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172 ROH Proving Ground 1/11/2008

ROH 172 – Proving Ground – 11th January 2008

It has been a LONG time since I’ve reviewed anything, Ring Of Honor or otherwise. The last thing I reviewed was Final Battle 2007, and that was early on in 2008. Now here we are in September 2009. Over the past couple of months I’ve placed a few massive orders with ROH, and now have purchased all the 2008 DVD’s, as well as the first 6 months of 2009. That’s a MASSIVE amount I’ve got to review…and it will take me well over a year to catch up I’d imagine. But it’s a challenge I’m relishing. I’m approaching these reviews without any preconceptions, uninfluenced by live reviews, and in most instances, not knowing or having forgotten the results of shows. Spoiler-free ROH…should be interesting!

So here we are, against a back drop of ROH moving their TV show (yes, TV show) to Monday nights, pissing off Vince McMahon and the WWE to the extent that they’ve just signed up the promotions top talents Bryan Danielson and Nigel McGuinness (with the promise of more talent raids on the horizon), Adam Pearce booking the company, plummeting DVD sales, rumoured financial problems etc, lets journey back to the start of 2008. It would be a crucial year for Ring Of Honor. 2007 saw them reach a wider audience than ever before thanks to pay-per-view, but the talent roster irreversibly change as TNA talent was finally withdrawn in it’s entirety, meaning Samoa Joe, Chris Daniels, Homicide (all part of the company since the Murphy Rec days) and more leaving ROH for good. Nigel McGuinness has a lot of doubters as ROH World Champion, despite delivering a bonafide classic with Austin Aries at Rising Above. There are guys like Erick Stevens, Brent Albright, Kevin Steen, El Generico, Roderick Strong and more positioned high up on the card, looking for that one break-out moment to turn them into main event players.

The Age Of The Fall have just dethroned poster boys the Briscoes and have the tough ask of following that marquee team as Tag Team Champions. Even Gabe has questions to answer creatively after a below par final quarter of 2007. Lots to prove for everyone then, so it’s fitting we start the new year with PROVING GROUND. Erick Stevens is looking to prove he belongs at the top of the card by defending the FIP Title against former stable mate Austin Aries. Brent Albright looks to prove his main event credentials in a match with Bryan Danielson, whilst Age Of The Fall have to justify their Tag Title win by defending them in Ultimate Endurance. There’s also Kevin Steen and Necro Butcher meeting in what promises to be a wild brawl and Daniel Puder’s in ring debut. Lets get to Boston, MA to join Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard.

ROH VIDEO WIRE (07/01/08) – Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard introduce the Wire, taped in the middle of the ring at Final Battle ’07. Backstage after winning the Tag Titles Jimmy Jacobs points out that AOTF now have the power. Elsewhere the Briscoes are so devastated to have lost the belts that they can barely talk to Becky Bayless.

In pitch darkness Rebecca Bayless opens the show. She tries to interview Austin Aries who avoids her question about his FIP Title Match tonight…

Pelle Primeau/Eddie Edwards vs Jason Blade/Kenny King

Speaking of proving themselves, I imagine all four of these guys should be pretty hungry. Blade and King (flanked by Sal Rinauro, Chasyn Rance and a hoard of girls) represent the YRR, who are an established heel act in FIP. They were pretty entertaining last year during a couple of cameo appearances in the Midwest, but will now be looking to advance themselves into full time slots. This is Pelle’s first match for sometime. He made his unexpected return to help out Kevin Steen, El Generico and Delirious in their Tables Are Legal Match with the Hangm3n at Final Battle.

Edwards starts out impressively against Blade, eventually beating him back into his corner where he makes the tag to King. He almost decapitates Pelle with a clothesline to give the YRR the advantage. Argentine gutbuster gets Kenny a 2-count, and that’s followed up with a big spinebuster. Swinging backbreaker gets 2 as well. Primeau eventually hits a swinging DDT and makes the hot tag to Edwards. He pulls Blade out of the corner into a piggyback Stunner, then powerbombs Pelle down on top of him. He goes to the top but Kenny stops whatever he intended with a jumping enzi kick. Primeau in…and he gets taken out with a Dominator/DDT combo. The YRR win at 08:20

Rating – ** –
Not the worst opener in the world, but it was always going to be hindered by the fact that the only one of the four who’s anything approaching over is Pelle Primeau, and he’s the least talented by some distance. I was impressed by Edwards’ performance – which was probably his best in ROH to date. Once again the YRR looked like a decent undercard comedy-heel act, with this particular duo having a nice power/speed dynamic. Not sure there’s really room for them on the roster (particularly as Sweet’n’Sour Inc already have the rich comedy heel act pretty nailed)…but they certainly deserve more bookings, and a few higher profile matches.

Sal Rinauro tries to cut a promo but is interrupted by the Briscoes (whom the YRR defeated to become FIP Tag Team Champions). They are still VERY agitated about losing to the Age Of The Fall, and promise to win the belts back in tonight’s main event.

Alexa Thatcher vs Daizee Haze

SHIMMER filler here. Alexa made a couple of appearances last year, but I remember her more for how hot she is than anything she did in the ring. I’m pretty out of touch with SHIMMER these days so I have no idea how big a talent she is.

Chain wrestling from the bell which, by Daizee’s standards, is actually pretty crisp. Thatcher strikes first blood with a side slam and a big kick to the spine soon afterwards. Daizee responds with one of the shoddiest body slams I’ve seen, then a missile dropkick for 2. Heart Punch countered with a ROUGH German suplex for 2. Haze’s landing was really ugly on that. Heart Punch scores second time, followed up with the Yakuza Kick/Mind Trip combo for a Daizee win at 04:43

Rating – * –
Short, meaningless, and after the first minute, pretty sloppy as well. Thatcher is hotter, seemingly more talented than Daizee…and probably more charismatic as well. I’m sure Daizee is a lovely girl, but she is the least talented person on the regular ROH roster by a LONG way.

Erick Stevens contemplates his ultra-tough weekend. He’s scheduled to defend his FIP Title against arguably ROH’s two best wrestlers – Austin Aries and Bryan Danielson. He wants to prove the doubters wrong again and emerge from this weekend still FIP Champion.

Ruckus vs Claudio Castagnoli

I’d much rather see Ruckus team with Jack Evans in the main event tonight, but this should be a chance for him to shine in singles competition – Claudio has a reputation as being a really solid opponent for high-flying wrestlers. Castagnoli’s 2008 agenda is putting a run together towards another World Title shot, and settling his issues with Sweet’n’Sour Inc. A win on the first show would set him on his way.

Razzle Dazzle misses for Ruckus, allowing Castagnoli to hit a diving European uppercut for 2. Crab elbow drop scores as Double C looks to ground Ruckus and negate his speed advantage. Snapmare off the second rope gets 2 as well. He looks for a fallaway slam…but Ruckus counters in mid-air with a flipping neckbreaker. That’s missed by both commentators. Back flip headscissors sends Castagnoli through the ropes to the floor. HANDSPRING MOONSAULT in the aisle by Ruckus. Rolling fisherman suplex countered by Castagnoli and he drops the Chocolate Vulture with a bicycle kick. Tumbling Rocker Dropper gets Ruckus a 2 but Claudio hits back with the Match Killer. Riccola Bomb countered into a swinging neckbreaker. Ruckus looks for the moonsault leg drop…but Claudio ROLLS THROUGH into the Giant Swing. Running uppercut wins it for Claudio at 09:55.

Rating – ** –
Lots of action which was enjoyable, but I was disappointed by Ruckus’ performance in there. A lot of guys I talk to have been really high on his work in CZW, and this was his first singles match of any real substance in ROH. He wasn’t bad in any sense, but he seemed so low key and laid back. There was no charisma to his work at all. Indeed, he didn’t really look like he was trying very hard. Given that the whole match was trying to sell him as the underdog, the impression that he wasn’t particularly busting his ass to beat Castagnoli undermined the drama in everything they were going for.

Time for Daniel Puder to make his ROH debut. Larry Sweeney, Sara Del Rey, Bobby Dempsey and the injured Chris Hero accompany him to issue an open challenge. Claudio Castagnoli tries to answer…but Larry Sweeney says he has a restraining order, so he doesn’t get to fight. A jobber from Boston (Mikey Bennett) eventually answers the challenge and lasts about 8 seconds before getting tapped out. Bryan Danielson takes exception to Larry Sweeney’s claim that nobody could make Daniel Puder submit and comes out to join the party. He challenges Puder…but Sweeney refuses. He won’t let ROH book that match until he’s negotiated a decent financial package. PLEASE book that match!! Claudio reappears to chase Puder and Sweeney to the back…leaving Bryan Danielson alone in the ring and ready to fight.

Bryan Danielson vs Brent Albright

I’ve said on quite a few occasions that I think ROH is missing a trick in how they’re booking Brent Albright. I think Paul Heyman was onto a winner when he booked him as ‘The Shooter’ in OVW, pushing him as a technically proficient, Benoit-esque wrestler in a memorable feud with CM Punk. This hulking brawler ROH are pushing him as really doesn’t allow him to show what a great mat wrestler he really is. Hopefully he’ll get to show off some of those skills in what could be a really good match against one of the best wrestlers on the planet in American Dragon.

Albright refuses to shake Danielson’s hand, saying he’ll only do that if Dragon can beat him. He goes for the Crowbar early but it’s easily evaded at this stage. Slaps traded…and Albright knocks Danielson off his feet. Score one for him. Dragon responds by trying to attack the leg but again Albright manages to take him down. Brent is matching the former World Champion every step of the way at the moment. Mexican surfboard blocked as Albright stays a step ahead of his opponent. Danielson tries to come off the top rope but gets shoved off to the floor – injuring his arm in the process. Albright pounces immediately, driving that arm into the ring post and canvas. Hammerlock back suplex nailed as he really starts to open up the injury. Danielson tries to mount a comeback only to be downed again with an armbar DDT. At last Dragon manages to score with a missile dropkick, then dives through the ropes into a tope suicida. Inside again with Albright hitting a backbreaker then floating into the Half Nelson suplex for 2. Running enziguri from Dragon who continues to struggle with his arm, and Albright shakes the kick off to apply a cross armbreaker. That’s countered into Cattle Mutilation, but of course, Albright finds it easier to roll through. MMA ELBOWS INSTEAD! But even they’re weaker now. CROWBAR! Danielson counters into a Fujiwara armbar of his own. Countered again…Albright uses Cattle Mutilation on Dragon! In the end both men knock heads and take a while getting back to their feet. Danielson blocks a superplex…Albright rolls aside to avoid the diving headbutt. HALF NELSON SUPLEX AGAIN! Dragon kicks out at 2! 61-Knee scores, then the Crowbar again! Danielson escapes again and slaps on a triangle choke WITH ELBOWS! Albright taps at 18:37

Rating – *** –
Not quite on a par with the Morishima match from last summer, but that was a great outing for Albright – one of the best matches of his ROH career. I liked how they let him really cut loose on the mat, and he matched Bryan Danielson every step of the way during this one. I toyed with the idea of awarding this match a fourth star, but opted against it in the end. It’s really good, but it’s more of a cerebral battle than an exciting one. Great story and a tense mat battle though.

Necro Butcher vs Kevin Steen

Not a massive amount of back story between these two. But we know how much Kevin Steen (and his partner El Generico) would like to be Tag Champions. Beating the reigning title holders’ stable mate in Necro would be a big step towards Steen-erico getting a shot at them.

Wild slugfest from the bell, both men trading ferocious punches. Neither gets an advantage there so they spill to the outside. Necro wraps Steen up in the floor mats then climbs to the top rope. Flying splash all the way to the floor on top of Steen who can’t move. He steals one of Bobby Cruise’s shoes and uses it to wail away on Mr Wrestling. Steen has really struggled to cope with Necro in this type of match but manages to drive a chair into his face with a somersault leg drop. Outside again where Butcher opens up a few chairs and positions them next to each other. They right on the apron but Steen manages to knock Necro back towards the chairs. STEEN-TON BOMB OVER THE TOP ROPE MISSES! Steen crashes through the chairs in a highly unpleasant manner. Necro brings it back inside and gets 2 with a swinging neckbreaker onto one of the chairs. He sets them up back to back…CHAIR BACKBREAKER! But still Kevin Steen won’t be pinned. He grabs Necro and press slams him off the top rope. STEEN-TON BOMB ACROSS A CHAIR NAILED! Necro kicks out at 2. BRUTAL CHAIR SHOT! NECRO NO SELLS! PACKAGE PILEDRIVER ONTO A CHAIR! Steen wins at 14:42

Rating – *** –
What a fight that was. Kevin Steen got pummelled for the whole match, which did wonders for Necro’s credibility as it made the point that Steen is a wrestler – but in a Street Fight it’s almost impossible for anyone to live with Necro. Literally Steen spent the majority of the match trying to repel different attacks. In the end he had to utilise a devastating trio of moves in order to beat him. By winning Kevin Steen looks like a player, but in defeat Necro regained a lot of the cred he lost in his defeat to Jack Evans at Final Battle 2007. Great booking…good match.

INTERMISSION – Rebecca Bayless catches up with Kevin Steen and El Generico. Steen looks worse for wear after surviving the Necro Butcher, after telling Generico to go prepare for his match with Roderick Strong tonight, proceeds to fall down a flight of stairs.

Sal Rinauro vs Delirious

Multiple YRR members mean that conveniently there are enough of them on hand to work the popcorn match on both halves of the show. Sal is the FIP Florida Heritage Champion, and actually getting some solid reviews for his work. Which is good for him because, outside of one Tag Title defence with Tony Mamaluke (the one where they lost the belts – after one of the most mediocre championship runs in ROH history), his various stints in ROH have been completely forgettable.

Delirious is back to green attire, meaning he’s slightly more jovial (although, to be fair, the differences between “angry red” Delirious and “happy green” Delirious are minimal). Very basic opening few minutes. Delirious looks to be in control until Jason Blade distracts him, allowing Sal to hiptoss him into the turnbuckles. Next up is a very basic few minutes of Rinauro in control. Delirious fights back with a trio of headbutts to the abdomen and both men are left reeling. Chokeslam gets Delirous a 2, quickly followed by the Panic Attack. Shadows Over Hell misses and Rinauro rolls into a jawbreaker. Chasyn Rance distracts Delirious now and Rinauro drops him with a superkick. Delirious launches Sal from the top rope into King and Blade on the floor. Springboard countered into the Cobra Stretch, and Rinauro taps out at 10:28.

Rating – * –
For the most part, that was boring as hell. Nothing at all wrong with it, just so basic and painfully average. Until the last few minutes it was a real struggle finding anything to write about during play by play. Delirious continues to be a spent force, and desperately needs some major tweaks to his character, or a heel turn, or to be ditched altogether for a while.

El Generico vs Roderick Strong

There’s precious little connecting these two. I suppose, much like with Steen and Necro earlier tonight, Generico and Roderick Strong (as part of the NRC) are in the running for a Tag Title shot at new champions the Age Of The Fall. Strong is fresh off losing the FIP Title at Final Battle 2007, so will be looking to rebound from that and gather momentum for his Chicago match with Nigel McGuinness.

Roderick jumps Generico from the bell, and dishes out numerous early chops. Generico looks to use his speed to his advantage, hitting a split-legged moonsault for 2. A dropkick knocks Strong out of the ring, but he quickly rolls back in as Generico things about a dive and responds with a big dropkick of his own. He drops the Generic Luchador ribs-first over the guardrail as he looks to open up injuries to the midsection and set up for the Stronghold. Big boot countered and Roddy hauls him down into the first backbreaker of the match. Bodyscissors locked in, making it hard to breathe whilst continuing the focused assault on Generico’s middle. He quells an attempted Generico come back by aiming a chop right into the stomach. RUNNING MOONSAULT to the floor from Generico, but that will have done almost as much damage to himself as to the former FIP Champion. Flying crossbody next, then a Blue Thunder Driver for 2. Yakuza kick blocked and Strong hits a capture backbreaker. He looks to climb the ropes and this time does get hit with the Yakuza Kick. Brainbustah blocked and Strong hits the Sick Kick. Backbreaker into Death By Roderick, then the Gibson Driver. It’s over at 11:17

Rating – *** –
Decent match which told a consistent story from bell to bell. It was a very comprehensive victory for Roderick, who dominated for the most part. I guess the logic behind this win is to make him look strong (pun definitely intended) going into his (scheduled) World Title match with Nigel McGuinness later this month. Despite his run in the Race To The Top Tournament last summer, I don’t think Generico has had too many break-out matches as a singles wrestler up to this point either, so he’s not hurt too much by the defeat.

Brent Albright and BJ Whitmer run out to attack El Generico, and promise a Tag Title win tonight.

A few minutes later backstage Rebecca Bayless checks on the condition of El Generico. Kevin Steen was on the phone to his mother so missed the whole attack but swears revenge on Albright tomorrow.

Erick Stevens vs Austin Aries – FIP Heavyweight Title Match

The plan to push Stevens to upper midcard status is well and truly underway with his scheduled matches this weekend. He has FIP Title defences lined up against Aries tonight then Bryan Danielson tomorrow. Given the high quality of his Final Battle victory over Roderick Strong, I’m actually looking forward to these two a lot more than I would’ve been. I still have my doubts about Stevens as a future main eventer at this stage, but he’s capable of holding his own and putting on decent matches with good opponents. Obviously this one has added interest because it’s a meeting of two former Resilience members. Austin Aries disbanded the stable, against Erick Stevens’ wishes, to focus on his singles career. Now Erick will be determined to prove himself to his former leader. Aries is looking to rebound in a big way following his two high profile defeats at Rising Above and Final Battle.

It is completely even in the early going, Stevens utilising his size to ensure he hangs with the ROH veteran. After a respectful opening few minutes, tempers start to flare and they shove each other angrily. Erick easily escapes a camel clutch, but finds his sporting clean break in the ropes met with Aries diving off the second rope and wiping him out. Aries is clearly the more ill-tempered and aggressive of the two, demonstrating it by taking Stevens down with a neckbreaker. It’s far too early for the Brainbuster though, so he has to settle with a sharp kick to the chest. The champion comes back with a powerslam then a backbreaker. Choo Choo is evaded and Austin balances him on the apron, exposing the neck to a number of free shots as he starts to prepare for the Horns Of Aries. Back body drop then a bear hug from Stevens, and he converts that into a snap belly to belly suplex. Shoulder tackle from the second rope connects and he lifts Austin into a front slam which draws a near fall. Stevens for the outside again and he eats the Heat Seeking Missile. Back inside Aries pummels him with elbows…SO STEVENS SUPLEXES HIM TO THE FLOOR! Shoulder tackle from the apron finds the mark as well. Aries climbs the ropes for a PLANCHA INTO THE CROWD! Terrific spot, but remember, this is an FIP match so now both men are in a rush to beat the 20-count back to the ring. Neither man manages…and we have a double count-out at 16:07. Is that a Ring Of Honor first? Stevens retains, but he grabs a microphone and refuses to accept. He demands the match is restarted, so we’re underway again. Running dropkick from Aries might make him regret his decision. Crucifix Driver…BRAINBUSTER! 450 SPLASH INTO STEVENS’ KNEES! Erick comes up with a German suplex but Austin still has enough about him to block the Choo Choo. Running TKO gets Stevens a 2. Doctor Bomb blocked so they trade some really stiff elbows. Kick of Death finds the mark but Stevens won’t fall victim to another Brainbuster. Knee strikes into the HORNS OF ARIES! Erick fights back to his feet and frees himself with a chest lariat. DOCTOR BOMB COUNTERED INTO A RANA! ELBOW BY ARIES. LARIAT BY STEVENS! DOCTOR BOMB SCORES!! Stevens retains at 19:59

Rating – **** –
I’ve seen some criticism of this match, but I thought it was really good. In terms of the actual wresting, I think Stevens/Strong from Final Battle was better, but this one had a far superior story. Both men were terrific in their roles. Aries, coming off those losses in New York, is now portraying a more bitter, angry persona, and demonstrated this with his surly attitude, lack of clean breaks and general aggression towards a man who had his back during their wars with the No Remorse Corps. And Stevens, as ever, was the willing babyface – conveying both respect for his opponent and determination to win in even measure. In all fairness, the double count-out restart was incredibly cheesy, and a horribly tacky way of trying to get Stevens over – so to the extremely cynical Ring Of Honor fanbase, it won’t have achieved that at all. It was different to most finishes though, so in terms of providing some variety, it was still a decent idea.

Erick curtails his celebrations to offer a handshake to Aries…which is refused.

Age Of The Fall vs Hangman 3 vs Vulture Squad vs Briscoe Brothers – ROH Tag Title Ultimate Endurance Match

At Final Battle 2007 Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black achieved their goal of winning the ROH Tag Title and gaining the power and a platform to spread the message and agendas via Ring Of Honor DVD’s. Keen to get the belts off them as soon as possible, they’ve been given a mountain to climb tonight. Former champions the Briscoes are desperate to get the belts back at the first time of asking, whilst the Vultures (represented by Evans and Jigsaw) and the Hangm3n (BJ Whitmer teaming with Brent Albright – in his second match of the evening) will be keen to boost the standing of their respective stables by bringing the gold home. As it’s Ultimate Endurance we’ve got different rules in all three falls as usual. First is a Tag Team Scramble. Once one team is eliminated it becomes a No DQ Match for fall 2, before leaving the final two teams to revert to traditional rules to contest the Championship.

The Briscoes and the AOTF waste no team by brawling around the arena before the champions can even reach the ring. Eventually the Hangm3n try to intervene by hitting dives to the floor to split them up. STEREO DIVES by the Evans and Jigsaw look more impressive. That leaves the ring clear for Lacey and “Booty Vulture” Mercedes Martinez to have a quick fight. Evans moonsaults Jacobs as he is stretched over Jigsaw’s knees, and the Vultures combine again to score a near fall on Jay Briscoe. Tyler manages to catch Evans, enabling the champions to hit a double shoulder tackle. Briscoe Biel on Black as the commentators regretfully ‘have’ to plug at the request of the champions. Lungblower/Ocean Cyclone combo by the Hangm3n before everyone starts taking everyone else out with kicks. Evans climbs on BJ shoulders as Mark positions himself on the apron. Springboard Doomsday Device BUT EVANS COUNTERS INTO A REVERSE RANA! Albright hits Jigsaw with the Half Nelson Suplex to eliminate the Vulture Squad at 05:29. It’s No DQ now, something Jacobs and Black take immediate advantage off by driving a chair into Mark’s ribs. The heel teams pair off to work over a Briscoe each…but that almost comes to an end when Whitmer and Jacobs come face to face. Remembering their intense feud from last year, both have come armed with metal spikes! They call a temporary truce, vowing to eliminate the Briscoes before settling it between them. Pretty soon both Briscoes are busted open thanks to those spikes. After several minutes, Jay manages to draw Tyler into an inadvertent kick on Albright. Whitmer takes offence and lays him out with an Exploder, which turns out to be a bad idea as that leaves him all alone with both Briscoes. Crazy Mark digs around under the ring to pull out a ladder as Jay lays BJ out with the Jay Driller. FROG SPLASH FROM THE LADDER TO THE MIDDLE OF THE RING! The Briscoes eliminate the Hangm3n at 12:04. It’s down to the Briscoes and the Age Of The Fall for the belts. The champions seize the advantage immediately as fatigue starts to set in on the bloody Briscoe brothers. Mark springboards into a karate kick on Black then fights it out on the ropes with him. Springboard Ace Crusher gets 2. Jimmy cuts him off with a spear. Contra Code countered into a falcon arrow by Jay. The Briscoes try to line up the Cut-Throat Leg Drop but Tyler saves his partner. END TIME on Jay but he powers out. SPRINGBOARD DOOMSDAY DEVICE! Tyler flies in to make the save at the last possible moment. Somersault plancha wipes Mark out. Jacobs escapes the Jay Driller. CONTRA CODE! PHOENIX SPLASH BY BLACK! The Age Of The Fall retain at 19:08.

Rating – **** –
I haven’t seen a whole lot of love for this match either, which is odd. I thought it’s probably the best Ultimate Endurance Match ROH have done. Non-stop action, an exciting climax between two feuding teams and lots of other clever little touches like the Lacey/Martinez brawl (can we see that in ROH, even if it only gets 5 minutes it’ll be better than another Daizee Haze match), the Whitmer/Jacobs feud references and Mark breaking out a vintage Briscoe crazy high spot. I’m not going to say it was a classic, but it was fun and exciting wrestling.

Becky Bayless is in the YRR locker room. Sal Rinauro is sad as he doesn’t have a girl on his arm and lost his match tonight. The girl with Jason Blade is absolutely awful looking. Sal makes himself feel better by kissing the hell out of Becky, who loves it (since she’s part of the YRR in Florida).

Tape Rating – *** –
Not a vintage show by any means, but considering ROH normally takes a few shows to hit their stride at the start of a year, this was actually a decent show. Not everything is great, but when looking at the card, all the big matches make 3* or higher. Danielson and Albright put on a technical clinic that was very close to getting 4*, Erick Stevens is helped to another really good match by Austin Aries, and the main event is heaps of fun.

Top 3 Matches

3) Bryan Danielson vs Brent Albright (***)

2) Age Of The Fall vs Briscoes vs Hangman 3 vs Vulture Squad (****)

1) Erick Stevens vs Roderick Strong (****)

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