170 ROH Rising Above 12/29/2007

ROH170 – Rising Above – 29th December 2007

This is the final ppv taping of 2007 (it doesn’t actually air until March 2008) so it should be a big show. The card looks juicy too. Main eventing is the eagerly anticipated World Title clash between Nigel McGuinness and Austin Aries. Live reports were very positive towards that one. We’ve also got Bryan Danielson and Takeshi Morishima going at it again, Claudio Castagnoli and Chris Hero in a big grudge match with Claudio’s career on the line and the Briscoes defending the Tag Titles in a 2/3 falls match. In total there are eight matches lined up for the two hour ppv slot so that should be hectic. ROH PPV is back in Manhattan, NY. Usual commentary from Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard.

ROH VIDEO WIRE (13/12/07) – Sweet’n’Sour Inc. host the Video Wire, and that can only be a good thing (unlike the Rising Above ppv preview show hosted by a very sweaty and incredibly wooden Daizee Haze). Hero and Sweeney overload Dempsey as he desperately tries to bench press. Sara Del Rey ends up helping him out. We also get Delirious cutting a slightly unhinged promo after his hanging at the hands of the Hangm3n in Chicago. Wire ends with Hero kicking lumps out of Dempsey again.

Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard open the show with the usual array of horrible ppv-title puns. What the hell does ‘Rising Above’ even mean? What, exactly, is ROH “rising above” of? The Hangman 3 are in the ring behind them, but we cut to backstage where cameras have been set up all over the place.

Kevin Steen and El Generico hype each other up and get ready to fight with the Hangm3n a little later. In the ring Adam Pearce is running down Delirious, trying to goad him into a match with Albright. Delirious arrives, dressed all in red and blows mist into Pearce’s eyes.

Brent Albright vs Delirious

I imagine if you solely watched ROH pay-per-view and nothing else, this feud probably seems pretty intense and well-paced. Delirious vs Adam Pearce stretches all the way back to mid-2006 and the Lizard Man’s battle with the Hangm3n has been raging since Caged Rage when they made an example of him during the formation of their group. Pearce has challenged Delirious to this match after he tried to bite his ear off during a four corner match at Undeniable.

It’s a strange sight with Albright (wrestling in the torn up Delirious mask from Caged Rage) battling Delirious who debuts his new ANGRY red attire. Delirious is on fire from the off, but doesn’t manage to wear Albright down enough to lock in the Cobra Stretch. Backbreakers INTO A DRAGON SUPLEX drop Delirious on his head though. Red Delirious seems really resilient…until an overhead belly to belly into the turnbuckles plants him on top of his head for a second time. Albright makes the mistake of going to the top rope and misses a diving headbutt. Panic Attack scores, then Shadows Over Hell. Cobra Stretch locked in but Albright COUNTERS to the Crowbar. 61-Knee nailed…but Delirious manages to sneak Albright into a small package. He scores the upset at 06:04

Rating – ** –
Lively and brief opening match. Probably my favourite from either one of these two in a while. It was definitely at it’s most fun when Albright was acting like a monster and tossing Delirious around. Red Delirious is an interesting little tweak to the stale old character as well.

All four members of the Hangman 3 try to beat down Delirious until he’s saved by Kevin Steen and El Generico. That brawl continues as the Age Of The Fall arrive in the arena. The Vulture Squad run in before Jacobs gets too much mic time and we’re all set for a Scramble Match.

Hangman 3 vs Kevin Steen/El Generico vs Age Of The Fall vs Vulture Squad – Scramble Match

Lots of issues here. Steen and Generico are pissed at the Hangm3n after attacking them throughout Glory By Honor 6 weekend – the result of Steen refusing to join their group. The Age Of The Fall want to spread their message (but don’t really seem to have a clear idea of what their message actually is) and think the best way to be heard is to beat everyone else and become the top dogs in ROH. The Vulture Squad, as ever, are high-flying, slightly inane additions to faction warfare with loose ties to everyone but no real heated issues at all. Incidentally it’s Pearce and Whitmer representing the Hangm3n, Jacobs and Black for AOTF and Evans and Ruckus making up the Vulture Squad duo.

Everyone goes high flying crazy from the bell. Jigsaw hits a somersault tope, right before Black and Jacobs heave the Vultures out of the ring and DIVE OUT AFTER THEM! Whitmer and Generico are in the ring as the bell rings. Pearce blocks Generico as he looks for a dive then rakes Steen’s eyes for good measure. Age Of The Fall put the boots to Mr Wrestling in the corner and he needs the Vultures to help him out. Standing shooting star press by Evans followed by a Ruckus standing moonsault. Steen has recovered enough to hoist up both Evans and Jacobs and DVD the pair of them. Next up it’s one of those sequences where everyone wipes out everyone else in quick succession. Pearce wraps that up by dropping Jimmy with a jumping piledriver. Chokeslam on Generico, into a Whitmer frog splash for 2. Gutbuster/Ocean cyclone combo on Ruckus follows next as the Hangm3n start to dominate. Busaiku knee by Evans, then the 630 SENTON! Steen lines up the Package Piledriver but Jacobs SAVES with a spear. YAKUZA KICK BY GENERICO! Evans stops him hitting he turnbuckle Brainbuster. PACKAGE PILEDRIVER ON BLACK! BRAINBUSTER! Steen-erico win at 06:48

Rating – *** – It’s a Scramble so obviously some people are going to hate it. Considering it’s length and spot on the card I thought this was basically as good as it could’ve been. Lots of exciting stuff, absolutely no pointless standing around or lying around pretending to be hurt whilst others were fighting, this was bell to bell action featuring all eight men. Steen and Generico are SERIOUSLY over as babyfaces. They must be in line for a Tag Title run at some point.

The Briscoes are backstage and they promise to beat up Age Of The Fall somewhere tonight, on top of beating No Remorse Corps in their title match

Lacey vs Daizee Haze vs Sara Del Rey

It’s a shame that TNA has basically signed up the majority of the decent female wrestling talent out there, meaning ROH are basically limited to these three for its women’s division. At this point I think we’re all a little burnt out on seeing them wrestle each other. It’s broken down like this…both women hate Lacey, with Daizee in particular having a real issue (that feud has been going on forever with no ending in sight). Haze and Del Rey have a competitive rivalry, which has added spice now Del Rey is SHIMMER Champion, something Haze would desperately like to be.

We go straight into this with no intros or nothing, meaning the promo featuring Tammy Sytch was cut. It’s part of the Bonus Features though so I’ll check it out later. It’s pretty scratch stuff in all honesty, particularly as Daizee insists on attempting things she’s just not good enough for. Del Rey ties both her opponents into submission holds at the same time but can’t hold either one down long enough to force a submission. Haze gets rocketed hard into Lacey’s intimate area, immobilising Lacey in the corner. Daizee hits the top rope and takes them both out with a missile dropkick. Sara looks for the Royal Butterfly but Lacey tries to stop her. ROYAL BUTTERFLY ON BOTH OF THEM! Lungblower by Lacey, then the Mind Trip from Haze. She sends Del Rey out with the Yakuza kick then drops Lacey with another Mind Trip. Haze gets the win in 06:24

Rating – * – Like I said in the intro really…I’ve just run out of interest in seeing these three wrestle each other. I’ve completely stopped following SHIMMER (not because I don’t like the product, simply because I barely have the time to watch ROH these days, let alone watch and review anything else), and I’m sick of a combination of these three wrestling on every show. I’m also fed up of Daizee Haze generally – she’s sloppy, completely uncharismatic and so not someone who ROH should be featuring on pay-per-view. This wasn’t bad (hell, Sara seemed bang on top of her game)…it’s just been done to death already.

Erick Stevens vs Davey Richards

It was during the bonus matches of the last ppv taping (Undeniable) that Davey put Erick Stevens out of ROH for an extended period of time by injuring the arm with his Kimura. Stevens returned during the previous double shot in the Midwest and made going after the No Remorse Corps his top priority. This is his big chance on ppv to get some revenge.

They trade big strikes from the bell during what is a hard-hitting opening minute. Erick dominates using big power moves that leave his smaller opponent reeling. Richards uses some quickness and dragon screws Stevens down to the canvas. One cheeky low blow later and Davey is on top in the match. Leonard and Prazak are making reference to someone making a commotion somewhere in the crowd. That would be WWE Tough Enough star Daniel Puder. In the ring Stevens gets 2 with a backbreaker. Puder’s antics in the crowd have distracted Stevens though. Not so much that he can’t drop Richards with a belly to belly suplex. Choo Choo then the Polish Hammer, followed by a pumphandle powerbomb for 2. Richards hits a sunset flip powerbomb out of the corner then slaps on the 14:59 Kimura. Stevens stands up out of it though. DISGUSTING ENZIGURI right into Stevens face but the Floridian recovers well with a big front slam. Stevens starts yelling at Puder again and Richards capitalises with a missile dropkick. Richards applies the Kimura again for victory at 08:47.

Rating – ** –
Parts of this match were actually very good. I liked the intensity of both men from the bell (it actually FELT like a grudge match between two guys who have issues), but it lost it’s way pretty quickly after the Puder stuff started happening. I’d be pretty intrigued to see what ROH plans to do with Puder as he has massive star potential written all over him (even if he’s sure to be very raw as a pro-wrestler), but choosing to make him sitting in the crowd more of an issue than getting revenge on the guy who broke his arm made Erick Stevens look like a bit of a plum.

Stevens tries to call out Puder for a fight, only to be interrupted by Larry Sweeney going to meet Puder in the crowd. He shows an interest in signing him up to S’n’S Inc and asks Del Rey to escort him backstage for further discussions. They leave…but Claudio Castagnoli appears and chases Sweeney around the ring. Tank Toland and Bobby Dempsey try to save but that doesn’t work out too good. Just when Castagnoli looks like he’ll finally get his hands on Sweeney, Chris Hero arrives…

Claudio Castagnoli vs Chris Hero

This match is almost a year in the making. It was during Final Battle 2006 weekend that Larry Sweeney made his debut as Chris Hero’s agent with Claudio seemingly WWE-bound. Despite Double C remaining in ROH, Hero opted to join Sweeney anyway, thus ending the Kings Of Wrestling as a team. Claudio has been desperate to get his hands on Sweeney ever since, and things have been getting more and more heated between himself and his former partner in the process. If Claudio wins tonight he gets a singles match with Larry Sweeney tomorrow night. If he loses, Larry Sweeney gets to take ownership of his ROH contract, and Sweeney has already stated that Claudio will be banished from ROH, and sent to the WWE a’la Matt Sydal.

Hero starts in the ascendancy seeing as he attacked Claudio from behind as he tried to get his hands on Sweeney. He celebrates this advantage by BACK FLIPPING over the top rope into a slap on Bobby Dempsey. That was pretty awesome. He gets 2 after a neckbreaker with Castagnoli balanced in the ropes. Some suspicious editing later and we seem to clip to Claudio landing a diving European. He positions Hero on Dempsey’s shoulders on the outside then thuds into both of them with a tope suicida. Match Killer scores but Hero strikes back with a Misawa-esque elbow strike. Roaring elbow staggers Castagnoli again and Hero takes him down with a flipping neckbreaker. Cravat suplex gets 2. Springboard European from Claudio, then the Les Artess German suplex for 2. Giant Swing on Hero then a bicycle kick. Riccola Bomb countered with a BRUTAL hurricanrana for 2. Roaring Elbow again and Hero looks for the Hero’s Wlecome. Claudio counters with the Alpamare Water Slide…BUT THAT’S COUNTERED WITH A CRAVAT! COUNTERED INTO THE RICCOLA BOMB! Castagnoli wins at 09:12. He gets his singles match with Sweeney tomorrow night.

Rating – *** –
Disappointingly short, although perhaps that was a refreshing change of pace after their somewhat tedious, bloated 25-minute matches at recent shows. Bags of effort on display, culminating in an absolutely brilliant closing sequence.

Backstage the Briscoes are warming up for their Tag Title defence…these shots are narrated by the Age Of The Fall who aren’t waiting till later in the night to answer the Briscoes demands for a fight.

Takeshi Morishima vs Bryan Danielson

This one is being fought under relaxed rules as both men have a grudge that needs to be settled. Morishima busted up Danielson’s eye in their fantastic first match at Manhattan Mayhem 2, then used that same injury to his advantage in winning the rematch at Man Up. By the time we got to their third clash at Glory By Honor 6 American Dragon was pretty pissed off, and ended up losing the match via DQ after he repeatedly stomped on Morishima’s testicles. Time for Round 4!

Danielson can’t even get to the ring before Mori is on him. The Japanese star picks up the timekeepers table and simply hurls it at Dragon, busting him open. Danielson tries to get into the ring but Morishima clubs him off and he crashes into the guardrails. Missile dropkick from the big man finds the mark, and that’s the first time both have entered the ring for the match to start officially. Dragon is literally covered in his own blood now. At last he connects with a running enziguri for his first offensive strike of the match. More kicks, then the triangle choke locked in. Morishima powers out and connects with a massive lariat. BACK DROP DRIVER! LARIATOOO! Incredibly Dragon gets the shoulder up at 2. He drags Mori down into the MMA Elbows…but Mori turns it over and we resort to both men rolling around on the canvas and throwing savage strikes. LOW BLOW from Mori! REPEATED CROTCH STOMPS! He hurls the ref down and is disqualified at 05:51. BACK DROP DRIVER ON A REFEREE! DRAGON GOES AFTER MORI’S EYE WITH A HAMMER!

Rating – *** –
These two can do no wrong against each other. Even in a brief little match like this they still brought the awesome in copious quantities. Once again fantastic story telling, with Morishima furious after what happened at Glory By Honor 6, and going out there to absolutely destroy Danielson. In the end Dragon had too much resilience for him to win, so Mori snapped and decided it was more important to obliterate him. We NEED one more match in this series!

Backstage again where the Hangm3n are upset at the Vulture Squad for stopping them winning the Scramble Match, so decide they’re going to go beat them up. Sore losers…

Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Roderick Strong/Rocky Romero – ROH Tag Title 2/3 Falls Match

Another rematch from Glory By Honor 6 weekend where it was the Briscoes coming out the victors and successfully retaining their belts. Indeed, Jay and Mark have twice fended off challenges from members of the No Remorse Corps, but have accepted a third match with 2/3 Falls Rules – a match format that hasn’t seen them lose a single fall all year.

Nice, brisk start from Romero and Mark, culminating with Rocky landing a kick to the jaw. The first advantage goes to the challengers who try to isolate Jay from his partner. That doesn’t last as Mark gets a blind tag and restores parity. Using their typically fluid team work the Briscoes start wearing Strong down, and even after Romero gets the tag, they stay in command. Eventually Roderick is able to distract Mark from the outside, enabling his partner to score with a springboard DDT. Mark hits a springboard moonsault press as things start to break down. Corkscrew pescado scores as well. SOMERSAULT PLANCHA DOWN THE AISLE FROM JAY! In the ring he gets 2 with a military press DVD before Strong seizes him from behind for a torture wrack backbreaker. Rocky prevents the champions from hitting the Doomsday Device and Strong drops Jay with a Sick Kick. DOOMSDAY KNEE STRIKE! GIBSON DRIVER! The NRC win the first fall at 11:55! The streak is broken! And now the Briscoes have to recover and win their customary “two straight” falls just to save their belts. Romero batters Jay with kicks, then Strong lifts him into a flying dropkick down onto their prone opponent in the corner. Briscoe shoulder tackle by the challengers! Romero goes for a second springboard DDT but Jay counters with a falcon arrow. Hot tag to Mark who ninja’s the sh*t out of both opponents. He rolls Strong up to counter a Gibson driver and brings it to 1-1 at 16:12. Both teams need a moment to recover and stare each other down before charging into the final fall. Mark gets 2 on Rocky with a fisherman buster but misses a moonsault and gets punished by the NRC. Springboard Ace crusher fells Roderick. SPIKE JAY DRILLER! The Briscoes win at 20:19

Rating – *** –
Tons of action in an entertaining bout, but not quite up to the super-exciting standard of the Briscoes/NRC tag from the last ppv when Richards was involved. I appreciate the point that losing the fall here clearly shows that the Briscoes are finally slowing down after a crazy run with the belts (especially in view of what would occur tomorrow night at Final Battle), but I’m not sure they were really given enough time to tell 3 falls worth of story. The match was divided into two halves, with the first 10 minutes being quite tame and run-of-the-mill, then the second 10 being just constant spots without much rhyme or reason. To the extent that both Briscoes falls seemed completely out of nowhere and anti-climactic. Given the talent involved this was hardly going to be bad – it just wasn’t quite the classic it looked on paper.

In a locker-room split-screen we see heel factions the Age Of The Fall and the Hangman 3 roam the building in search of the Briscoes and the Vulture Squad respectively.

Nigel McGuinness vs Austin Aries – ROH World Title Match

There’s a real big fight atmosphere surrounding this one. Austin Aries earned the right to be here by besting Bryan Danielson in a 3-match series, disbanded The Resilience in order to concentrate on this match, and even put the right to wrestle on the line against Chris Hero last time in this building. For Nigel, after sitting out Glory By Honor 6 weekend and Unscripted 3 (as well as taking it easy in an exhibition match at Reckless Abandon) due to injury, this is a chance to silence some of his critics and prove he has what it takes to carry the promotion.

Nigel gets a completely split reaction from the fans. Hard to tell if it’s due to ROH’s version of John Cena heat or simply the number of fans wanting to see Aries become the first two-time World Champion tonight. Aries drops a knee over Nigel’s previously injured biceps, and McGuinness walks to the floor, turning his back on the ring. HEAT SEEKING MISSILE NAILED! Nigel smashes face-first into the railings and is knocked goofy. He has a massive cut over his right eyebrow and looks like he can barely stand. Almost going on instinct, he swings punches and elbows at the challenger even as blood starts to pour all over his face. He puts a headscissors on Austin which is a mistake…but has enough about him to get the arms up and block the inevitable dropkick. Again seemingly going on nothing but instinct, he starts working Aries’ arm. Headscissors counter dropkick blocked for a second time…so Aries punts him right in the bloody face. Aries drives elbows into the cut eyebrow, then floats into a cross armbreaker on the bad arm. Talk about capitalising on your opponent’s weaknesses. Hammerlock DDT from the champion, buying himself time to recover and softening up Aries for the London Dungeon. McLariat finds the mark…and Aries rolls to the ropes before Nigel gets a chance to cover. Cobra Clutch applied instead, but Aries rolls into a hammerlock…and combines that with kicks to the groggy head.

Rings Of Aries locked in and remember, not only is he testing out Nigel’s rehabbed torn bicep, he’s negating how effective Nigel’s lariats will be. McGuinness sent outside again and Aries looks for another Heat Seeking Missile. It’s BLOCKED with an uppercut. TOWER OF LONDON TO THE FLOOR! Back inside Nigel blasts Aries with another McLariat, but takes longer that he would’ve liked before being able to cover thanks to all the damage sustained. Aries goes for the running dropkick but Nigel kicks him right in the face. Tower Of London inside the ring gets 2. London Dungeon blocked, and he throws an elbow into Nigel’s face to block a Jawbreaker Lariat. REPEATED elbows to the jaw but Nigel still hasn’t been worn down enough for the Brainbuster. SUPER MCLARIAT SENDS ARIES CRASHING TO THE FLOOR! If he was in the ring now Austin would be finished. But he gets time to recover as he’s on the floor, and when he does. BRAINBUSTER ONTO THE GUARDRAIL! SICK SICK SICK SPOT! He hauls McGuinness back into the ring and goes savage with strikes in the corner. BRAINBUSTER! 450 SPLASH INTO NIGEL’S KNEES! LONDON DUNGEON…COUNTERED INTO A ROLL-UP FOR 2. BRAINBUSTER AGAIN! HORNS OF ARIES! KNEE STRIKES! They leave Aries’ leg covered in blood. McGuinness lines up the Jawbreaker again, but Aries blocks again with a clothesline. The Champion clobbers Aries with a northern McLariat. Kick to the head counters the London Dungeon again…JAWBREAKER LARIATOOOOOOOOOOOO! Nigel wins at 23:17!

Rating – ****1/2 –
A brutal, gripping match and a real late shout for MOTY. The psychology in this was so deep, and so impressive considering that Nigel was knocked silly five minutes into the match and basically wrestled the whole thing semi-conscious. That ill-fated Heat Seeking Missile from Aries really lit the touch-paper under this one. Everything McGuinness did was basic, and went back to the things he instinctively knows he’s good at – i.e. basic strikes, arm work and lariats. Aries, strategy of working the arm and then going after the head after Nigel was knocked out, in turn was exceptional. And all this played out in front of a molten hot crowd. The kind of crowd that really makes ROH special, and contributes to big matches, making them all the more memorable. In truth, the half star I knocked off the match was probably as much for overkill as anything else. I just didn’t see how it was believable that Nigel, knocked out in the opening minutes and covered in blood would be able to survive Brainbusters, that frightening guardrail Brainbuster and STILL have enough in him to get knees up to block the 450, then go on to win. I now make that a sensational four MOTYC’s over ROH’s five ppv outings so far…is there any better value on ppv than Ring Of Honor right now?

The cheesy backstage camera gimmick we’ve been following all night climaxes with the Briscoes and the Age Of The Fall brawling around the locker rooms…and soon the Hangm3n and Vultures spill in too. All this is set to a ridiculous, pounding death metal song, which makes it seem like some kind of modern day, grungy Benny Hill skit.

A bloody, dazed Nigel McGuinness stares into space, the massive gash over his eyebrow plain to see as the ppv closes. Great shot.

Bonus Matches

There’s lots of bonus material available with this DVD. In-ring segments featuring Tammy Sytch and Bushwhacker Luke, plus a couple of matches.

Tammy’s segment slotted into the ppv taping right as the women’s triple threat was about to get underway. As good as it is to see her looking happy and healthy, I’m not sure she’s got quite the right look to be shaking her butt in the middle of the ring to ‘Back in Black’. Apparently she’s here to see some good quality women’s wrestling. She should probably avoid watching Daizee then. After the match she tries to get some applause for the wrestlers but Lacey interrupts. Credit where credit is due, Lacey cuts the promo of her life and tears ‘Sunny’ a new one. Daizee holds Lacey back from attacking Tammy, who then slaps her in the face. Lacey’s promo was absolutely FANTASTIC though. (sorry guys, I never really liked Tammy/Sunny)

In another segment, an absolutely crazy looking Bushwhacker Luke is introduced as a guest timekeeper. Adam Pearce and Brent Albright beat him up…which is probably for the best considering he looked way too mental to keep time properly.

Mitch Franklin vs Jigsaw vs Necro Butcher vs Matt Cross

No real surprise this one didn’t make the ppv. I believe this is M-Dogg’s first appearances since he was suspended from ROH competition as a result of losing the fall during the Resilience/NRC tag match at the Undeniable taping. The big, ginger beard he’s grown during that hiatus is truly awful.

This is an FIP style Four Way Fray apparently, so everybody is in and no tags are necessary. All the jobbers shake hands with each other whilst looking to scared to shake with Necro. Bell rings and Necro interrupts Cross’ fancy ring-dive fake-out to haul him out of the ring and hurl him into the barriers. Mitch flips Jigsaw into the turnbuckles with a hurricanrana then hits a nice swinging DDT. Necro in, and he FLOORS Franklin with a right hand. That’s enough to eliminate Mitch at 02:06. Jigsaw tries to come off the top but gets peppered with punches by Necro. They fight on the apron until Jig hiptosses Necro to the floor. Inverted suplex by M-Dogg, but he misses a moonsault right afterwards. Cross still escapes the Jig’n’Tonic then drops Butcher with a DVD over the knee. Springboard double stomp scores, but Jigsaw takes advantage and rolls Cross up to eliminate him at 05:28. Necro relentlessly hammers away on Jigsaw, knocking him silly with more sick punches. Jig valiantly tries to trade strikes with him and manages to hold his own. Necro blocks a superkick then punches him RIGHT IN THE JAW! Tiger Driver wins it for Necro at 08:34

Rating – * –
Total filler. Necro punching the sh*t out of the jobbers was entertaining to a point, and Jigsaw’s courageous display in the last couple of minutes saved what was otherwise thoroughly mediocre fare. One positive – Necro is REALLY over.

Naomichi Marufuji vs Claudio Castagnoli

This is a rematch from Glory By Honor 6 Night 2 when Claudio Castagnoli scored a massive upset victory in probably the match of the night. It was a tremendous performance from Claudio, and fans quickly called for a rematch. That was booked so here we are. Can Marufuji get his win back?

Pretty even from the bell, although you sense Marufuji is the more aggressive – keen to avenge his defeat last time in this building. He goes for the Codebreaker early but it’s blocked and Claudio gets 2 with a tilta-whirl backbreaker. Gutwrench suplex gets 2 as well. Marufuji hits a combo of awesome moves in the corner, eventually driving Castagnoli face-first into to the bottom turnbuckle. Superkick blocked and Claudio levels Maru with a European. Match Killer countered into a low clothesline. Castagnoli looks for the pinning combo that got him the victory at Glory By Honor but it doesn’t work a second time. Giant Swing works though…but Castagnoli tries to follow it by going to the top rope, which is he isn’t good normally, so when he’s dizzy it’s even less successful. Marufuji powerbombs him out of the corner for 2. Basement superkick gets the NOAH star a 2-count as well. Shiranui blocked with a GERMAN SUPERPLEX! Les Artess German suplex blocked…SHIRANUI! But both men are too exhausted to cover. Superkick from Marufuji…Bicycle kick from Claudio! Riccola Bomb nailed but Marufuji is basically next to the ropes. Perfect Inside Cradle…and Maru wins at 09:40.

Rating – *** –
Decent match, but not in the same league as their first one. It didn’t help that Claudio had already wrestled on the ppv, or that this was the last match on what, I’m sure, was a very long evening of wrestling. The crowd seemed as lethargic as the in-ring action in the early-going. They did pick it up a notch, particularly Marufuji (who is such a smooth and explosive talent), towards the end though. I don’t see why this rematch couldn’t have happened sometime in 2008, rather that tagging it needlessly onto the end of this event and having Claudio work twice in one night.

Sweet’n’Sour Inc try to attack Claudio after the match but Marufuji helps to fight them off. Just as Claudio looks like he’s about to get his hands on Sweeney Daniel Puder emerges from the back and slaps a leg grapevine on him. Erick Stevens comes out to get in Puder’s face, but the NRC appear to attack him. The Vulture Squad save Stevens before they can do any serious damage.

Tape Rating – *** –
As usual, that was a great ppv from Ring Of Honor. Probably more filler and skippable stuff on this 2-hour show than on any of the previous shows (Albright/Delirious, Lacey/Daizee/Sara and Stevens/Richards definitely fall into that category)…but the sensational main event more than made up for it. Obviously Nigel had had some terrific matches with the likes of Danielson and Morishima before, but I think this was the first time he proved he could really deliver the goods as Ring Of Honor World Champion. His performance, particularly considering the early injury he sustained, was superb. I don’t think WWE or TNA really came close to matching ROH’s in-ring quality on pay-per-view in 2007. The major criticism would be that this is essentially a one-match show. There’s lots of solid wrestling on the show but everything else (Hero/Claudio, Briscoes/NRC, Claudio/Marufuji, Danielson/Morishima) has been done better elsewhere. But, as I’ve said, Aries and Nigel put on an exceptionally good main event, worthy of picking up the DVD alone, and as there’s lots of other good (but not awesome) stuff to enjoy, everyone’s a winner really.

Top 3 Matches

3) Claudio Castagnoli vs Chris Hero (***)

2) Bryan Danielson vs Takeshi Morishima (***)

1) Nigel McGuinness vs Austin Aries (****1/2)

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