ROH 158 – Caged Rage – 24th August 2007
Normally I’m not that excited by Hartford shows. They usually precede NYC shows at the Manhattan Centre and as such, they tend to be skippable B-shows. For instance, the last time we were here (for Reborn Again back in May) there wasn’t a match on the show that reached 4*. For ROH that’s almost unthinkable. But credit where credit is due, there has clearly been a conscious effort to make this mean something, even though tomorrow night in Manhattan looks amazing with Morishima/Danielson, the 2/3 Falls Briscoes/Steen-erico match and Hero/Claudio. Headlining are two big steel cage grudge matches. Jack Evans and Roderick Strong look to settle their differences in one, whilst the main event will see Kevin Steen and El Generico challenge the Briscoes. After their crazy Street Fight in Boston, who knows how wild they’ll get tonight. There’s also an elimination triple threat match for the ROH World Title, with Takeshi Morishima defending against both unsuccessful challengers from Death Before Dishonor 5 weekend. Let’s join Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard in Hartford, CT.
ROH VIDEO WIRE – Sweet’n’Sour Inc. host the Wire from their privately hired athletic facility in Boston. They want to train Bobby Dempsey, but ransack his bag to find Doritos (with his name on) and maple syrup (which he’s been drinking from a Diet Pepsi bottle). Tank then sits in the ‘superior athlete chariot’ and tries to make Bobby run laps towing him. Larry confirms that the money is finally right so we’ll finally see Hero/Castagnoli this weekend in Manhattan. Best newswire in AGES.
The Briscoes are the first Tag champions in ROH’s history to defend the belts in a steel cage. They seem very excited about that. Particularly Mark, who has been wanting to get into a cage since he watched his brother almost bleed to death against Samoa Joe back in 2004.
Hallowicked vs Chris Hero
This is nothing but a warm up match for Hero. As we saw in the Video Wire, after refusing to wrestle Claudio Castagnoli for months because Larry Sweeney wanted more money, they’ve finally agreed terms and tomorrow in Manhattan will see the former Tag champions collide in ROH for the first time.
Hero is now sporting a headband to wrestle in, provoking ‘Twisted Sister’ chants from the fans. They then start singing ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It Anymore’ too. I was half expecting Dunn & Marcos to run in. Hero doesn’t seem to be taking things too seriously, allowing Wicked to hit an armdrag and mock his ‘display of athleticism’. Undeterred, Hero fights back then launches into his own athletic display. He stops to get Dempsey to do some Hindu squats…and Hallowicked capitalises with a tope suicida. He ducks under a Hero leapfrog and gets 2 with a schoolboy. Hero drops him on his neck with a German suplex soon after as Larry Sweeney taunts a guy dressed like Hallowicked in the front row. Wicked avoids something in the corner then kicks Hero in the face as he tries to show off again with a pointless moonsault. Wicked gets 2 with a headscissors but runs into a big boot. Sky High powerbomb almost puts Hero away. That’s enough of that. Roaring Elbow by Hero then a Hero’s Welcome. He gets the win at 07:30.
Rating – ** – Basic and totally forgettable but it was entertaining enough thanks to Chris Hero and his crew. Hallowicked is a solid wrestler but he needs something to get him over. I’ve noticed many people on the message boards calling for him to team with Delirious (they team elsewhere on the indies as the Incoherence team). That’d be a neat addition to the tag scene.
Backstage Sweet’n’Sour Inc. are pleased with Hero’s win. Bobby Dempsey is in the background brushing Hero’s hair. Hero says he brought Claudio Castagnoli to America and promises tomorrow he’ll be all business to beat Double C.
Rhett Titus vs Jimmy Jacobs
This is Jimmy’s comeback match. He’s been out since his epic MOTYC Steel Cage match with BJ Whitmer at Supercard Of Honor 2 with a knee injury. He’s got matches lined up against ROH Wrestling Academy graduates to test out the knee as he returns to action. Rhett has been on a couple of shows before. His gimmick is that he’s the ‘Sexiest Man Alive’. It’s kind of goofy but he LOOKS a lot more like a pro-wrestler than Pelle Primeau, Mitch Franklin and Bobby Dempsey, who seem to get the most exposure and praise of all the graduates. The pop for Jacobs’ music and comeback is pretty big.
From his initial movements in the match Jimmy still looks really tentative on the knee. I suppose that’s only natural since this is his first match back. Actually, he even looks like he’s limping a little bit. I hope he’s not coming back too quickly like Amazing Red did a few years ago. That ruined Red’s career. He knocks Titus down on the apron with a springboard clothesline and doesn’t show any ill-effects though. He sets Rhett against the ringpost and hits his running dropkick on the floor. Back in the ring and Jimmy looks rather slow running the ropes and Titus drops him with a dropkick then attacks the knee. He gets 2 with a bridging suplex and kicks at the knee some more. Rhett misses the weirdly sexual leg drop and Jimmy comes up favouring the leg. Titus misses something and hangs himself in the tree of woe, and Jimmy immediately counters with a springboard dropkick. Senton bomb nailed, then he traps Rhett in a James Gibson-esque front choke. Jacobs wins at 07:52.
Rating – * – That went on far too long and I’d much rather have seen Jimmy defeat Titus more convincingly, but it wasn’t all bad. Fair play to Rhett for working some psychology into the match and attacking the bad wheel. Jacobs definitely didn’t look 100% comfortable on the knee and was obviously pretty rusty. I really hope he’s not rushing his comeback to take advantage of the fact that he’s as over as he’s ever been in ROH after the cage match and Lacey angle.
Backstage Jimmy is absolutely gassed. He’ll need to work on his stamina methinks. He dedicates the win to Lacey and says his knee feels good.
Adam Pearce vs BJ Whitmer vs Delirious vs Nigel McGuinness
This is a four corner match that was originally scheduled to be taped for the next ppv, so I’m not sure how it’s snuck onto this DVD. For those that have seen the previous two pay-per-views, they’ll know that Adam Pearce has a weird preoccupation with BJ Whitmer. He consoled BJ after his embarrassing loss at Respect Is Earned, then showed him some tough love at Driven by laying him out. Whitmer is still stuck in his losing streak and subsequently wasn’t booked for the big Death Before Dishonor 5 weekend. I can’t say I really missed him to be honest. Pearce (who Shane Hagadorn promises has something big coming) also has issues with Delirious dating back to Jim Cornette’s commissionership.
Nigel comes out to his generic ppv music which is a real buzz kill. ‘Fire Whitmer’ – Hartford. It’s harsh but it shows how burnt out fans are on BJ. He starts with McGuinness and their exchange has more energy than their entire match in Osaka last month. You’d think after endless months of feuding Pearce would be wise to Delirious’ weird games but it’s not the case and he struggles to come to terms with the masked man. Finally he hits a spinebuster and tags out to Whitmer. Nigel comes in too and nails his first McLariats of the match. BJ and Pearce are the recipients. Tower Of London gets 2 on Whitmer. Delirious comes from the top with a Suicide Flip to the floor onto Pearce and Hagadorn. In the ring Whitmer ducks the super McLariat and gets 2 with a German. Nigel traps Pearce in the London Dungeon (that’ll be his finisher in a couple of months) but Whitmer breaks it. Scrap Iron hits a Wrack Bomb on Delirious, then gets clobbered with another McGuinness lariat. Hagadorn has set up a table between the ring and the apron but Delirious stops Pearce from sending Whitmer through it. Nigel hits the Jawbreaker Lariat on Whitmer and wins at 08:31.
Rating – * – I wasn’t a fan of this one. It seemed like 4 minutes of basic wrestling with no logic or story-telling, then four minutes of random spots thrown in at the end. I’m pleased McGuinness won since he’s the most over guy in the match by a mile but the whole thing wasn’t up to much. I’m not surprised it got cut from ppv.
Post-match Pearce and Hagadorn try to attack Delirious, who actually gets the upper hand on them until Brent Albright appears and drops him with the Half Nelson Suplex. Pearce wants to staple Delirious’ mask to his head…but Whitmer gets back into the ring. He thinks about saving Delirious, and even powerbombs Hagadorn. In the end Pearce gets into his head. ADRENALINE SPIKE on Delirious. He then holds Delirious up whilst Pearce fires a staple gun into his head. That’s the start of a new faction in ROH – the Hangmen 3.
We’re all set for a 6-man tag, Pelle Primeau, Eddie Edwards and Jason Blade against The Resilience, but Davey Richards comes out and attacks Pelle. He takes Pelle’s place on their team.
Davey Richards/Jason Blade/Eddie Edwards vs Austin Aries/Matt Cross/Erick Stevens
Aries was said to be extremely disappointed in his group after they lost the big 8-man Street Fight in Philadelphia. The Resilience has been taking defeats from the NRC for months. Now he’s upped the stakes for his partners. If either M-Dogg or Stevens is pinned in this match tonight, they are replace in The Resilience by whoever pins them, and if Aries himself loses, he’ll disband The Resilience altogether. And that’s why Davey is in this match, he wants to break the group up himself.
Cross and Blade start, they’re my two least-favourite guys in the match, but they hold it together and have a semi-decent fast-paced opening. Stevens and Edwards in next and they light each other up with powerful chops. Aries and Davey come in next and they have some really good intensity in what they’re doing. The Resilience take control of the match and work over Richards. Cross leapfrogs Aries into a double stomp to Davey’s back for 2. Richards eventually rakes the eyes and tags in Blade…who walks right into the Stroke from Aries for 2. He thinks about the 450 but Richards throws him off the top rope. Blade and Edwards, who have teamed together before, pair up to beat on The Resilience’s leader. Aries gets isolated from his corner, falling victim to a nice double gutbuster/gourdbuster combo from Eddie and Blade. Richards’ cheating finally comes back to haunt him as he distracts the ref, only to have Austin take advantage by kicking him in the nuts. M-Dogg hits a split-legged corkscrew senton and gets 2. Stevens flattens Jason with the Choo Choo but Edwards saves him from Erick’s trademark powerslam. TOPE SUICIDA BY EDWARDS! Blade thinks about a dive too but Aries cuts him off. Davey takes a springboard dropkick from Cross, who hits his obligatory ‘this is my only over spot’ handspring press out of the ring. Superkick/German suplex combo by Edwards and Blade gets 2 before Stevens saves and gets a massive pop by destroying the pair of them. Cross 619’s Richards into a sunset flip from Double A. Brainbuster blocked and Blade is tagged in. Aries slips out of an inverted double suplex from the Blade/Edwards combo, then he and Stevens take Edwards out with a Total Elimination variant. They hold Blade up for M-Dogg to hit another springboard double stomp, and it’s Stevens that gets the pin on Blade at 17:12.
Rating – *** – Solid match, with lots of decent stuff, but with the unique stipulations surrounding the match, I felt they could’ve done more. It never felt like Cross or Stevens were desperately fighting to save their spot in Aries’ group. It also never felt like Edwards and Blade were fighting particularly hard to get in. There could’ve been fun interaction between Richards and his partners if they tried to pin one of M-Dogg or Stevens whilst he wanted to beat Aries and end The Resilience. Instead they just ran through your basic 6-man. It felt fresh because Blade and Edwards don’t really get to go in matches this long in ROH. I thought they did ok. Aries and Richards were, very obviously, the biggest stars in the match though, and were the only ones who fought with any intensity and vigour.
An exceedingly sweaty Resilience promise the No Remorse Corps that the war between the two groups isn’t finished. Aries has words for Jack Evans and any crew he gets together as well.
Pac vs Bryan Danielson
It was back during the UK shows of the 5th Year Festival that Pac made his ROH debut and wowed everyone with two great matches against Roderick Strong and Matt Sydal. He’s been impressing people in England for a while, and has made trips overseas with promotions like PWG and Dragon Gate. This is his first taste of US-based Ring Of Honor action, and he’s been given a hell of a test tonight. American Dragon is warming up for his big ROH Title match tomorrow night and won’t want his momentum derailed by a feisty Geordie.
Danielson wastes no time in taking it to the mat where he is totally dominant. Pac doesn’t stand a chance in this environment and is taken to school in the opening minutes of the match. Dragon is stretching arms, legs and anything else he can grab at this point. Pac finally manages to increase the pace and scores with a few armdrags. Danielson’s response is to absolutely HAMMER Pac with brutal kicks in the corner. Mexican surfboard applied and Dragon decides to stretch him out even more by going to a choke sleeper from that position. Half crab locked in next. This is fast turning into a massacre. Danielson stands on Pac’s head and almost snaps him in half with that half crab. Pac manages to free himself and tries to get some momentum going with a standing Yang Time. Danielson goes to the floor and Pac tries a springboard twisting plancha…but barely connects and crashed into the guardrails. Back inside he gets 2 with a northern lights suplex then scales the ropes. SHOOTING STAR BACK SPLASH! German suplex gets Pac another 2. That’s enough for him on offence. He gets knees on the corkscrew SSP. REPEATED FACE STOMPS! TRIANGLE CHOKE! Pac’s out at 12:38.
Rating – ** – That’s very possibly my least favourite Bryan Danielson match ever in ROH. I’m so disappointed by it. Not that it wasn’t fun watching him totally dismantle Pac for 10 minutes, but these two are capable of a much better match. Dragon wasn’t in the mood to sell or put Pac over in the slightest, and simply dominated him (bar a few hope spots) from bell to bell. Admittedly this keeps him looking really strong going into his title match tomorrow, but I can’t believe that ROH forked out to fly Pac across the Atlantic, on the back of his brilliant debut weekend, just to have him totally squashed.
They interrupt the entrances for the title match to skip to a Bryan Danielson promo about HIS title shot tomorrow night. Talk about totally killing any sense of believability that Albright or Castagnoli might win then. He says nobody, not even Morishima, can beat him.
Takeshi Morishima vs Claudio Castagnoli vs Brent Albright – ROH World Title Match
This is a Three Way Dance for the World Title, and elimination rules apply (just like when Danielson defended against Jimmy Jacobs and BJ Whitmer in Detroit last year). At Death Before Dishonor 5 weekend both Castagnoli and Albright delivered career-defining performances and came tantalisingly close to dethroning Morishima and ending his title reign. They’re being rewarded for their performances that weekend with a second chance here.
Mori gets the party started by cleaning house on both opponents, despite the fact that they attempt to unify against him. Claudio and Albright hoist him up for a double suplex then double dropkick him out of the ring. Castagnoli hits an elbow suicida on the champion, then Albright climbs for a SOMERSAULT SENTON TO THE FLOOR! Back inside Brent slams Double C then slams Morishima down on top of him for a 2-count. Claudio hits an uppercut but hasn’t worn the champion down enough to nail the Riccola Bomb. Sunset flip attempt by Albright but Castagnoli uppercuts Mori, prompting him to drop down on top of the Oklahoma native. Morishima tries a butt-butt on Albright but gets caught with a GERMAN SUPLEX! That spot looked even more amazing this time than it did at DBD5 Night 2. Exploder suplex for Castagnoli, then belly to belly suplexes for both opponents. T-BONE SUPLEX on Mori gets 2. He tries to superplex the World Champion but gets shoved off in sickening fashion. Morishima gets 2 with his giant missile dropkick on Claudio. ALPAMARE WATER SLIDE ON THE BIG MAN! HALF NELSON SUPLEX FOR CLAUDIO! Albright thinks he’s eliminated but Castagnoli gets a long leg on the bottom rope. He then powers Shima up for a Samoan drop. HALF NELSON SUPLEX ON MORISHIMA! But he falls out of the ring. Claudio takes advantage and Giant Swings Albright. Riccola Bomb escaped and Albright slaps on the Crowbar. Claudio counters to a roll-up and eliminates Albright at 11:15. Morishima is still out of it following the Half Nelson Suplex, so Castagnoli has to go and retrieve him from the floor. He puts together a flurry of uppercuts then the RICCOLA BOMB! Mori kicks out at 2. Claudio tries a reckless German suplex and Morishima sits down on his chest quite brutally. BACK DROP DRIVER ON MORI! He even kicks out of his own finisher. Out of nowhere Shima hits the Bossman Slam then starts double stomping Claudio’s ribs. BACK DROP DRIVER! It’s over at 15:21.
Rating – **** – I really wasn’t expecting to like this match so much. I’ve never been much of a fan of triple threat matches, but this was one of those rare exceptions where it worked pretty well. It wasn’t exactly rocket science wrestling but they just worked an entertaining, high impact match with lots of big, crowd-pleasing spots. Nice work from all involved. I think, when the curtain closes on Morishima’s title run, one of the most memorable aspects will be how he’s made Claudio and Albright in the last three shows.
INTERMISSION – Rebecca Bayless (who has pigtails…oh I love her) interviews Steen and Generico. Steen says the match tonight is about winning the belts and killing the Briscoes.
Roderick Strong vs Jack Evans – Steel Cage Match
This is the first of our double cage match main event. We all know Evans and Strong have been at war since February. Jack was laid out in New York as Roderick Strong severed all his Generation Next ties and started the No Remorse Corps. Last time these two met was in Japan where Jack finally scored a big win over his former partner.
Jack teases a Teddy Hart “30 foot” moonsault off the cage as he enters the ring but thinks better of it. He seems awfully jovial for a big grudge match. He starts off hot, hitting a moonsault press and kicks from all over the place. He eventually misses the double springboard flying headscissors and Strong takes advantage by clubbing him in the head. Splash mountain into the cage nailed, and Evans ricochets off the ropes in alarming fashion. Roderick cradles Jack, holding him in position to hit a couple of backbreakers. A stalling vertical suplex into the cage scores next, leaving Jack holding his back and moaning in pain. Every time Evans tries to mount a comeback Strong just brutally smacks him in the head. Press slam into the cage next, and once again Jack slings back off the ropes at a horrible angle. Jack looks to set up for the Ong Jak, but Strong throws him off the top turnbuckle. Again they fight on the turnbuckles, and Jack SPRINGBOARDS OFF THE CAGE into a dropkick. He succeeds in quickening the pace, getting a 2-count after a standing twisting moonsault. But he runs at Roddy one too many times and gets BACK DROPPED INTO THE CAGE! He tries to set up the half nelson backbreaker off the top rope but Jack fights back with a REVERSE RANA. He thinks about an off-the-cage 630 but Strong is up too quickly. He gets knocked into the tree of woe. ONG JAK FROM THE TOP OF THE CAGE! Roderick gets a hand on the rope and it only gets 2. Evans tries to climb again but gets caught. TOP ROPE SPLASH MOUNTAIN! Strong hits a Randy Savage elbow drop and wins the match at 12:27.
Rating – *** – I feel bad saying this because some of those spots looked really painful, but to be honest, I thought this was going to be far better. When these two were booked inside a cage I thought it had ‘instant classic’ written all over it, but it never really worked out and the cage seemed to limit what they could do, rather than add to it. The match followed a repetitive cycle of Evans hitting a flippy move, then Strong throwing him into the cage. The things they were doing must’ve been so damn painful, but this just felt a little flat. Their matches at All Star Extravaganza 3 and FIP Strong vs Evans remain the best singles efforts for this pairing.
Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Kevin Steen/El Generico – ROH Tag Title Steel Cage Match
This violent rivalry has seen thrilling matches all over the place. Now the Briscoes have agreed to defend the belts against Steen and Generico twice in a single weekend in order to end the feud. Tonight they’ve meet inside a cage, where they’ll attempt to up the craziness and brutality even further following the Boston Street Fight earlier this month. Tomorrow they have a 2/3 Falls match.
Steen gets the match started by kicking the cage door into Jay’s face, and the teams brawl outside the ring for the time being. Jay’s busted open inside the first 20 seconds of the match, as Mark hits a standing moonsault onto the barrel chest of Mr Wrestling. He tries to climb the cage but gets POWERBOMBED INTO THE CROWD! Jay tries to run at Steen but gets hoisted into the front row as well. Steen climbs the cage…CAGE DIVE INTO THE FANS! It’s chaos at ringside, with both teams throwing fists, boots, chairs, headbutts and more before finally moving inside the cage. The Briscoes try to isolate Steen but Generico enters and turns the tide in his favour. Mark misses an axe kick and gets catapulted into the steel mesh. Generico picks up a 2 on Jay with a Michinoku Driver. BRISCOE BIEL INTO THE CAGE on the Generic Luchador. Mark is bleeding as well by the way, indicating the amount of time Steen-erico are spending in control of this match. Steen walks the ropes and drops a big elbow for 2. HEAD DROP GERMAN SUPLEX…but Jay pops up and boots Steen in the face. Generico tries the Brainbuster it it’s blocked and the Briscoes throw ElGen up into the sky. Steen breaks it up by throwing Jay through the door and out of the cage then powerbombing Mark. YAKUZA KICK by Generico. YAKUZA KICK/CRADLEBREAKER COMBO! Mark kicks out at 2 with Generico holding the door shut so Jay couldn’t get in and save. The older Briscoe finally gets back in and hits the military press DVD on Generico. Mark has climbed the cage…but Steen climbs up from the other side and battles with him. REDNECK KUNG FU…STEEN FALLS THROUGH A TABLE! Generico gets hoisted up. DOOMSDAY DEVICE! SPIKE JAY DRILLER! Briscoes win at 16:24.
Rating – **** – That was more of a brawl than the rest of their matches, but I thought it worked. I think they did a number of effective sequences demonstrating the hate that now exists between the two teams, with lots of blood and violent punches, as opposed to the elaborate spot war we saw at Death Before Dishonor 5. I think it was a clever approach. They were never going to out-do the craziness of that match, so they used the cage environment to have a mildly different type of match and it worked.
Steen is pissed off and lays Jay out with a Package Piledriver, then Cradlebreaker’s Mark through a chair. He celebrates with one of the belts then walks out.
Tape Rating – *** – When Eddie Edwards and Jason Blade are in the longest match of the night you know you’re watching a B-show, and this one pales in significance to tomorrow night’s Manhattan Mayhem 2 event. But, in terms of ROH B-shows, this was decent. There’s definitely lots of good stuff. The two title matches are obviously the highlights, but Strong/Evans and the midcard 6-man aren’t bad either. And I’ve seen people rate Danielson/Pac and the four way a lot higher than I have. Plus this show has the formation of the Hangmen 3 and the return of Jimmy Jacobs. If you’re only getting one show this weekend it’ tomorrow night, but this event is definitely worth checking out.
Top 3 Matches
3) Austin Aries/Matt Cross/Erick Stevens vs Davey Richards/Jason Blade/Eddie Edwards (***)
2) Takeshi Morishima vs Claudio Castagnoli vs Brent Albright (****)
1) Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Kevin Steen/El Generico (****)