 2. He fires off some disrespectful slaps, but Pac pops up into a snap hurricanrana. Tiger suplex nailed but Sydal gets a shoulder up. Pac to the top rope one last time, but Sydal catches him with his standing frankensteiner. SYDAL PRESS! It’s over at 11:25.
Rating – **** – I’m going to be super-generous with the rating here, but I really loved this match. It was so much better than I thought it was going to be too. This was billed as a battle of the high-fliers, and the psychology truly reflected that. Sydal is basically positioned as the top flier (you can argue that spot goes to Jack Evans, but Matt is a better wrestler so) and ROH veteran. The story here was Sydal basically thinking Pac wasn’t in his league and cockily dominating in the early going. Pac proved he could hang with Matt with his own spectacular offence…forcing Sydal to abandon being a prick and bust his ass to win the match. Breaking out the Mind Trip (a move taken from his former valet Daizee Haze) shows the level Sydal was driven to in order to get the win. It was a simple storyline but was told really well. This match is criminally underrated in my estimation. Pac needs to be brought back soon.
Jay Briscoe vs Mark Briscoe
It seems like a long, long time ago that we first saw these two do battle with each other, at Honor Invades Boston in August 2002. They were great then but the improvements, both in terms of their look as well as in-ring skill, make them almost unrecognisable from then. They’ve basically arranged this match against each other since they feel they’ve ‘gone soft’ in 2007 and need to toughen up. They won the GHC Jr. Heavyweight Tag belts in January, but lost them in their first defence. Last night the same thing happened with the ROH Tag Titles when they lost them in their first defence to Shingo and Naruki Doi. They want a rematch for the belts, but want to beat the fight back into each other first.
Duelling ‘lets go Briscoe’ chants at the bell very obviously amuse Jay. They start tentatively which Leonard points out is simply because they know each other so well. It’s Jay that shows the first sign of aggression with a slap to his brother’s face. Mark gets the better of a test of strength then slaps him right back. Five minutes in and it’s still a total stalemate. Jay tries a back suplex but Mark clings tightly to a side headlock so isn’t put at a disadvantage as a result. Jay launches himself into a vicious clothesline which sends Mark over the ropes to the floor. They go back and forth with strikes out there, before Jay slams his brother on the hard wooden floor almost right in front of me. Mark mounts the guardrail to hit a moonsault on the outside, much as he did at the First Anniversary Show. He throws a legit punch straight on Jay’s jaw, but then gets tossed into the railing and dragged up onto the ramp. But again it’s Mark that seizes the advantage, hitting a suplex on the wooden structure. In the ring again and the pace quickens – and again it’s Mark winning out with a spinning heel kick. He lifts Jay to the top, but the springboard Ace crusher is blocked with a wild chop. Mark hits a slingshot double stomp instead. He then tries a northern lights suplex only for Jay to counter into a spike DDT. He puts Mark in a stranglehold camel clutch and uses it to wear him down. After several minutes of Mark dominance it’s now Jay that sits in control. That is until Mark hits a running knee in the corner then the urinage suplex for 2. He goes for the suplex a second time only for Jay to drop him with a big boot then lock on the Stretch Plum.
More duelling strikes until Mark goes for a springboard and Jay cuts him off by dropkicking his legs. SOMERSAULT PLANCHA BY JAY! Mark tries to get back into the ring but Jay is happy about it. FIVE STAR FROG SPLASH gets 2. Jay Driller blocked and Mark pops up with REDNECK KUNG FU STRIKES. SPRINGBOARD ACE CRUSHER NAILED! That’s vintage Mark Briscoe right there. He gets 2 with a springboard corkscrew splash. These two have been going back and forth for almost 20 minutes. Mark tries to go upstairs again, but this time Jay blocks his move with a SUPER GOURDBUSTER. He then picks Mark up for a brutal Screwdriver that comes close to winning it. Stretch Plum again amidst duelling ‘lets go Mark’ and ‘lets go Jay’ chants. Jay smacks Mark with a close-range lariat but still doesn’t get the job done. Jay Driller BLOCKED with the urinage. NO SOLD…URINAGE SUPLEX AGAIN! ‘You’re both awesome’ – Liverpool. Mark shoves the ref down as Jay stands on the apron. HEADSCISSORS OFF THE REF’S BACK TO THE FLOOR! The bump they took landing on the wooden floor was really awful incidentally. You’d think they’d be done from it, but no. Both men get to their feet and again tag each other with some sickening forearms. JAY DRILLER SCORES…but he’s too tired to cover! The double KO count reaches 9 before both of them come up smiling. SHOOT PUNCHES TO THE MOUTH! BOTH MEN DOWN! They get up again, this time feeling their jaws. Jay hits the ropes but gets caught. CUT-THROAT DRIVER! BUT NOW MARK CAN’T COVER! Both men are dead, and we’ve got a double KO at 27:05.
Rating – ****1/2 – You’ve probably already heard a lot of hype about how good this one is. Yeah, it’s pretty damn fantastic. The storyline premise of the two brothers wanting to toughen each other up basically gave them license to do some incredibly violent stuff out there, and not have to worry so much about selling it since they’re supposed to be ‘manning up’ as they go along. What really caught my eye about this match was the way they transitioned through the emotional gears as the match wore on. It started respectfully, but respect gave way to intensity which gave way to brutality in the last 10 minutes. The finish was incredibly ambitious and could’ve really bombed – but I thought the way Jay and Mark worked up to the double KO was superb, and made what could’ve been a disappointing conclusion actually come off as incredibly unique and innovative.
SIDENOTE – I was really impressed by the crowd after the match. Rather than immediately launching into an American style ‘five more minutes’ chant, or sulking because we didn’t get a winner, basically everyone is on their feet applauding like hell and showing gratitude for almost 30 minutes of superb wrestling from two gifted athletes.
Nigel McGuinness (who seems to have a b*tch of a cold as well as a bad groin injury) says he’s finally going to get a big win for the UK fans at the expense of Jimmy Rave tonight.
Naruki Doi/Shingo vs Roderick Strong/Davey Richards – ROH Tag Title Match
Doi and Shingo won the belts in a massive upset against the Briscoes last night, and are wasting no time putting them on the line. This match was announced as being under Dragon Gate rules which means we can get liberal with who’s legal and who isn’t. For Roderick Strong this represents a chance for him to win back the Tag Title he made famous with Austin Aries in 2006, whilst Davey is anxious for his first taste of Ring Of Honor gold.
Richards has infinitely more personality as a heel. He bridges into a kick on Shingo which only causes the crowd to rag on him more. Incidentally, the crowd is red hot at the start of this match. Shingo pauses to do some Hogan posing and gets kicked in the back. Davey delivers more kicks but this time Shingo shakes them off and shoulder blocks him to the floor. Doi comes in looking even shinier than he did last night. Seriously dude…less baby oil. Dave Prazak points out that Roderick actually injured Naruki Doi during a tour of Dragon Gate last summer. The champions try to isolate Richards as Shingo holds him wide open for a running dropkick from Naruki. Strong in but Doi stomps him down in the corner for the cannonball senton. Shingo powerbombs the FIP Champion for 2, then props him up in the ropes for Doi’s SOMERSAULT SENTON TO THE RIBS! Don’t believe Richards is good as a heel? Despite the awesome in-ring action the fans are still giving him heat on the apron. He takes a cheap shot at Shingo from behind that finally gives the No Remorse Corps an advantage. Slingshot swinging neckbreaker gets Strong a 2-count. Shingo tries to trade chops with Roddy which is just never going to be a good idea. Unsurprisingly he doesn’t get anywhere with that approach and Roderick drops him with a traditional backbreaker. He manages to grab both guys though, and plants them with a flatliner/DDT. Hot tag to Doi who dives to the floor with an elbow suicida on Richards.
Meanwhile Shingo drops Strong with an elevated DDT for 2. He takes too long going to the top allowing Strong to hit a superplex. SHINGO NO SELLS FOR A SHINGO LARIATO! Tag to Doi who assists him with a missile drop kick/Saito suplex combo. Doi drops Richards with a DDT but can’t beat him. Doi 555 blocked and Davey lays him out with a falcon arrow. Kick combo from Richards, and Strong arrives for the DOUBLE ALARM CLOCK! Naruki avoids the DR Driver and hits a Rydien bomb for 2. Shingo holds Richards over his knees and Doi adds to the punishment with a guillotine leg drop. Gallon Throw from Shingo as the champions look in total control. Handspring Enzi…COUNTERED WITH THE BLOOD FALL! RICHARDS KICKS OUT! Strong is back and he grabs Doi for an urinage backbreaker. Handspring Enzi from Davey this time. POWERBOMB LUNGBLOWER COMBO ON SHINGO! NO REMORSE! Doi dives in to break the fall at 2. Shingo still manages to grab Davey’s leg as he climbs for an SSP. TORNADO DDT ON THE APRON! Strong hits the half nelson backbreaker on Doi. RICHARDS SHOOTING STAR PRESSES INTO THE KNEES! DOI 555…BUT HE KICKS OUT! LIGERBOMB GETS 2! But Richards makes an error in going upstairs again. AVALANCHE DOI 555! The champions retain at 19:33.
Rating – **** – It was what you’d expect from a match featuring Dragon Gate talent. Balls to the wall, non-stop, bell to bell action. I actually preferred the finishing sequence of this to the Briscoes/Team DG match from last night. Strong and Richards are a whole lot of fun as a heel team, and will only get better once they’ve teamed together more often and gotten more experience as partners. The unsung stars of this match were the fans though. I don’t know what was in the drinks at intermission but they were REALLY loud for this. I remember thinking that live as well.
Jimmy Rave vs Nigel McGuinness – Fight Without Honor
This all started fairly innocuously last November. McGuinness berated Rave and called him a joke after a tag team encounter at The Bitter End. However, he then claimed Jimmy earned his respect after a physical bout at Dethroned later in the month. They appeared to make amends – until Nigel jokingly threw a roll of toilet paper at Rave…who immediately felt disrespected. He promptly invented the Heel Hook and dominated Nigel – making him tap in singles matches at The Chicago Spectacular Night 1, Final Battle 2006 as well as in the big 8-man tag on Night 2 of the Chicago Spectacular. They also had an I Quit Match at The Battle Of The Icons (it turned out to be so physically intense that Jimmy actually vomited during the match), but went to a controversial finish when the referee stopped the match despite McGuinness refusing to quit again to the devastating Heel Hook. This issue is settled tonight. Nigel is wrestling with a groin injury sustained last night against Joe.
The British fans waste no time in showing the world how to do the ‘you’re gonna get your f*ckin’ head kicked in’ chant properly. Nigel waste’s equally little time in clocking Rave with a McLariat. Jimmy runs off to the floor to avoid being pinned. He tries to hit the Rebound McLariat on the floor but instead has to flat-out McSlap Rave in the McFace. He tries to get a chair into the ring but Jimmy takes advantage in AWESOME fashion by kicking the chair into the injured leg. Rave launches into a full on assault on the injured limb, driving it into the ring apron relentlessly. Rave goes ULTRA-heel by trying to ram McGuinness’ head into the ringpost just like Danielson did in the same building at Unified. McGuinness blocks it though and fishes under the ring for an extra section of metal guardrail. He balances it between the ring and the crowd barrier then FLAPJACKS Jimmy onto the metal. Just when Rave thinks he’s relatively save on the floor, Nigel grabs him again to catapult him back up into the rail again. He’s bleeding now and Nigel seems pretty pleased with himself. He grabs the chair again, but once more Rave kicks at the leg to save himself. CRAPPY WIZARD for 2. He hits a swinging neckbreaker as well, then a butterfly stretch. Rave ducks a McLariat attempt and hits the ropes for a spear. Double underhook butterfly again, which I suppose is meant to soften Nigel up for the Pedigree.
McGuinness tries to set up for a Tower Of London but can’t because his leg is f*cked…so whips him into a shortarm McLariat for 2. Tower Of London blocked and Jimmy takes to the air with a missile dropkick. TOWER OF LONDON ANYWAY! Obviously that doesn’t win it since everyone kicks out of the TofL. Rave gets a knee up to block a European uppercut, then hits a Ghanarea/Greetings From Ghana sequence for 2. McGuinness blocks a slingshot DDT…SUPER LARIAT! Rave kicks out at 2. They fight to the apron (and remember, there’s still a piece of guardrail set up out there). Jimmy gets the advantage…STO THROUGH THE RAILING! Back in the ring and he catches the Brit with a superkick. He charges again but this time Nigel is wise to it…BACK BODY DROP THROUGH THE GUARDRAIL! Holy sh*t that was brutal. The rail is practically bent in half now. McGuinness isn’t done though. TOWER OF LONDON THROUGH A F*CKING CHAIR! RAVE STILL KICKS OUT! STOP KILLING THAT FRIGGIN’ MOVE NIGEL! He sets up for one more McLariat…BUT JIMMY APPLIES THE HEEL HOOK! Nigel’s leg is a mess, and even though he gets to the ropes, the hold stays on because it’s a Fight Without Honor. He accidentally knocks the ref out in his flailing, but manages to drag himself onto the apron. TOWER OF LONDON THROUGH THE GUARDRAIL! That’s truly sick. A new ref arrives…but it’s the TofL and apparently it’s physically impossible to win with that move. REBOUND LARIATOOOOOOOOOO! Nigel finally wins at 21:17.
Rating – **** – Enormously entertaining and some of the bumps were spectacularly brutal. It’s a hell of a match and one of best matches of either man’s ROH tenure. I can’t go MOTYC on it though because it’s just got too many flaws. The finish was just totally excessive in terms of kick-outs. If the Tower Of London wasn’t killed when TJ Perkins kicked out of it in Philadelphia, Nigel definitely gave it the lethal injection tonight when Rave kicked out of first the regular move, then on a chair, and then through the railing. I’m not complaining about the spots since they were awesome…but would it have killed Nigel to just lay down and do a ‘too injured to cover’ sell? It made the climax of the match (which was, to be fair, still highly exciting) come off as almost cartoonish. Incidentally, he broke Jimmy’s jaw with that final Rebound Lariat…and promptly renamed the move the Jawbreaker Lariat.
5TH YEAR FESTIVAL VIDEO – The final one of these things focuses on the World Title…which therefore means it’s just a highlight package of Bryan Danielson’s best matches over the past year…and Morishima beating Homicide in Philly. Best video package of the whole festival.
Homicide vs Samoa Joe
So after 4+ amazing years in Ring Of Honor, Samoa Joe says farewell to the promotion in a match he specially requested. He asked to be pitted against Homicide, a man who is one of his best friends, and a man with whom he had some of his most memorable ROH matches against. The first time we saw these two wrestle was at Scramble Madness in 2002. Homicide won that match with a flash roll-up. Homicide also won their most recent encounter too – successfully defending the World Title against Joe at The Battle Of The Icons. Can Joe leave ROH with one last victory?
Both men come out with more energy in the first minute of this match than we saw in the first 5-10 of their match in January. Homicide kicks Joe to the outside but the Samoan strolls off into the crowd because he knew to expect the tope con hilo. He walks so far back into the crowd that he stops at the bar for a pint. ‘That was my beer’ – Jimmy Bower. Back in the ring with Cide missing a flying crossbody, and he’s getting annoyed at the amount of Joe-love from the crowd. Smokes makes a grab for Joe’s leg, and that allows Homicide to actually get some offence in. But he jumps from the top, right into the Manhattan drop and as usual Joe follows that up with a big boot and a senton. He washes Homi’s face with bootscrapes in the corner. ‘One more time’ – Liverpool. ‘F*ck off’ – Homicide. He drops Joe with a swinging DDT from the second rope. 10 minutes in and Cide takes the fight to the apron after a flying headscissors. ACE CRUSHER ON THE APRON! He tries to slow the pace down after that, but Joe traps him in a rolling cradle then hits a lariat leaving both men down. Joe floors Cide with a knee strike from the second that gets 2. ST-Joe nailed because Homicide took too long trying to heel it up on the fans. But he makes the mistake of trying to climb the ropes, and Smokes makes him pay by grabbing the boot. Homicide takes advantage and scores with the superplex. Rolling neckbreakers next, into a piledriver which does a ton of damage to the neck in preparation for the Lariat and/or Cop Killa. Joe does the powerbomb/submissions streak but doesn’t secure the win so thinks about a Musclebuster. Homicide blocks that with a super DDT. He tries the Lariat combo that finished Joe at Battle Of The Icons but it’s blocked so Cide hits another Ace crusher instead. Musclebuster blocked…Lariat ducked…CHOOOOKE! J-Train thinks about interfering…so Joe releases the hold and slams him from the top rope. Homicide slugs Joe with the ring bell…but it’s only good enough for 2. MUSCLEBUSTER…but Smokes drags the referee out of the ring. Joe’s had enough. OLE OLE KICK ON SMOKES! He goes for a second one…BUT HOMICIDE CUTS HIM OFF WITH A TOPE CON HILO! That was awesome…and Cide bounced off Joe and flew about four rows back. Back inside and he hits the LARIAT for 2. Inexplicably Cide tries to take Joe to the top rope. That’s so not a good idea. DO OR DIE TOP ROPE MUSCLEBUSTAAAAH! Joe wins at 23:01.
Rating – *** – Easily better than the BOTI match, and if I gave half stars this would definitely get one. I think it would’ve been a better match had they shaved 10 minutes off it (and wrestled a faster pace – something like AJ’s farewell match with Joe at Time To Man Up) too. The last five were really good though, with the finisher overkill, hilarious decimation of Julius Smokes and that awesome tope con hilo spot. I’ve been complaining about the TNA guys working ‘house show’ style on recent shows, and in fairness to both of them, I don’t think this was the case tonight. It was a good main event rounding off a top notch night of action. Certainly it was one of the better “farewell” matches (although Joe/London remains the standard-bearer on that score). At least I’m not complaining about Samoa Joe not jobbing for once…still say he should’ve put Nigel and Morishima over though.
Cue the emotional adios chico scenes. Joe tries to start a speech but gets repeatedly cut off by crowd chants. Fittingly the first thing he says and points out how much talent is left in the locker room even with him gone. He then begins a mock speech about how awesome Gabe Sapolsky is which is rather amusing. His real speech puts over Ring Of Honor as you’d expect. I’ll miss you Joe. Hopefully TNA gets behind him and pushes him to the moon because he could be their top star. Failing that, he should quit and go to Japan because he could make a sh*tload there…and work for ROH too.
Tape Rating – **** – This was the best show of 2007 thus far, it’s that simple. Whilst it lacked the “big time” feel of an event like Death Before Dishonor 4 or Final Battle 2006, and the main event may have been more emotional than it was good, speaking purely in terms of quality wrestling, this was streets ahead of anything else Ring Of Honor has done in a long time. The only match dropping below 3* was the extremely brief SHIMMER tag, and everything else was fantastic. Not only that, there was so much diversity on the card. Not only was everything good, every match felt unique, which meant the show really flew by. Huge thumbs up for this one.
Top 3 Matches
3) Nigel McGuinness vs Jimmy Rave (****)
2) Naruki Doi/Shingo vs Roderick Strong/Davey Richards (****)
1) Jay Briscoe vs Mark Briscoe (****1/2)
FIFTH YEAR FESTIVAL LIST-A-MANIA
5TH YEAR FESTIVAL TOP 10 MATCHES
1) Samoa Joe vs Takeshi Morishima (****1/2 – NYC)
2) Jay Briscoe vs Mark Briscoe (****1/2 – Finale)
3) Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Naruki Doi/Shingo (****1/2 – Liverpool)
4) Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs El Generico/Kevin Steen (**** – Philly)
5) Colt Cabana vs Jimmy Jacobs (**** – Chicago)
6) Homicide vs Takeshi Morishima (**** – Philly)
7) Castagnoli vs Cross vs Primeau vs Strong vs Briscoe vs Shingo (**** – Dayton)
8) Christopher Daniels/Matt Sydal vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe (**** – Chicago)
9) Samoa Joe vs Davey Richards (**** – Dayton)
10) Roderick Strong vs Pac (**** – Liverpool)
Honourable mentions – Daniels/Sydal vs Aries/Strong (NYC), Morishima/McGuinness vs Joe/Homicide (Chicago), Sydal/Delirious (Liverpool), Doi/Shingo vs Strong/Richards (Finale), McGuinness vs Rave (Finale).
5TH YEAR FESTIVAL SHOWS RATED
1) Fifth Year Festival: Finale (04/03/07)
2) Fifth Year Festival: NYC (16/02/07)
3) Fifth Year Festival: Liverpool (03/03/07)
4) Fifth Year Festival: Chicago (24/02/07)
5) Fifth Year Festival: Philly (17/02/07)
6) Fifth Year Festival: Dayton (23/02/07)