ROH 147 – Respect Is Earned – 12th May 2007
Welcome to a very special McXal Tape Review. It’s special because I’m about to review Ring Of Honor’s first ever pay-per-view event. Taped in New York City tonight to be aired across the US and Canada in July this is a historic night for the promotion. And in many ways this won’t be your run of the mill ROH show. For one thing, ROH took the bold step of not announcing ANY of the matches for the show tonight. All the fans in attendance knew was that it was ROH and it was ppv. Second thing to remember is that ROH ppv’s are only 2 hours long. Obviously that’s a slight problem since most ROH shows come in at the 3 hour mark, with most of the best ones going longer. Only selected matches from tonight’s card make it to ppv, with the rest included on a bonus DVD when the event is purchased from ROHwrestling.com. That makes formatting the shows somewhat problematic. Tonight it’s run like a normal show, with ppv matches sprinkled throughout the night. For the ppv tapings in June, September and October ROH switched tactic, by taping the ppv before intermission and having all the DVD release matches afterwards. And it’s a format that makes reviewing them tricky. The bonus matches are on a second DVD, so I can’t review this show as it was taped live. For this one I’m going to review DVD first then review the actual ppv second. That may change when I review future ppv’s. Enough of this waffle, lets get to the action. We’re in Manhattan, NY. Hosts are Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard.
ROH VIDEO WIRE – See Reborn Again (ROH 146) review for details.
Tank Toland vs Brent Albright
I’m not surprised to see that a Tank Toland match got cut from the pay-per-view. That being said, the last couple of shows he’s been a real stand-out by getting into his groove with the ‘all-natural superior athlete’ gimmick and taking Bobby Dempsey under his wing. Larry Sweeney is back in his corner tonight, with Sweet’n’Sour making his much-anticipated ppv debut on the main show. I’m not really sure what Albright has to gain from this battle of the WWE cast-offs.
I can practically hear JR calling this a slobber knocker. They botch a simple back body drop spot which is disturbing. Fortunately Larry Sweeney is at ringside to entertain us. Albright hits a nice belly to belly suplex but Toland displays an impressive amount of strength by military pressing him. He also makes me laugh by putting Albright in a bodyscissors then doing sit-ups behind him. ONE-ARM spinebuster gets 2. Albright goes for the half nelson suplex but it’s blocked. 61-Knee scores instead, but Toland hits right back with a spear. He still fights the Kobashi-plex but this time Brent manages to hang on. HALF NELSON SUPLEX! Albright wins at 06:46.
Rating – ** – It certainly won’t be winning any MOTY honours but this was much better than I thought it was going to be. Toland really isn’t a very good wrestler but he’s found a gimmick which works for him and in short little matches like this, he’s quite entertaining. I liked the end as it really put over the half nelson suplex as a devastating finisher.
The No Remorse Corps cut a promo which seems like it was meant to be on the ppv but got cut because Roderick Strong is as charismatic as a piece of wood. They beat up Pelle Primeau to demonstrate what ‘No Remorse’ is all about.
Erick Stevens vs Davey Richards
I feel quite sorry for these two not making it onto ppv. They’re two of ROH’s brightest young stars, and their involved in what was (until Aries left) one of the main feuds in the promotion at the moment. As is, Erick has been left with Matt Cross to represent The Resilience against the devastating NRC trio who have been on a real roll recently, picking up a lot of wins. It’s a streak Davey wants to continue.
Richards ignores the handshake and gets the fight started by throwing shots at his larger opponent. Stevens fights back and Davey runs away to avoid the Choo Choo. He tries to escape by going up the aisle, then tries to dive into the crowd but can’t get away. Erick dives off the apron with a flying forearm strike and is right on top of the match. Davey uses his patented kicks to fight back, booting Stevens from the apron straight into the guardrail. He’s in charge of the match, and remains there in bizarre fashion as he tries to suplex Erick to the floor, but can’t get the momentum to take him over, so Stevens basically springs off the ropes back in, landing on his face. Was that botched or not? Either way, Stevens shows him how it’s done by picking him up and suplexing him clean over the top. Richards gets dropped on his face with a vicious German suplex, then squashed with the Choo Choo Avalanche. TKO gets Stevens a 2-count. Davey cracks him with the handspring enzi but Erick stands tall and drops him again with a pumphandle powerbomb. Saito suplex by Richards…NO SOLD! Richards hits another one and gets 2. Kimura locked in…but Erick finds a rope. He can’t get Stevens off his feet for the DR Driver and Erick lifts him to the top rope. He hits a tornado DDT from there and floats into the Kimura again. Stevens taps at 10:03.
Rating – ** – That one was disappointing. These are definitely two of the brighter prospects for ROH’s future, but that match wasn’t overwhelmingly exciting – and it’s the second time Stevens has looked somewhat flat in a singles match. At Good Times Great Memories he had Chris Daniels who carried him to a good match despite his shortcomings, and Davey Richards isn’t anything close to Daniels’ level. This felt like two guys throwing out spots with no real flow to it. They could’ve had a real dynamic going with Stevens’ strength against Davey’s athleticism and heelish tactics…but they just didn’t get started with anything like that.
JIMMY LOVES LACEY (PART 2 – Can’t Buy Me Love) – We saw Part 1 of this last night at Reborn Again, and you can also see it for free at ROHvideos.com. Today Jimmy takes Lacey shopping in (an extremely windy) Chicago. This second date goes a lot better, as Jimmy splashes the cash and buys her a fur coat. ‘That’s the beauty of credit cards right there’ – Jimmy. This date ends with Jimmy getting a hug…which is a step in the right direction. This would be much funnier if either one was a particularly good actor.
Sara Del Rey vs Daizee Haze
These two have wrestled before, and as I’ve said before, unless they get a decent time allocation like they do in SHIMMER, it normally sucks since Daizee isn’t very good. Sara has ditched Billy Talent and is using ‘Ride of the Valkyries’ to come out instead which makes me sad. Last time they met Daizee came out victorious, which really upset the Death Rey.
In a change of pace for these two, they decide to open with a fast-paced near-miss exchange which is actually really good. Del Rey puts a stop to it by catching Haze as she went for a crossbody and dropping her with a fallaway slam. She cranks away at Daizee’s arm and shoulder, obviously softening her up for the Royal Butterfly. She goes after the back as well, locking in a WALKING Lion Tamer (i.e. she drags Daizee around the ring whilst doing it). The Haze kicks away at Sara whilst trapped in a tree of woe, and manages to spin her round into a tornado Stunner. SECOND ROPE HEART PUNCH! She gets 2 with a flying clothesline fro the second rope. Out of nowhere Del Rey catches her for the Royal Butterfly. That doesn’t work, so she turns it into a Gory Special. Haze tries the flash roll-up that got her a victory at This Means War 2…but this time Del Rey is able to pin her at 05:50.
Rating – ** – Although it was too short to mean anything, I thought that was miles better than their last match in Long Island. Maybe that was because Del Rey spent most of the match on offence (and she’s good), and in fairness to her, Daizee botched nothing for once.
JIMMY LOVES LACEY (PART 3 – Fallen Apart) – Day 3 of their adventures in Chicago and they’re at some kind of fountain…which makes loads of noise, and along with the wind, makes it impossible to hear what’s going on. The day seemed to be going well until Jimmy makes an idiotic comment about wanting to take care of Lacey so she doesn’t have to be a working women and she can stay at home. Unfortunately Lacey hates the idea of ‘staying home’ and she demands to be taken back to the hotel. The highlight of this one is them driving along with ‘The Ballad Of Lacey’ in the background.
Pelle Primeau/Mitch Franklin vs Irish Airborne vs Kevin Steen/El Generico vs Jimmy Rave/Adam Pearce – Scramble Match
This is the main event of the ‘bonus match’ section. Pelle and Mich teamed together in a fun Ultimate Endurance match in St Paul but lost the first fall. It’s the first time we’ve seen Irish Airborne in action since Morishima destroyed them at the start of Fifth Year Festival Dayton. Jimmy Rave and Adam Pearce are similar in that they’re both over as midcard heels but have no creative direction or purpose whatsoever. They actually teamed up back at Unscripted 2 to take on Bryan Danielson and CM Punk. Steen and Generico are made for Scramble Matches with their numerous head-droppy highspots
Rave starts out with Pelle, and we know they’ve got history with each other. Primeau actually gets the better of him with a Déjà vu headscissors. MISSILE DROPKICK OFF THE APRON! Pearce gets fed up with the fans calling him ‘Repo Man’, so he goes to his tights and pulls out a RepoMan mask which gets a huge pop. He throws Franklin straight across the ring. It’s Airborne/Steen-erico now, with Generico and Dave tumbling to the floor. Steen back drops Jake outside and hits a somersault plancha onto everyone. Primeau drops Jimmy with a springboard press as the pace quickens. The Crists team up on Steen, but Generico saves with a backbreaker on Jake. Illinois Jam by Pearce gets 2. STEREO ASAI MOONSAULTS by Irish Airborne. SNAP RANA gets Franklin a 2 on Generico. HEAD DROP GUTWRENCH POWERBOMB by Generico puts young Mitch back into his place. Primeau tries to come off the top but Mr Wrestling catches him for an Air Raid Crash. Pumphandle cradlebreaker on Jake Crist but Rave jumps in before he can pin. Generico boots Rave as he was going for the Pedigree. PACKAGE PILEDRIVER! Kevin Steen pins Dave Crist at 07:32.
Rating – *** – I’ve been generous and given 3* for this because I thought everyone worked hard and they packed a lot of entertaining stuff in such a short amount of time. The highlights for me were Pearce playing up to the ‘Repo Man’ chants, and the brief exchange between Franklin and Generico which saw two really sweet spots (the snap rana and the gutwrench powerbomb). The right team won too so I had no complaints. This is the only match that’s worth watching on the bonus DVD.
JIMMY LOVES LACEY (PART 4 – Behind Closed Doors) – It’s the final day of their adventures in Chicago. Jimmy starts the night by giving her a ring to show he loves her. That’s already better than yesterday. Over the course of this mini-series I’ve noticed that the camera man either IS Colt Cabana or sounds a hell of a lot LIKE Colt Cabana. Lacey has a gift too…that being dressing up in INSANELY hot lingerie and sending the cameras away. He leaves as they make out on the bed…is Lacey still in her socks? The camera man comes back later to see clothes everywhere and it’s clear they’ve had sex. The series ends with Lacey finally giving him the ‘I love you too Jimmy’ treatment. If you notice, the scene ends with Jimmy not looking happy, but looking confused and disturbed. Remember that, it’ll be relevant later when a certain Project 161 comes to fruition.
BONUS DVD THOUGHTS – Obviously it’s nice to have these matches on DVD as an ROH completist, but there’s really no reason to watch them. If you bought the ppv in July 2007 and you’re wondering whether the bonus matches are anything special…well, they’re not. The Scramble was fun but that’s about it. Obviously the bulk of the Jimmy/Lacey series is on here, but that was available for free on the internet. Let’s get going on what we’re actually here for…the ppv.
The show opens with BJ Whitmer in the middle of the ring and the crowd going absolutely mental. Something isn’t right there! He issues an open challenge, and it’s met by the ROH World Champion Takeshi Morishima.
Takeshi Morishima vs BJ Whitmer – ROH World Title Match
Kicking the first ever ppv off with a title match is definitely a bold move. Congratulations to BJ Whitmer for being the first guy on ppv. He might not be the most popular or entertaining wrestler in the history of the promotion, but he’s certainly one of the hardest working and he deserves the recognition for his dedication. Perhaps Morishima is accepting his open challenge to get some revenge after BJ was pinned by the Briscoes last night, costing them the Tag Titles.
Whitmer tries to throw a few forearms but runs straight into a big sidewalk slam. The crowd heat is totally unreal. BJ blocks the Back Drop Driver and somehow delivers the exploder suplex for 2. He goes to the top rope for a frog splash, but that only gets 2 as well. Wrist Clutch Exploder blocked and Mori stands up to a succession of clotheslines from the challenger. He decks him with a monster lariat of his own. BACK DROP DRIVER! It’s over at 02:51. Morishima retains.
Rating – ** – It was only a squash but the crowd was red hot and it was certainly an explosive way to kick off the ppv. To long-time ROH fans, BJ getting comprehensively beaten like his doesn’t mean a whole lot, but to newer fans, this was a great way to establish Morishima’s dominance and it made him look like a million bucks.
Morishima doesn’t have a whole lot of time to celebrate because Nigel McGuinness stomps to the ring. He wants the next shot at the World Title…but he’s interrupted by Bryan Danielson, who gets a HUGE pop since it’s his first weekend back from injury. He says he deserves a title shot because he held the belt for over 15 months. He then attacks Nigel…and Mori decides to help him out. In the end Danielson walks out leaving an enraged McGuinness left in the ring. That was a clever way to introduce the ppv world to some of ROH’s top guys.
Brent Albright gets a video package since he’s ‘coming soon to ppv’. Basically it’s just an introduction to him and his gimmick.
Rocky Romero vs Naomichi Marufuji
This is the first scheduled ppv match and should be a good one. Both guys have extensive experience wrestling in Japan (well…its obvious Marufuji does, since he’s Japanese and all) and have similar styles so they should mesh well. Hopefully this will be a great introduction to what ROH’s in-ring style is all about.
Obviously they start with some nifty mat-work. It’s impressive and looks good for the new ppv fans but doesn’t accomplish all that much. Romero tries to land some kicks, but it leads to a really good evasion sequence where both athletes dodge high-impact kick attempts. Rocky traps Marufuji in a cross armbreaker and Maru really has to struggle to find a break. He follows it up with some well-placed kicks to the arm and shoulder to do more damage to that body part. Marufuji springboard dropkicks Romero off the apron which buys him some precious time to shake out his injured arm. He sends Rocky knee-first into the ringpost and that opens up an injury for him to exploit. Dragon screw IN the ropes scores. Romero tries to go to the top for his jumping DDT, only to be stopped with a dropkick to the leg, then a SECOND ROPE dragon screw. Figure 4 leglock applied and it has Romero squirming in pain. Out of nowhere Rocky tilta-whirls into a DDT and both men are down. Marufuji tries a half crab but Romero blocks it with an enziguri. Tiger suplex blocked but Rocky hits a springboard DDT for 2. Maru flips to avoid the Tiger suplex again and hits a facebuster on the knees. Powerbomb gets 2, but Romero acts quickly to catch him as he climbs to the top rope. DIABLO ARMBAR! Marufuji fights it and finds the bottom rope. Romero kicks the arm again, then delivers a KNOCK-OUT KICK to the side of the head which floors Fuji. The NOAH man comes back with a powerbomb into the turnbuckles, then hangs him there in a tree of woe. VAN TERMINATOR NAILED! Romero kicks out at 2 though. TIGER SUPLEX! MARU NO SELLS! KNOCK-OUT KICK FOR 2! Marufuji gets back up. SUPERKICK…SHIRANUI! Marufuji wins at 16:03.
Rating – *** – That was a great way to introduce the world to what Ring Of Honor wrestling is all about. A really competitive, athletic back and forth wrestling match. I’m not going to lie and say it was terrific because it wasn’t. The selling of body parts was extremely poor by both men, but at the end of the day, this was entertaining fare and did its job perfectly. Marufuji has looked good this weekend.
Larry Sweeney makes his presence felt on pay-per-view and introduces himself as wrestling’s top agent. He also announces a new signing for Sweet’n’Sour Inc – Sara Del Rey. Tank Toland steals the promo by arranging a ‘squat challenge’ between himself and Sara…with Bobby Dempsey passing out in the background.
Cut back to the ring where Morishima and Danielson are brawling with Morishima again. KENTA runs from the back to make the save for Nigel…and we have ourselves a tag team main event.
Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Claudio Castagnoli/Matt Sydal – ROH Tag Title Match
Claudio won this title match by beating Jay Briscoe in a singles match at This Means War 2. He’s selected Matt Sydal, himself a former tag champion, to help him recapture the belts he once held with Chris Hero as part of the Kings Of Wrestling. The Briscoes are being positioned as the centrepiece of ROH, to such a degree that ROH has actually forked out the money so they can use ‘Gimme Back My Bullets’ on ppv. Claudio and Matt don’t even get an entrance, which doesn’t exactly set them up as credible challengers, but whatever. This one has the potential to be great.
Claudio (who is wearing hideous tights tonight) and Mark get the match going and they run through a really watchable back and forth exchange with everything looking very crisp and snug. Sydal and Jay don’t look quite as cohesive but they wrestle at a much faster pace and draw significant applause from the crowd. Bulldog/flatliner combo lays out Sydal as the Briscoes demonstrate their prowess when it comes to tandem moves. That’s the cue for the champions to cut the ring in half and keep Sydal away from his partner. Mark hits a split-legged corkscrew senton whilst Jay holds Matt over his knee and that’s just one example of their offence as they enjoy total dominance. Out of nowhere Sydal manages to flip Mark over the turnbuckles to the floor, then drops Jay with the standing frankensteiner. He makes the hot tag to Castagnoli, but the Swiss athlete soon falls victim to a slingshot double stomp by Mark. HUGE BIEL on Sydal, and the Briscoes keep going by doing the exact same thing to Claudio. SPRINGBOARD EUROPEAN UPPERCUT gets Castagnoli a 2-count and gets his team their first real advantage of the match. Giant swing on Jay, who makes that move look really awesome with his selling. The challengers go for a double superplex but Jay fights them off and hits a flipping neckbreaker on Sydal. Mark gets the tag and he brings a bucketload of REDNECK KARATE! SOMERSAULT PLANCHA TO THE FLOOR BY JAY! Sydal goes for another standing frankensteiner but Mark blocks it and hits a double springboard sunset flip for 2. Leg drop/sidewalk slam combo by the Briscoes. Claudio comes back and drops Jay on top of Mark with the Match Killer. Alpamare Water Slide gets 2. He hits a stepping headscissors to Mark who was perched on the top rope but it’s not enough to get a victory. Sydal comes back with the Slice then his standing moonsault. Jay gets the tag and gets crazy height on a crossbody block as he enters. Castagnoli sends him out of the ring with a springboard uppercut. SYDAL JUMPS OFF CLAUDIO’S SHOULDERS TO THE FLOOR! RICCOLA BOMB…MARK SAVES AT 2! SYDAL PRESS! MARK SAVES AGAIN! PRESS SLAM DVD on Sydal, as Mark flies over the top rope diving at Castagnoli on the floor. SYDAL COUNTERS THE JAY DRILLER WITH A SNAP HURRICANRANA FOR 2! SPRINGBOARD DOOMSDAY DEVICE! The Briscoes retain at 20:06.
Rating – **** – They’ve probably stolen the show with that effort, and the crazy part is, that match wasn’t even an exceptionally good match for the Briscoes. They are able to deliver excellent, high-spot centred, exciting tag team matches every time you watch them. That’s just what they do. And hey, Sydal is great at that too, whilst Claudio is a brilliant base for high-flying wrestlers to work around. That being said, I thought Claudio and Sydal were the weakness in this match. They’re a makeshift team and they never really felt like credible challengers. This is ROH’s first ppv, and whilst this was a hell of a match, you’d think they would’ve given the Briscoes an established team to challenge them. It was also noticeable that they were teaming for the first time, with a few moments of hesitation or visible spot-calling. These are minor points though, and this was a great showcase for ROH’s prestigious Tag Titles, and their very talented holders – Jay and Mark Briscoe.
Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard are in the crowd and they put over the amazing crowd in New York tonight. They’re interrupted by Kevin Steen (and El Generico). He wants a Tag Title shot…and this degenerates into the third non-sanctioned, pull-apart brawl of the night. This one takes the entire crew of students and staff to break up. The Briscoes vacate the ring…leaving Steen-erico to batter the students/crew. I notice Azrieal (formerly in ROH as Angeldust as part of Special K) takes the main beating, i.e. Steen’s Package Piledriver and Generico’s Brainbuster. Generico then somersaults up the aisle in an amazing spot. This would’ve had a lot more impact had they not already done two different brawl segments with the main event guys. The fight spills back to the locker room where Steen lays Mark out with a chair shot…which won’t do his recently recovered head any favours.
Roderick Strong vs Delirious
I don’t think this is an FIP Title match. It’s certainly not announced as one. It was, however, during an FIP Championship match between these two that this feud started. Delirious was knocked out early on as he tumbled from the top rope. Unfortunately for him, Strong showed him NO REMORSE! He relentlessly attacked him, even giving him the Gibson Driver onto a guardrail section, and leaving him injured. He didn’t miss too much ring-time, but has spent the time since constantly interfering in the business of the No Remorse Corps, attacking Roderick on several occasions. He now wants some more payback by defeating him on pay-per-view.
Roderick Strong runs to the floor straight away but Delirious gives chase and takes it to him on the outside. Back in the ring he goes for the Stronghold early, but Delirious blocks it with a roll-up. He hits a beautiful flying headscissors from the top, but Roderick comes back for his first significant contribution to the match – leapfrogging Delirious face-first into the top rope. But that doesn’t last long and Delirious continues to pound away on Strong. The leader of the NRC nails a nice sidewalk slam backbreaker…but he tries to springboard off the second rope (which is way out of character) and Delirious cuts him off with a headbutt to the chest. He dropkicks Strong into the corner for the Panic Attack and climbs the ropes for Shadows Over Hell. Roddy tries to sweep the legs just like he did at Fifth Year Festival Philly…but this time Delirious jumps over him and hits the Bizarro Driver. Cobra Stretch blocked but Delirious scores with a hanging neckbreaker from the top rope. This has been almost 10-minutes of total dominance by the lizard-man. Torture wrack backbreaker by Strong, then he drops his opponent over the turnbuckles for the super fallaway slam. Shadows Over Hell lands successfully and gets 2. Cobra Stretch locked in but Strong quickly rolls it over much as Delirious did with the Stronghold earlier. POWERBOMB BACKBREAKER by Roddy leaves both men slow to get up from the canvas. Strong tries a back suplex on the apron but Delirious rolls back into the ring and climbs the ropes for the SUICIDE FLIP! He hits the Panic Attack with Strong positioned against the railings to do yet more damage. To the apron again, and this time Strong is able to land the back suplex backbreaker on the apron. He rolls Delirious back into the ring but he kicks out at 2. Death By Roderick gets 2 as well. Stronghold applied (unlike Prazak I count all Strong’s Boston crab variants as a ‘Stronghold’). Delirious gets to the ropes and comes back with Chemical Imbalance II. Cobra Stretch again…COBRA CLUTCH SUPLEX! But Delirious’ back is injured and he takes too long to cover and only gets 2. Half nelson backbreaker by Strong, followed by the Sick Kick and the Gibson Driver. He pins Delirious at 17:05 to score the victory.
Rating – *** – That was another good, long match to show what ROH is all about. I think some of the pacing was a little off, such as Delirious’ initial beat down on Strong which lasted FAR too long. Whilst this is a grudge match, and Delirious WAS the guy with the grudge, he’s also a guy that does his best work as an underdog, and the crowd heat sort of waned away as they watched a guy they’re used to cheering from behind dominate against Strong – a guy they’re used to hating as he controls matches with his chops and backbreakers. The second half of the match was very decent though.
Davey Richards and Rocky Romero hit the ring and put the boots to Delirious as Strong pulls out a guardrail segment and props it up between the crowd barrier and the ring apron. GIBSON DRIVER ON THE BARRIER! The Resilience’s Erick Stevens runs out and fights off all three members of the NRC but it’s too late for Delirious.
Adam Pearce shows off his phenomenal promo ability. He talks about the significance of ROH being on ppv now. He’s found BJ Whitmer, who he claims is a broken man after losing the very first Ring Of Honor pay-per-view match. Pearce says he’s able to help people like Whitmer look within themselves and unleash their full potential now the stakes in ROH are higher than ever.
KENTA/Nigel McGuinness vs Takeshi Morishima/Bryan Danielson
There’s a lot of history tying these four together for the first ever ROH ppv main event. Nigel and Morishima have a rivalry going, dating back to Mori’s arrival in the company in February. McGuinness has a lot of respect for him, but wants the World Title, and took him close during their hard-fought match at Fighting Spirit. KENTA gave Bryan Danielson perhaps his toughest challenge during his epic title reign, and has also unsuccessfully challenged Morishima for the World Title in Japan. And everyone knows the history between Danielson and McGuinness. Nigel battled Dragon in a series of classics in 2006 – including dropping a match at Unified in England which saw Danielson unify the ROH World and Pure championships. This is the latest chapter in their lengthy rivalry too.
It’s Dragon/Kenta from the bell which is fine by me. Their match at Glory By Honor 5 was my 2006 MOTY. Both men are understandably cautious. Danielson wins the first exchange using his wresting skill, Kenta takes the second with a big kick to the chest. Nigel in and he and Danielson have an AWESOME struggle on the mat. Morishima distracts McGuinness, allowing AmDrag to dive off the top rope with an uppercut. Kenta demonstrates his incredible kicking power by kicking Mori off his feet…but Danielson drops him with a dragon screw and we have ourselves a four-way face off. In a rather amusing spot, Mori stands on Nigel’s chest then gets Danielson to climb on his back to add more weight to it. Nigel is isolated from his partner, and Prazak takes the opportunity to run through the history of the World Title – where he puts over Samoa Joe like mad. The Morishima/Danielson team are still kicking the crap out of McGuinness, keeping him right in their corner as they stretch and strike lumps out of him. Nigel finally lays out Mori with a McLariat and gets the vital hot tag to a fresh Kenta who comes in throwing kicks at all in sight. Danielson does a Sayama flip and scoops Kenta into a backbreaker to cut off his momentum. Morishima then flattens him with the cartwheel body avalanche/mega-missile dropkick combo. Back Drop Driver blocked, but Mori’s Bossman Slam isn’t. Kenta gets big applause for lifting Shima into a powerslam then makes the tag. McGuinness appears rejuvenated but can’t hit either the Tower Of London or a shortarm McLariat. Mori goes to the top…MEGA MISSILE DROPKICK NO SOLD! McLariat by McGuinness gets 2.
Morishima goes for another cartwheel avalanche but gets met with ANOTHER lariat. Danielson and Kenta are fighting on the floor…and Morishima squishes Nigel like a bug, sitting on him as he tries a sunset flip powerbomb. BACK DROP DRIVER…but Kenta saves at 2. He then holds Mori in place on the top rope for Nigel’s Tower Of London. Tags all round and it’s Dragon and Kenta going at it like warriors once again. Kenta hangs him in the ropes and nails a flying knee drop for 2. Dragon suplex by the former World Champion gets 2. CROSSFACE CHICKENWING – that’s how he won the World Title from James Gibson. Kenta breaks it by pinning Dragon and forcing him to release so he can kick out. Nigel powerbombs Dragon out of the corner but Morishima catches Kenta for an effortless suplex. SUPER MCLARIAT from Nigel to Danielson. Morishima takes the Brit to the outside…but Nigel cuts him off with a Rebound Lariat on the floor. MCGUINNESS WITH A PLANCHA INTO THE FRONT ROW! That looked great but it appeared to injure Nigel’s arm. He gets back into the ring and goes at it with Danielson…who goes right after the injured arm. He goes for a diving headbutt but ends up soaring into Kenta’s boots. BUSAIKU KNEE STRIKE for 2. GO 2 SLEEEEEEEEP! MORISHIMA SAVES! He flattens Kenta with an urinage suplex…as Nigel gets his arm bandaged on the floor. Kenta is getting destroyed as he’s stuck without a partner. McGuinness returns…JAWBREAKER LARIAT ON MORISHIMA! KENTA GETS 2 WITH THE RUNNING SUPER FALCON ARROW! He and Danielson trade weary looking strikes. Danielson nails his massive back superplex then goes for CATTLE MUTILATION! MMA ELBOWS! KENTA COUNTERS! GO 2 SLEEP BLOCKED! TIGER SUPLEX GETS 2! CATTLE MUTILATION AGAIN! MORISHIMA STOPS NIGEL SAVING BY ATTACKING THE ARM! KENTA TAPS! DRAGON WINS! 25:01 is your time.
Rating – ****1/2 – I’m sorry, but that was a frickin’ awesome match. I’m not sure it will appeal to the mass, ppv-buying audience but I thought that was just an amazing, puro-style epic main event. These four men all carried themselves like stars and brought the house down. Almost every review of this event I’ve seen has the Briscoes vs Castagnoli/Sydal match as better than this one, and I just can’t see why. Everyone just looked so good out there. Danielson is apparently so good that even ring-rust doesn’t affect him. He was a total general out there. Morishima looked like a machine, hammering everyone who got into his path – which meant that any time he was taken down, be it by a KENTA kick or a Nigel lariat, it meant so much more. Nigel and KENTA did a hell of a job as the “babyface” team (I use that term loosely since all four guys got cheered). KENTA is just made for hot tags with his aggressive, fast-paced, kick-based offence. McGuinness is probably the worst of the four workers but he busted his ass, and that arm injury segment at the end added amazing drama to the finish.
Bryan Danielson celebrates winning the match with the World Title…and that pissed Morishima off enough to give him the Back Drop Driver. The injured Nigel McGuinness tries to show Mori some respect by handing him the belt back…and he gets clobbered too. Show over.
Tape Rating – **** – There were some positives and some negatives coming out of ROH’s first ppv, but from a purely in-ring point of view, it was a great show. In under 2 hours they managed FOUR good, long matches (plus the Mori/Whitmer squash), established characters, angles etc and generally tried to sell the ROH product to a wider audience. The main event was just amazing, and the Tag Title match in the middle of the show was great too. I do think the show could’ve been formatted better. The second brawl between the four main event guys was totally needless, and looked really badly edited. They should’ve just had KENTA run in to save Nigel the first time round, thus saving valuable ppv time, and adding more impact to the Briscoes/Steen-erico brawl that came later. I also think it was a mistake not announcing a card before hand. When ECW hit ppv it felt like the culmination, and the promotion had arrived where it BELONGED by going nationwide on ppv. Whether that was actually the case or not is a matter for debate, but the nature of the show, culminating in Funk’s win made it look that way. By having no card, a tag team main event (as good as it was, it still wasn’t a “money” singles match) and the Briscoes (who are being placed as two of ROH’s poster boys) defending in a predictable (albeit very good) match against a thrown together team it didn’t feel like ROH was letting it “all hang out” on their ppv debut. Overall the show had a “play it safe, here’s what we are, we hope you like us” vibe as opposed to a “we’ve arrived, we’re where we belong, RESPECT us’ feel. I think they had some problems chopping their usual 3 hour format down to 2 as well. Still, major respect to ROH for taking a massive gamble and this was a respectable start with two of the best matches seen on ppv thus far in 2007. It’s fantastic value considering the price of these ppv’s is $10-15. Compare that to TNA’s $30 and WWE’s obscene $40-50. I’d also like to congratulate the promotion for minimising the amount of production differences between the ppv show and the regular events. Obviously a few changes had to be made – for instance, with entrance music. Rocky Romero had fake music, whilst guys like Strong, Delirious, Castagnoli, Sydal and Whitmer had their entrances clipped altogether (although NOAH is letting ROH use their themes which meant KENTA, Morishima and Marufuji were all fine). However, aside from an extra hard camera and the commentators having to over-explain a few things to first-time viewers, I thought the changes were minimal and they did a good job of transferring the ROH DVD feel onto ppv – whilst minimising the upheaval and disturbance to long-term ROH fans like myself.
Top 3 Matches
3) Naomichi Marufuji vs Rocky Romero (***)
2) Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Claudio Castagnoli/Matt Sydal (****)
1) Takeshi Morishima/Bryan Danielson vs KENTA/Nigel McGuinness (****1/2)
Top 5 Reborn Again/Respect Is Earned weekend Matches
5) Naomichi Marufuji vs Rocky Romero (*** – Respect Is Earned)
4) Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Takeshi Morishima/BJ Whitmer (*** – Reborn Again)
3) No Remorse Corps vs Bryan Danielson/Matt Cross/Erick Stevens (*** – Reborn Again)
2) Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Claudio Castagnoli/Matt Sydal (**** – Respect Is Earned)
1) Takeshi Morishima/Bryan Danielson vs KENTA/Nigel McGuinness (****1/2 – Respect Is Earned)