154 ROH Race To The Top Tournament Night 1 7/27/2007

ROH 154 – Race To The Top Tournament Night 1 – 27th July 2007

One of the biggest problems ROH faces at the moment is that it has a slew of talented midcarders but very few established main event players. Outside of Bryan Danielson, Nigel McGuinness, Austin Aries (now he’s back) and the Briscoes, ROH just doesn’t have enough guys who can carry main events and top line matches on a regular basis. The solution – set up a tournament for a whole host of those talented midcarders, and in theory leave the winner in a prime position to move up the card towards the main event. It’s a fine theory but as the Field Of Honor proved in 2003, when it goes wrong it can make the winner look like nothing more than ‘King of the Midcard’ and rather than boost that person’s career, actually kills it. How often do you see Matt Stryker (2003 Field Of Honor winner) around in ROH these days? This weekend will see 16 men go into battle in 8 first round matches on Night 1, with the quarters, semis and final on Night 2. It’s also a convenient way to disguise the fact that there’s no Japanese talent flown in, meaning no Takeshi Morishima and no World Title matches. Let’s head over to Deer Park, NY and join Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard.

ROH VIDEO WIRE (25/07/07) – Nothing new to see here, just lots of highlights from the Japan shows.

Kevin Steen opens the show (rather amusingly keeping Generico in the background) and expresses his delight that the RTTT Tournament isn’t an actual running race. Apparently the safe money is on him.

SIDENOTE – This is a new venue in the Long Island area. The Sports Plus Arena at Lake Grove (a building Mick Foley helped ROH to run in) has closed down. This replacement venue in Deer Park is easily the smallest ROH has run in a long time.

Pelle Primeau vs BJ Whitmer – RTTT Tournament First Round

The fact that BJ Whitmer is still stuck in these midcarder tournaments years after he went to the finals of the Field Of Honor back in 2003 is a real indication of the stagnation he’s suffered in his career. He’s in the midst of a massive losing streak, and will be looking to resurrect his career by winning this tournament. Pelle Primeau is surely the rank outsider for this thing. He’s the smallest participant, and the least experienced as well. But he’s proven he has an ability to cause upsets before (just ask Jimmy Rave) and will be hoping to do so again tonight.

Primeau trips Whitmer out of the ring…and BJ promptly gets into a tiff with Rhett Titus (who’s doing security duty tonight). Pelle takes advantage with that crazy missile dropkick off the apron. Whitmer’s size tells though, as he suplexes Primeau onto the ropes then knees him in the head for 2. He continues to boss things…but again starts yelling at Titus, allowing Pelle to knock him off the top rope. One small package later and Primeau has caused a big upset. He wins at 03:38.

Rating – * –
Too short to mean anything, but the nature of the loss was decent enough story-telling to warrant a star. BJ’s unnecessary arguing with the guy at ringside basically meant he was the architect of his own downfall. A loss to Pelle Primeau is essentially the crowning glory of his sensational losing streak that stretches back to March.

Pelle tries to crowd surf…but Whitmer drags him back and beats the sh*t out of him. The crowd surfing basically highlighted how small the building tonight is. If it’s any bigger than the Murphy Rec I’d be shocked.

Claudio Castagnoli plans to live up to all his potential and win the tournament. Then he’s coming for Sweet’n’Sour Inc.

Jigsaw vs Davey Richards – RTTT Tournament Night 1

I’ve seen a pretty decent clash between these two a couple of years ago at IWA-MS’s Ted Petty Invitational so hopefully this match will show how both athletes have progressed since then. Richards caused quite a stir when he debuted in June 2006, and is a successful part of the No Remorse Corps. But his singles career has faltered a little recently and winning this tournament would really elevate him to the levels it seemed like he was destined for when he first came in. Jigsaw is another outsider for the tournament having only debuted for ROH in April. He’s been the best of the Chikara graduates to come to Ring Of Honor thus far though. If he won the tournament he’d nail down a regular roster spot for sure.

Davey wrestles Jigsaw to the ground and pummels him with crossfaces and forearms. Jig blocks the bridging kick and finds success with his speed and lucha-style offence. He tries a pescado but MISSES. He just landed flat on his face on the floor. He’s not softened up enough for the DR Driver so Richards delivers a series of kicks and scores a 2-count. Pumphandle shoulderbreaker gets 2 as well, and does damage to the shoulder as set up for the 14:59 Kimura. Jigsaw fights his way free of a Ligerbomb attempt but Richards drives him into the turnbuckles and hits a big running dropkick instead. Jigsaw finally manages to glance his head with a jumping enziguri and gets some respite from Richards’ relentless attack. He tries to mount a comeback but is basically having to wrestle one-armed. A double stomp to the back scores, followed by a swinging DDT for 2. Jig’s arm-selling is really terrific incidentally. Richards gets 2 with a bridging German then slaps on the Kimura. It’s over at 07:29.

Rating – ** –
Again that was brief, but still fairly enjoyable. Richards has improved a lot thus far in 2007. Not that there was anything remarkably wrong with him before, but he’s become that much more entertaining with the addition of a solid heel character to his commendable in-ring skills. People have commented that he’s now starting to look and wrestle like a WCW-era Chris Benoit. Whilst it’s fairly sensitive right now considering the whole Benoit tragedy, I think that’s a decent worker to model himself after. I definitely think that Davey wrestling with a sour demeanour, brutal forearms, crossfaces, chops and a focus on the arm/shoulder is better than Davey ‘KENTA-lite’ Richards.

The Resilience are back at full strength now Austin Aries has returned. He urges M-Dogg to use his speed and Stevens to use his strength in the tournament. He then promises to beat Strong’s ass tonight.

Hallowicked vs Claudio Castagnoli – RTTT Tournament First Round

Castagnoli is surely one of the favourites for the tournament. As he pointed out in his promo, he has all the tools to be a wrestling star – speed, strength, size, agility, technical skills and so on. He’s a former ROH Tag Champion and fought back into the good books of the fans and the promotion this year after aligning himself with CZW in 2006. Wicked is another Chikara graduate looking to secure a permanent spot on the roster after some impressive showings in his fledgling Ring Of Honor career.

They run the ropes and have a remarkably good exchange considering they barely touch each other for most of it. Hallowicked lands on his feet off a monkey flip then rolls into a nice lucha-armdrag. Claudio gets 2 with a diving European uppercut. He has to go to his powerful striking to get the advantage for a second time after Wicked counters a leapfrog into a schoolboy pin for 2. A couple more nearfalls go by as Castagnoli nails the giant swing and the dead-lift gutwrench suplex. Hallowicked fires back with an Iconoclasm. Armdrags, a hurricanrana then a running Mafia kick all find the mark but the Match Killer puts Double C in charge again. Alpamare Water Slide…gets 2. That move is becoming as tired and overused as the Tower Of London. Wicked evades Castagnoli’s bicycle kick and gets 2 with a Rydien Bomb. He starts messing a few spots up and they finally stumble into Castagnoli hitting the Riccola Bomb to advance in the tournament at 07:01.

Rating – * –
I’m sensing a theme for these first round matches is that they will be too short to mean anything. That one was adequate, but I knocked a star off for Hallowicked’s clumsy looking offence right before they went into the finishing sequence. It looked really awkward.

Before the next match Larry Sweeney announces that Matt Sydal has contract offers from ROH, TNA, Dragon Gate and the WWE…and is negotiating to ensure he and Sydal get the best deal possible. He has important business to attend to as a result and he leads S’n’S Inc. to the back. He takes an amusing pop at Mike Quackenbush on the way out too…which is funny because Quack trained him in Chikara.

Mike Quackenbush vs Matt Sydal – RTTT Tournament First Round

This is certainly one of the most attractive matches of the opening round. These two have similar styles, to the extent that in the past I’ve seen people accuse Sydal of ripping off Quack’s offence to an almost criminal degree. It’s hard to pick a winner too. Mike is one of the most interesting talents to come in ROH for sometime. He’s been a stand-out on the independent scene for years (and has won major tournaments in other promotions) and is arguably the best pure wrestler in the tournament. But Sydal has shot up the card over the last year. He’s won the Tag Titles with Chris Daniels, defended Dragon Gate gold in ROH and has wrestled the likes of KENTA and Marufuji in high-profile matches. His burgeoning talents haven’t gone unnoticed either. That wasn’t BS by Sweeney, and it wasn’t a particularly well-kept secret that by this point in time he was negotiating with ROH, TNA and WWE to see where he’d get the best deal to continue wrestling.

Sydal is in no rush to get into the action, going through a work-out on the floor and wasting upwards of a minute before finally going at it. They trade basics on the mat, then increase the pace. Sydal works hard and holds his own with the technically superior Quackenbush. Quack back drops him to the floor, and is super-quick in sprinting across the ring to nail a SOMERSAULT PLANCHA to the floor. Sydal gets trapped in one of Mike’s mega-weird submission holds but hits back with a spinning heel kick then a bow and arrow lock. He nails a running double knee in the corner then a slingshot basement dropkick for 2. Crossface locked in but he’s left Mike way too close to the bottom rope. Standing moonsault is met with two boots to the sternum and Sydal is rattled. Quackenbush is able to hit the next move (a vertical suplex) and it’s anybody’s match. They battle in the corner where Sydal tumbles into a leaping frankensteiner and gets 2. Slice countered into a PIGGYBACK STUNNER and Quack gets 2. He followes up with a full nelson facecrusher but still can’t put Sydal away. Matt nails the capture DDT then a STANDING MOONSAULT. Here It Is Driver blocked…no…HERE IT IS DRIVER! QUACK KICKS OUT! Sydal Press misses and Quack hits an inverted Samoan drop. Apparently that move is called the BTS. He pins Sydal and advances to face Claudio Castagnoli at 14:12.

Rating – *** –
That wasn’t an exceptionally clever match, indeed, it fell a little below my expectations for it, but it was a clear choice for MOTN so far – and is also the only one to have been given any time. I know Sydal was a) the heel, b) the more established ROH wrestler and c) not going over but I thought he controlled way too much of this match. Everyone knows Quack is amazing when it comes to pure wrestling and I think this would’ve worked much better (and got his victory a lot more over) had he dominated the match, frustrated his opponent and used Sydal’s offence as explosive blasts. Still, the last few minutes were pretty good. Quack is up there with Kevin Steen and El Generico for the most exciting new talent to establish themselves on the ROH roster this year. If only he could be booked on a regular basis.

Erick Stevens vs Chris Hero – RTTT Tournament First Round

Like the last match, it’s rather hard to predict a winner here. Chris Hero is one of the most experienced wrestlers in the field and has been on the cusp of main event status in ROH for some time. But Erick Stevens is a real rising star. He has immense power and has looked undeniably impressive (although mostly in tag matches) since debuting in March.

The amount of time S’n’S Inc. manage to waste before the bell rings is almost obscene. At last the match starts and Stevens rather foolishly engages Hero in a mat-wrestling exchange. Not that he does badly, but Hero is exceptionally gifted at that sort of thing and is in no danger of losing the match. He proves that by cockily back flipping away from Erick as he grabs an ankle. He then kicks Stevens low and heads off to do his needlessly showy “displays of athleticism”. Stevens makes him pay by running through him with a big shoulder tackle. Chris bails to evade the Choo Choo then hits a slingshot stomp to give himself the advantage once again. Sweeney, Del Rey and Toland all take pops at Stevens as he hangs prone in the ropes. The whole Sweet’n’Sour experience is working though, as the Long Island crowd is really starting to get behind Stevens. Hero hits a Sara Del Rey hip attack as he continues to dominate Stevens. He tries to mount a comeback but Hero is a wily veteran and knees him in the stomach. Stevens shakes it off to nail a TKO and strings a significant series of offensive blows together for the first time in the match. The Choo Choo avalanche scores, followed by a JACKHAMMER for 2. Pumphandle powerbomb gets 2 as well, as Hero wasted too much time playing with the fans. He tries a suplex off the apron but Hero blocks and hits a Cravat Buster in the ropes. Flying double stomp from the top nailed but Erick gets a shoulder up. Hero’s Welcome countered with a GERMAN SUPLEX. Stevens hits a Sarasota Screwdriver (Michinoku Driver) but Sweeney grabs the ref and breaks the count. Erick tries to chase Hero’s posse…HERO’S WELCOME! It’s over at 14:56.

Rating – *** –
I have that down as Stevens’ best singles match since he debuted, although it was largely down to the brilliance of Hero and his entourage. They’re so good at walking a fine line between entertaining everyone (so it doesn’t legit piss the fans off) and being infuriatingly frustrating as they stall, interfere and generally disrupt a wrestling match. Stevens has never been more convincing as the fiery babyface as a result. If you like Chris Hero’s antics then this was a really decent match.

Delirious talks in utter gibberish. I guess he said he’ll beat El Generico tonight.

Roderick Strong vs Gran Akuma vs Jimmy Rave vs Austin Aries – FIP Heavyweight Title Match

This is under Four Way Fray rules (like we saw at 5th Year Festival NYC) as it’s an FIP match. That means eliminations and all four guys in the ring at the same time. Obviously the main story here is Austin Aries returns to ROH competition after getting released from his TNA deal and he’s desperate to get his hands on Roderick Strong, who has mocked him repeatedly during his absence. Jimmy Rave and Gran Akuma have FIP experience themselves and will be looking to make a big splash in the Florida promotion by winning the belt here and now.

Aries charges straight at Roderick Strong who flees into the crowd to escape him. Aries is then distracted by Rave…and Strong then takes the opportunity to drag him out of the ring. Akuma tries to use his kicks to dominate but Rave nails him with a spear. Austin is back and hits dropkicks on Roddy but again gets caught up with Rave who drops him with the Crappy Wizard. Corkscrew pescado from Aries to Strong as they continue to fight, but it’s broken up by a somersault pescado from Akuma. He drops Double A with a German suplex then a YOSHI-TONIC (Code Red). Aries gets in his face with drops him with the shinbreak back suplex. BRAINBUSTER! Jimmy climbs the ropes and attacks him as he sets up for the 450 though. Strong eventually throws Aries off the top rope…and all three men pin him at 05:15. Urgh…that was crap. The heels try to team up on Akuma who once again goes back to his kick-based offence. HEEL HOOK locked in and Rave taps him out at 06:38. That means it’s Strong and Rave for the FIP Title. Roddy tries to back suplex him off the apron, but Jimmy counters with the apron STO. He comes back in with a springboard tornado DDT for 2. Pedigree blocked and Strong blasts him with the Sick Kick. Death By Roderick followed by the half nelson backbreaker, but Rave isn’t put down. ROLLING URINAGE BACKBREAKERS…Jimmy still fights. Stronghold locked in. Roderick retains the title at 09:38.

Rating – * –
As is becoming the theme of the evening, that was way too short. I don’t think it was booked particularly well either. I didn’t disagree with Aries being the first man eliminated. This was a multi-man match, he’s not a regular part of FIP therefore this wasn’t the place to settle the Strong/Aries score. But the way they eliminated him was crap. Why not have Roderick hit him with a chair behind his back? Why not have Aries hit all his finishers on Akuma then have Strong sneak in with a Gibson Driver…or even a tights-grabbing roll-up? From there the match was nothing more than a brief spotfest. They even missed an opportunity to make it a tiny bit interesting by having Akuma go to the final 2 and have a chance at a surprise upset that would’ve got the crowd involved. As is, nobody really cared much about the last fall, although maybe it was fitting as these two were easily the most established FIP talents in the match. This was also Jimmy Rave’s last ROH match. It’s a fairly low key way for him to go out. He suffered an injury here and was clearly unhappy with his direction (or total lack of it) with the promotion and was released from his contract. He had a hell of a run though, and should be remembered for some great work back with The Embassy in 2005.

INTERMISSION – Rebecca Bayless (with substantial cleavage) interviews Jack Evans. He talks about being the least successful Generation Next member (in the US anyway). He wants to win the tournament to prove he’s as successful as Aries, Shelley, Strong and Sydal.

El Generico vs Delirious – RTTT Tournament First Round

You’d expect these two to mesh well together. They’re both fairly popular due to their unorthodox characters (although Delirious has been getting rather stale recently). Delirious won last year’s Survival Of The Fittest tournament but hasn’t progressed up the card like past winners Bryan Danielson and Roderick Strong. He’ll be hoping to win this one as well, this time cementing his status as a main event level wrestler. Generico has been brilliant since returning earlier in the year. His work as part of a team with Kevin Steen has been great. This tournament represents a chance for both men to establish themselves as viable singles wrestlers too.

Not a lot is really happening in the early-going. It’s mostly Generico in control, getting 2 with a split-legged moonsault, but not a whole lot else. Delirious meets a double jump crossbody attempt with a torpedo headbutt to the chest and starts to chew the tassels on the back of ElGen’s mask. He elbows at the neck, which makes lots of lizard-sense as the Cobra Stretch works on that body part. Rope-walk swinging DDT from Generico sends Delirious out of the ring. Arabian press to the floor nailed, but it would’ve been cooler if Delirious hadn’t been standing there watching him like an idiot. Flying splash gets Generico a 2-count. He gets 2 again with a Blue Thunder Driver then lines up the big Yakuza kick…but it’s blocked. Delirious gets 2 with the Bizarro Driver then looks for the Cobra Stretch. That’s blocked and countered but Generico can’t put him away with a combination of roll-ups. Panic Attack scores, and the Shadows Over Hell gets 2. Yakuza kicks from Generico then the Brainbuster. That’s him advancing to the quarter-finals at 11:18.

Rating – ** –
My prediction that these two would mesh well together was somewhat off the money. Don’t get me wrong, the match did get better as it went along, but they really didn’t have the level of chemistry together that I’d expected. To be honest this was pretty dull for quite a while.

Matt Cross vs Brent Albright – RTTT Tournament First Round

I’ve been fairly critical towards M-Dogg during his recent shows. It’s not a personal thing, I just think he’s way too high up the card for where he’s at in terms of ability. That being said, he’s the sole hope for The Resilience in this tournament after Erick Stevens was eliminated before intermission. Brent Albright has been in good form recently. He’s scored a few wins over BJ Whitmer and made his ppv debut at Driven, demolishing Pelle Primeau. I’m not sure how (other than he apparently decided he will in a promo on the Live In Tokyo DVD) but he’s got a title shot coming up so, like Claudio Castagnoli, needs to build some momentum before that.

Albright has new entrance music, which seems odd considering they could use his old music on ppv. He’s not in the mood to follow the Code Of Honor either. Cross uses his quickness and gets the better of Albright from the bell. He back flips out of a German suplex attempt and kicks Brent out of the ring. He swings through the ropes and boots him into the guardrail then hits the handspring somersault dive to the floor. He makes the mistake of trying to wrestle with Albright and gets punished. Albright powers out of a cross armbreaker and drops M-Dogg with an armbar DDT. He works the arm hard, but Cross finds the ropes the first time he goes for the Crowbar. Rolling suplexes leading to the HALF NELSON SUPLEX! That’s one of Brent’s finishers these days, but he pulls Cross up at 2. PRESS SLAM INTO THE CROWBAR! Cross taps at 05:24.

Rating – ** –
Another short little match, but this packed a hell of a lot more energy and interest in than Generico/Delirious. It told a decent little story of M-Dogg finding early success with his speed and high-flying moves, but the second he made the mistake and tried to wrestle with Brent Albright, ‘the Gun for Hire’ took his arm apart and won in convincing fashion.

Kevin Steen vs Jack Evans – RTTT Tournament First Round

This is your final first round match. Kevin Steen has been one of my favourite guys to watch in ROH this year. His in-ring work is good, but it’s his persona and character that I’m really enjoying. He makes his matches so damn fun to watch. Jack is making his first US appearances since April when he was injured by the No Remorse Corps. He outlined his reasons for wanting to win the tournament earlier. On US soil he’s been the least successful of the Generation Next members since they went their separate ways. Austin Aries is a former ROH World and Tag Champion. Alex Shelley is on national TV every week with TNA, Roderick Strong is the current FIP Champion and held the Tag Titles as well, and even Matt Sydal is a former Tag Champion, as well as holding the Dragon Gate Open The Brave Gate Title earlier this year. This tournament is his chance to mirror the achievements of some of his former stablemates.

Steen shows his awesomeness by failing to match Jack’s breakdancing skills, then kicking him in the stomach and knocking him over as he tries to do some more. He goes right for the Package Piledriver but Evans fights clear and hits a corkscrew enzi. He knocks Kevin all the way out of the ring with a handspring elbow then jumps over the top rope into a dropkick to the floor. Unfortunately taking it to the floor wasn’t a great idea as Mr Wrestling delivers a cannonball senton into the guardrails. Jack blocks a powerbomb off the apron then nails a CORKSCREW SOMERSAULT OFF THE BARRIER! Back inside where Steen gets so much leverage on a back body drop that Evans flips twice in the air and lands on his face. ‘Look at the blood…ok I’m lying’ – Steen describing the amount of damage his chops are doing to Jack’s chest. Evans is really struggling to come to terms with the power and size of his Canadian opponent. He gets some respite after hitting a moonsault elbow smash and gets 2 from a springboard corkscrew enzi. Steen catches him as he sails from the top again and hits an Air Raid Crash for 2. SWANTON BOMB ONTO JACK’S BACK! That only gets 2. Steen calls for a moonsault but gets crotched. ONG JAK! But he takes too long setting up for the 630 and now it’s his time turn to be crotched. Despite that he manages to drag Steen off the top rope. 630 SENTON! Jack wins at 09:19.

Rating – *** –
The finish was a tad messy but the rest of the match was a nicely balanced contest between Jack’s speed/agility and Steen’s power. Nothing overwhelming but both guys are good at their respective roles and the results were predictably decent. In a purely biased way I’m disappointed Steen didn’t go through since I’m a fan of his, but I see why Evans progressed. Steen is lodged in a high-profile tag team feud right now, his partner had already gone through to the next round, and realistically is over/talented enough that ROH knows they can push him at a later date. Evans has never been especially credible as a singles talent and is supposedly on the brink of starting a group to fight the No Remorse Corps. He needed this win more.

That’s it for the first round of the tournament. Tomorrow night’s Quarter-Finals are as follows:

Pelle Primeau vs Davey Richards

Chris Hero vs El Generico

Claudio Castagnoli vs Mike Quackenbush

Jack Evans vs Brent Albright

Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Bryan Danielson/Nigel McGuinness – ROH Tag Title Match

It’s ironic that on a show featuring the start of a two-night tournament that’s supposed to turn a midcarder into a main eventer, the main event features ROH’s four top stars in one match. Bryan Danielson is streets ahead of everyone else on the roster when it comes to ability, but fair play to Nigel, he works damn hard and over the past year (and thanks to a series of fantastic matches WITH Danielson) has turned himself into a credible top line guy in his own right. The AmDrag/Nigel team earned this title shot thanks to their impressive showing when they defeated the NOAH representatives (Morishima and Marufuji) in an ROH vs NOAH tag at United We Stand. Can they co-exist as a team after their epic clash at Driven (although it was taped earlier), and their exchange in Tokyo where Nigel reacted badly to Danielson disrespecting the World Champion. They will actually captain teams against each other in the $10,000 Tag Match tomorrow night.

The Briscoes immediately show that they’ll have the advantage whenever they can work as a duo, teaming up to out-wrestle McGuinness. Danielson tags in and totally out-works both Briscoes when they try to go it alone. Mark has to save Jay as Dragon traps him into a cross armbreaker…but that means that once again the Briscoes can work as a team, and once again they get the advantage. Mark climbs to the top rope and hits a flying crossbody to Nigel on the floor as Jay neutralises Dragon in the ring. REBOUND LARIAT by McGuinness after he endures a series of redneck karate thrusts. Danielson nails Jay with a tight back suplex. By dividing the Briscoes up, once again Nigel and Danielson are able to give themselves an advantage. They have Jay cut off from his brother, thus maintaining their superiority. Nigel starts to attack the arm with a wristlock suplex then a bridging chickenwing. Learning from earlier, Danielson sprints across the ring and cuts Mark off as he tries to jump in and make a save. Shortarm McLariat scores, and that’ll work the arm whilst smacking Briscoe around the head. Tower Of London gets 2 before Mark does manage to jump in and break the count. He’s then unceremoniously dumped out of the ring once again by American Dragon. He tags in and gets 2 with a back superplex then locks in the Crossface Chickenwing after ensuring Nigel is stopping Mark. Finally the younger Briscoe manages to springboard in…and takes it to both opponents in explosive fashion. Double springboard moonsault press on Danielson for 2. McGuinness makes the save as the champions set up for the springboard Doomsday Device. CATTLE MUTILATION…MMA ELBOWS! CATTLE MUTILATION AGAIN! JAY BREAKS IT WITH THE FROG SPLASH! Nigel tries to hit some offence on Jay only for Mark to make the save again with more redneck ninjitsu. McLariat on Jay, and that softens him up for a…SUPER MCLARIAT! Mark makes the save at the very last second…then has to think fast to avoid a pescado from Danielson. He stops McGuinness hitting the Tower of London then holds him in place for a sidewalk slam/leg drop combo. Jawbreaker Lariat ducked…and countered with the urinage suplex for 2. Double stomp DVD by the Briscoes, and Mark gets 2 with a springboard twisting splash. Danielson is still out on the floor after that missed pescado. Oh no, he’s back, and he superplexes Jay…AS MARK SHOOTING STAR PRESSES INTO NIGEL’S KNEES! All four men struggle back to their feet and trade shots. Danielson accidentally roaring elbows Nigel…and Mark capitalises with a flash pin. The champions retain at 17:50.

Rating – **** –
Chalk up another quality title defence for the Briscoes. They have been absolutely sensational since the summer of 2006 and are now having great matches with almost every team they come across. The story-telling in this match was great. Danielson and Nigel are the top singles wrestlers in ROH, but whenever the Briscoes, the top tag team, worked together, individually the top singles guys just couldn’t cope. Ultimately that proved to be their undoing. It wasn’t MOTY good or anything like that, but an entertaining main event, thankfully saving what, up to now had been a rather sub-standard event.

Danielson shakes hands with the Briscoes, then yells at Nigel before walking out. Show over.

Tape Rating – ** – This is easily the most skippable show of the year. It’s a succession of short, unremarkable midcard matches, none of which are particularly memorable or especially good. The only real storyline advancements were Austin Aries’ return and failure to get his hands on Roderick Strong and adding more heat between Danielson and McGuinness as they failed to win the Tag Titles. Granted the main event was great, but everything else was of minimal importance. Skip this one and just get Night 2 tomorrow night. For the completists out there, it’s a solid evening of wrestling. Nothing is really awful, and as none of the matches are particularly long it’s quite an easy show to sit through in one sitting. It’s not a bad show of course, but it has very little re-watch value outside of the main event.

Top 3 Matches

3) Jack Evans vs Kevin Steen (***)

2) Chris Hero vs Erick Stevens (***)

1) Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Bryan Danielson/Nigel McGuinness (****)

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