ROH 150 – United We Stand – 22nd June 2007
Wow…150 shows. ROH is getting old! Weirdly, 100 shows ago they also presented their 50th show in Dayton as well. This show marks the start of another pay-per-view weekend. Tomorrow night ROH tapes their second ppv in Chicago (although the main event was taped last show in Philadelphia), and visits one of their favourite B-show markets first. The main event is a 2/3 Falls rematch from Respect Is Earned with the Briscoes defending their Tag Title belts against Claudio Castagnoli and Matt Sydal. We’ve also got an ROH vs NOAH interpromotional tag match. Takeshi Morishima and Naomichi Marufuji represent NOAH, with Bryan Danielson and Nigel McGuinness lining up for ROH. KENTA is here this weekend too, plus another NRC/Resilience tag and a Gauntlet match. Let’s celebrate 150 Ring Of Honor shows and get to Dayton, OH with Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard.
ROH VIDEO WIRE – Rather lazily it’s the same Video Wire they were using to hype the last weekend of shows so check out my A Fight At The Roxbury (ROH148) review for details. It seems weird that they’d be slack like this considering this is a ppv weekend.
‘It’s always a big night for ROH when they come to Dayton’ – Rebecca Bayless. That’s just a flat-out lie. With a few notable exceptions, Dayton has always been a B-market. The venue is small, the crowd is loyal but only shows limited growth and they almost always run it as night 1 of a double shot. Becky Bayless wants an interview with the Briscoes but runs into Tank Toland training Bobby Dempsey, then Jimmy Jacobs smoking cigarettes with Lacey (smoking’s bad kids). Finally she does find Jay and Mark…who don’t have much to say except for telling Claudio and Sydal to Man Up. That segment featured too much Becky…and this is from someone that LOVES her on the DVD’s.
Irish Airborne vs Kevin Steen/El Generico
This is a significant match for both these teams. We saw a promo from the Crists on the last DVD where they begged ROH for another shot. They had a lot of chances throughout 2006 but struggled to break out of the lower card. They’ll be looking to do much better starting tonight. And it’s special for Steen-erico because it’s the first time they’ve been flown to the Midwest as part of the ROH roster. Previously they’ve only been on the East coast shows, so getting flown out to markets like Dayton and Chicago really indicate that they are now full-time members of the roster. And rightly so as well, recently they’ve (Steen in particular) been one of the best parts of watching ROH DVD’s.
The Crists don’t fare badly with Generico so Steen tags in and easily gets the upper hand with Jake. Dave hits a nice dropkick from the second rope on Generico but he and his brother get REALLY confused and make a real muddle of some kind of spot which sees them both thrown to the outside. SOMERSAULT PLANCHA by Kevin Steen – only because he got angry that Generico was playing to the fans in the ring rather than doing a dive himself. Generico looks for a tag but Steen refuses, telling him to ‘do more stuff’. I really love this team. Jake eventually makes a hot tag to Dave who clears house and pitches everyone out. RUNNING MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR! Back in Dave gets 2 with a springboard dropkick. Jake nails a springboard flipping neckbreaker on Steen. Hammerlock back suplex gets Dave a 2-count. IA set up for the Irish Air Raid but Steen saves his partner. SWANTON BOMB by Steen takes Dave out. PACKAGE PILEDRIVER/BRAINBUSTER COMBO ON JAKE! Steen and Generico pick up the victory at 10:21.
Rating – ** – Just fine as an opening match. The Steen-erico team is one of the best things going in Ring Of Honor right now – they’re just so entertaining. Kevin Steen walks an incredible line between making everyone crack up whilst wrestling like an absolute beast out there. He’s been tearing it up elsewhere on the indies for a long time but it’s great to finally see him bring that form into ROH. He’s a future World Champion if the promotion builds him up right. Irish Airborne looked about the same as ever. They’re mildly exciting, get a big pop in Dayton (which is why I’d continue to use them as lower card guys whenever ROH runs this market) but don’t look capable of stepping up and earning full-time roster spots at the moment. I’d say they were running out of chances.
Will somebody PLEASE tell BJ Whitmer to stop pausing for dramatic effect in EVERY SENTENCE! It’s so f*cking annoying. He was fined his entire weekend’s pay for attacking a referee at A Fight At The Roxbury during his match with Brent Albright. He says that attack was the ref’s fault for being incompetent, and is glad he gets another shot at Albright tonight – this time in a No DQ Match.
Jimmy Rave vs Pelle Primeau – Gauntlet Match
This is the second time Pelle has drawn the short straw and had to wrestle in the first match of a Gauntlet series. Last time we saw one (Black Friday Fallout in November ’06) he was massacred by Brent Albright in the opening match. It’s a tough draw for Jimmy Rave as well. He really needs a big win to reignite his career following his high-profile feud loss to Nigel McGuinness and jaw injury. Don’t forget that these two have history together. Primeau basically made his name at Jimmy Rave’s expense by beating him during a Six Man Mayhem last Autumn. Rave demolished Pelle to get his revenge at Reborn Again last month though.
Neither man rushes into action here, which is understandable considering they’ve got to save their energy and pace themselves if they are to win this. Primeau is the first to increase the pace as he needs to use his quickness to get the better of his larger opponent. He hits a Déjà vu headscissors but runs right into a spear from Jimmy. Back he comes with a springboard forearm and dropkicks, only for Rave to cut him off again with a vicious powerbomb. Primeau counters Ghanarea into a roll-up for 2, then gets another nearfall with a swinging DDT. He tricks Jimmy into tumbling out of the ring, which is set up for a BASEBALL SLIDE HEADSCISSORS INTO THE GUARDRAILS! That was awesome, and he follows it up with his whacky missile dropkick off the apron then re-enters with his springboard Thesz Press. Rave slaps on the Heel Hook out of nowhere and gets the victory at 05:46.
Rating – * – Typical gauntlet-style match to be honest. It was too short to really mean anything, and wasn’t particularly good. Primeau got beaten really easily, but got in far too much offence for this to be a convincing squash – meaning this match falls into that depressing middle ground of dull filler. That baseball slide headscissors spot was pretty cool though.
Next man out is Delirious, and he beats Rave in just 24 seconds with the Bizarro Driver. Jimmy’s ROH career looks dead in the water by this point.
Delirious vs Adam Pearce – Gauntlet Match
These two have some history as well. Delirious clashed with Pearce after he continually annoyed former ROH Commissioner Jim Cornette – a man who Pearce fervently sucked up to. Delirious finally scored a decisive victory over Pearce at Fifth Year Festival NYC when he used one of Scrap Iron’s own dirty tricks against him – by hiding brass knucks in his mask and headbutting him.
Pearce tries to hit Delirious fast and hard, much as Delirious just did to Rave, and although it doesn’t bring him a victory, it does put him on the front foot. Delirious comes back with a nice flying headscissors from the top but Adam drops him once more with a spinning torture rack. Delirious sets up for Shadows Over Hell but Shane Hagadorn distracts him by trying to hand something to Pearce. Delirious manages to evade that trap and pin Pearce with a schoolboy at 04:02.
Rating – DUD – Boring, meaningless, achieved nothing. A fine example of why Gauntlet matches are rarely any good.
Delirious vs Chris Hero – Gauntlet Match
This would be the final in this particular series – so it’s Chris Hero who drew the lucky number 5. He was superb at the last ROH weekend, being involved in the best match on both nights, and he’s really hitting his stride as part of Sweet’n’Sour Inc. These guys need to have a good match to save this from being the worst Gauntlet match…ever. Prazak and Leonard point out that this is a hot building and Delirious is up against it having wrestled two matches already. That would mean more had his total in-ring time amounted to something more than 5 minutes. Even Joel Maximo can go that long without blowing up and sticking up the place.
Hero slips off the top rope as he tries to do his usual moonsault entry. That’s pretty funny. Meanwhile Delirious is hiding under the ring. Hero goes to look for him…as Delirious emerges and hits a Suicide Flip onto Sweeney and Bobby Dempsey. Unfortunately, the success of that move distracts Delirious and Hero takes advantage with a springboard double axehandle. Nodowa Otoshi gets him a 2. He goes for a jumping forearm in the corner which Delirious counters with the Never Ending Story, only for Hero stop that with an eye gauge. Second rope bulldog by Delirious leaves both men down. It’s Delirious up first for the Panic Attack/Shadows Over Hell combo…into the Cobra Stretch. Hero makes the ropes and drops his opponent with a flipping neckbreaker. Cravat-o-clasm nailed for 2. Delirious blocks a cravat suplex and goes for the clothesline flurry which he used to devastating effect against Rave earlier. Hero shakes it off and hits the Hero’s Welcome for victory at 07:09.
Rating – ** – The positives to come out of that match were – at least it was the best match of the series, and at least the right man won. Those two things aside, this whole Gauntlet series basically sucked. It was a good way to full up 25 minutes of DVD time without achieving anything decent.
Brent Albright vs BJ Whitmer – No DQ Match
When these two meet it’s always a physical battle. They’ve clashed a lot over the past few months thanks to Albright’s role in the Whitmer/Jacobs feud, had a brutal Table match in Manhattan earlier this year, and opened A Fight At The Roxbury last ROH weekend. That night Whitmer’s frustrations boiled over and he attacked the referee and got himself DQ’d. He won’t have to worry about that happening tonight in a match where there are no rules.
Whitmer wastes no time in laying into Albright, but both men soon find themselves falling over the top ropes to the floor as BJ attempts a suplex. He misses a chair shot out there and Albright dives at him, driving both men over the railing and into the crowd. That’s a cue for a brawl right through the fans – and it’s mostly Whitmer dishing out the punishment. Back at ringside Albright drags up the protective mats and powerslams BJ into the wooden floor. He pulls out a leather strap and uses it to flog and choke his opponent, leaving him writhing in pain. Whitmer keeps him at bay with an exploder and grabs the strap to use for himself. He gets 2 with a German/dragon suplex sequence but misses a frog splash. Albright tries the Crowbar but BJ has wrestled Brent before and he really fights hard to roll out of it. Albright sets up a table in the ring and takes it to the top rope. Whitmer pushes him down into a tree of woe and hits a lame ass rip-off of Low Ki’s tree of woe Ghetto Stomp. He tries a back superplex…BOTH guys crash through the table. But Albright landed on top and he pins BJ to continue his losing streak at 13:08.
Rating – ** – The match wasn’t desperately bad, but it wasn’t overly exciting either and I thought the finish was really poor. They’d worked really hard throughout so to have such a mediocre finish really left me feeling flat. Whilst their Tables Match in New York was good, I think these two generally look miles better when they’re working off more charismatic wrestlers.
Whitmer snaps again after the match, beating up referees and students. Remember when Homicide used to attack referees and tear up ringside? Unfortunately, so do I. He was ten times more believable doing it than BJ Whitmer ever will be.
Bryan Danielson and Nigel McGuinness agree to work together in their match tonight so one of them can get a title shot at Morishima down the line. (Although by this point one of them had already earned a shot by winning a #1 Contendership Match between them that was taped for ppv in Philadelphia).
Roderick Strong/Davey Richards vs Matt Cross/Erick Stevens
The Resilience are finding it hard going at the moment. Whilst Delirious did pin Roderick Strong whilst teaming with them to earn a victory in a 6-man at A Fight At The Roxbury, by and large, any time they fight the NRC, they lose – and lose convincingly. Is tonight the night they finally turn the corner and pull out that big victory over the No Remorse Corps? Strong has new music which works a lot better than his old death metal stuff. Richards has new long tights too.
I love cocky heel Davey Richards. He uses the Code Of Honor as an opportunity to spit into Stevens’ hand from an extremely close distance. Prazak says that Austin Aries bought a ticket and is in the crowd tonight. Stevens and Richards start but quickly fall out of the ring, giving M-Dogg a chance to use his speed and agility to get the best of Strong. It’s Roderick that finds himself isolated in the ring getting worked over by The Resilience. He finally does tag out to Richards, who kicks Cross in the back of the head and enables Roddy to abuse him with the guardrails outside the ring. The NRC hit an awesome chop/kick combo that gets a 2-count. Obviously with the No Remorse team on top we see lots of shady tactics and flat-out cheating to keep Cross on the back foot. Despite all that he eventually manages to somersault into a hot tag to his big partner. The Choo Choo avalanche squashes both opponents, and he gets 2 on Roderick with the TKO. Richards tries the Handspring Enzi but Erick catches him and holds him exposed for a springboard double stomp by M-Dogg. GERMAN SUPERPLEX BY RICHARDS! HALF NELSON BACKBREAKER BY STRONG! They threw Cross around like a child then. Strong hits a military press gutbuster followed by a Richards Ligerbomb for 2. Erick picks Davey up and just suplexes him unprotected straight to the floor. HANDSPRING SOMERSAULT PRESS BY CROSS! Strong and Stevens are left to battle it out…with Stevens hitting his powerslam only to be wiped out immediately by a missile dropkick by Richards. GIBSON DRIVER! Strong picks up the victory at 12:04.
Rating – *** – I’m not going to say it was the best match ever but it was a cut above anything else on the show so far. I really like the way all these NRC/Resilience matches tend to have some kind of showdown between Strong and Stevens. Obviously they have a lot of history together going back to their Florida days and we’re obviously slow-building towards a first Strong/Stevens match in ROH. Hopefully they’ll deliver when it finally happens, since Erick is looking really good in multi-man matches like this, but his singles matches have been a fairly average. I am starting to dislike M-Dogg. It’s not a knock on his workrate, he’s clearly busting his ass out there. But everything he does looks so fake. All his spots seem to be done with minimal impact and nothing he does looks like it hurts that much. And it’s not like he has the personality and babyface charisma of someone like Jack Evans to get away with it. I didn’t care so much when he was in scrambles and six mans, but being this high on the card is really exposing him. If he really was one of the best “rising stars” ROH had to offer for Austin Aries’ new stable then it’s a shocking indictment on the weaknesses of the 2007 roster.
‘Put it down’ – Dayton as Strong picks up a microphone to talk. ‘This is like the 34th time we’ve beat you’ – Strong to Stevens and Cross. He runs down Austin Aries who conveniently has a front row seat. He laughs and says Aries is hiding behind his TNA contract as Double A is restrained by his Resilience team-mates and Cary Silkin.
INTERMISSION – Rebecca Bayless is in the Sweet’n’Sour locker room. Larry Sweeney announces that Chris Hero has signed an ROH contract. Hero thanks Tank Toland for giving him the stamina to outlast 5 other guys tonight…then leads his crew in a ‘Chris is Awesome’ chant. These guys rule.
Serena Deeb vs Lacey
It’s time for some SHIMMER action. It’s Serena’s second ROH appearance. She may well have the worst surname in professional wrestling. You’d imagine this should be nothing more than a formality for Lacey, who is part of ROH’s trio of primary female athletes, along with Sara Del Rey and the Haze.
Lacey gets a little too cocky and Deeb takes advantage by attacking her arm with some ferocity. Lacey tries to do the splits only to be kicked in the back. SKULLF*CK by Serena – that’s an old Alex Shelley spot. Lacey starts dragging her around by the hair to finally establish herself in the match. Jimmy Jacobs adds salt to the wounds by blowing cigarette smoke in Deeb’s face. The crowd are starting to get behind Serena but Lacey cuts off her momentum with kicks to the back and a Lungblower for 2. Serena goes for an Anaconda Vice but gets distracted by Lacey’s tag team partner Rain. Lacey capitalises and hits the Implant DDT. That’s a win for her at 06:10.
Rating – ** – In all fairness, this wasn’t a bad little match. Serena Deeb looked solid out there (certainly more so than Daizee Haze, and she has a permanent roster spot), and worked with enough babyface fire around Lacey’s sterling heel act that the crowd really started to get behind her. Put it this way, this match was better than Lacey/Haze from Domination, and was good enough to convince me to review another SHIMMER show after I’m done here. I’ve been a bit busy lately and just haven’t got round to any SHIMMER action for a long time.
The Minnesota Home Wrecking Crew double team Deeb until Daizee Haze arrives for a predictable save. I like that ROH is investing significant time and trying to make people interested in a women’s feud. I just wish they’d either a) not base it around Daizee Haze and/or b) give them long enough matches that they actually get a chance to show what they can do in a meaningful contest.
SIDENOTE – I’d like to pass a comment that I’m uncomfortable with the way Jimmy Jacobs is using smoking as a part of his current gimmick/storyline. I didn’t mind its use as a one-time thing (it had it’s place following the Lacey/Jimmy date series) but twice on tonight’s show it has been a prominent part of his character. As someone that has lost a parent to cancer brought about by a history of smoking, I just find it a tad uncomfortable. I know, this is wrestling, it tends to glorify lots of society’s less desirable aspects in the name of entertainment – such as abuse against women, violence etc etc. I’m not saying that I necessarily would even want Jacobs to stop doing it since I can see how it fits his character and will entertain some fans – it’s just something I’m finding a little unsettling.
Rocky Romero vs KENTA
Both these two have the whole ‘we kick real hard’ gimmick going on so this one should be a stiff encounter. Romero lost the first “official” ROH ppv match to Naomichi Marufuji and is looking to get a win back over another of NOAH’s eminent Jr. Heavyweights. This is an intriguing match as Romero is part of the NRC – along with Davey Richards, who last year was selected by KENTA to be his American protégé. Where do Davey’s loyalties lie here?
The first minute is your basic MMA rip-off match with both guys covering up and looking to land some of their trademark kicks. Kenta lands some absolutely sickening slaps/palm strikes but Romero is able to drop him to the mat as he went for a big enziguri. It’s that move that gets him an early advantage and allows him to lay in some savage kicks. Kenta manages to hang him over the top rope then come from the turnbuckles with a flying knee drop. Romero tries a sunset flip and gets slapped right in the face. Slingshot disrespect kick by Kenta nailed, then a camel clutch as he exerts his dominance over his opponent. ‘Make him humble’ – Dayton. What a weird chant. Kenta goes for a kimura similar to the one Davey Richards likes to use but Romero scurries to the ropes for respite. Romero hits a mule kick and jumps into a guillotine choke. He can’t keep Kenta in the hold for long but stays on the attack with a jumping DDT. The pace is picking up now and it’s Kenta that’s able to floor his opponent with a big boot to the chest, then a missile dropkick for 2. He tries another springboard move but Rocky is too quick and knocks him to the floor for a tope suicida. He comes back in with a flying crossbody and gets 2 with a springboard DDT. Kenta counters Romero’s fisheran suplex attempt with a fisherman buster…and both guys are down. Both men to the top rope…DIABLO ARMBAR! Kenta gets a big pop for finding the ropes to escape it. Romero goes for the Knockout Kick but Kenta ducks it. TIGER SUPLEX…NO SOLD! TIGER SUPLEX BY KENTA! He hits a superplex from there but Romero kicks his legs back and almost pins him. RUNNING KNEE STRIKE! SLAPS! BUSAIKU KNEE! That doesn’t get the win, and Romero counters the Go 2 Sleep into a roll-up. ARMBAR AGAIN! Kenta fights it and lifts him onto his shoulders. GO 2 SLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP! Kenta picks up the victory at 18:43.
Rating – **** – I’m probably going a little overboard with that rating, but that match was SO much better than anything else we’ve seen on the show thus far. I think they could probably have a better match on a bigger stage but this was still good. I loved the pacing of the match. The way it started cautious, saw stints where both guys controlled with their heavy-hitting offence, then broke down with both guys dropping bombs on each other to get the win. About halfway through this one I found myself really gripped by the action, and I thought to myself ‘this match will probably sneak into 4* territory if they can come up with a good finish’…and man did they ever. KENTA countering the armbar INTO Go 2 Sleep was really cool.
Davey Richards comes to the ring and helps both men to their feet. He gets the crowd to applaud as Romero and KENTA shake hands. This may be the most obvious set up in the history of time. As predicted, Richards kicks KENTA square in the chest and stomps a mudhole in him. Delirious, Matt Cross and Erick Stevens come out to rescue the fallen Japanese star.
Bryan Danielson/Nigel McGuinness vs Takeshi Morishima/Naomichi Marufuji
The last time we saw four athletes of this calibre in the ring together in a match like this was the main event of Respect Is Earned which blew me away and was a surprise MOTYC in my eyes. This one is billed as a special ROH vs NOAH dream match, but the reality is, it’s all about the World Title. Danielson and Nigel are both desperate to earn a shot at Morishima. One of them successfully did so (I’m not saying yet to avoid spoilers – my review of Driven is coming soon though) in Philadelphia, but as we saw when Jay Briscoe earned himself a title shot at Reborn Again, if either one of them can get the victory in this match, they’ll move to the head of the queue for a championship match. Danielson is in the ring with Mori for the first time on ROH soil. He teamed with him at Respect Is Earned, but pissed Morishima off so much that the big man ended up whacking him in the face his title belt. McGuinness has already unsuccessfully challenged Mori for the belt once, and also lost when he challenged Naomichi Marufuji in the historic first ever overseas defence of the GHC Heavyweight belt.
Danielson/Marufuji starts, with Prazak pointing out that this is a rematch from Final Battle 2005. They come out even after a high quality exchange, so now it’s the turn of McGuinness and Morishima. Nigel actually gets the better of the big man using his wrestling skills, but gets drawn into an ill-advised forearm duel. I say duel, I mean, Morishima knocked him over with one swing. American Dragon bounds into the ring again and tries to go to work on Mori’s leg. That works, but he makes the same mistake that Nigel just made and tries to trade strikes – and duly gets knocked on his ass. The ROH team have better luck with Marufuji. Their strikes do more damage and Danielson can wrestle circles round him. Maru springboard dropkicks him off the apron, and Morishima is on him like a predator, beating the crap out of him using the guardrails. Back in the ring, Mori stands on Dragon’s throat and Fuji rather amusingly climbs on top as well. Danielson and Morishima used that spot when they teamed together in Manhattan. The NOAH representatives have AmDrag at their mercy and have rendered Nigel a literal spectator on the apron. Danielson creates a window by hitting his Sayama flip out of the corner and taking Fuji down with a back suplex backbreaker. McGuinness in and he gets 2 with his first McLariat of the match. Marufuji tries to come off the top rope but jumps straight into a superkick as the time approaches 15-minutes.
Jawbreaker Lariat ducked and he makes the tag to Morishima. A cartwheel avalanche and the Bossman Slam score, but he hasn’t done enough damage to soften Nigel up for the Back Drop Driver. He uses his great big ass to cut off Bryan Danielson’s momentum, and Marufuji continues with the blindside lariat for 2. He thinks about the Shiranui but Dragon fights him off with a roaring elbow. BRIDGING GERMAN SUPLEX for 2 after Nigel had done his headstand mule kick out of the corner. Marufuji dishes out superkicks for both the ROH guys, but Nigel saves Danielson from the Shiranui. DOUBLE TOWER OF LONDON but Morishima breaks the pin. ASSISTED SHIRANUI by the NOAH duo. Tags all round and Mori sits down on McGuinness’ chest. POETRY IN MOTION from Team NOAH. BACK DROP DRIVER! But they hadn’t incapacitated Danielson and he makes an easy save before Mori can win it. The World Champ and McGuinness fight on the top…until Dragon heaves Mori out of the ring. FLYING PLANCHA TO THE FLOOR BY NIGEL! Rebound Lariat scores on the floor and it lays out Morishima. That’s busted Shima’s dodgy nose again. He misses the mega-missile dropkick and gets slapped in a Sharpshooter. Dragon locks Cattle Mutilation in on Marufuji but the ROH team can’t force victory. They try a suplex on Morishia…WHO SUPLEXES BOTH OF THEM! VAN TERMINATOR BY MARUFUJI! TOWER OF LONDON BY NIGEL! He starts throwing Lariats at Morishima but he won’t go down. JAWBREAKER LARIAT! NIGEL WINS! 24:14 is your time.
Rating – **** – That’s the first time Morishima has been pinned in ROH. Nigel just earned himself a World Title shot, which he’ll cash in during the forthcoming weekend in Japan. That was a hell of a match. It lacked the feeling of big-time epic feeling of the Respect Is Earned tag but it was 25 minutes of non-stop good work from four top notch wrestlers. Morishima getting pinned was a huge deal – so I thought maybe it could’ve been built up more. Whilst there were some really cool exchanges as they picked up the pace at the end of the match, there weren’t THAT many believable nearfalls. I think Nigel finally getting that big win over Morishima would’ve been more dramatic had either he or Dragon scored a few REAL close nearfalls on him before hand. As was, the pin, whilst conclusive, came a little out of nowhere and didn’t mean all that it could’ve done.
Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Matt Sydal/Claudio Castagnoli – ROH Tag Title 2/3 Falls Match
I’ve basically gone over the circumstances behind this title shot during my review of Domination. Claudio and Sydal were so impressive in defeat when they challenged for the Tag belts on pay-per-view that they were both rewarded 2/3 falls rematches with the Briscoes – with a partner of their choice. Claudio had his shot when he picked Chris Hero in Philadelphia. Fortunately he gets another chance as Matt has picked him. That means a Respect Is Earned rematch. The Briscoes have looked dominant in 2/3 Falls matches this year, earning 2-0 victories over Aries/Strong and Hero/Claudio.
Claudio goes for the Riccola Bomb early on Mark but it’s blocked. Double springboard crossbody scores for the younger Briscoe. Castagnoli hits that dead-lift gutwrench suplex on Jay which shows a phenomenal amount of strength. Sidewalk slam/leg drop combo scores on Sydal to give the Briscoes control of the match. They try the Briscoe biel but Castagnoli catches his partner, then drops one brother on top of the other with the Match Killer. He goes for a powerbomb only to have Jay counter it with a rana that takes them all the way to the floor. Sydal tries his running moonsault but Jay knows it’s coming and hits the military press DVD. Moonsault by Mark and the first fall is won by the Briscoes at 04:54. That’s five straight falls they’ve won in 2/3 falls matches. It’s Claudio by himself since Sydal is out of it. The Briscoes go for their double shoulder tackle but he cuts them both off with boots to the head. The Alpamare Water Slide gets 2 before it’s broken up. Minutes later and Sydal is only just getting back onto the apron, with Claudio struggling against the numbers. He does manage to hook up both Briscoes for a DOUBLE GIANT SWING! Hot tag to a fresh Sydal who gets 2 with a gorgeous capture DDT. Castagnoli hits the running European uppercut, which he’s won matches with in the past. Jay fires back with a flipping neckbreaker and now it’s time for HIM to make a hot tag. Unfortunately Mark accidentally karate chops his own brother in the forehead. Sydal sets Double C up for a 2-count with a flying double knee drop. He gets another nearfall with the Riccola suplex. RUNNING MOONSAULT by Sydal takes out Jay in the aisle as Mark struggles in a stranglehold camel clutch. Castagnoli counters the springboard Doomsday Device with a victory roll and drops Jay with a springboard European uppercut. Standing moonsault by Matt for 2. Sydal sidesteps the dropkick that Jay does in EVERY match. The familiarity counters to a lot of predictable spots have been the best part of this match. The Briscoes set up for their SSP/leg drop double finish, but Castagnoli drags Mark off the top rope as Sydal nails the standing frankensteiner on Jay. CUT-THROAT DRIVER ON CLAUDIO! The Briscoes win another match 2-0 at 16:12.
Rating – *** – Compared to the first match this one really tanked. I don’t think trying to work a 2/3 Falls format (even with the Briscoes going over 2 straight) worked in such a short time allocation. All four seemed to be trying too hard, which resulted in the match seeming really spot-heavy and rushed. Like I said during the play-by-play, the best bits were easily all the familiarity counters. It was really cool to see both teams countering spots that these guys do on every single show. I know guys have trademark moves for a reason, but I love matches like this where wrestlers look more intelligent, look like they’ve done a bit of homework on their opponents, and block a few of the spots you KNOW they’re going to do. Like whenever somebody actually counters AJ Styles’ dropkick spot. As a main event this was a bit of a let down, but in itself it wasn’t a bad match.
Why does Brent Albright introduce himself at the start of all his promos? He comments that Nigel McGuinness has proven that Takeshi Morishima can be beaten. He says he’ll be the one that finally pins Mori in a World Title match. It’s nice they’re putting some effort into building a future Mori/Albright match. As the Morishima/Briscoe and Morishima/Strong matches showed last weekend. Mori is capable of having good matches, but without some kind of build and without a reason to believe the challenger might actually win, there’s just no drama to take a match from a solid 3* to an exciting 4* and beyond.
Tape Rating – *** – I’d say that, in terms of ROH’s lesser shows, this one wasn’t too bad. Sure there was some crap (the gauntlet match was dreadful) and some boring (Albright/BJ) but the good outweighed the bad. The ROH vs NOAH tag was great, and Romero/KENTA snuck into 4* territory too. Throw in a good main event, a decent NRC/Resilience tag, the first sighting of Austin Aries in months, Morishima getting pinned for the first time in ROH and a solid (if underwhelming) main event and this one isn’t too bad.
SIDENOTE – You know what my main concern about ROH is right now? They’re really relying on the outsiders they fly in to carry the rest of the roster in terms of good match quality. Whilst there is a solid level of talent, outside of Bryan Danielson and the Briscoes (and even their best matches this year have come against outsiders from Dragon Gate and TNA), how many of ROH’s in-house roster is actually good enough to consistently push for 4* matches when they wrestle? Without flying in guys like Morishima, Marufuji, KENTA and so on, I think the lack of depth in ROH’s roster would really be showing. It really makes you long for the days of 2005 with ROH had guys like Joe, Punk Homicide, Ki, Gibson, Cabana, Aries, Shelley, Rave with Nana, Daniels, Styles, Danielson on top of dependable midcarders like Whitmer, Strong, Evans and so on. When you look at the list of talent ROH has lost over the last couple of years, it’s really no wonder they’re struggling to replace them and come up with a comparable roster without flying in some Japanese guys. People like Matt Cross wouldn’t be getting near the main roster, let alone in primary storylines back when that list of guys was around. And whilst he’s improved massively over the past 18 months, Nigel McGuinness would still be some way off the main event slot he’s being groomed for now.
Perhaps more worryingly, when you look down the roster, there’s only a very small number of guys who look like they have the potential to step up (a’la Nigel McGuinness) and at least start to fill the void and become credible main eventers. Kevin Steen and Chris Hero are super-entertaining but are very much midcarders right now. El Generico is really talented but could you ever really have a guy with that gimmick carry the company? Roderick Strong hasn’t stepped up the way he should’ve done following his great matches with Bryan Danielson a while ago. Delirious’ time has come and gone,and he gets staler by the show. Claudio Castagnoli is over but hasn’t ever really produced the goods in a singles match – he looks best as a tag wrestler. Davey Richards is constantly improving but he’s still some way off. Jimmy Jacobs cuts fantastic promo’s, but realistically he’s too small to ever be a franchise player. I like Brent Albright, but I think ROH is missing the boat by pushing him as a big brawler rather than the “Shooter” technician he portrayed in OVW…and his interviews are terrible. Erick Stevens is clearly being groomed for stardom in the future, but 2003 and Matt Stryker should’ve showed Gabe the pitfalls of shoving a guy down the fans throats and pushing him too hard too early. And that’s the problem, at the moment, ROH shows are suffering because Gabe has no choice but to push people before they’re ready. The roster is packed with solid midcard hands right now, but nobody who is anything close to the level where they’re ready to step up to the levels of a Bryan Danielson. Even Nigel McGuinness, who is closer than anyone else, is still pretty inconsistent and burdened by criticism of his lariat-intensive style.
Ring Of Honor’s roster are a talented bunch, and on their day, most of them (given the right opponent) can put on an awesome match. The problem is, there are too few Danielson’s, Daniels’, Low Ki’s, Joe’s or Gibson’s who can go in there and have a great match with ANYONE. Young guys are too high on the card at too early a stage and it means that the gulf in quality between the “B-shows” such as this one and the big events is more noticeable than ever. ROH is truly in a year of transition at the moment. Without the time to slowly build up new stars (as Gabe did with stars in the past like Homicide, CM Punk, Paul London and so on), the new class of 2007 is having to learn by doing at the upper echelons of the card. I think they’re getting better all the time though. I’ll be interested to see where they are a year from now. Will guys like Steen, Stevens, Hero, Jacobs, Strong, Castagnoli and Richards have joined the Briscoes, American Dragon and Nigel McGuinness as credible, respected and ACCEPTED main event level talent?
I really don’t know where that little musing came from.
Top 3 Matches
3) Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Matt Sydal/Claudio Castagnoli (***)
2) KENTA vs Rocky Romero (****)
1) Bryan Danielson/Nigel McGuinness vs Takeshi Morishima/Naomichi Marufuji (****)