140 ROH All Star Extravaganza III 3/30/2007

ROH 140 – All Star Extravaganza III – 30th March 2007

Once again Ring Of Honor has lined up a weekend of massive shows and attempting to draw big numbers of fans in by piggybacking onto Wrestlemania. Last year they did in Chicago (actually, in 2004 they did in New Jersey too), this time around it’s Detroit. Just like last year they’ve flown in a host of Dragon Gate stars (8 in total) to bolster the impressive array of homegrown talent – even though it’s an ROH roster now missing Samoa Joe. The main event is an inter-promotional 8-man tag which is sure to be a thriller. Dragon Gate’s CIMA, Susumu Yokosuka, Dragon Kid and Ryo Saito oppose a Ring Of Honor “all-star” team featuring Austin Aries, Delirious, Rocky Romero and Claudio Castagnoli. Naruki Doi and Shingo grant the Briscoes a rematch for Tag Titles, plus big time singles matches in Strong/Evans, Homicide/Daniels and McGuinness/Albright…Bruno Sammartino is back too. We’re in for a hell of a weekend. We head to Detroit, MI with Lenny Leonard and Dave Prazak.

ROH VIDEO WIRE (16/03/07) – Nothing but highlights of the UK shows. They’re both awesome so you should buy both the DVD’s and skip over this Wire.

Rebecca Bayless (why didn’t they fly her to England…WHY?!) interviews fans as they wait in line to meet Bruno Sammartino. Apparently one guy came from Israel for this…yikes.

Colt Cabana vs Chris Hero vs Adam Pearce vs Matt Sydal

These are four big names to throw into the opening match…but then again, when you’ve got 8 extra guys in from Japan as a bonus I suppose you can afford to drop some stars into your curtain jerker. There’s not a lot to connect these guys really, except four men who want to move into contention for title shots and need a win. Hero is back from his tour of NOAH (and appears to have brought extremely crappy new entrance music with him) and has Larry Sweeney and his new personal trainer Tank Toland in his corner. Pearce (who has an extensive history on the Chicago scene with Cabana) is flanked by Shane Hagadorn.

I’m cracking up before the match even starts. You’ve got Tank Toland helping Hero do push-ups on one side of the ring, and Adam Pearce telling Matt Sydal ‘your music is terrible’ on the other. There are so many personalities in this match and the big crowd seems electric. Hero does some needless posing and gets a ‘that was awesome’ chant which, I guess, makes that point. Cabana sneezes on him and gets an even bigger pop by mocking his antics. Eventually Chris has had enough of those shenanigans and threatens a walk-out. Sydal tags and uses his speed to hit armdrags on Colt. Pearce in and he runs straight into Sydal’s standing moonsault. Enough of the high-flying antics, he grabs Matt and gives him a big chokeslam. ‘Get up you midget’ – Pearce. Chris Hero seems far more willing to tag in now, and he helps Pearce out in isolating Sydal in the ring. Scrap Iron gets 2 with a Stinger Splash as Prazak points out the irony of Pearce and Hero teaming up given their history in the ROH/CZW war. Sydal mounts a comeback by stepping OFF Pearce into a swinging DDT on Hero. Cabana gets the hot tag and happily dishes out bionic elbows to everyone in sight…including Hagadorn. He starts using Sydal as a weapon before Hero comes in with big boots for the pair of them. Todd Sinclair isn’t counting who’s legal at all. Matt ducks another big boot and sends Hero to the floor with his enzicanrana. Cabana hits a super rana on Pearce as Hero pisses everyone off by faking a dive to the floor. Colt grabs him and chucks him over the top rope anyway. RUNNING MOONSAULT BY SYDAL! But in the melee nobody sees Pearce grab a pair of brass knucks and clock Cabana. Pearce wins at 11:14.

Rating – *** – Not particularly memorable or anything you’ll want to rewatch a dozen times but it was an entertaining match that kicked off a big weekend in suitable fashion. The live crowd loved it, and that’s really an indication that it did its job. Cabana provided the comedy. Pearce and Hero pissed everyone off with their heel schtick and Sydal got in a couple of high spots. It’s what you expect but it was fun for the people of Detroit and that’s exactly what it needed to be.

Next up Erick Stevens makes his much anticipated Ring Of Honor debut. He’s been making waves in FIP basically since Gabe took over the book down there, and it was only ever going to be a matter of time before he got brought into ROH. Here he destroys Alex Payne in a squash match that lasts about 10 seconds, picking up the victory with his Doctor Bomb finisher.

The Briscoes are so friggin’ redneck it’s impossible to understand them. They’re talking about how they made each other man up in Liverpool. They’re getting their belts back tonight apparently.

Masaaki Mochizuki vs Davey Richards

Obviously this is Mochi’s ROH debut, but he’s one of Dragon Gate’s top stars. He’s quite rare in that promotion in that he wasn’t trained under Ultimo Dragon’s Toryumon regime or under subsequent DG tutelage, but was actually a fairly notable junior heavyweight well before the formation of that promotion – including an appearance in the ’95 Super J-Cup. He’s also a former holder of Dragon Gate’s top singles prize – the Open The Dream Gate title (incidentally, the December 2004 CIMA/Mochizuki OTDG Title match is incredible). Like Davey Richards his striking ability is infamous so this could be quite the slug-out.

Richards semi-racist comments at Mochi are rather amusing, if a little non-pc. Mochizuki makes him pay with a savage kick to the back. He half crabs Richards, pausing on the way to serve up another big kick. He hits a nice springboard kick, then boots Davey off the apron leaving him propped up against the guardrail. But it’s on the floor that he goes for one kick too many, as Richards ducks one and he kicks the ringpost. Davey capitalises on that with a bridging figure 4, but again brings the comedy by informing the crowd that should cheer for him since he’s awesome. He also laces his assault on Mochizuki’s leg with more pseudo-racism which I’m laughing at, but I guarantee some would find offensive. He tries to hit a shinbreaker, but Mochizuki KNEES HIM IN THE HEAD! Richards tries the Handspring Enzi only for Mochi to shake it off and hit another big kick. The ROH athlete blocks the Twister (twisting brainbuster) and hits the Alarm Clock then a German suplex for 2. He thinks about his SSP but takes way too long and dives right into Mochizuki’s knees. SPRINGBOARD KICK! TWISTER…gets 2. Davey escapes a dragon suplex but Mochi starts no-selling his boots to the face. Switching tack he goes back to the leg and applies the Horse Collar…but Mochi gets the ropes. ‘I’m winning’ – Richards. He promptly starts losing though, because Masaaki pulls him off the ropes as he tries a moonsault. SHIN SAIKYOU HIGH KICK! Mochizuki wins at 10:40

Rating – *** –
I’m pretty sure they could’ve had a much better match had they been given more time and a better spot on the card. As is, this was a decent 10-minute undercard match. The kicks were predictably vicious, Davey brought a nice touch of storyline to all the kicking by trying to work Mochizuki’s leg but ultimately it was to no avail. This barely scratched the surface of what these two could do with each other.

Dave Prazak appears in the ring next and brings out Bruno Sammartino. Much like numerous others, Bruno praises ROH and its hard-working, talented locker room for being a real alternative to the WWE. Larry Sweeney walks out (with Hero and Toland) and fans seem legitimately appalled that he’s set to disrespect ‘the living legend’. Apparently Chris Hero wants an arm-wrestling match with Sammartino. Bruno says that he’ll kick Hero’s ass, despite his age. It looks set to be a 3-on-1 until Nigel McGuinness makes the save. He holds Sweeney open for a Bruno right hand which gets a huge pop. Sweeney’s sell was amazing. Fun segment…

Christopher Daniels cuts a promo…he’s working his TNA heel gimmick now with full-on beard and strange face-paint. He tries to put over his match with Homicide tonight as another ‘battle of the icons’. He’s aiming to replicate his success in Detroit a year ago when he pinned another icon – Samoa Joe.

Jimmy Jacobs/Lacey vs BJ Whitmer/Daizee Haze – Anything Goes Match

We’re on the eve of the climactic and deciding battle between Whitmer and Jacobs. Tomorrow night the former tag team partners go into battle inside a steel cage. They get a chance to prepare for that and inflict some pre-match damage tonight in this tag team affair. There’s also still a feud between Lacey and Daizee. It started last November in Boston, and at the Dayton leg of the Fifth Year Festival Lacey gained a singles victory over the Haze following interference from Jacobs.

Everyone’s in street clothes because this is nothing but a fight. Jacobs pulls out the spike in the first minute of the match, but after the damage he suffered in Liverpool, Whitmer is smart enough to avoid it. They re-run the Dragon Gate Challenge suplex over the ropes to the floor spot, which is a nice touch considering we’re in the same building where that happened. Lacey and Haze hit the ring and do a few ‘look, we can wrestle’ spots whilst BJ and Jimmy disappear into the crowd for the pre-requisite brawl. Lacey starts using her belt to whip and choke the Haze, then chokes her in the ropes – and I’m pleased to see the referee do nothing to stop that since it’s Anything Goes. Whoever edited this match sucks. We’ve got the main screen showing the Lacey/Haze stuff whilst a tiny split-screen in the corner is all we get to follow the more exciting Whitmer/Jacobs brawl. I do see Whitmer try his best to throw JJ through the wall of the building. In the ring Lacey is still using her belt to choke Daizee, this time in the tree of woe position. Out on the floor Jacobs comes back on BJ with a flying headscissors off a chair. Haze gets 2 with a German suplex as the men arrive back at ringside. Lacey comes back with an elevated swinging neckbreaker. Daizee tries the Heart Punch/Yakuza Kick combo but Lacey moves and sends her through the ropes. BJ and Jimmy fight on the top rope aiming to recreate the super-bomb mayhem we saw a year ago…but Lacey saves her man by crotching Whitmer. Jacobs obliges her in turn by running through Haze with a spear that actually knocks her shoes off. Lacey wins with the Implant DDT at 09:47.

Rating – ** –
The production on this match was incredibly lazy and actually ruined the match. Rather than clipping between the “best bits” of the in-ring and crowd fights, or focusing primarily on the more exciting Whitmer/Jacobs skirmishes, they simply left one simple split-screen for the majority of the match that made it very difficult to follow the action. It’s a basic error and one I hope ROH don’t repeat in the future. I liked the references BJ and Jimmy made to their Dragon Gate Challenge match though. It was especially fitting given the venue and the fact that it was basically the one year anniversary of that unforgettable bout.

Lacey gives Jimmy a hug for helping her win the match tonight…and promises him more if he kills BJ Whitmer in the cage tomorrow. Whitmer chases them off with a barbed wire bat.

Jack Evans is supposed to look well-dressed tonight…but comes off looking like the naughty child that has been dressed by his mother for church on Sunday. It seems that the dude upset that Roderick Strong turned his back on their friendship in New York. He’s pissed off and all business tonight.

Naruki Doi/Shingo vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe – ROH Tag Title Match

This is rematch from the awesome encounter we got at 5YF Liverpool when Doi and Shingo caused a mega-upset by beating the Briscoes in their very first defence of the belts. Jay and Mark’s response was to beat the hell out of each other in an equally awesome encounter the following night at 5YF Finale. The purpose of that singles match was to toughen each other up before going after the Tag belts again. After 25+ minutes of action they fought to a double KO, helped each other man up and are back to reclaim their belts from the Dragon Gate duo in Detroit tonight.

The power guy on each time (Jay and Shingo) go in first, and it’s Briscoe that initially gets control. Tags all round to bring in super-shiny Doi and super-toothless Mark. The Briscoes hit Doi with their big double biel and with that move put themselves in the first advantage of the match. In the end Doi gauges his baby-oil covered fingers into Mark’s face. Minutes later he nails the cannonball senton in the corner and now the champions are in charge. Doi with a neckbreaker over Shingo’s knees, and Takagi holds Mark there so Doi can quickly nip to the top to drop a leg too. Shingo isn’t done playing set-up for Naruki, as he sets Mark in the ropes for the big somersault senton to the ribs. Mark manages to hold Doi in the way of a clothesline from Shingo and gets the much-needed tag out. Doi goes to the floor but Mark looks like he wants to chase. SSP TO THE FLOOR…BUT MARK LANDS ON HIS HEAD! No word of a lie, he just landed on his head. And just like that, the match just stops since nobody knows if Mark Briscoe is even alive. Jay and Shingo try to work a couple of spots but nobody is watching the match. Paramedics are at ringside as poor Jay and Shingo continue the hopeless task of keeping the match going. Eventually they give up so Jay can go and see if his brother is ok. Gabe is out there and the camera catches him discussing a finish to the match with Jay. After that the only conscious Briscoe runs back into the ring with renewed vigour and drills Shingo with a couple of fierce forearm blows. Jimmy Bower is in the booth now and says that Mark is conscious, not paralysed but severely concussed. The Dragon Gate team enjoy having a 2-on-1 advantage, hitting the missile dropkick/Saito suplex combo for 2. Out of nowhere Jay rolls off the ropes into a blockbuster on Doi. Shingo runs into hit a sweet gutbuster/DDT sequence so Briscoe doesn’t mount any kind of comeback. He suplexes Jay into position for Naruki to hit a flying elbow drop…but the lone challenger refuses to stay down for the count. Shingo Lariato scores, only for Jay to stay on his feet. STIFF ASS FOREARM DUEL! Doi sweeps Jay’s legs from behind, but gets into the ring and walks straight into a misplaced Shingo Lariato. Briscoe capitalises and nails the JAY DRILLER! Against the odds Jay wins the belts by himself at 16:03…so the Briscoes are now 4-time champions.

Rating – ** –
I almost feel bad rating this match since it’s not really fair. It was just getting going when Mark’s terrifying injury caused the match to die in an instant. Fair play to Jay, Shingo and Doi who worked damn hard to make the best of a bad situation and try to get everyone back into the match, but aside from popping for Jay’s against-the-odds victory, it was very clear that nobody in the building cared about the match, and were all deeply concerned for Mark’s well-being. The replays showing him bouncing off Doi (maybe it was all the oil) and landing head first on the floor are awful, and the fact that he didn’t suffer any severe injuries is really a minor miracle.

Despite his heroic victory Jay doesn’t get any music to herald his victory. That’s because ALEX SHELLEY AND CHRIS SABIN casually jump into the ring. I promptly mark out like crazy since these are two of my favourite guys not in ROH right now…they’re both wasted in TNA. They play nice at first and respectfully challenge the Briscoes to a Tag Title match (assuming Mark is healthy) on April 28th in Chicago. Shelley is still awesome on the stick. Jay is happy to accept…and the Shelley/Sabin duo then become utter pricks and beat the sh*t out of him. Shelley also name-drops TNA for some guaranteed heat. Great segment…and that match should be great.

INTERMISSION – Becky Bayless desperately tries to look serious (but fails) when talking about Mark Briscoe. Larry Sweeney interrupts and is angry at Nigel McGuinness for embarrassing him earlier.

Pelle Primeau vs Yamato

Apparently this is an ROH vs Dragon Gate students match. It’s my first look at Yamato but the first thing I notice is that he has the most stereotypical “young, respectful, ‘I’m a rookie so you’re going to kick my ass and I will thank you for it’” ring attire ever.

Considering the relative inexperience of these two guys they start out in surprisingly accomplished fashion with Primeau hitting a couple of headscissors. He gets 2 with a springboard hilo and has Yamato in trouble. Eventually the Japanese dude catches Pelle with a GORGEOUS T-bone suplex then a spear. He tries to roll from the spear into a suplex but Pelle counters with a DDT. He tries a headscissors again but this time Yamato counters with a sidewalk slam. Primeau gets caught going for a crucifix and Yamato gives him a German suplex for victory at 02:22.

Rating – * –
Can’t go higher on the rating because the match was so short, but they packed a lot in and I thought Yamato looked like a HELL of a prospect. He was clean and smooth in everything he did, and both those suplexes looked beautiful. I could’ve done with this one going longer, which is a testament to the solid performance of the two athletes, despite their limited experience.

No victory music for Yamato either…since Larry Sweeney interrupts his celebrations with Brent Albright. Sweet’n’Sour has hired Albright to teach Nigel a lesson…so that’s our next match.

Brent Albright vs Nigel McGuinness

You’ve seen pretty much all the set-up there’s been for this match on the DVD already. This would be a big-time singles match anyway as Albright looks to get out of the shadow of Jimmy Jacobs and Lacey’s feuds and start putting in some decent solo displays. Now he’s getting money from Larry Sweeney (for the second time – remember Sweeney paid him to beat up Claudio Castagnoli in Chicago) to put a hurting on one of the top guys in Ring Of Honor right now. Nigel is fresh of winning his feud with Jimmy Rave…and breaking Jimmy’s jaw in doing so.

Straight into the action with McGuinness pounding Brent in the corner with uppercuts. That kicking cutter move then a shortarm McLariat for 2. Albright uses the ring apron to smother Nigel and get an advantage…not seen that before. He shows his WWE roots by going to a needless early chinlock and can be visibly seen on camera discussing spots. That’s pretty amateur too. The editing on this show has been poor. CHAOS THEORY drops Nigel again, and I wonder if Brent deliberately stole a move from Nigel’s regular tag partner in NOAH (Doug Williams). Albright then foolishly tries to trade blows with his opponent, which inevitably leads to him getting whacked with another McLariat. A third McLariat drops the hired gun for a 2-count. Brent rakes the eyes to escape the Tower Of London, and takes to the skies to hit a pretty flying crossbody. Nigel rolled through that though, so he drops the Brit with a belly to belly suplex. He thinks about going to the top again…and when McGuinness goes for the TofL again Brent counters with the CROWBAR. Maybe now McGuinness will stop doing lariats every 2 seconds. It doesn’t earn him a victory but Nigel has sustained notable arm-damage apparently. Like an idiot he tries the Jawbreaker Lariat anyway and Albright just slaps on the Crowbar again. Again it isn’t quite enough for victory. Nigel powers Albright up for the Tower Of London…but can’t cover because Sweeney distracts the referee. Like it’d matter, everybody kicks out of that. Albright comes back with the 619 knee and a swinging neckbreaker for 2. Both men are pretty beaten up now. McGuinness sets Albright up for the Super McLariat…but Chris Hero runs in and distracts him. HALF NELSON SUPLEX! Albright gets the win at 11:35.

Rating – ** – That one should’ve been a lot better…but neither man covered themselves in glory with their in-ring performance. The first five minutes seemed to drift by at a snail’s pace as Albright worked a totally bland, unfocused and plodding style that you’re used to seeing on WWE filler TV matches. Meanwhile I thought McGuinness had a horrible match – basically living up to every single criticism people have of him. He literally did NOTHING but lariats and the Tower Of London the whole time, and it looked stupid. Hell, he STILL tried to do lariats even after Albright had attacked his friggin’ arm. I like Nigel a lot and he’s had some incredible matches over the last year…but I’m sorry. There’s NO way I can buy him as the figurehead and centrepiece of ROH. He’s simply not good enough yet.

Homicide vs Christopher Daniels

I still have nightmares about how horribly wrong a match between these two went four years ago at Epic Encounter. Homicide had such an off-night and Chris Daniels got increasingly frustrated about having to cover his botching ass. Still, both of them are older, wiser and presumably better in the time since. This is booked as a battle of Ring Of Honor icons, which is fair enough. What it actually shows is two TNA guys who are over and extremely popular with the ROH fans…but have absolutely no creative direction whatsoever and are impossible to book long-term for due to their priorities lying with another promotion. Still, let’s hope we can still enjoy a decent match.

Daniels is back to not following the Code Of Honor now. He’s a heel in TNA so now he’s a heel in ROH, despite the fact we’ve had no explanation for it, other than the fact that he’s just lost the tag belts. He starts out aggressive and beats Homicide down, but quickly has to run to the floor when Cide busts out his sloppy armdrags. Being on the floor works to Daniels’ advantage as he tries to suplex Homicide and catches him on the edge of the timekeeping table on the way down. In the ring again and Cide uses the distraction of a steel chair to bring him back into the match. Daniels counters that by throwing him out again. The Fallen Angel takes his turn with a chair, swinging it into his opponent’s back. He tries a rest hold and they muddle their way through to Daniels barely connecting with an enziguri. Daniels teases the BME but doesn’t do it which pisses the Detroit fans off. Fall From Grace is nailed instead for 2. The fans continue to get on his case until Homicide hits his Ace crusher then a T-bone suplex. Fallen Angel tries to run away so Cide catches him with the dreaded tope con hilo. Three Amigos score too, then a random flying elbow drop from the top. The crowd, which were red hot for this as we started, are really going mild now. Daniels locks in the Koji Clutch but even that looks pretty sloppy and Homicide isn’t tapping out. He tries to use the ropes to pin Homi after a running STO but that doesn’t work either. Second rope Ace crusher gets Homicide a 2, as does his Lariat. Cop Killa blocked, and Daniels hits the Angels Wings. Homicide kicks out! Daniels tries Last Rites but Homicide pulls him over into a roll-up for 3. Homicide wins in 15:00.

Rating – ** –
There was nothing wrong with it per se, and the last couple of minutes weren’t too bad, but for the majority of the match these two were on total cruise-control, not working exceptionally hard and keeping the match relatively low key and incident free to make sure they’re healthy enough to go back to TNA for the next round of Impact tapings. As such I’d consider this one really disappointing. We all know it could’ve been so much better had these guys really gone out and busted a nut – but therein lies the problem. We all know the TNA-contracted wrestlers simply can’t go out and do that. Booking two of them in a match together is only ever going to result in matches of this sort of standard unfortunately. It was nice to see Daniels working heel again though – if only we were given some kind of explanation to make it logical too!

No time for Homicide to celebrate though, as Adam Pearce and Shane Hagadorn come out to attack him. This leads to the ROH return of TNA Commissioner Jim Cornette. He still hates Homicide for getting him fired at The Bitter End last November. Brent Albright gives Homicide the half nelson suplex then slaps on the Crowbar as Cornette goes on a rant. Colt Cabana, Delirious and Pelle Primeau eventually save.

Roderick Strong vs Jack Evans

This may well be the most anticipated match on the card, and definitely the first time Jack has been placed in such a high-profile singles match. He’s looking for some revenge on Strong after Roddy revealed that it was him that beat Evans up last time in Manhattan. Evans has been promising he’ll get his own group together to help him fight the No Remorse Corps – but nothing has happened on that front yet, so he’s going to fight this battle solo. Should be a good one though, if their classic in FIP is anything to go by.

Strong drags Jack to the mat since that’s clearly where he’ll have the advantage. Evans reacts to land a couple of punches, so Strong takes a powder and regroups. Back in and he goes back to trying to keep Jack grounded. It only works for so long though and Jack manages to dropsault him into the corner. DOUBLE JUMP flying headscissors nailed, and Evans gets cocky by hitting Strong with a chop. He goes for a handspring but Strong catches him, before throwing him back-first across the ring. He drops Jack to his knees with a violent chop, then hits his first backbreaker of the contest for a 2-count. Next up he hooks Evans’ limbs together and does the expected sick “bend Jack in half” spot. Evans hits a standing moonsault off Roderick’s chest to keep himself in the game though. Gibson Driver blocked and Jack comes up with a STANDING 450 SPLASH for 2. Strong doesn’t stay down though, picking Evans up into an urinage backbreaker. Scoop slam OFF THE APRON and Evans lands on the mats with a splat. Amazingly Jack still isn’t done though, knocking Strong out with a springboard dropkick. He cartwheels on the apron then nails a flying headscissors from there to the floor. It’s only momentary relief though. Strong picks him up for a backbreaker over the guardrail…then a fallaway slam INTO THE RINGPOST. Poor Jack looks like a ragdoll now, but Rod continues his assault on the back, tying him up in the ropes then bending him in half yet again. Evans looks done as we approach 15 minutes. He tries to hit a springboard move, but Roderick boots the top rope and that forces Jack to land face-first on the mat. He blocks the backbreaker on the apron and props Strong in the second rope. HANDSPRING MOONSAULT DOUBLE STOMP TO THE BACK! SPACE FLYING TIGER DROP! He then hits a double springboard corkscrew splash for 2. Unfortunately that’s where his flurry ends as Strong drags him off the top rope into a backbreaker. TORTURE RACK BACKBREAKER for 2. But Jack won’t stop. He hits a series of kicks, then the Ong Jak knee drop. To the ropes they go, with Roddy flinging his opponent across the ring with another fallaway slam. He tries to lift Evans onto his shoulders, but Evans twists and drags them over. Reverse rana gets 2 on the FIP Champion. Roderick avoids the 630, and tries to pull a fast one by pulling the tights on a school-boy. BRIDGING BACKSLIDE gets Jack another 2. Moonsault Edge-O-Matic but still he can’t but the NRC leader away. 630 MISSES! Strong comes up with the Sick kick…then the Gibson Driver. STRONG HOLD! Evans taps at 21:44 but that was a hell of an effort.

Rating – **** –
That’s the best match of the show so far by a country mile. Credit goes to Jack Evans for delivering the goods in his highest profile singles outing to date. He looked notably gassed by the 15-16 minute mark, but I suppose he rarely wrestles that long in singles matches so it was forgivable. Much like the Strong/Pac match from Liverpool, we saw a really entertaining game of cat and mouse, with Strong mauling adversary until Jack was able to pull out a few of his trademark high-flying moves to his advantage. If you’re interested (since I’ll probably never get round to reviewing their FIP match), I thought this one was just a tad below their “Strong vs Evans” encounter in Florida. It’s close though.

Backy Bayless reports from the locker room with the good news that Mark is fully mobile and isn’t paralysed (or worse) after the earlier incident. He did suffer a major concussion though, and won’t be wrestling tomorrow night at Supercard Of Honor 2.

CIMA/Susumu Yokosuka/Dragon Kid/Ryo Saito vs Austin Aries/Delirious/Rocky Romero/Claudio Castagnoli

This one should be a real scorcher. It’s billed as an ROH dream team against Dragon Gate’s dream team – except all the members of the DG team are also part of the Typhoon faction in that organisation. Everyone should be familiar with CIMA by now. He’s the ace of Dragon Gate and has been over to ROH a number of times. Dragon Kid and Ryo Saito came over for Wrestlemania weekend last year too. It’s Susumu’s ROH debut though, and I am particularly excited about it. He’s a former Open The Dream Gate (DG’s top prize) champion, and his September 2004 OTDG Title Match with CIMA is one of the best matches of the decade. Everyone should check it out. ROH’s representatives, meanwhile are an interesting bunch. Aries is an obvious choice to lead the team, particularly with Bryan Danielson out injured. Delirious is a natural fit with the DG guys, as he showed in the DG-Rules match at Final Battle 2006 – where he and CIMA had some fascinating altercations. Romero and Castagnoli are strange choices though. Rocky promised he was returning to ROH on a full-time basis back in January…and then promptly missed all of February/March touring Japan. For Claudio this represents ROH throwing him an olive branch. He’s still an outcast from the locker room for his CZW betrayal last summer. And Aries has more reason to hate him – since Claudio helped to shaft him out of his Tag Titles over the autumn/winter period.

As usual I’m not expecting to be able to keep up with this one. Romero and Saito start out with some snug ground exchanges. It’s all based around Saito having to find ways to evade Rocky’s kicking ability. Dragon Kid and Castagnoli in next…Claudio is so much taller than Kid it looks plain ridiculous. Dragon hits the Déjà vu headscissors and sends Double C to the floor. Delirious/Cima next which means they get to continue their bizarre mini-rivalry. Delirious tries to psyche Cima out with lots of lizard speak, so the Japanese athlete goes to the eyes instead. Aries and Yokosuka come in last, and this is a singles match I’d love to see. Aries dishes out armdrags to the entire DG team, then dives at them on the floor with the Heat Seeking Missile. He goes for a quebrada only for Susumu to sweep his legs, giving the Dragon Gate team the advantage. Cima hits an ass dropkick as they look to isolate Aries from his partners. Saito and D-Kid hit a sweet double leg drop as the innovative combo moves start to come out. Yokosuka exposes Austin’s ribs for a big double stomp from Cima, then Saito, Dragon and Yokosuka hit a three-way dropkick to the face. Finally Aries nails the quebrada and rolls out for a tag to Delirious. He traps Dragon Kid in the corner for all three of his team-mates to take shots at him. That ends with Delirious’ Panic Attack which gets 2. Castagnoli gives Kid a fallaway slam, and actually throws him further than Roderick Strong threw Jack Evans in the previous match. Team ROH lay out their smallest opponent with a four-man big boot before Claudio again tosses him around effortlessly, this time with a giant swing. Dragon Kid mounts a comeback, hitting a 619 on Castagnoli, then a springboard dropkick on Aries.

DOUBLE LUNGBLOWER by Cima and Yokosuka on Romero, then Cima suplexes Delirious whilst maintaining a toehold on Romero. Yokosuka suplexes Aries onto Rocky in the corner as the action starts to pick up. Dragon hits a springboard moonsault to the floor. Susumu and Claudio trade off strikes, culminating in Claudio’s springboard European for 2. Delirious accidentally hits a flying leg drop on his own partner but makes amends by dragging Yokosuka into a cobra clutch backbreaker. Saito catches the lizard man for a German suplex though. We’re well over 20-minutes into this now. Cima lungblowers Romero out of the corner for a nearfall. Romero tries the Anklelock without luck, so hits a KNOCK-OUT KICK on Cima. The DG ace comes back with a Perfect Driver. ROLLING ARMBREAKER OFF THE ROPES BY ROMERO! Their battles goes on though. Cima fights out of that to hit the Iconoclasm. MAD SPLASH INTO THE KNEES! Aries runs in to help his partner…but his frog splash gets Cima’s knees. SHADOWS OVER HELL by Delirious instead. Dragon Kid tries the Ultra Rana but Delirious blocks it with a torpedo headbutt to the sternum. Cristo stretch but Castagnoli saves…only to get put in the Cristo instead. NECK DROP BACK SUPLEX BY ARIES! LARIATOOO BY YOKOSUKA! DRAGON SUPLEX BY SAITO! CASTAGNOLI HITS THE ALPA MARE WATERSLIDE! Saito and Yokosuka haul Delirious to the top rope…SPRINGBOARD RANA OFF SAITO’S SHOULDERS BY DRAGON KID! ARIES SAVES WITH A BRAINBUSTER ON SAITO! 450 SPLASH! CIMA SAVES AT 2! Delirious slaps the Cobra Stretch on Cima but can’t force a submission. SCHWEIN! BUT DELIRIOUS KICKS OUT! CROSSFIRE BOMB! Cima pins Delirious at 27:55.

Rating – ****1/2 –
As per usual that was superb stuff from the Dragon Gate crew. I loved the added dynamic of “ROH vs Dragon Gate” in this match. It made all the spot warfare that comes with matches like this seem that much more relevant. These guys weren’t just going out there and doing spots for the hell of it – they were doing it for the pride of their respective company. There were some great touches of psychology too. All the DG guys worked around Romero’s kicks beautifully, and there was lots of references to the Delirious/CIMA exchanges from Final Battle 2006 – where it was CIMA that pinned Delirious. I’d have liked to have seen more of Yokosuka, Dragon Kid and Aries, but when there are 8 guys out there you only get so much time to shine. That was certainly one of the best matches of 2007 thus far. It certainly heightened my anticipation for tomorrow night’s all-Dragon Gate 6-man tag too.

Jimmy Jacobs cuts yet another terrific promo on his history with BJ Whitmer. They used to be partners, they almost killed each other at Dragon Gate Challenge, they’ve both bled buckets and tomorrow night their war ends inside a steel cage. It’s particularly brilliant because, despite being supposedly the heel in this whole scenario (through association with Lacey if nothing else), he portrays himself as the hero to Whitmer’s villain. A wonderful way to set the scene for tomorrow’s huge clash.

Tape Rating – ** –
I’ve been harsh with the rating considering the top 2 matches were both terrific. But the thing is, the two shows this weekend were both hyped up as being ROH supershows. They’ve got a mega-list of talent at their disposal and there’s no excuse for having such a flaccid midcard on such a big show. Admittedly the Tag Title match, which I guess was the centrepiece of that midcard, failed due to unforeseen circumstances but there should’ve been more than enough to compensate. Homicide and Chris Daniels went out in house show mode. McGuinness/Albright was disappointing and could’ve been much better. The Whitmer/Jacobs tag suffered due to poor editing – and when the brief, comedy, crowd-pleasing opener is the third best of the night on a show like this I think there are problems. It certainly was an “all-star” spectacle though, with the Dragon Gate crew, Jim Cornette, Bruno Sammartino, Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin all adding to the usual assortment of talent. Had this show taken place in the 80’s it would’ve been a huge success. The top line matches were superb, on top of a non-entity of a midcard. Unfortunately times have changed and, particularly with Ring Of Honor, us greedy wrestling fans tend to expect a little more. Strong/Evans and the 8-Man Tag are both excellent though, so you’re hardly wasting your money if you invest in this.

Top 3 Matches

3) Adam Pearce vs Colt Cabana vs Chris Hero vs Matt Sydal (***)

2) Roderick Strong vs Jack Evans (****)

1) Team Dragon Gate vs Team ROH (****1/2)

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