ROH 143 – Fighting Spirit – 14th April 2007
Following a sequence of big shows is never easy. Last night’s mediocre This Means War 2 event wasn’t a patch on the quality of the Fifth Year Festival/Wrestlemania weekend shows. Tonight Ring Of Honor will be looking to prove they can still deliver a damn good show on their own, without the help of a slew of Dragon Gate stars, without celebrity guests, without trips to the UK and without Samoa Joe. They do have Takeshi Morishima though. He has his third defence of the ROH World Title tonight against challenger Nigel McGuinness. That one should be a war. Colt Cabana’s farewell tour continues with a match against Doug Williams. Kevin Steen and El Generico look to prove they’re worthy of a Tag Title shot by beating Jay Briscoe and Erick Stevens plus lots more. This show is in Edison, NJ. Your commentary team, as always, are Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard.
ROH VIDEO WIRE (07/04/07) – There’s no new content, just like the This Means War 2 DVD.
Nigel McGuinness does one of those staring into the distance promos that look so ridiculous. He talks about being at Summerslam ’92 and being inspired by Bret Hart and British Bulldog. He doesn’t know how much longer his career will last, but he wants to build a legacy to last forever. His dream is to be ROH World Champion. That was a really good interview.
Jason Blade/Eddie Edwards vs Chris Hero/Tank Toland
ROH’s resident East Coast jobbers join forces tonight. Chris Hero and Sweet’n’Sour Inc. have suffered a few setbacks and defeats recently. They’ll be looking to get themselves back on track with a victory here. It’s the first time Hero and his “personal trainer” Tank Toland have joined forces though.
No Larry Sweeney tonight. Hero is seriously over in Edison. He takes too long celebrating his abilities though, allowing Edwards to dropkick him in the chest. Blade lands on his feet as Hero goes for a monkey flip and armdrags from all over the shop to keep Hero down. He tries an armdrag on Tank but the WWE-reject is too strong. Blade adapts for some armdrags from other positions then tags out to Eddie. The Job Squad do a good job of isolating Toland and working on his arm. Hero finds a way to kick Edwards in the head, allowing Toland to hit a springboard double axehandle and tag out. Sweet’n’Sour Inc. control Edwards now, with Tank charging into a spear for 2. One-armed spinebuster nailed, bringing Blade in to break the count. Hero distracts the ref whilst Toland uses ‘resistance bands’ to choke Eddie. Nodowa Otoshi gets Hero a 2. Edwards comes back with a missile dropkick and edges towards a hot tag to Blade. CRISS-CROSS DIVES TO THE FLOOR BY BLADE AND EDWARDS! Blue Thunder Driver gets Blade a 2 on Toland. Superkick/German suplex combo nailed, leaving Hero to come in and break the pin. Blade whacks him with another superkick, but not before Hero and Toland do a number on Edwards. Sweet’n’Sour try to stop Blade going for a sunset flip…but Edwards comes off the top to double stomp their arms. BLADE PINS TOLAND! That’s a huge upset at 11:22.
Rating – ** – Not overwhelmingly exciting and I thought it stretched a little long, but the shock upset with Blade and Edwards pulling out the unlikely victory got the crowd buzzing. I think it’s actually a good booking move as well. Blade and Edwards have been used in this jobber rule for a while and need the occasional victory to keep them at least semi-credible. They didn’t look too bad as a team either.
Claudio Castagnoli has done a lot of thinking about his career thus far. After ROH picked him to be on their team against the Dragon Gate guys at All Star Extravaganza 3, and after the reaction the fans gave him, he’s focused on his Ring Of Honor career again. He says he’s focused on finding a partner after he earned a Tag Title shot by pinning Jay Briscoe last night.
Shane Hagadorn vs Pelle Primeau – Top Of The Class Trophy Match
These two are long-time rivals, both coming out of the ROH Wrestling School. I believe Hagadorn was actually in the first class, trained by CM Punk, whilst Pelle was in the second which had Austin Aries at the helm. Hagadorn has held the trophy for some time now and Pelle is desperate to dethrone him.
That dastardly Shane Hagadorn attacks Primeau during his ring entrance, knocking Pelle and several fans over in the process. He tries to ram Primeau into the ringpost but Pelle slips out. He tries a flying headscissors off the apron, and a quick change of camera angle covers the horrible mess they make of that spot. He blocks Shane’s Ogawa stomp in the corner and lets fly with countless forearms and punches. Tilta-whirl gutbuster by Hagadorn gets 2. He goes to the well once too often, and Pelle counter second time with a headscissors. Running hip attacks by Hagadorn, then a Russian legsweep. ‘This is what a loser looks like’ – Hagadorn as he chokes Pelle in the ropes. But he’s an idiot and tries the tilta-whirl gutbuster for a third time. Primeau counters with a DDT, then a springboard press for 2. Ogawa boot stomp to the back of Pelle’s head stops his momentum again. Hagadorn slaps on his finisher, which is barely more than a side headlock. Pelle gets to the ropes…so Shane goes for brass knucks in his tights. Bobby Dempsey, another guy Hagadorn has pissed off during his run with the trophy, comes out and tells the ref about the knucks. That distraction allows Primeau to nail the Stunner/roll-up combo. We have a new TOTC Trophy holder at 06:02.
Rating – ** – Aside from the one obvious screw up, that was good. Certainly the best all-student match that has made it onto a DVD thus far. I really like Shane Hagadorn. I know he has a lot of critics but, for my money, he’s easily the top graduate of the ROH Wrestling School thus far. His use of old-school moves and control over his heel gimmick is really fun to watch. That headlock finisher needs to be changed though. Congratulations to Pelle. In terms of crowd reaction these guys are the only two that could realistically hold the Trophy and have credible defences of it on main shows. None of the other graduates are anything like over enough to do that yet.
Bobby Dempsey does his best to disprove my last statement about none of the other grads being over enough to hold the trophy by getting a big pop for hitting a cannonball senton on the fallen Hagadorn.
Rocky Romero vs Claudio Castagnoli
I suppose the common theme that unites these two guys is that they are both looking to resurrect/rebuild their ROH careers. Castagnoli is coming back into ROH’s good graces. His actions with CZW and as part of the Kings of Wrestling are slowly being forgotten, and he picked up a solid victory over Jay Briscoe yesterday. Romero will now be on ROH events with much greater frequency, and is now a member of the No Remorse Corps. He still needs a few creditable singles victories to start climbing the ranks towards title shots and so on.
The highlight of the opening exchange is Claudio evading one of Romero’s trademark kicks, only for Rocky to duck out of the way of a Castagnoli uppercut seconds later. Claudio makes fun of Romero’s height which pisses him off enough to land a few kicks to the legs. Undeterred, Castagnoli mocks Rocky’s ‘Azucar’ dance as well. Giant swing on Romero, but he’s able to kick out and put Double C on the back foot with a few more kicks. He hangs Castagnoli in the ropes to deliver more kicks, followed by a 619 which predictably gets a round of boos. Castagnoli leapfrogs Romero into the turnbuckles and flattens him with the Match Killer. Showing terrific agility Rocky springboards straight to the top rope into a victory roll which sends Claudio to the floor. He tries a pescado but it’s met with a European. Awesome spot right there! Claudio leapfrogs him to the apron and Romero hits the ropes for a tope suicida. Jumping DDT from the second rope gets Rocky a 2-count. Knock-out kick blocked with the RICCOLA BOMB for 2. Alpamare Water Slide blocked and Romero tilta-whirls into a Fujiwara armbar. PRESS UPPERCUT by Claudio gets 2. He still can’t hit the Water Slide though. Romero blocks a German suplex and kicks Claudio in the head. Tilta-whirl INTO a small package and Rocky is able to hold the shoulders down for three. It’s over at 10:37.
Rating – *** – It started pretty dull but picked up. It’s been said before, but Castagnoli is a wonderful base for the high-flying wrestlers to work around. Although Romero isn’t a wrestler in that mould, he works the lucha style well and these two looked really good as they seamless went around the ring, out to the floor and in again, stringing together some really neat looking spots. Romero has looked really good since he returned.
Sara Del Rey tells Daizee Haze to watch her match tonight. She’s going to prove that her loss to Daizee at This Means War 2 was nothing but a fluke.
Kevin Steen/El Generico vs Jay Briscoe/Erick Stevens
If they’re able to pull out the win in this one then Steen and Generico will move themselves to the front of the queue for a title match. They returned to ROH in Philadelphia with one of the best matches of the Fifth Year Festival against the Briscoes. Despite losing they feel they proved themselves worthy at a shot at the belts. To make the point they attacked Mark Briscoe, who is still recovering from the concussion he suffered against Doi and Shingo at All Star Extravaganza 3. They sent him back to the hospital, so Jay is looking for revenge. Like a number of other people, he’s been impressed with what Erick Stevens has done in ROH so far, and has selected him to be a stand-in partner.
Jay really wants to get to Steen since it was him that put Mark in hospital again, but he’s forced to start with Generico. SOMERSAULT PLANCHA AT STEEN! Stevens absorbs some chops from Generico then mauls him with powerful clotheslines and a shoulder block. Generico tries to bring the lucha but gets caught and dropped into a backbreaker. Steen tags in meaning it’s two big guys slugging away at each other. Unfortunately Mr Wrestling tags Generico in again, and the size disadvantage means Erick can take control again. He hits the Choo Choo avalanche and a belly to belly suplex for 2. Briscoe comes in, and joins up with Stevens to hit some trademark Briscoe double teams. Kevin Steen drops Jay with a DDT…as the No Remorse Corps appear at ringside and attack Stevens. They drive him into a guardrail, and that’s him taken out of the match. That means its Jay wrestling by himself – just like he was when he won the tag belts in Detroit. He doesn’t look like repeating that success right now though. Generico busts out a backbreaker followed by a standing moonsault, and makes repeated tags with his Canadian partner to maximise the amount of damage they can do. They systematically decimate Briscoe, Kevin Steen going into full on asshole mode by mocking his lack of a partner. Jay manages a flipping neckbreaker but he’s starting to move more slowly. Steen winds him with a front lungblower then a senton across the ribs to drive the air from his body. Rear chinlock applied which almost chokes the remaining life from Briscoe, but he breaks free and tags Big Kev’s jaw with a superkick.
He gets an adrenaline rush and throws Steen to the outside, then gets 2 on Generico with a gourdbuster. Press slam DVD blocked before Steen lumbers into the ring to powerbomb him. Mark Briscoe runs through the crowd and hops onto the apron in his jean and T-shirt. His own mother is in the front row trying to stop him from getting involved, but it looks like Mark is going to be a substitute partner. Jay drops Steen straight onto his head with a German suplex. HOT TAG TO MARK! RED NECK KUNG FU ON GENERICO! He sets up for an urinage but Generico blocks it with an elbow to Mark’s already vulnerable head. Mark ducks ElGen’s Yakuza kick and delivers the urinage. Mr Wrestling hits an enzi kick to the head that leaves him reeling. Backbreaker/springboard knee drop by the Briscoes on Steen. Generico hits a big boot to stop Jay coming from the top rope. He tries to climb the ropes with Jay…SPRINGBOARD ACE CRUSHER BY MARK! He gets 2 but Steen goes to the concussed head to break the fall. Generico fights the Jay Driller and nails a rope run DDT. Steen nails a pumphandle cradlebreaker then a SWANTON BOMB…for 2!! Mark tags in again but the Generic Luchador blocks the Cut-Throat Driver. YAKUZA KICK! HEAD DROP HALF NELSON SUPLEX! MARK BRISCOE NO SELLS IT! HALF NELSON SUPLEX AGAIN! MARK GETS UP AGAIN! FIGHTING SPIRIT!!! Kevin Steen has had enough and throws Mark head-first into the guardrails. Mark is sent back in the ring. PACKAGE PILEDRIVER! BRAINBUSTER! Steen-erico win at 24:49.
Rating – **** – Suspend your disbelief and let yourself get caught up in the amazing drama of that one. I was all set to say that the 2-on-1 segment on Jay went on too long, but I’d say judging from the crowd reaction when Mark came through the crowd, that everything was paced just right. This is what’s so genius about ROH. Fans really do care about the safety and well-being of the wrestlers. They believed Mark was seriously injured, so were going absolutely nuts each time he was dropped on his head and getting back to his feet. It wasn’t as good as match as the 5YF-Philly match, but for story-telling and excitement this one definitely has the first encounter topped. We haven’t seen the last of this feud.
Doug Williams vs Colt Cabana
This is Colt’s last east coast ROH date. That’s pretty much all that I can find to say about this match. I guess these two should mesh pretty well since they can both work the mat for hours at a time.
Cabana has fun taking liberties with the ropebreak rule, “accidentally” driving a rope into Doug’s testicles. Williams comes back by showing how awesome he is at working a wristlock and not letting go of it no matter what Cabana does to escape. Fair play to Colt, he comes up with some nifty work of his own to break the hold. They continue to go back and forth with Cabana mixing in some comedy amongst the exceptional hold-for-hold stuff they’re doing. Williams tries a Mexican surfboard. Colt’s response is ‘No…I’ve seen Dragon do it’. They get so caught up in their wrestling they almost end up pinning each other. Cabana crawls away from a Williams roll-up but gets dropped with a gutwrench suplex instead. Doug puts the knee strike combo together but Colt moves aside to evade the Bomb Scare. Flying Asshole from Cabana then the quebrada press. He thinks about a Colt 45 but it’s blocked. Chaos Theory from Williams and we’re done at 12:26.
Rating – ** – I’ve only gone 2* because I think a lot of people would find this one pretty mundane to sit through. I really liked it though. It was two really talented guys working the mat with consummate ease. Colt Cabana showed his value to ROH, and what they’ll miss when he’s gone, by providing enough entertainment to illuminate what could otherwise have become a very stale game of canvas chess. Considering the epic story-telling of the Briscoes/Steen-erico match they had to follow, the way both men carried the crowd through a European style match was really admirable.
Cabana gives a farewell speech to the east coast that includes comparing leaving ROH for the WWE to leaving Burger King for MacDonalds. That’s pretty out there. It’s putting ROH over though, and the fans like it so who really cares. Cabana has two dates left.
INTERMISSION – Becky Bayless is looking insanely hot tonight. She interviews Chris Hero and Tank Toland on their loss tonight. Hero blames the loss on Tank’s baby-oiled body. Tank blames it on Hero’s poor grip strength. Kevin Steen gatecrashes the interview (dragging Generico along with him) to demand a Tag Title match.
The post-intermission popcorn match is Sara Del Rey squashing ROH student Ernie Osiris in a 2 minute squash. Sara has a Billy Talent song for her new entrance theme which is pretty cool. Daizee Haze watches from the ramp as Del Rey wins with the Royal Butterfly.
Matt Cross vs Shingo
This is a very similar match to the one Shingo was placed in last night. There he fell to the high-flying Jack Evans and his 630 senton. Will that experience help him fare better against the explosive Matt Cross, who is recovering from The Resilience’s humbling and comprehensive defeat to the No Remorse Corps in Long Island.
Much like last night, it very quickly becomes clear that Shingo will have to negate his opponent’s athleticism if he is to secure victory. Cross hits a flying headscissors then dropkicks through the ringropes. He tries a headscissors off the apron but gets caught this time, then Shingo swings him into the railings. M-Dogg flagpole’s from the apron into a headscissors. He tries a crossbody only for Shingo to catch him and hang him in the ropes and drop him into a DDT for 2. Cross tries to block a vertical suplex but Shingo shows incredible strength to basically dead-lift him into the air for the move. Takagi nails a gutbuster and is at last able to trap M-Dogg on the canvas where he can’t flip around so much. Cross escapes to hit a hurricanrana and counters a powerslam attempt with a swinging DDT. SUPER-FAST somersault plancha wipes out Shingo as he runs to the floor. He re-enters the ring with a springboard double stomp and a standing moonsault…then randomly tries a cross armbreaker. Shingo effortlessly lifts him up to powerbomb his way free. Snap hurricanrana gets Cross a 2. He comes from the top with a corkscrew moonsault but he almost overshoots and doesn’t get enough body contact to kill off the match. Shooting Star double stomp misses. Gallon Throw by Shingo, followed by the SHINGO LARIATO! Cross nails Austin Aries’ crucifix driver for 2. The Last Falconry wins it for Shingo at 11:17.
Rating – ** – Meh. I don’t have a whole lot of interest watching Matt Cross in singles matches. He lacks the charisma and psychological grasp to have the match with Shingo that Evans had yesterday. His only good singles match in ROH that I can remember was the match with Chris Daniels at The Bitter End. And let’s face it, Shingo is nowhere near as experienced as Daniels. This was nothing more than a procession of spots.
Roderick Strong/Davey Richards vs Jack Evans/Delirious
In Long Island the No Remorse Corps exerted their dominance over Austin Aries and his allies. But they’ve made other enemies since the inception of the stable back in February. Roderick Strong attacked Jack Evans in New York, and the next night in Philadelphia, showed NO REMORSE with Delirious when the masked man suffered a concussion in the middle of the match. Tonight those two guys team up and are itching to get some revenge on the NRC team.
I’m not sure I even hard a bell as these four guys start brawling like lunatics. Jack amazingly hurdles the top rope into a dropkick at Roderick Strong on the floor. Not content with that craziness, he hits a moonsault off the guardrail as well. Delirious climbs the ropes and wipes out what’s left of the NRC with a Suicide Flip out of the ring. The bell rings once some order has been restored. Evans shows off his impressive newfound kicking ability, but not one to be outdone, Richards kicks him all the way off the apron. Just like in Detroit, Strong slams Evans into the ringpost to do some damage to the back. The No Remorse Corps are in charge now and toss Jack around for fun. It’s actually a really good heat segment since both the NRC guys are pretty easy to hate and Evans is a lock as a sympathetic babyface. They do a cool spot where Davey stretches Evans over his back with a Gory Special, then Strong sneaks into the ring to deliver a big chop. Finally Evans finds the energy to hit a moonsault double elbow strike and gets the hot tag to Delirious. Panic Attack on both opponents in the corner then a big missile dropkick on Richards. Bizarro Driver on Strong gets 2. Richards halts his momentum with a kick to the head, allowing Strong to drop him with a Death By Roderick. ‘My kicks rule’ – Richards. He demonstrates that by joining with Strong to hit a double team Alarm Clock. Evans blocks the Gibson Driver and kicks Strong to the floor. ONG JAK KNEE ON RICHARDS! He goes on to save Delirious from the Gibson Driver, then flies out to the floor with the SASUKE SPECIAL! Davey catches him going for another handspring but Jack thinks fast to hit a reverse rana. Shadows Over Hell gets Delirious a 2-count. Cobra Stretch on Richards…but he fights out of it with a sneaky low blow. He launches Delirious into a chair shot from Strong. DR DRIVER wins it at 15:57.
Rating – *** – Good match with lots of excitement. The No Remorse Corps have had a good weekend, putting in a few good performances and getting a number of high profile victories. The reason I didn’t go higher on the rating is that I felt the transition from formula tag/heat segment to spot-tastic finale was a little clunky. For instance, the NRC worked over Jack’s back really nicely, but that was all forgotten about. It wasn’t bad by any stretch of the imagination, but I felt that the end of the match was a little OTT considering what had gone before. Like I’ve said a few times now, I think going heel has given Strong and Richards a new lease of life. They’ve been two of the most consistent performers thus far in 2007.
Daizee Haze denies Sara Del Rey’s claims that her win last night was a fluke. I DON’T CARE!!!!
Takeshi Morishima vs Nigel McGuinness – ROH World Title Match
This is Mori’s third title defence since winning the belt from Homicide on February 17th. He defeated BJ Whitmer in Dayton, and was successful against KENTA in the main event of a NOAH show in the historic Budokan Hall. And when he first arrived in the US he appeared to have a strange relationship with Nigel. In Manhattan and Dayton Nigel came out to speak on behalf of Morishima. They teamed up together to defeat Samoa Joe and Homicide in Chicago. And it was that victory there that earned Nigel his title shot tonight. He even further-proved his championship credentials last night when he teamed up with Doug Williams to defeat Chris Hero teaming with Morishima. Can he finally grab the brass ring and make the transition from ‘having great matches to winning great matches’?
Morishima sets his stall early by punding McGuinness into the corner. Nigel tries to do the same but gets levelled by a single shot from the dominant World Champion. He tries to go the floor for some respite but Morishima simply comes from the apron with a diving shoulder tackle. Nigel finally hits back with a rebound Lariat from the apron and continues the fight on the floor using a running European uppercut. TOP ROPE PLANCHA TO THE OUTSIDE! I don’t remember Nigel ever doing that before! Mori desperately goes to the eyes but still ends up clotheslining the ringpost…and McGuinness immediately seizes on that opportunity to attack his arm. Inside the ring he hits a hammerlock DDT for 2, then stretches the arm further with a kimura. Rather ridiculously he thinks he’ll try a sunset flip powerbomb to the floor, and Morishima literally crushes him by sitting on his chest. The champion nails a bizarre facecrusher from the apron then suplexes Nigel up the aisle. Cartwheel body avalanche scores and he folds McGuinness in half with his massive missile dropkick as well. Nigel tries the Jawbreaker Lariat out of nowhere but gets met by Morishima’s huge ass. RUNNING BUTT ATTACK…TWICE! He tries the cartwheel again but Nigel avoids it. Tower of London scores for 2. Again he tries the Jawbreaker Lariat, but just like last night in Long Island, Shima cuts it off with a Bossman Slam. He goes to the top rope…and Nigel drags him off with a superplex. That gets no-sold, so Nigel drops him with a McLariat, and it’s both men down. Nigel up first…TOWER OF LONDON TO THE FLOOR! It takes him way too long getting Morishima back in the ring for him to win it with that though. Morishima tries to sit on his chest but Nigel is smart and avoids it this time. REPEATED SUPERKICKS NO SOLD! LARIATO! BACK DROP DRIVER! McGuinness kicks out at 2. For the second time Morishima connects with a missile dropkick, but this time Nigel pops right back up with a McLariat. JAWBREAKER LARIAT…GETS 2! Nigel tries it a second time but Mori HAMMERS him with lariats of his own. BACK DROP DRIVER AGAIN! NIGEL NO SELLS! JAWBREAKER BLOCKED! BACK DROP DRIVER!!! Mori retains at 17:11.
Rating – **** – From some of the reports I’ve read I expected this match to be a little better to be honest, but it was still good enough to edge into 4* land. Certainly it wasn’t the most complex clash you’ll ever see. It was a straight up battle between two heavy hitters…and in the end you only need to look at the difference in stature between Nigel and Morishima to see who’s more likely to win in that type of match. McGuinness gave it a hell of a fight though. I don’t think the match ever crossed the line into feeling epic or “big-time” though.
The No Remorse Corps celebrate their weekend of victories. Rocky Romero starts calling The Resilience ‘The Brazilians’ which is hysterical. They then go to have some more fun by beating up the ring crew. Wasn’t that the Carnage Crew’s gimmick back in 2003? And where are Dunn & Marcos??
Tape Rating – *** – A definite improvement on This Means War 2. ROH showed that with only minimal fly-ins (only Takeshi Morishima and Doug Williams were added to the in-house roster), and without the TNA guys (Homicide and Aries weren’t here tonight) they can still produce a good show. Nothing was “bad”, and all the two main event level matches (Briscoes/Steen-erico and Mori/Nigel) both delivered. To be honest, I still wouldn’t say this is a “must-have” show. This whole weekend has been pretty skippable. But I can at least recommend this is a good one to get in a Buy 3 Get 1 Free or a Big 10 Sale.
Top 3 Matches
3) Roderick Strong/Davey Richards vs Jack Evans/Delirious (***)
2) Takeshi Morishima vs Nigel McGuinness (****)
1) Kevin Steen/El Generico vs Jay Briscoe/Erick Stevens (****)
Top 5 This Means War 2/Fighting Spirit weekend Matches
5) Roderick Strong/Davey Richards vs Jack Evans/Delirious (*** – Fighting Spirit)
4) No Remorse Corps vs The Resilience (**** – This Means War 2)
3) Nigel McGuinness/Doug Williams vs Takeshi Morishima/Chris Hero (**** – This Means War 2)
2) Takeshi Morishima vs Nigel McGuinness (**** – Fighting Spirit)
1) Kevin Steen/El Generico vs Jay Briscoe/Erick Stevens (**** – Fighting Spirit)