ROH 165 – Chaos At The Cow Palace – 21st October 2007
Did you ever wonder what an ROH show would look like if they decided to run in a WWE-style arena? If the answer is yes then this is the DVD for you. It’s the second night of ROH’s inaugural West Coast tour. Tonight they’re in San Francisco, running the historic Cow Palace. It’s a building with a decent wrestling history, and one that WWE has used for significant (as opposed to just house shows) shows in the city. They’ve landed such a prestigious venue because this show was run in profile with a high-profile wrestling convention. It was supposed to bring together lots of big name indy guys, as well as some of the biggest names in the business (Steve Austin, Goldberg etc) for meet and greets, autographs, pictures and so on. Unfortunately the event promoter turned out to be a huge jerk, hardly anyone got paid and the whole thing fell apart, leading to speculation that ROH would cancel this event. They decided to do the honourable (that’s some cutting word play right there) and go ahead with the show, making sure everyone that bought a ticket got to see a show. Isn’t the world of independent wrestling turbulent and strange? Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard await us in San Francisco, CA.
ROH VIDEO WIRE (12/10/07) – See Survival Of The Fittest 2007 (ROH164) review for details.
Nigel McGuinness talks about wanting to make a legacy as ROH Champion and not wanting to lose in his very first title defence.
Chris Hero vs Human Tornado
Is it a new Ring Of Honor tradition that the Survival Of The Fittest winner wrestles an enhancement match on the next show? After winning last year Delirious opened the next event wrestling Zach Gowen. Tornado is somebody ROH fans have wanted to see in the promotion for a long time. He looked exciting in his two brief outings the other night in Las Vegas, and will want to show off more of his skills in a singles match tonight. He may also be out for revenge considering that it was Hero that somewhat sneakily eliminated him from the SOTF Elimination Match.
Usual Hero antics in the first few minutes. He shows off a lot, has temper tantrums when Tornado does some showing off himself and so on. Prazak and Leonard spend the time making jokes about the failed convention. Hero makes Bobby Cruise announce that ‘Chris is Awesome…clap clap clap clap’. He then stomps on Tornado’s toes to stop him dancing. H-Tizzle (so his headband says) goes for a dive but gets distracted by Larry Sweeney, allowing Chris to nail a German suplex. Massive atomic drop nailed, followed by a double axehandle smash for 2. Tornado traps Hero in the ropes and tries a slingshot double stomp, but gets somewhat caught up in the ropes and takes a pretty tasty fall to the unprotected concrete floor. Back inside he hits the cool dancing stomps in the corner. Hero blocks a swinging DDT and hits his release vertical suplex for 2. Roaring forearm nailed, then the Dislocator for 2. He tries a random, needless somersault but falls on his ass. PIMP SLAP from Tornado, then the swinging DDT. DND nailed, but he takes just a second too long before covering and Hero kicks out at 2. Hero’s Welcome nailed, then the Hangman’s Clutch. Tornado taps at 12:27.
Rating – *** – Not exactly amazing, but it was a good choice to open the show. Chris Hero is always going to get a crowd worked up with his act, and there was no exception here. Tornado looked good against him since he has decent charisma and some fun spots to work in too. I definitely wouldn’t mind seeing him again sometime soon.
Claudio Castagnoli runs in to get a couple of shots in on Hero and Sweeney. They quickly leave, so Roderick Strong comes out and demands to defend his FIP Title on the show.
Roderick Strong vs Claudio Castagnoli – FIP Heavyweight Title Match
I imagine this will be nothing more than a token title defence so Roderick can go back to Florida and say he raised the prestige of the belt by defending it in California. Still, it should be a decent match though. These two have both had good years at the top of Ring Of Honor’s cluttered midcard ranks.
The way Castagnoli tricks Strong into shaking hands is quite amusing. I really like the new FIP Title belt. They lock up with a collar and elbow so intense that they end up in the front row. That quick excursion into the crowd shows just how big the building is (or how small the crowd is if you prefer). Roddy then gets pissed off with Claudio’s height advantage during a Greco-Roman knucklelock so climbs to the second rope so he’s taller. Surely being in the ropes makes that illegal? It doesn’t matter anyway since Double C just drags him down. We get a few more light-hearted exchanges with a ton of ‘HEY’-related comedy until Strong brings the serious with a gutbuster. He takes it to the floor and whips Castagnoli into the metal guardrails, trying to get a count-out victory. Claudio beats the count so Roddy hit an Argentine gutbuster then applies a bearhug. Castagnoli escapes and blasts Strong with a European uppercut. Crab-walk elbow drop gets 2. Strong comes back with an Argentine backbreaker, staying on the midsection that he’s attacked for the bulk of this match. He then hits a modified F-5 then a Sick Kick for 2. They have a chop/uppercut duel, ending with Castagnoli scoring with a springboard uppercut variant. He struggles to hit the Alpamare Water Slide thanks to the damage he’s sustained. Strong hits Death By Roderick then the Gibson Driver to win at 13:28.
Rating – *** – Much like the opening match, this one never got particularly wild or exciting, but it did it’s job well. There were lots of crowd-pleasing little touches (i.e. things they could shout ‘HEY’ too), and they worked a nice story around Strong working the midsection, which directly led to the finish. It was basic but logical wrestling and I appreciated the effort.
Karl Anderson vs Adam Pearce
It’s our second look at ‘Machine Gun’ Karl Anderson. He looked solid but unremarkable during his debut defeat against Chris Hero in Las Vegas, and will hope to do better against the leader of the Hangmen 3. This is the first time Pearce has been on a show since August.
Both of these guys look like they’re fresh out of the 1980’s (in terms of ring attire anyway). Anderson clotheslines Pearce out of the ring then does his stupid machine gun pose again. He stops for a hug with Hagadorn, then gets upset when the fans call him gay. Karl hits a good, old-fashioned crossbody from the top rope for 2. Pearce suckers the ref in, allowing him to hit an unseen low blow on the Machine Gun. He then applies a sleeper hold. Seriously, is this 1986? Anderson avoids his arm dropping for a third time then starts doing that stupid machine gun thing again. Double clothesline in the middle of the ring, leaving both men down. Gourdbuster/low enzi combo gets 2 for Anderson. Hagadorn appears on the apron to distract the official. Pearce hits the piledriver to win at 07:35.
Rating – ** – Pearce basically carried that match by making everyone in the building hate him. The wrestling was so basic the match really did feel about 20 years old, but the fact that they were doing such rudimentary stuff and still keeping a bunch of head-drop loving independent wrestling fans entertained is testament to a job well done. I’m not anxious to see Anderson back anytime soon. He seems a decent enough wrestler, but there are numerous guys who could do his job just as well based on the east coast, and I bet none of them do a goofier hand gesture than his.
Delirious appears and tries to eat Shane Hagadorn’s face (with his teeth – he didn’t just run in and make out with Hagadorn, that would’ve been weird), which brings Brent Albright down for a match.
Delirious vs Brent Albright
Fairly basic build up to this. Delirious hates the Hangm3n after they formed the group by stapling his mask to his face. He’s had issues with Pearce going back to 2006 and that’s now extended to a Delirious vs Hangm3n feud.
These two start with a brawl around ringside as security has to help a bloody Shane Hagadorn out of the arena. Pearce threatens to hit a little old lady in the crowd then sweeps Delirious crotch-first into the ringpost as he lines Albright up for the Panic Attack. Stalling hammerlock back suplex by Albright. He then tosses Delirious out of the ring where Scrap Iron is waiting to choke him with the mask tassels. More Albright offence ensues before the lizard man nails a missile dropkick. He starts biting him just like he did to Hagadorn earlier and stops that only to hit the Panic Attack. He then uses his tassels to try to choke Brent, which is a nice turn of events after so many people have used them against him. Shadows Over Hell into the Cobra Stretch but Albright COUNTERS to the Crowbar. Delirious rolls through into a roll-up then applies the Cobra Stretch. Albright taps but Pearce is on the apron distracting the referee. He distracts Delirious further, allowing Albright to hit the Half Nelson Suplex. It’s over and Albright wins at 08:50.
Rating – ** – I’m not sure I like Brent Albright getting caught up in this feud. The crowd seemed ready to accept him higher up the card after a couple of great matches with Morishima over the summer, so saddling him as part of a stable with two unpopular midcarders (Pearce and Whitmer) and having him feud with Delirious who continues to grow stale and plummet down the card himself, isn’t doing much for him. This match was entertaining enough but I just don’t have much interest in the feud. If anything, I’d like the Hangm3n to kill Delirious (much as the NRC did with The Resilience) to get themselves over at the expense of a babyface act who’s going nowhere anyway.
TJ Perkins/Tony Kozina vs Davey Richards/Rocky Romero
Of all the West Coast guys we saw at Survival Of The Fittest, I think it was Perkins who looked the most impressive. He had a fun little sprint of a match with Romero and showed off some neat tricks. Kozina looked surprisingly decent in his brief triple threat with Hagadorn and Human Tornado too. As for their opposition, Davey and Rocky looked great as a team in a losing effort against the Briscoes on the Undeniable ppv. I’d like to see more of them as the NRC tag team whilst Roderick Strong positions himself as the outstanding singles wrestler. This match has some potential.
Romero slaps Perkins in the face and dances, so TJ replies with a hell of a slap. They have a SUPER intense exchange on the mat, looking great together. Prazak points out that these two have trained together (in the NJPW US dojo). He then holds Richards in place for a basement dropkick from Kozina. More slick wrestling from Perkins as he throws Romero to the mat in a clever little counter to an armwrench. Davey charges into an STO and that’s the first time either member of the NRC has been able to get a hand on Perkins. Rocky ensures his team take advantage by sending him into the guardrails for extra punishment. He hits a high spinning heel kick but Richards nails a savage kick of his own to make sure there’s no tag. Not to be outdone, he comprehensively outwits both opponents and finally makes the hot tag to Kozina. Quebrada press wipes out both Richards and Romero for 2. Springboard bulldog scores and Perkins follows up with a Michinoku Driver. Richards drops TJ with a German suplex, leaving him in position for Romero to hit a running knee strike too. FLYING HEADSCISSORS TO THE FLOOR BY KOZINA! In the ring Perkins takes the Alarm Clock then the Tombstone Piledriver. Davey’s Kimura finishes TJ at 10:37.
Rating – *** – That one was non-stop action. Davey and Romero are starting to gel as a team by the looks of things, but the real star of the show was Perkins. Most of the match featured him showing off what he can do. I really think he’d have a full-time roster spot if he was more local to ROH’s core circuit. I’ve been really impressed with him this weekend. He’s been in wrestling for a long time now but he’s still young, and is always improving. I’m surprised he was allowed to dominate two established ROH guys to such a large extent, but I’m not complaining about it. A fun whirlwind of a match there.
The lights go out and screaming comes over the PA, which can mean only one thing. The Age Of The Fall make their way to the ring. Jimmy again makes the point that to earn a title shot they need to beat some tag teams (although surely they already earned one by beating the champions on Friday), so challenges the No Remorse Corps. They accept so they’re wrestling again…
Jimmy Jacobs/Necro Butcher vs Davey Richards/Rocky Romero
I just explained the whole reason this match is taking place. I suppose this has a little extra significance since it’s the first time the Age Of The Fall and the No Remorse Corps have hooked up as each faction tries to notch their gun at another one’s expense.
The NRC start out hot and send both opponents out of the ring. Unfortunately that’s playing into the hands of the AOTF, since Necro would much rather brawl anyway. They fight out into the crowd. By crowd I mean they fight through three rows of people then endless rows of empty seats. Seriously, the Cow Palace, is a big, WWE-sized arena. ROH running it with a couple of hundred people looks utterly bizarre. Both teams battle over a double suplex to the concrete floor, with the NRC coming out on top. Richards MOONSAULTS off the stage down onto Butcher. The teams return to ringside, but for Necro that’s only temporary as he gets suplexed back into the front row by Richards and Romero. That then leaves them alone in the ring with Jacobs and they get to work double teaming him. Knee strike into the Ligerbomb gets 2 before Necro makes the save with some chair throwing. He tries to go to the top rope but Davey hauls him down with a superplex onto a chair. He then holds the same chair in position for Romero to dropkick it into his face. Jacobs makes the save with a spear for 2. Necro gives Richards the Tiger Driver into some chairs then Jimmy locks in the End Time to win at 10:05.
Rating – *** – The key to the success of this match was that they kept it short. Necro’s match with Jay Briscoe at Undeniable got dull after a while because the brawling and chair-related violence got a little tenuous. Giving these guys 10-minutes ensured the pace was brisk. The segment in the crowd was fun almost totally due to the setting. It was quite unreal to watch ROH guys brawl round a huge, empty arena. Once they got back to the ring the NRC duo again showed flashes of really good teamwork before doing the job.
Jay Briscoe says that tonight will be different to all the other times he’s lost World Title matches, although doesn’t explain why. Mark Briscoe slurs his words so badly I don’t even know what he said.
Bryan Danielson vs Austin Aries – Best Of 3 Series Match 2
Aries comes into this match with a 1-0 lead having won the first match at Honor Nation using his new Horns Of Aries submission. Remember, the stakes are high for this series. Not only will the winner have bragging rights and get to call themselves the ‘ace’ of the company, but they’ll also receive a World Title shot.
Lenny Leonard does a good job discussing the wrestlers’ respective strategies, pointing out that Danielson has all the pressure on him and can afford no mistakes. The quality of wrestling from the bell is such that the fans give it a big ‘this is wrestling’ chant. Danielson, knowing he needs to be the aggressor in this match, goes right for Aries’ nose from the standard Mexican surfboard position (as opposed to the more crowd-pleasing, showy surfboard). He backs Double A into the corner and rakes the eyes, again showing his desperation to win the match. Aries comes back with a few well-placed elbows to the neck, then decides to target Danielson’s leg. But again Dragon’s determination and aggression shows itself as he ruthlessly counters into a cross armbreaker. Aries goes for his trademark low dropkick but Dragon rolls out of the way and attacks the leg himself. DP points out that an injury there will severely hamper his ability to hit the 450. He works a leglock, then claims that his legs are ‘stuck’ when Austin reaches the ropes to break it. Judo DDT nailed, then floated into the cross armbreaker again. Another good point by Prazak as he explains that Danielson is working both the arm (for his finishers) and the leg (to stop Aries’ finish). Danielson goes for the Crossface Chickenwing but Aries uses momentum to send his opponent out of the ring. Dragon tries to re-enter with a sunset flip only this time Aries is able to hit his basement dropkick to counter. Brainbuster blocked so Aries floors AmDrag with a Roaring Elbow. Running dropkick blocked with a big boot to the face. Danielson hits a running enzi but still can’t lock in the Crossface Chickenwing. More super-fluid wrestling as both men go for roll-ups, with Dragon having to react amongst all that to block the Kick of Doom. Austin hits the shinbreak suplex followed with the running dropkick for 2. But he’s spent much of this match on the back foot and hasn’t done enough damage to prepare for the 450 Splash. Danielson catches him on the top rope and delivers a massive back superplex. Cattle Mutilation next. Aries rolls through so it’s time for MMA ELBOWS! That’s escaped with an elbow flurry by Aries. KICK OF DEATH! BRAINBUSTER! HORNS OF ARIES! KNEE STRIKES! HORNS OF ARIES AGAIN! But he just hasn’t done enough damage to win it with that. SMALL PACKAGE! Dragon wins at 18:58.
Rating – **** – Another marvelous technical bout between ROH’s top two guys. Much as you’d expect from these two, they told a wonderful story in the ring. This time it was Danielson’s aggression and determination to do whatever it takes to win the match. It led to him taking a few shortcuts, working numerous body parts and generally dominating more of the contest since it was him that NEEDED to win. As a result of that, when Aries was going for his finishers, he just hadn’t inflicted enough damage in the rest of the match and Dragon was able to escape. Even the finish (the small package) showed Bryan’s near-desperation to win the match. I don’t think it was quite exciting as the first match in the series, but psychologically it was better, so I’ll say they’re about even. Special praise goes out to the commentators who did an excellent job explaining the strategies and stories unfolding as the match developed, and praise too for the crowd. They may be small in number but they were great throughout the match. For a crowd to be that into such a mat-based match was really good to see.
Backstage after the match Danielson puts over Aries’ new submission finisher but says he wasn’t going to lose to it two matches in a row. Aries interrupts him to claim that he’ll win their series.
Nigel McGuinness vs Jay Briscoe – ROH World Title Match
Briscoe earned this title shot by pinning Nigel during a Tag Title defence against McGuinness and Bryan Danielson at Race To The Top Tournament Night 1. He’s had numerous ROH Title shots before and, despite some valiant efforts (most notably in 2003/4 against Samoa Joe), he’s never got his hands on the top prize in the promotion. He’d love this time to be different. For Nigel defeat here would be a disaster. He’s worked his whole life to become a World Champion. He said earlier tonight he wants to create a legacy as ROH champion, not become a footnote like some other champions (I assume he was referring to Xavier or Ki with that little jibe), so really can’t lose in his first defence of the belt.
Both guys come in throwing some heavy strikes. McGuinness gives himself the advantage by tossing Briscoe shoulder-first into the ringpost. That, of course, plays right into his usual tactic of working over the arm. Now, when Jay tries to return to the slug-fest in the same manner they began the match Nigel is able to simply wrench the bad arm and drop him to the canvas. Again the small crowd are generating a good amount of heat for this one. Jay is at a severe disadvantage now McGuinness has hurt his arm so he realises he needs to work over a body part too. He goes after the leg which is a good strategy since Danielson worked it over for 20-minutes at Survival Of The Fittest. Substantial damage is done by smashing the leg into the guardrail and ringpost. Again they return to a strike exchange, and now it’s Briscoe’s turn to end it by flooring his opponent; using a dropkick to the knee to do so. McGuinness goes for a couple of McLariats out of desperation, but he’s so slow thanks to the leg injury that Jay easily avoids them. The challenger looks for the Jay Driller but can’t get Nigel up so he hits a flatliner into the turnbuckles instead. To the outside again where Briscoe KICKS A TABLE into Nigel’s leg. Back inside he locks in a half crab that has the champion screaming in pain. McGuinness finally manages to hit the Tower Of London but after being on the defensive for so long, there’s no way that does enough damage to win the match. Super McLariat ducked, then a springboard version too. Nigel tries a Tower Of London to the floor but Jay finds a way to counter that too. Briscoe has dominated for most of this match and he gets 2 with a top rope leg drop. He tries to superplex McGuinness but Nigel is able to wriggle free. TOWER OF LONDON TO THE APRON! London Dungeon locked in and Jay Briscoe taps very quickly. 18:12 is your time, Nigel retains the title.
Rating – *** – To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much from this match. It was Nigel’s first defence and Jay is part of a tag team, one half of the Tag champions, currently locked in a tag team feud. He obviously wasn’t winning the title so we all knew the end result. What was of interest to me, however, was how these two would work a match under the circumstances, and to be honest, I thought they did a good job. Jay Briscoe comes out of the match looking quite credible considering he was able to hang with one of the promotion’s top singles wrestlers, and control most of a 20-minute match with him. And the rapidity with which he tapped out to Nigel’s new submission hold puts over the lethal nature of that particular move, so McGuinness gets something out of it too. I thought, for the second show running, Nigel’s leg selling was superb. He’s been in two really decent matches this weekend, and that’s some feat considering he was working with an injury to his left arm (that’s the arm he throws lariats with – which probably explains why he hasn’t hit a single McLariat all weekend).
With the match out of the way, it’s time for some CHAOS AT THE COW PALACE! Bryan Danielson marches to the ring to antagonise Nigel McGuinness, much as he did at Undeniable. They brawl to the locker room, passing the Age Of The Fall on the way as they come to attack the Briscoes (Mark was at ringside cheering his brother on). Davey Richards and Rocky Romero come out to get some revenge for their defeat earlier, so for the first time we’re seeing some faction warfare. Austin Aries still has beef with the NRC, so he comes out for some fighting time too – hitting the Heat Seeking Missile on a bunch of guys. It’s crazy dive time now. Jay leads the way with a somersault plancha, and Davey follows him with a SHOOTING STAR PRESS TO THE FLOOR! Chris Hero and Larry Sweeney then come to the ring. They don’t want to be involved with faction warfare, Hero just wants to show off his athleticism with some needless flips in the ring. This guy has been AWESOME this weekend. Claudio Castagnoli hits the ring for a RICCOLA BOMB on Hero to send everyone home happy.
Tape Rating – *** – I’ve seen some really critical reviews of this weekend’s shows, which seems strange to me since I’ve quite enjoyed them. The crowds, though small, have been hot and into the action. Despite huge problems with both venues, they were both really cool and totally different to the buildings ROH normally runs in, creating a unique vibe for both events. As for the shows themselves, whilst there was nothing of colossal importance (although I’d argue Hero winning SOTF and Danielson tying the Best of 3 Series at 1-1 are fairly significant events) they were both really fun to watch. Neither went particularly long, and featured short, snappy undercard bouts with longer, competitive bouts on the top of the card. Naturally Bryan Danielson is in the best match both nights and he looked great as always. Chris Hero had a good weekend too. His act made the SOTF ’07 final the best since the 2004 original. I thought Survival Of The Fittest 2007 was the better of the two shows, but Danielson/Aries was the match of the weekend and that took place at the Cow Palace so. Both shows are ultimately skippable, but I think Ring Of Honor completists will find things to enjoy.
Top 3 Matches
3) Davey Richards/Rocky Romero vs TJ Perkins/Tony Kozina (***)
2) Nigel McGuinness vs Jay Briscoe (***)
1) Bryan Danielson vs Austin Aries (****)
Top 5 West Coast Weekend Matches
5) Jimmy Jacobs/Necro Butcher vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe (*** – Survival Of The Fittest 2007)
4) Nigel McGuinness vs Jay Briscoe (*** – Chaos At The Cow Palace)
3) Hero vs Castagnoli vs Strong vs Aries vs Romero vs Tornado (**** – Survival Of The Fittest 2007)
2) Bryan Danielson vs Nigel McGuinness (**** – Survival Of The Fittest 2007)
1) Bryan Danielson vs Austin Aries (**** – Chaos At The Cow Palace)