141 ROH Supercard Of Honor II 3/31/2007

ROH 141 – Supercard Of Honor II – 31st March 2007

It’s exactly a year since last year’s Supercard Of Honor. That card, featuring the much-vaunted Dragon Gate 6-man 5* match, as well as an ultra-underrated hour-long classic between Bryan Danielson and Roderick Strong is still up there with my favourite ROH shows ever so I’m fervently hoping the sequel lives up to its predecessor. But my expectations have been tempered a little bit by the mild disappointment of last night’s All Star Extravaganza 3 event. Despite star-names in abundance and a cracking double-bill of main events, the sizzle/steak ratio was just a little too weighted towards sizzle. In fairness, tonight does boast the “beefier” (I crack me up) of the weekend’s shows. One year after they set the world on fire in Chicago, six Dragon Gate competitors line up for a trios tag and look to steal the show again. Roderick Strong looks to step out of the spotlight of his former stablemate Austin Aries by defending the FIP Heavyweight Title against him, and elsewhere his No Remorse Corps faction have recruited a third member for this evening. BJ Whitmer and Jimmy Jacobs end their year-long feud inside a Steel Cage – probably the biggest match of their respective careers too. Reality TV star Johnny Fairplay is here too. Does it matter that I have no idea who he is? Am I uncool? Like last night, we’re in Detroit, MI and have Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard leading us through the night.

ROH VIDEO WIRE (16/03/07) – See All Star Extravaganza 3 (ROH 140) review for details.

Jimmy Jacobs shares more reflective thoughts on his rivalry with BJ Whitmer. He looks exactly like last night – did he tape these promos back to back? The key difference between the two is that Jimmy Jacobs fights for love. This was a bit rambling, I think they should’ve just left at last night.

Jay Briscoe comes to the ring to give the world an update on his brother. Miraculously he suffered no long-term damage in his sickening accident last night and will be back in the near future. Christopher Daniels and Matt Sydal interrupt, and they’re pissed because they were scheduled to get a rematch for their Tag belts. Jay refuses to forfeit the titles, but offers to get a partner and wrestle a non-title match – and if Daniels/Sydal can beat him, then he’ll grant them another shot at him and his brother.

Jay Briscoe/Delirious vs Christopher Daniels/Matt Sydal

In fairness, Jay’s choice of partner was a pretty simple one. Nobody knows how to wrestle Matt Sydal better than Delirious. They’ve been rivals for their entire tenure in Ring Of Honor and have engaged in some memorable matches. Daniels and Sydal hold the edge, with experience teaming together before.

After Delirious’ usual histrionics, Briscoe and Daniels open the match by running some basics…leading to Daniels getting frustrated and having a hissy fit on the floor. He tries to help Sydal double team on Delirious but the masked man manages to force Matt to hit an inadvertent heel kick on his own partner. It’s Sydal that gets isolated in the ring and worked over. The makeshift Briscoe/Delirious show some decent teamwork skills for a while, but eventually Delirious is caught by a cheap-shot knee by Daniels, and this turns the tide of the match into the favour of the former Tag Champions. The crowd are in Delirious’ favour as Sydal starts using the tassels of his mask to apply illegal chokes. 10 minutes gone and it’s the heels bossing proceedings, looking totally self-assured as they pick apart Delirious with great fluidity. Delirious finally counters a Blue Thunder driver with a headscissors, and drags Daniels into a cobra clutch backbreaker that allows him to make the hot tag to Jay who comes in like the Terminator on his two opponents. They both get sent to the floor for Briscoe to hit a WILD somersault plancha. Fallen Angel turns it round with a DVD and preps for the Best Moonsault Ever. Jay manages to escape that but takes the Fall From Grace instead for 2. Delirious breaks the Koji Clutch and Panic Attacks Daniels. Shadows Over Hell has 2 before Sydal intervenes. Here It Is Driver nailed but Delirious kicks out…to zero heat. The Slice is blocked, as is the Bizarro Driver, and Sydal lands the standing moonsault. Bizarro Driver nailed second time of asking but Daniels is right there to break the count. Clothesline/Ghanarea combo by Daniels and Sydal for 2. Jay gourdbusters Daniels out of the corner only for Sydal to kick him in the head before he can set up the Jay Driller. ANGELS WINGS nailed, but he can’t even cover before Delirious interrupts. Sydal Press misses on Delirious. CHEMICAL IMBALANCE II! Delirious wins at 18:08.

Rating – *** –
Fairly basic but supremely solid formula tag match, with a hot finish that set the crowd up nicely for the show ahead. This match got all the time it needed to tell a good story without going so long that it felt like it dragged. Undoubtedly the highlights of the match were whenever Sydal and Delirious got in there. They’re so seamless wrestling each other these days that it’s a joy to watch – and it was nice that Delirious used the same finish that he beat Matt with at Survival Of The Fittest 2006. I really slammed Chris Daniels last night for his duller than dirt match with Homicide. This is an example of why he’s still a valuable member of the ROH roster. He’s an excellent ring general when surrounded by younger guys who are willing to fly around and bust their asses to keep it entertaining.

BJ Whitmer (who looks more like a hobo than Necro Butcher tonight) follows Jacobs’ example and looks back over their time together. He says he HAS to end their feud tonight. It was really a mistake airing this one after Jacobs. It makes BJ look as charismatic as the soap he hasn’t used for a while.

Yamato vs Claudio Castagnoli

It appears this weekend marks the beginning of Double C’s subtle transition from heel back to babyface. Last night he put in a commendable performance representing ROH in an 8-man tag match against a Dragon Gate team, and tonight he faces another member of the DG roster looking to continue his quest for re-acceptance. I talked about Yamato last night. I’ve never seen him before but judging by his super-brief match with Pelle Primeau last night, this product of the Dragon Gate dojo looks like a fine prospect. Lets see how he copes with a bigger match.

‘Too tall’ – Yamato’s assessment of his opponent. Claudio continues to show off his new nice guy status by encouraging the ‘HEY’S of the crowd and shaking hands. Yamato tries to trade wristlocks with Castagnoli which doesn’t seem like the most advisable course of action. He tries running shoulder blocks, but Claudio is stronger too. Castagnoli absorbs a few chops before flooring his young adversary with a crisp European. Finally Yamato gets some speed up and connects with a spear. He sets up for the T-bone suplex, and hits it with as much grace as he did with Pelle Primeau last night (and considering the size difference, that’s impressive). He stands toe-to-toe trading strikes with Castagnoli, then gets 2 with a nice German suplex. Alpamare Water Slide scores…but Yamato kicks out at 2. Les Artess Lift (Castagnoli’s new finisher – it’s a gutwrench piledriver) scores, and polishes the youngster off at 06:59.

Rating – ** –
Only a brief match, and Castagnoli controlled most of it, as you’d expect given the experience limitations of his opponent. However, once again I’ll tip my hat to Yamato, who more than held up his end of the match. He has such a bright future ahead of him if he stays healthy. I’d definitely like to see him back in ROH later in his career.

WHITMER VS JACOBS HISTORY – BJ picks Jimmy to replace Dan Maff as his tag partner, and they upset the Samoa Joe/Jay Lethal team to win the Tag Titles in Asbury Park, NJ.

Next up it’s another Erick Stevens squash that’s too short to bother rating. Mitch Franklin lasts longer than Alex Payne did last night, but it’s still nothing to get excited about. Stevens has done a great job of getting himself over this weekend. Now lets see what he comes up with in a real match.

WHITMER VS JACOBS HISTORY – Whitmer turns on Jimmy at Dissension, after Jimmy’s preoccupation with Lacey costs them a match against Tag Champions Aries and Strong.

Larry Sweeney and Chris Hero bring out their new “A-List celebrity” friend Johnny Fairplay. Apparently he was on Survivor once. I only know him because he made a few appearances in TNA. ‘You’re not famous’ – Detroit. Not a whole lot of point to him being there except to piss the fans off. Chris Hero has a problem with Nigel McGuinness since Nigel stopped him hurting Bruno Sammartino last night. That brings out Nigel, with sh*tty new music, and we have ourselves a match.

Chris Hero vs Nigel McGuinness

Hero just went over the whole back story to this match so there’s not a lot of point to me going over this again. These guys have the potential to have a really good match but I think this one will get lost in a see of gimmicks. With Sweeney and Fairplay at ringside, I wouldn’t expect a clean match either.

Sure enough the opening exchanges are totally ignored by announcers as they rant about how much they hate Johnny Fairplay. Jimmy Bower comes in to crack a few jokes about all the infamous guest appearances ROH have had in the past, taking shots at the likes of ICP, Konnan and Jeff Hardy. Meanwhile Nigel is taking it to Hero on the floor, but he gets distracted by Sweeney. Hero takes control…commentary is still stuck on Fairplay. Speaking of Johnny, he takes a cheapshot at McGuinness, then gets a hug from Hero to celebrate. ‘This is worse than ICP’ – Prazak. Nigel clocks Hero with a McLariat but doesn’t go for a pin. Shortarm McLariat gets 2. Fairplay and Sweeney stop him hitting the Tower of London and Hero gets the advantage again. Cravat-oclasm by Hero followed by Tracey Smothers strikes. Nigel…hits another McLariat. Hero tries to run to the top rope…but gets dragged off with the Tower of London. Sweeney and Fairplay pull him out of the ring. Fairplay gets caught in the ring though…and that can’t be good. MCLARIAT ON FAIRPLAY! Crowd goes nuts for that. Jawbreaker McLariat on Hero and it’s over at 09:39.

Rating – ** –
Harmless fun. Everyone knows these guys could have a great match if they wanted to, but that wasn’t the point of this match. Sweeney and Fairplay on the floor were entertaining. Hero is always fun in the ring because he’s such a prick, and Nigel was basically on auto-pilot meaning all we saw from him were the crowd-pleasing uppercuts, lariats and the Tower of London. If these two go on to feud we’ll see better matches down the line, but for what it was I liked this. And fair play to…Fairplay. He took a brutal lariat all in the name of entertainment. Apparently he was legit concussed by it too. That whole thing was taped for VH1 so will go a long way to getting ROH some extra publicity. Hero and Sweeney have been comic gold this weekend.

WHITMER VS JACOBS HISTORY – Yeah, THAT match. Whitmer and Jacobs wrestle one try to kill each other in one of the biggest carwrecks in wrestling history at Dragon Gate Challenge. Jimmy Jacobs should’ve died in that match. And he needs to bring back the shiny pink trousers.

Roderick Strong and Davey Richards come through the curtain next. They’re here to announce the newest member of the No Remorse Corps – Rocky Romero. Everyone saw that coming.

Davey Richards/Rocky Romero vs Jack Evans/Naruki Doi

The only thing I don’t like about Romero in the NRC is that he teamed with Austin Aries last night with no problems whatsoever. Surely there should’ve been some kind of dissension? This is an extension of the Evans/NRC feud. Jack wants to get his own stable together but for now he’s relying on a friend from Dragon Gate to help him out. Naruki Doi has experience wrestling Richards – he and Shingo successfully defending the ROH Tag Title against Richards/Strong in Liverpool on March 4th.

Doi and Romero get the crowd going with a chopfest then both look really good as they speed through a sequence that gets a decent round of applause. Evans hits a double jump flying headscissors on Richards, then holds his ribs exposed for a flipping senton from Doi for 2. Pele kick on Richards (and miles better than AJ does it), but Davey recovers by slamming his head into the ring apron with very little, if any, remorse. The NRC beat down Jack and keep him well away from Doi in the corner. Romero hits a springboard knee as Evans is stretched over Davey’s knees, and Doi is having to come in regularly to make the save on pinfalls. Evans musters up a moonsault double elbow on his opponents and get the tag out. Doi knocks Rocky to the floor as he tries to springboard off the ropes again. Tope suicida wipes him out. Richards hits him with a falcon arrow though. Rydien bomb from Doi, and he hangs both opponents in the corner. POWERBOMB MOONSAULT DOUBLE STOMP by the Evans/Doi combo, and Jack follows that by setting them up in the corner for Naruki’s trademark super-fast cannonball senton. Big boot/back suplex combo by the NRC for 2. Doi and Romero trade strikes again before Rocky hits a second rope DDT. He blocks a sunset flip powerbomb but Doi hits a ROPE RUN GERMAN SUPERPLEX instead! Richards goes for the DR Driver but it’s blocked. SKIPPING A GENERATION TO THE FLOOR BY EVANS! DOI 555 ON RICHARDS! Jack is legal, and he blocks the handspring enzi by booting Davey right in the jaw. He hits a sick reverse rana but Romero dives in to rescue the match. Evans takes way too long setting up for the 630 but he manages to trap Davey in the tree of woe. ONG JAK KNEE DROP! 630 SENTON! Evans wins at 14:38.

Rating – *** –
Really exciting at the end there, and if I have half stars I’d dish out an extra one. It lacked some of the fluency of the opening match, but crammed much more excitement into a shorter amount of time. Richards and Romero showed a lot of potential for working as a team, which didn’t surprise me. They looked good as opponents at Dedicated, have a similar style and they meshed well.

WHITMER VS JACOBS HISTORY – Whitmer and Jacobs throw each other literally into the crowd from the top rope at In Your Face.

It’s now supposed to be Brent Albright vs Homicide. Albright is being paid by Jim Cornette to beat up Cide. But the match doesn’t get going because Adam Pearce does a near-immediate run-in causing a DQ. Colt Cabana makes the save, marking the one year anniversary of the end of his violent feud with Homicide. He wants to show his respect for Homicide by teaming with him against Brent and Pearce.

Homicide/Colt Cabana vs Brent Albright/Adam Pearce

I’ve only got minimal interest in this angle since extenuating circumstances meant that Jim Cornette’s ROH return only lasted one weekend. Basically Pearce and Albright want to beat up Homicide because they’re Cornette’s men. Cabana is pissed off at Pearce for using knucks to beat him last night at All Star Extravaganza 3, and has a wealth of respect for Homicide, thus we have a match.

Albright and Pearce try to walk out but get dragged to the ring and forced into this impromptu tag battle. I haven’t actually heard a bell ring yet as all four guys are still brawling around the building and haven’t made it to the ring. Homicide and Albright have an AWESOME chair duel in the middle of the crowd. Finally they do make it to the ring and the bell can actually sound. Homicide drops Pearce with the Ace crusher, but Shane Hagadorn runs in to try and attack Homicide. Pelle Primeau is out too, and drops Shane with a springboard hilo. The students disappear into the crowd, as Jim Cornette trots down the aisle. He distracts Homicide so Albright can hit the half nelson suplex. ‘Fire Russo’ – Detroit. The heel team have Homicide isolated in the ring at the 5-minute mark. Pearce spikes him with a piledriver, but Cide smartly rolls to the floor to prevent a pinfall. At last he makes the hot tag allowing Colt to clean house on both his opponents. Flying Asshole nailed on Albright, but Brent still has enough in the tank to block Homicide’s lariat. Tope con hilo scores instead as they go to the floor. Jim Cornette tries to spray something in Cabana’s face, but gets Pearce instead. Colt grabs the can and whacks the blinded Scrap Daddy with it. He wins it for his team at 08:44 (not including the pre-match brawl).

Rating – ** –
Kind of like the McGuinness/Hero match from earlier. The reality is that these four could probably have a much better match, but what they did here was a lot of fun, and certainly entertaining for both a live crowd and DVD audience. It was very sports-entertainment, but in small doses that can be ok, as this showed. I liked the symmetry around Cabana and Pearce’s weekend – with Colt getting revenge for the shady finish in a fourway yesterday by using equally shady means to get a win back.

WHITMER VS JACOBS HISTORY – After their #1 contendership bout ended in a no contest in New York, it was decided that both BJ and Jimmy would wrestle Bryan Danielson in a triple threat match for the ROH Title at Throwdown. Danielson retained the belt in a really decent but now mostly forgotten match.

INTERMISSION – Rebecca Bayless interviews Erick Stevens about his first weekend in ROH. He says the two squashes this weekend are just the beginning. Austin Aries is watching in the background.

WHITMER VS JACOBS HISTORY – They had their millionth brawl at Dethroned in November, and have had countless other fights since then. Why not show their really good Falls Count Anywhere match from Liverpool here? BJ bled buckets in that one.

Jimmy Jacobs vs BJ Whitmer – Steel Cage Match

This is so the biggest match in either man’s career. ROH has invested so much time in this feud. It’s raged since January 2006, has expanded to include an assortment of other characters, like Colt Cabana, Brent Albright, Daizee Haze, Mercedes Martinez, Adam Pearce and so on. They were Tag Champions together, BJ even chose Jimmy to be his new partner after Dan Maff left ROH under erroneous circumstances. But it was Whitmer who broke up the team at Dissension when Jimmy Jacobs’ crazed love of Lacey cost them a match. They almost killed each other at Dragon Gate Challenge and In Your Face, but Jimmy Jacobs finally put BJ out of action at Gut Check in August, shattering his ankle and leaving him on the shelf. Whitmer returned towards the end of 2006, getting shocking and unintentional revenge during a Survivor Series-style tag match at The Chicago Spectacular – by accidentally stabbing Lacey in the face with a metal spike. They’ve clashed on basically every show since then, including bloody wars in Boston, Edison, Philadelphia and Liverpool. Tonight they’ll finally settle the score inside the cage. Interestingly, Whitmer has chosen to bring Daizee Haze to the ring to counteract the threat of Lacey in Jacobs’ corner.

Jimmy wastes no time in getting us started. He dives through the cage door into a tope suicida and the fight is on. Incidentally, someone needs to tell Jacobs that his tights for this one are god awful. In the ring now, and it’s BJ who takes control by throwing his former partner into the cage. He brings a chair into the match and sends JJ into it with a spinebuster. He then uses it to rattle Jacobs’ skull. He’s actually knocked out some of Jimmy’s teeth with that! Jacobs hits a Raven drop toehold then calls for his metal spike. Whitmer goes into his boot and pulls out a spike of his own. SPIKE DUEL! Naturally they’re both bleeding now and the crowd goes nuts for them. Whitmer hits a powerbomb into the turnbuckles, then asks for a barbed wire baseball bat. But it’s Jacobs that gets to it first, and he hits BJ right in the bloody head with it. JACOBS HOLDS THE BARBED WIRE IN HIS MOUTH! What a psychopath. Now he’s got both railroad spikes. STABS TO THE HEAD AND ARMS! He lays BJ down with his head in the barbed wire…CHAIR SHOT TO THE BACK OF THE HEAD! Whitmer can barely get up from the mat now. Jacobs peppers him with forearms, but he musters up the strength from somewhere to hit an exploder suplex.

Jimmy goes for a flying headscissors, but Whitmer rolls through and powers him into the cage. BARBED WIRE BAT TO THE BACK! Now it’s BJ’s turn to torture his opponent with the barbed wire. BRAINBUSTER ONTO AN OPEN CHAIR! Jacobs’ landing was absolutely disgusting…but he still kicks out at 2. Lacey slams the cage door into Whitmer’s face though, and Jacobs tries to capitalise. SENTON BOMB gets 2. He tries a frankensteiner, but Whitmer counters with an Alley-oop into the turnbuckles. Rolling suplexes from BJ, then a folding powerbomb for 2. Whitmer goes for a Superbomb…BUT JIMMY COUNTERS WITH A MID-AIR RANA! ADRENALINE SPIKE BY WHITMER! Lacey dives into the cage to attack BJ. ADRENALINE SPIKE ON LACEY! Now BJ climbs up. FROG SPLASH FROM THE TOP OF THE CAGE…MISSES! CONTRA CODE BY JACOBS! WHITMER KICKS OUT! Jimmy f*cked his knee somewhere in the midst of that. He now sees that Lacey is knocked out, and he summons a table so he can get more revenge…but he can barely walk now. He tries to set Whitmer on the table then climb the cage, but BJ is up too quickly. Jacobs fights him back down there. SENTON BOMB FROM THE CAGE THROUGH THE F*CKING TABLE! JACOBS WINS! JACOBS WINS! 24:31 is your time.

Rating – ****1/2 –
Utter carnage. It was the match of their careers and they delivered big time. This match reminded me of the Foley/HHH Street Fight from the 2000 Royal Rumble in the way it contained such extreme violence, but maintained a profound sense of believability. This match NEVER felt like violence for the sake of violence. It never felt like they were throwing big, brutal spots out there because they should do (something that can be levelled at a lot of ROH’s big feud enders). You never stopped BELIEVING that these two wanted to kill each other and for that reason it was utterly fantastic. I think this may well pip Joe/Briscoe and Angle/Benoit as my favourite cage match ever. Both men paid a heavy price for it too. Whitmer bled like a pig and suffered a neck injury, whilst Jacobs knocked a few teeth out, and suffered a knee injury that will now keep him on the shelf till August. Talk about suffering for your art! Terrific, thrilling contest though. I’d need to think about it, but I think this edges out the Briscoes’ England matches and Joe/Morishima for 2007 MOTY thus far.

Roderick Strong vs Austin Aries – FIP Heavyweight Title Match

As good as the last match was, incredibly it wasn’t the main event and we’ve still got 2 potentially great matches to go. This one has been eagerly anticipated since the Fifth Year Festival – NYC show. It was there that Roderick Strong turned on his former tag partner and Generation Next stable-mate to join with Davey Richards and form the No Remorse Corps. Double A has promised to put a group together and fight the NRC, and has already recruited Matt Cross to help him with that. But this is the “money” match of the forthcoming NRC/Team Aries feud, and I don’t expect it to be the only time these two will meet in a singles match in 2007. Strong’s FIP Title is on the line remember, so it’s a 20-count on the floor.

Aries is intense from the get-go, but he struggles to lock onto Roderick, who doesn’t seem keen on getting to grips with his former partner. Nevertheless it’s all Aries in the opening minutes. They do a neat spot where Strong keeps trying to go for his big chop, but Austin cuts him off with an overhand chop instead. He knows Aries well enough to avoid the headscissors-dropkick escape…but Double A reacts and connects with the dropkick as he kicks out of a Strong backslide. He tries the springboard back elbow from the corner only for Roddy to cut it off with his own dropkick. The psychology in the early going has been superb. Roderick has had enough of Aries’ blocking his chops, so he goes to the eyes then delivers the first big time chop of the match. He tries to work the back for the first time, dragging Aries out of the corner into a backbreaker for 2. They go to the mat and it’s still Roderick going after the back with a camel clutch – a hold he decides to apply illegally in the ropes as well. Aries battles to the top rope and nails a missile dropkick but he’s sustained a fair amount of damage and is noticeably slower following up. Running dropkick in the corner scores but Strong kicks out at 2. Slingshot hilo misses but Aries recovers quickly to dive through the ropes into the Heat Seeking Missile. He nails a slingshot corkscrew press, but Roddy’s familiarity with his trademark spots haunts him again as Strong gets his knees up as Aries looks for a quebrada.

Back suplex backbreaker out of nowhere by the FIP Champion. Austin kicks Strong as he hangs between the ropes, then hits the quebrada second time of asking as he lies prone and exposed to it. Brainbuster blocked, but so is the half nelson backbreaker. Roderick drops Aries chest-first onto the turnbuckles, then climbs the ropes for the SUPER fallaway slam. He tries to back suplex Aries off the apron but Aries ducks him. DVD ON THE APRON! Strong is out on the floor, and he just barely beats the 20-count to retain his title. He tries a desperation, tight-grabbing roll-up for 2, then lifts Aries into the Death By Roderick. Aries cuts off the Sick Kick with a clothesline. BRAINBUSTER! But Strong tosses the ref into the ropes as he climbs for the 450 and all his momentum is stalled. They battle on the top rope…AND ARIES FALLS THROUGH THE TIMEKEEPING TABLE! Holy sh*t. Was that intentional? Roderick shows NO REMORSE by tearing out the guardrails and trying to do a Delirious/Matt Cross attack. GIBSON DRIVER ONTO A RAILING SEGMENT! Roderick thinks that enough for him to retain the title, but Aries beats the count at 19 to a big reaction. Strong gets cocky and goes for Aries’ Brainbuster and almost loses to a small package. HALF NELSON BACKBREAKER! GIBSON DRIVER! STRONGHOLD! Aries is unconscious at 21:46.

Rating – **** –
That was an awesome match and I’d imagine it’s only because of how good the matches are either side of it (the Steel Cage match and the DG 6-man) that it didn’t receive more praise. Both men did an awesome job getting over their familiarity, and the build to the big spots at the end was great. It was Aries’ dynamic and explosive offensive flurries against Strong’s relentless assault on the back, with Roderick ultimately ending up on top in dramatic fashion. I particularly loved the finish. The crowd popped big time for Aries beating the count, then got even more frantic when Aries almost snatched victory with a small package – only for Strong to decimate Aries’ back for the victory. Strong is having an excellent 2007 thus far, entering in a number of top drawer performances.

Roderick tries to do more damage by reapplying the Stronghold after the match, but Delirious chases him through the crowd to save Aries.

BJ Whitmer walks out of the building looking distraught that he lost the cage match.

CIMA/Susumu Yokosuka/Shingo vs Dragon Kid/Masaaki Mochizuki/Ryo Saito

A year ago in Chicago, six of Dragon Gate’s best wrestles stole the show and took the crowd, the DVD audience and critics all over the world by storm. Many heralded the Dragon Kid/Horiguchi/Saito vs CIMA/Doi/Yoshino match as 2006’s match of the year. 365 days later and we’ve got ourselves a rematch of sorts. Granted the personnel are slightly different – only CIMA, Dragon Kid and Ryo Saito are back – but it still promises to be a hell of a match.

Cima gets a much bigger crowd reaction than anyone else in the line-up. He obliges his fans with a cagey opening back-and-forth with Saito. He flips through a hurricanrana from Saito in awesome fashion then it’s time for some new blood in the ring. Mochizuki and Shingo come in next and really take it to each other. Mochi hits some brutal kicks but Shingo stands tall. Dragon Kid is too fast for Yokosuka and sends him to the floor. Shingo tries to isolate Saito, but doesn’t have the strength to keep him away from his corner so no dice. Yokosuka takes some damage, but finally pounds his way free and tags out to Cima. Saito is held in the corner so Cima can hit his ass-dropkick. We’re almost 10-minutes in, and for these guys, the opening has been amazingly slow. Mochi cuts Cima down and traps him in a half crab. Dragon Kid 619’s off Saito to get a 2 count. Saito then holds him on the apron to allow Mochizuki to get a run up for a HUGE kick to the spine. Cima manages to stomp both of them…then Tombstone’s D-Kid INTO Saito’s ribs to make the hot tag to Yokosuka. Springboard headscissors by Dragon Kid stops his momentum, but Shingo powerbombs Kid to stop his just as quickly. Susumu works over Kid’s leg which seems a smart strategy. Shingo comes in to show of his impressive power, repeatedly lifting Dragon Kid as he prepares for a suplex. Shingo hangs Kid in the ropes for a double stomp/elevated DDT combo for 2. Cima to the top rope. DOUBLE STOMP ON SAITO. LUNGBLOWER ON DRAGON KID!

He applies the strangest submission hold I’ve ever seen but Saito manages to come to Kid’s aid. Cima goes for a superbomb only for Kid to counter with a super rana. Mochizuki comes to his rescue with a flurry of kicks. Déjà vu headscissors on Yokosuka…SLINGSHOT RANA TO THE FLOOR! Mochi and Shingo trade strikes until Mochi slas on a cross armbreaker. Shingo incredibly lifts him into a sit-out powerbomb though. Fisherman Express from Saito to Cima for 2. CAPTURE DDT by Cima for 2. Saito blocks the Venus Strike with a dropkick which was awesome to watch. Yokosuka breaks Dragon Kid’s Cristo with a sick dropkick. Yokosuka Cutter blocked and Kid connects with a Stunner. Susumu catches Dragon Kid though, and plants him with an Orange Crush for 2. Saito puts Yokosuka on his shoulder in the corner like last year…BUT CIMA SAVES WITH A VENUS STRIKE! DOOMSDAY DEVICE ON DRAGON KID! VAN CIMA-NATOR ON SAITO! SCHWEIN! SAITO KICKS OUT! Mochizuki kicks Cima in the back, allowing Saito to hit a HEAD DROP FISHERMAN SUPLEX! Shingo gets triple teamed by all his opponents, and Mochizuki gets 2 by almost kicking hi in half. SNAP RANA by Dragon Kid for 2…BUT CIMA SAVES WITH THE SCHWEIN! Yokosuka in with lariats for everyone, but Saito stops him with a German suplex. I’m struggling to keep up now. Shingo decapitates Saito with a lariat, but it’s NO SOLD and Ryo hits another fisherman suplex. Cima and Yokosuka work over Mochizuki’s knee’s to stop him kicking. Schwein again on Dragon Kid…BLOCKED WITH A CRUCIFIX DRIVER! CODE RED! DRAGONRANA BUT YOKOSUKA ROLLS THROUGH! YOKOSUKA WINS! 27:17 is your time.

Rating – ****1/2 –
I had to do a lot of debating to get that rating. I’m still not sure the match warrants an extra ½ star. But I went with it because, lets face it, it’s so much fun watching Dragon Gate’s talented roster go balls to the wall with each other. So what the opening 10 minutes were a tad slow, and so what that the finishing spot was a little silly, I was entertained throughout. I liked the little flashes of psychology we saw in this (just like we did in last night’s main event incidentally). The finish was a progression from last year’s 6-man when Dragon Kid won with the Dragonrana. We also saw his Saito-climbing super-rana blocked. CIMA and Susumu going after Mochizuki’s leg because they were so sick of getting kicked was also cool. I’m a little disappointed that Yokosuka and Mochizuki (the new guys to the ROH audience) didn’t get to show off more of their stuff. At the same time I thought Ryo Saito has shown real improvement since he was last year, and is a far more polished performer – comfortably taking centre stage for long stretches of the match. I wouldn’t say this is a must-see match; it’s not as good as the 2006 match, and I think that our increased familiarity with the DG roster takes the shine and uniqueness of this match a little, but it’s still a terrific match and a worthy main event to end a good weekend for ROH.

Becky Bayless goes hunting for an interview and finds a groggy Lacey and a bloody Jimmy Jacobs randomly lying on the floor. Lacey gives Jimmy a hug as the show ends…

Tape Rating – **** –
Top notch show from Ring Of Honor. Were it not for the outstanding quality of the 5th Year Festival – Finale event then this would be the best show of the year thus far. The three main events were absolutely outstanding and a credit to the guys who contested them. Jimmy Jacobs put in a career-best performance, injuring himself in the process, to win a dramatic cage match. Aries and Strong went out in a tough situation (following that epic cage war) and had a spirited match that I’m sure is much more appreciated on DVD than it was by the live crowd. The main event then saw the Dragon Gate crew do what they do best which is wow the crowd. Throw in another couple of entertaining tag team contests and more fun besides on the undercard (and Johnny Fairplay getting knocked out) and you’ve got a hell of a show. I complained last night that, for one of ROH’s “A” shows, All Star Extravaganza 3 was pretty low on in-ring quality. This was addressed by the bucketload tonight. This show is definitely a must-have.

Top 3 Matches

3) Roderick Strong vs Austin Aries (****)

2) CIMA/Susumu Yokosuka/Shingo vs Dragon Kid/Masaaki Mochizuki/Ryo Saito (****1/2)

1) Jimmy Jacobs vs BJ Whitmer (****1/2)

Top 5 All Star Extravaganza 3/Supercard Of Honor 2 Matches

5) Roderick Strong vs Jack Evans (**** – All Star Extravaganza 3)

4) Roderick Strong vs Austin Aries (**** – Supercard Of Honor 2)

3) CIMA/Yokosuka/Shingo vs Dragon Kid/Mochizuki/Saito (****1/2 – Supercard Of Honor 2)

2) Team Dragon Gate vs Team ROH (****1/2 – All Star Extravaganza 3)

1) Jimmy Jacobs vs BJ Whitmer (****1/2 – Supercard Of Honor 2)

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