ROH 168 – Reckless Abandon – 30th November 2007
For future reference, all ROH show titles with Blink 182 connotations are cool by default. Ring Of Honor return to the Midwest for another weekend of fun-filled wrestling action. In truth, the card for tonight doesn’t look overly spectacular – and is weakened still further when you consider that one of the best matches from the live reviews of this show (Briscoes vs NRC Tag Title Match) has been removed from this DVD as it’s on the last ppv. There is still some decent stuff on the card though. Our main event is a throwback to 2002 as we’re headlining with a big Scramble Match. Austin Aries and Roderick Strong will attempt to settle their differences in a 30-Minute Iron Man Match. Delirious looks for revenge on Adam Pearce in a Falls Count Anywhere Match, whilst Bryan Danielson and Necro Butcher compete in what should be an intriguing clash of styles. This one was taped in Dayton, OH.
ROH VIDEO WIRE (19/11/07) – Roderick Strong and Davey Richards open the Wire by hyping their participation in the 2007 Trios Tournament in Chicago. Elsewhere Jack Evans does the same thing. Later in the show (all these interviews are separated by Glory By Honor 6 highlights) the Briscoes realise they need a partner for the Trios Tournament…and get one in Claudio Castagnoli. What a ridiculous team that would’ve been.
Show opens with a sad looking Necro Butcher outside the hospital. He got kicked out and couldn’t get an injury looked at because he doesn’t have health insurance. Jimmy Jacobs rambles on about the healthcare system. Tyler arrives and gives Necro his health insurance, and introduces Jimmy to Allison (she’s new…he hasn’t just brought in Allison Danger. I wish he had though). In the end Jacobs, Black, Lacey and this Allison girl walk off arm in arm. That’s kinda weird.
Seth Skyfire vs Claudio Castagnoli
Is it odd that I’m sort of looking forward to this one? Seth is a reject of the WWE development system, and whilst he’s nothing amazing, is a pretty solid flyer – and Claudio has a proven history of working well with those types. I imagine this weekend is nothing but prep for Claudio as he focuses on Final Battle weekend when he has a ppv match with Hero then finally gets his hands on Larry Sweeney.
The ‘We Will Rock You’ ‘stomp…stomp…clap’ is surely one of the most basic, easy beats of all time. Why are some people so a-rhythmic they can’t do it at the right pace? Just a random peeve of mine! This is quite a step down for Claudio after beating Marufuji in his last match. Lots of chaining to start, which doesn’t really seem like Seth’s strongest point but he does his best to hold his own. Ironically it’s when they try to increase the pace that Skyfire seems to miss a step. Déjà vu headscissors scores though, and he follows it up with a pescado . Crabwalk elbow by Castagnoli gets 2, then it’s giant swing time which is obviously a popular move. Rather cleverly, Seth prompts Castagnoli into a European uppercut battle, then counters one of Claudio’s with a backslide. Neat little spot there. Running European gets Castagnoli another 2. Skyfire tries to run up the ropes and SLIPS. Oh dear. Pop up European into the Riccola Bomb and Claudio wins at 07:49
Rating – ** – Functional little opening match. It was a little more grounded than I was expecting, and was entirely forgettable…but it was fine. I feel bad for Skyfire botching at the end there because, having seen bits of him in OVW, he’s better than what he got to show here.
Bryan Danielson thinks the next time he faces Morishima it’s going to be a real fight. He needs to train for that, and asked to wrestle the Necro Butcher tonight.
Adam Pearce vs Delirious – Falls Count Anywhere Match
This feud must have been going on for well over a year. That probably shows you how much both guys have stagnated this year – there’s just been no reason to end it and move one on to different things. So yeah, don’t expect anything wildly surprising here I wouldn’t have thought. The stipulations should freshen things up though.
Fight starts in the aisle with Delirious suplexing Pearce onto the ramp, although it’s too dark to really see anything. Pearce comes back by hitting a spinebuster into the guardrail. Out in the crowd now, where once again it’s too dark to see everything that goes on. Delirious wraps a chair around Pearce’s throat then shoves him into a pillar which is pretty graphic stuff. Pearce gets 2 with a backbreaker into the bleachers, then suplexes him off them. Figure 4 Leglock in the crowd! Delirious turns it over to reverse the pressure but Pearce shows a resourceful side by grabbing a nearby chair and hurling it at his opponent. He climbs the camera scaffold for no apparent reason…but Delirious climbs past and above him. COBRA STRETCH ON THE SCAFFOLD! Pearce taps at 08:53. The match is over but Albright and Whitmer have joined Hagadorn. DELIRIOUS DIVES OFF THE SCAFFOLD AT THEM!
Rating – *** – They kept it nice and short (I hate these matches when the brawl through the crowd lasts forever – it’s fun for the live audience but on DVD it sucks), worked in some decent little spots and the finish was quite a cool visual. Not sure you could really ask for much more. Easily the most enjoyable Delirious singles match for some time.
Erick Stevens is returning to ROH after his hiatus following Undeniable and the split of The Resilience. Generic angry promo…
Chris Hero vs Jigsaw
Since he was partially trained by Hero at the Chikara school, Jigsaw might get a bit more of a look in and a competitive match than he otherwise might. I’ve continually said that Jigsaw is the best wrestler in The Vulture Squad…but he’s the least fun to watch. There’s just no reason to care about him.
You get an idea as to the quality of education and tutelage the students at the Chikara school receive when you compare the early exchanges between Hero and Jigsaw to Claudio/Skyfire earlier. The gulf in class this time round is noticeable. Jigsaw looks pretty good and breaks out some good stuff amongst all Hero’s bursts of showmanship. Hero preoccupies the official, allowing Tank Toland the chance to grab Jigsaw’s foot and trip him up. Roaring Elbow by Hero, into the Cravat suplex for 2. Jig tries to increase the pace with more armdrags then a snap hurricanrana for 2. Superkick sends Hero out for a slingshot armdrag on the floor. Hero powerbombs him into the Hangman’s Clutch. Headscissors by Jigsaw, then a superkick. Hero drops him with a Cravat Buster into the Hangman’s Clutch again. Jigsaw finally taps at 14:17
Rating – ** – There was some good stuff in there but I felt it was just too long. It was only ever going to be an embellished squash match. I don’t think Jigsaw ever really looked credible – so the lengthy segment in the middle where he was getting beaten on whilst Hero took things easy just made him look weak. This was a fine example of why nobody really buys The Vulture Squad as serious threats. Jigsaw put in a decent effort in this match…but in truth never looked in Hero’s league.
What is with the lighting on this show? Austin Aries cuts a promo in almost total darkness. Tonight he wants to prove to himself he can control his emotions in his match with former friend Roderick Strong, before turning his attentions to New York City and his ROH World Title Shot.
Necro Butcher vs Bryan Danielson
Dragon already explained the basic premise behind this one, but I think it’s pretty nifty so I’ll go over it again. Basically, Danielson knows he needs to be the very best fighter/brawler he can be to overcome Takeshi Morishima in their rapidly escalating feud. To that end, he wants to get in some practice. Since Homicide isn’t around anymore (the Homicide/Danielson Best Of 5 Series in 2005 featured some terrific brawling), Necro is ROH’s prime exponent of that particular style. It’s not like Necro has nothing to gain though. A win over arguably ROH’s top guy would do wonders for AOTF’s credibility.
Necro goes right to work on Danielson (this is a fight after all). Dragon retaliates with a tope suicida through the ropes. That turns out to be a mistake though since there are lots of chairs on the floor for Butcher to utilise. Camel clutch with fingers in the nostrils by Danielson before he starts using a chair. Necro assumes control once again as they re-enter the ring, getting 2 with the chair-assisted body slam. He goes for a second but AmDrag counters with a back suplex through the chair. He stomps on Necro’s bare feet so Necro fires back with some really nasty looking shoot punches. MMA kicks by Dragon, then he takes advantage of the relaxed rules by SLAPPING THE REFEREE! He takes Butcher down with the injured arm we saw highlighted outside the hospital earlier then locks in Cattle Mutilation. Necro is trapped and taps out at 08:33
Rating – ** – Absolutely nothing wrong with this, but I think I’m scoring it low because I’d expected more. To be fair, I don’t think eight minutes was ever going to be enough for these guys. Their job was to get in, show Danielson could brawl (again – have people forgotten ’05 and the beard?) with a few spots, then get out. Can’t say I enjoyed Necro tapping out either. He’s supposed to have this aura as being one of the premier hardcore wrestlers on the independent scene right now. Having him physically tap out, therefore saying ‘I can’t take anymore of this’ after 8-minutes of PG-13 hardcore looks weak…
INTERMISSION – Dave Prazak asks Human Tornado about his goals in ROH. He’s normally quite charismatic but comes off quite awkward in this. His goal is to bring women to Ring Of Honor.
Silas Young vs Nigel McGuinness
I believe McGuinness isn’t 100% healthy yet but he really wants to compete in Dayton, the market where he made his name, and made his debut in ROH. Silas is one of those guys I want to like based solely on entrance music alone. To be honest, he looks to be a solid, if unspectacular hand in the ring. However, his moronic persona and lovably awesome music make me want to see more of him.
Two minutes in and I still haven’t typed anything. It’s not bad…but nothing to write home about either. Finally McGuinness gets frustrated with the courteous back and forth chaining, attacking the arm for the first time. That Arm Submission applied to do more damage, then he rams Young shoulder-first into the ringpost. Silas counters the London Dungeon and comes back with Al Snow-style trapped headbutts. Jawbreaker Lariat countered with a backbreaker for 2. Bulldog from the ropes nailed, then a headstand into a slingshot moonsault (no need to sell that arm or anything) for 2. Tower Of London nailed, then a McLariat from the right side. Cobra Clutch McLariat nailed, then the London Dungeon. Silas screams in pain and submits at 07:31. That’s the fourth consecutive submission finish tonight…
Rating – * – Meh…not too good really. Boring at first, and Young no-selling the arm, the whole focus of this brief little match, irritated me. The star is for Nigel’s arm focus – something he does on autopilot anyway.
Nigel promises his fans that if he’s still champion in January when they return to Dayton, he’ll defend the World Championship in front of them. Out comes Larry Sweeney and associates. He says that won’t happen, as Chris Hero will take the belt from him at Final Battle 2007. Finally the whole crew pile into the ring to attack the champion. They try to re-injure Nigel’s arm but Claudio Castagnoli makes the save…with what appears to be a deck chair from the 50’s.
Human Tornado vs Erick Stevens vs Davey Richards
Originally this was going to be a singles match between Tornado and Stevens but Erick disregards that and calls out Davey, who injured him and put him on the shelf at Undeniable. That sort of makes Tornado’s ROH Midwest debut a little meaningless, but oh well.
Richards appears in the aisle and starts brawling with Stevens…so Tornado, probably pissed at being totally ignored, hits a crazy somersault dive onto the pair of them. The referee, apparently now with the power to re-book matches as he sees fit, rings the bell and starts a three-way. Tornado thinks it’s a sensible strategy to team up with Stevens to beat up the hapless (and probably tiring since he’d already wrestled once tonight by this point) Davey. The NRC member decides to walk out, leaving Erick to chase after him, so once again HT is left twiddling his thumbs. Richards tries to attack Stevens’ arm with a chair but Tornado makes the save. Davey defies a bloody nose to work over Tornado until Stevens saves him. He launches Richards with a German suplex then squashes him with the Choo Choo. Tornado dance/kicks Richards in the corner, then gets leap-frogged into a final split-legged kick by Erick. Spectacular move but it looks like he injured his hamstring pulling it off. Stevens tries to take advantage but gets brushed aside. Richards applies the 14:59 Kimura and wins at 09:18
Rating – ** – Another somewhat blah match. Tornado was fun to watch, and Richards played the villain with gusto but in the end this was pretty mediocre. Lots of two guys fighting, one guy lying around. I don’t think Stevens was able to connect with the crowd in the same way that Human Tornado was (despite having the whole coming back from injury back story with Richards).
Roderick Strong vs Austin Aries – 30 Minute Iron Man Match
In all fairness, this feud between former friends and stablemates ended back at Undeniable when Aries finally managed to beat Roddy in a lively bout on ppv. This is more of a footnote to the feud as, now the heat has simmered down a little, both guys want to find out who the better wrestler is once and for all. Roderick has been angling with McGuinness for a World Title shot so defeating the #1 Contender would be a real feather in his cap.
Bell rings and Strong IMMEDIATELY bails and starts stalling for time. Both men start extremely tentatively, wrestling entirely defensively to counteract the other’s strengths. Lots of smooth holds and counters are traded with a nice intensity. These opening exchanges have a totally different vibe from the first moments of the Hero/Jigsaw or McGuinness/Young matches. Aries is the first man who manages to string a series of moves together but Strong quickly retaliates wit a belly to belly suplex then a backbreaker. That’s as high impact as the match has got thus far. Aries’ Brainbuster blocked, but he scores with an STO then the Power Drive Elbow for 2. Rings Of Aries locked in…and as he looks to convert into the Horns Of Aries Strong quickly scurries to the ropes to escape. Roddy locks in a bear hug, again looking to work on the midsection of the former World Champion. He has more success now, establishing a real period of dominance at this stage of the contest. Both try to lock in their trademark submission holds but find them blocked. Strong takes a tumble…HEAT SEEKING MISSILE! Back in the ring Aries gets 2 with the running dropkick. Death By Roderick blocked – KICK OF DEATH! Horns of Aries and Strong taps at 16:11. Austin leads 1-0.
Roderick hits back immediately with another backbreaker. Superplex nailed, then Death By Roderick. He looks for the Gibson Driver but Aries hurricanrana’s his way free. Stronghold countered into a small package and Aries takes a 2-0 lead at 18:33. Double A goes for the crucifix driver but it’s blocked. ROLLING BACKBREAKERS! Gibson Driver scores this time and Strong makes it 2-1 with 20:00 gone. Stronghold locked in…and it’s 2-2 at 20:46. Falls are coming in quick succession now. The FIP Champion goes for the Stronghold again but this time Aries toughs it out and finds a rope. He crawls out of the ring…so Roddy applies the Stronghold out there! He’s been trapping Aries in the Stronghold for 3 minutes now, doing severe damage to the back. Five minutes left and Austin couldn’t get Strong up for the shinbreak back suplex due to the back injury. BRAINBUSTER SCORES! 450 SPLASH INTO THE KNEES! Strong pins and makes it 3-2 at 25:40. Now he’s winning Roderick tries to run out the clock, continually heaving Aries out of the ring and refusing to let him re-enter. SICK KICK OFF THE APRON! With 2 minutes left Aries looks done. We’re down to 60 seconds. SLINGSHOT Oklahoma roll…and Aries makes it 3-3 at 29:27. HORNS OF ARIES! 10 SECONDS TO GO! STRONG PASSES OUT JUST BEFORE THE BELL! Aries wins 4-3…apparently!
Rating – **** – Enthralling match. Not as exciting as their other bouts, but it was certainly a cagey, cerebral affair. Thirty minutes is a tough length of time to do an Iron Man Match. Realistically, it’s not that much longer than most regular main-event calibre matches, so going 30 doesn’t seem particularly epic. But at the same time, if you go for the gritty, realistic and hard-fought 1-0 result (as Bryan Danielson and Doug Williams did at Scramble Madness in 2002) you get accused of not utilising the unique rules, and subsequently the match came off as slightly unexciting. These two went the other way and for the most part, told a believable story. Personally I loved the subtlety and strategy of the opening 15 minutes, before they started fighting the clock to cram 7 falls into around 13 minutes. As I said, for the most part, they pulled it off. The finish looked bogus though. Surely if Strong didn’t tap it should be a draw???
Aries gives Strong a sort-of handshake after the match. That signals the end of their issues. He’s focused on the World Title at the next pay-per-view.
Vulture Squad vs Hangman 3 vs Age Of The Fall vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe – Scramble Match
The Briscoes’ belts aren’t on the line here. They’ll be keen to get their hands on the Age Of The Fall though. Likewise, Jimmy and Tyler are looking to secure themselves a shot at the Tag Titles. I imagine the rest of the match should be aimed at establishing dominance in the current climate of ‘faction warfare’. We saw some wild, dive-crazy scenes over Glory By Honor weekend, so expect the more of the same from this bunch here. It’s Evans and Ruckus representing the Vultures, with Albright and Whitmer lining up for the Hangm3n.
Albright and Whitmer don’t wait for the rest of the teams before attacking Evans and Ruckus. Stereo kicks and stereo corkscrew moonsaults from Jack and Ruckus score, but they get dumped outside by the H3. Jacobs and Black make their entrance so the ref decides to screw it and start the match. Jimmy and BJ look set to renew their rivalry but they don’t get to swing a single punch before the Briscoes charge in. SOMERSAULT PLANCHA by Jay! Tyler is out next with a running moonsault. Ruckus dives next. Whitmer stops Mark before he gets to do a crazy dive. HANDSPRING MOONSAULT INTO A HEADSCISSORS ON THE FLOOR from Evans to BJ. Tyler gets 2 with an Asai moonsault on Brent. Jacobs takes the Briscoe Biel. Backbreaker/knee drop combo by Whitmer and Albright, followed by the 61-Knee. MOONSAULT LEG DROP by Ruckus but Albright grabs him as he gets up and drops him with a German. Crazy Mark tags Evans with a springboard karate kick. KOBASHI SUPLEX on Black gets Albright a 2. Jacobs slaps End Time on him…Jay breaks it with a MASSIVE leg drop. Whitmer destroys Ruckus with an exploder, then gets wiped out himself with Mark’s urinage suplex. STANDING PHOENIX SPLASH gets Jack 2. Swinging inverted DDT on him by Tyler. Whitmer nails a frog splash for another near fall. He fights over a suplex with Jay…BOTH MEN CRASH OUT OF THE RING! Contra Code by Jacobs…then Mark swings him into a kick from Evans. SOMERSAULT VAN TERMINATOR BY RUCKUS! 630 SPLASH! Evans pins Mark Briscoe and gives The Vulture Squad a MASSIVE victory at 09:15
Rating – *** – Crazy spots from bell to bell. It won’t be winning any MOTY awards but it was a fun main event to an otherwise pretty drab show. We didn’t see too much of the Briscoes, but that’s understandable considering they’d already wrestled once. Briscoes/Vultures for the belts has to be booked surely. That one could be great…or a train wreck. I thought Albright and Black were pretty impressive too.
Tape Rating – ** – I’m not going to lie, that’s up there with some of the worst ROH shows to have been released. On the bright side, nothing utterly sucks…but there’s not a lot else going for it. The best match of the night has been strip-mined from this DVD release for the Undeniable ppv, and without it the rest of the show seems a little lacking. Aries/Strong is very good…but I wouldn’t say it’s any better than their Undeniable ppv match, and certainly not as good as their match at Wrestlemania weekend, so it’s hard to recommend this one even on the basis of that match. Admittedly the main event was lots of fun but still. Even the DVD packaging (various shades of diarrhoea brown with a barely visible image of the Briscoes in the background) wreaks of ‘you can skip this one’. It’s not a bad show by any stretch, and it’s short at only 2 hours, 23 minutes. But if you’ve got the Undeniable DVD then you’ve seen the best match from this one. Maybe pick it up in a $10 sale if you’ve got some spare cash…
Top 3 Matches
3) Delirious vs Adam Pearce (***)
2) Vulture Squad vs Hangman 3 vs Age Of The Fall vs Briscoes (***)
1) Austin Aries vs Roderick Strong (****)