173 ROH Transform 1/12/2008

ROH 173 – Transform – 12th January 2008

It’s only happened to me twice in all the years that I’ve been reviewing, but RE-reviewing stuff lost when a laptop melts down beyond all repair and you haven’t backed up all your work is a bit of a chore. Thankfully this time I didn’t lose too many reviews (just three – Transform, Breakout and Without Remorse), however, combined with the severely reduced amount of time I actually have to work on reviewing now, the pressures of work and the time it’s taken to get my new blog and website up and running…going back to these shows has taken an age. Particularly since I’m starting with this show since (sorry to spoil it for you kids), the middle portion of this one was very slow going first time around. Oh well, maybe it’ll make better viewing on this occasion. The top three matches have potential, with Steen/Albright in the match dubbed ‘The Battle Of The Bulls’, Erick Stevens defending his FIP Title against Bryan Danielson, then a big Street Fight between the Briscoes and the Age Of The Fall. Despite having seen this once, I’ll approach it with an open mind and see where it takes us! Lets get over to Edison, NJ to join Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard.

ROH NEWSWIRE – See Breakout (ROH172) review for details

The Briscoes start with a promo that is, at best, barely understandable. Something about fighting, bar rooms and manning up. I assume they plan to beat up the AOTF tonight…

Sal Rinauro/Jason Blade/Kenny King vs Delirious/El Generico/Mike Quackenbush

Obviously there’s no real storyline behind this one as the babyface team is thrown together, whilst the YRR are, at this point, no more than jobbers in ROH. That said, it should be fun to watch. The YRR are good at what they do, whilst the El DeliriQuack team has lots of talent. Quack only makes sporadic appearances in Ring Of Honor so anytime I see his name on a card it adds a little sense of occasion.

Dave Prazak describes Quack as a ‘friend to masked wrestlers everywhere’ which makes me chuckle. Certainly funnier than any of Delirious’ usual tired old shenanigans as he starts the match. I’m much more interested in where this angry red Delirious character could go…unfortunately he’s in green tonight. Quackenbush tags in next and casually works circles around Rinauro. King uses his power to get the best of Generico, until the luchador takes to the skies with a springboard plancha to bring himself back into the contest. Split-legged moonsault misses though, allowing the YRR to take control. King oozes star potential during his cameo appearances in the ring, which bodes well for his future in Ring Of Honor. But it’s Kenny that allows Generico to make the hot tag after he inadvertently wipes out his own partner in Sal Rinauro. Quack comes in and gets 2 with the BTS slam. Blade gets crushed in the corner by Delirious’ Panic Attack, then staggers into a chokeslam for another 2. Sal goes after Delirious’ mask…double super hiptoss by Quack and Generico to save. Duelling somersault planchas from those two, leaving Delirious and Blade alone. Chasyn Rance levels Delirious with a crutch as he goes for the Panic Attack, allowing Blade to score the victory at 12:12

Rating – *** –
That served it’s purpose well. The heels were solid, with King (as I said during the play-by-play) looking particularly good. Even Rinauro and Blade shone much more than they have during previous ROH appearances due to actually having a structured gimmick for them to work within. Generico and Quack were largely wasted, and I’m not sure it’s right time to have Delirious staring at the lights for the new guys (since he’s got a big Dog Collar Match with Adam Pearce fast approaching that ROH is desperate for the fans to actually care about), but I appreciate the sentiment of trying to get the new group over. I’ve liked what I’ve seen of them thus far.

Larry Sweeney leads Sweet’n’Sour Inc to the ring for the Daniel Puder $1000 Submission Challenge. Last a minute in the ring with Puder and you take home a grand. Alex Payne accepts the open challenge, and is promptly murdered. He still feels good, so offers up the challenge again. Rhett Titus emerges next…same result. Claudio Castagnoli comes from the back and tries to answer a third Submission Challenge…but Larry Sweeney has him ejected due to a ‘pending’ restraining order. Puder leaves the ring and heads to the back.

SIDENOTE – And with that (aside from a brief appearance later in this show) Puder is done in ROH. Budget cuts (he was NOT cheap, either to book or fly in) and the fact that a lot of fans hated the idea of him being there meant he wasn’t brought back. Which is a shame because I thought he had a world of potential. He had size, all the fundamentals, a definite x-factor to him, and combined with the managerial work of Larry Sweeney, could’ve broken out in ROH as Brock Lesnar did in 2002 WWE. Missing out on that, plus the comedy squash cold of the Submission Challenge, potential money matches with the likes of Bryan Danielson and more leave me a little disappointed that we won’t be seeing more of him.

Larry Sweeney isn’t done for the night though. He brings Chris Hero and Sara Del Rey into the ring, and announces them as Intergender Tag Team Champions of the World, complete with ridiculous title belts. They’re going to be defending the belts against the very finest Intergender Tag Teams in the world…starting with a defence against the following (internationally top ranked) intergender team.

Chris Hero/Sara Del Rey vs Ernie Osiris/Alexa Thatcher – Intergender Tag Title Match

You can already see the comedy value in this one. The injured Chris Hero being a bastard and beating on Alexa. Del Rey beating up Osiris. It isn’t rocket science, but it could be good fun, and this Intergender Tag Title angle could be something fairly amusing in the lower midcard.

Hero is competing despite being on crutches but still manages to stomp on Alexa’s foot then knocking Ernie silly with a big elbow smash. He clubs Thatcher off the apron before allowing Sara in. Osiris goes for a Red Star Press but dives into her knees. The champions bicker over whether hip attacks or cravats are better…leading to the inevitable cravat into a hip attack spot. Spinning brainbuster from Osiris to Del Rey allows him to make the hot tag. Alexa in to drop Sara with a German suplex for 2. She kicks lumps out of Hero in the corner before he calls a time-out and weasels out of the ring. Del Rey drops Osiris with the Royal Butterfly as Hero knocks Thatcher out with a Roaring Elbow. The match is over and the champions ‘retain’ at 06:18.

Rating – ** –
I know that’s probably a generous rating. But I like the humour behind it and I think the gimmick has some legs – so I’m kinda scoring the match in accordance with that. Hero and Del Rey were both particularly good at their comic timing and mapping out their spots when working with the opposite sex, and I’d love to see them run roughshot over silly jobber teams like this for a while, before stepping up to more meaningful matches (like defending the ‘belts’ against teams like Lacey and Jimmy Jacobs, or Daizee Haze and a male partner…or even have Claudio Castagnoli use some of his money and bring Amazing Kong back to ROH etc).

Jigsaw vs Roderick Strong

This is nothing more than a run of the mill enhancement match for Roderick Strong as he prepares for an ROH World Title Match at the end of the month. That would be fine, but for the fact that Jigsaw has appeared in an awful lot of these recently – to the extent that it’s hard to take him that seriously. I think his lack of credibility is, in turn, affecting the credibility of the Vulture Squad, and as he seems to be available more bookings than either Jack Evans or Ruckus, that’s a real shame for the faction.

Roderick Strong comes to the match wearing a Nigel McGuinness shirt, which is a subtle way to continue building towards their match. As you’d expect, Jigsaw uses all the speed and skill he has in his arsenal to start the match hot but Strong’s power and tenacity soon bring him back into things. Both men fight on the apron before Roddy launches Jigsaw into the guardrails at some speed. This works into Strong’s usual strategy of working on the back – something that continues as the two men return to the ring. Roderick counters another Jigsaw headscissors attempt with a half nelson backbreaker for 2. He takes it to the floor again looking to suplex the masked Vulture…but Jigsaw counters into a suplex of his own. Unfortunately Jig takes way too long climbing the ropes to follow up on that that and gets shoved down to the canvas. Double stomp to the back finds the mark anyway, so both men are down. CROSS-ARMED IMPLANT DDT gets Jigsaw a 2. That was a sweet move…but again Jigsaw takes way too long climbing to the top ropes to capitalise, getting dragged down into another backbreaker by Roderick. Wheelbarrow into the DDT from Jig, then a big frog splash for 2. He looks for Jig’n’Tonic, but that’s countered into a powerbomb backbreaker. Enzi then a superkick from Jigsaw, but he still can’t secure the victory on the former FIP Champion. Half nelson backbreaker from Strong, then the Death By Roderick gutbuster. Inverted Cloverleaf applied and Jigsaw taps at 13:11.

Rating – ** –
This one felt almost painfully long. I credit Gabe with booking this one to have enough time to really allow Jigsaw to shine against one of ROH’s established top guys. The problem is, he’s been so run through the ground leading up to this that there wasn’t a single person in the building buying him as a credible threat. Wrestling is all about suspending one’s belief, and there is NO way you can suspend enough belief to see Jigsaw as a credible singles wrestler at this point. There was nothing wrong with the wrestling as such, but the fans treated this one as a squash, so when it went the best part of fifteen minutes, it did start to drag.

Jimmy Jacobs vs Jack Evans

The carrot dangling from the end of the stick for Jack Evans here is a big one. If he can pin Jimmy Jacobs, leader of the Age Of The Fall and one half of the ROH Tag Champions, he’ll push his Vulture Squad to the front of the queue for a shot at the belts if he can win. He’s got Mercedes Martinez in his corner tonight. It’s been so long since I’ve watched ROH I completely forgot about her brief stint as the Booty Vulture. It’s a shame we never got to see her cut loose in ROH the way we have in SHIMMER.

Jimmy attacks Evans with a microphone before the match even starts, apparently incensed by Jack interrupting a promo with his entrance music. In the ring Evans completely bewilders Jacobs with his backflipping and kicks out of nowhere, scoring a 2 with the springboard corkscrew enziguri. Standing moonsault from Jacobs’ chest gets 2 as well. Jimmy counters a handspring elbow attempt with a spear to the back and drives Evans into the mat at a horrible angle. The AOTF leader starts working on Jack’s neck, trying to keep Jack on the mat and out of the skies. That can only work for so long and Evans flips into an elbow strike. Northern lights suplex rolled into a fisherman buster gets 2. Jack thinks about a 630 but Jacobs shoves him all the way to the floor. He sits Evans in a chair then PESCADO’S HIM THROUGH IT! Senton Bomb nailed but Evans kicks at 2. Contra Code blocked and Evans hits a version of Low Ki’s Black Magic. Both men on the top rope…ONG JAK KNEE MISSES! END TIME! Evans taps at 07:36

Rating – ** –
I didn’t have these down as opponents that would mesh particularly well together. Evans needs a more grounded, mat-based competitor to work around his best attributes, whilst Jacobs is always better working with someone who has the ability to work a decent story in the ring around his solid fundamentals and excellent character. In a short space of time they had a perfectly decent, competitive match. Instantly forgettable though…

Jacobs refuses to release the hold, despite the intervention of Julius Smokes and Mercedes Martinez. Tyler Black, Necro Butcher and Lacey hit the ring to destroy J-Train and the Booty Vulture…then thwart Jigsaw’s futile attempt to make a save. Jay and Mark Briscoe hit the ring and clear it as the AOTF flee and save themselves for the main event.

Kevin Steen cuts a promo promising revenge on Brent Albright for his attack on El Generico last night in Boston. Good mix of humour and intensity from Mr Wrestling.

Claudio Castagnoli vs Austin Aries

There aren’t any particularly burning issues between these two, but both men are desperate for another shot at the World Title though. Castagnoli moved into the upper echelons of ROH singles competition in 2007, and wants to become champion in 2008. Aries is rebounding after a series of crushing defeats at recent shows. He lost the big World Title match at Rising Above, was felled by Bryan Danielson in the dramatic conclusion to a fourway #1 Contendership match at Final Battle 2007, then lost to his former protégé Erick Stevens with the FIP Heavyweight Title on the line last night at Proving Ground. He’ll be desperate to end his losing streak and work towards a rematch with Nigel McGuinness.

Aries’ new surly attitude rears its head early as he reacts angrily to Claudio’s jovial ‘HEY’ posing. The initial pace is pretty slow with both guys jostling for dominance on the mat. Aries tires of this and kicks Castagnoli in the stomach as he plays to the crowd again. The Stroke into the Power Drive elbow finds the mark for 2. Claudio retorts by lifting Aries into a backbreaker, but then misses with the crab walk elbow drop. Aries goes to work on Double C’s neck and does some damage there. Claudio scores with the Match Killer but has been so worn down it takes him a while to recover. Giant Swing blocked and Austin shoves Castagnoli out of the ring as he looks for a springboard uppercut. Heat Seeking Missile nailed. Back in the ring Aries rolls into the Horns Of Aries but Claudio’s height makes it easy for him to find the ropes. Roaring Elbow blocked with a Castagnoli uppercut for 2. Aries is frustrated now and aggressively hammers on his opponent in the corner. Giant Swing from Double C…but the disorientated Aries still manages to punt him in the head. Crucifix Driver…BRAINBUSTER! Claudio kicks out at 2. Castagnoli blocks the 450 with a Flair-style press slam from the top rope. Riccola Bomb attempt…COUNTERED INTO THE HORNS OF ARIES! Claudio stands up…AND COUNTERS BACK TO THE RICCOLA BOMB! 2 COUNT! RICCOLA BOMB AGAIN! Claudio wins at 14:39.

Rating – *** –
Solid, if a little unspectacular wrestling match between two of ROH’s more reliable upper card peformers, made much more memorable by that fantastic concluding sequence. There were two absolutely awesome counter spots around the Riccola Bomb that really have to be seen. Aries character development is great too (much as it was yesterday in the Stevens FIP Title Match). It’s nice to see him doing something a bit different after having a very similar persona (heel or face) for much of his tenure in Ring Of Honor thus far.

Once again the former ROH World Champion refuses to shake hands and walks out on Claudio. The victor doesn’t seem too bothered about that. He throws his hat in the ring for a shot at Nigel McGuinness in the near future. Then he issues his own $1000 60 Second Submission Challenge, except this one is specifically for Daniel Puder and Larry Sweeney. Sweeney accepts and Puder hits the ring. 40 seconds in Claudio starts Giant Swinging Puder around the ring…so Sweeney interrupts and attacks him. Sweeney hits a flying elbow drop off Puder’s shoulders, driving a chair into Castagnoli’s face. Which is enough to claim the dough apparently…and that’s Puder’s last appearance.

INTERMISSION – Roderick Strong stops staring down Rebecca Bayless’ top for long enough to inform Nigel McGuinness that he’ll become ROH World Champion on January 26th in Chicago, then get the FIP Title back in February…to be the ‘first’ double champion. I guess he exists in a parallel universe where Bryan Danielson was never born, or never held those belts then. This promo was probably a good example of why guys like Punk, Aries, McGuinness and more managed to ascend from midcard status to legit main event level in ROH whilst he never has.

Eddie Edwards/Bobby Fish vs BJ Whitmer/Shane Hagadorn

Not a lot to say about this one. You’d assume it’s nothing more than an enhancement match for the Hangm3n, who in terms of the ongoing ‘faction warfare’, are right up there with The Vulture Squad in terms of weakness and lack of credibility. Hell, at least the Vultures have Evans and Smokes who, for better or worse, are popular with live crowds! I’m far more interested in the other team truth be told. Both guys have experience touring with NOAH, and have made sporadic appearances before. It’s always nice to see new talent emerge so I’m keen to see how these guys (who obviously have a degree of talent having been selected by NOAH) get on.

The lack of interest from the crowd in this one is immediately noticeable. Hagadorn quickly eats up a minute of the match stalling and going nowhere near his opponent. Fish strings together some dropkicks on him, then drops him to the mat for Edwards to hit a big double stomp to the back. The press slam Hagadorn into a gutbuster, then take turns booting him in the chest for a 2-count. More nice teamwork from Fish and Edwards but they still don’t have enough to put Hagadorn away. Whitmer finally takes a cheap shot at Edwards, allowing Shane to hit an STO then tag out. Backbreaker/knee drop combo by the Hangm3n gets 2. As you’d expect, Hagadorn and BJ find ways to manipulate the referee and keep Edwards isolated from his corner. Eventually Edwards hits a gorgeous missile dropkick and makes the hot tag. Back suplex/inverted DDT combo on Fish by the Hangm3n before all four men slug it out in the middle of the ring. Super rana from Edwards to Hagadorn, right into a Shotgun Dropkick from Fish for 2. Whitmer has an Exploder suplex blocked but powerbombs Fish into the corner instead. He then hits a standard powerbomb for the win at 10:03.

Rating – * –
This was a real tale of two matches here. When Fish and Edwards were on offence it was at least fun to watch. They’re two guys who we don’t see too often and they showcased some nice stuff. Hagadorn and Whitmer, on the other hand, really called it in. They are undoubtedly the least popular two members of the least popular faction in Ring Of Honor. Without Pearce to get them some genuine heat or Albright to actually put in a commendable wrestling performance, they really struggle. The crowd just didn’t care, and at 10 minutes long, with a totally innocuous finish, not even an encouraging little showcase from Fish and Edwards could save this as a match. That said, in reality, all this match was designed to do was give the Hangm3n a win, whilst making Fish and Edwards look good. Mission accomplished there…

Brent Albright vs Kevin Steen

It’s fairly easy to forget that the Hangm3n are actually feuding with Steen and Generico at the moment. I think the initial plan was to use the popularity of the Steenerico team to get the Hang3n over. Unfortunately that hasn’t happened, instead it’s made Steen and Generico look like they’re treading water after their epic series of matches with the Briscoes through the summer and autumn of 2007. Kevin Steen is out for revenge for the various times Albright and his allies have put a beating on El Generico and in all fairness, this one should be quite good.

Albright looks to be the stronger of the two athletes, first throwing Steen across the ring, then following that by throwing him all the way over the top rope. Both try their luck with shoulder tackles but its all even there. Mr Wrestling proves himself smarter by dodging a tackle attempt, then chasing Albright o the floor with a SOMERSAULT PLANCHA! Albright is reeling and Steen takes full advantage – whipping him into the steel barriers all around ringside. Up the aisle next where Albright hits an overhead belly to belly suplex onto the metal entrance ramp. And now it’s Brent’s turn to launch his opponent into the guardrails. He places a table on top of Steen, then stomps it to crap, obliterating it against then prone body of Mr Wrestling…and busting him open. Steen kicks at the hamstrings but Albright drops him again with a series of backbreakers. Combined with the blood loss, that’s a devastating sequence and it leaves Steen almost completely out of it. Knee strikes to the cut forehead from the Hangman. Steen starts kicking at the leg again, desperate to get some respite and mount some offence. Albright is struggling to stand and Steen drops him with a DDT for 2. Sharpshooter blocked, but Steen evades the 61-Knee and locks in the Sharpshooter anyway. Countered to the Crowbar but the bloody Steen is too close to the bottom rope. He shoves Albright away…STEEN-TON BOMB INTO ALBRIGHT’S KNEES! Brent tries to choke Steen out but Mr Wrestling refuses to be counted down. Half Nelson Suplex blocked…LARIATOOOOO instead! Still Steen kicks out at 2. Half Nelson suplex countered into the pumphandle cradlebreaker. PACKAGE PILEDRIVER! Steen wins at 17:23.

Rating – *** –
Some of the selling and psychology was noticeably patchy (which in the end prevented the match getting a higher rating) but it was a enjoyable physical battle. Both men let it all hang out and delivered match of the night thus far. It’s been a good weekend for both guys, who have both stepped up having been given high profile singles matches in the midcard and delivered. This one today was good, as was Steen/Necro and Albright/Danielson yesterday. ROH is in dire need of fresh blood putting on quality matches, particularly in the midcard, so these two showing signs of being able to deliver that is a big positive from this double shot.

BJ Whitmer and Shane Hagadorn run from the back and attack Kevin Steen. El Generico tries to save, but with Albright back on his feet it’s a 3-on-1 situation. ANGRY RED Delirious makes the save with the Red Mist that scatters all of the Hangm3n and clears the ring.

Erick Stevens vs Bryan Danielson – FIP Heavyweight Title Match

Both in kayfabe and outside of it, this weekend is all about Erick Stevens proving he belongs in the upper echelons of ROH. He’s had his detractors thus far (myself included), but lining up FIP Title defences against Austin Aries and Bryan Danielson on back to back nights sends a clear signal to ROH fans that Stevens is seen as someone with a big role to play in the future. Danielson is a former FIP Champion trying to reclaim the belt. Stevens is the new champion, coming off minor shock victories (and excellent matches) against Roderick Strong at Final Battle 2007 and Aries last night at Proving Ground. Can the match deliver the goods?

Not a whole lot of support from the New Jersey crowd for Stevens, it has to be said. Danielson looks quite nonchalant in the early going and the early exchanges are intriguing clashes pitching Dragon’s skill against Stevens’ power. The champion works hard and manages to hang in there with Danielson, even getting the better of him on occasion. Lenny Leonard launches into an insanely boring Erick Stevens/NFL analogy that is hard to follow and even harder to stay awake for. Stevens drives the challenger out of the ring, both competitors with welts on their chests after some stiff strike exchanges. Danielson has had enough of the pleasantries. He drives a knee deep into Stevens’ gut then goes to work stretching him in a variety of holds. Using his speed advantage, he now avoids Erick’s strike attempts and keeps him on the mat where he can work him over and avoid all of the main weapons the champion has in his arsenal. A variant of the Regal Stretch has Stevens screaming out in pain but doesn’t draw the submission at this stage. The champion hits a big powerslam but another boot to the midsection drops him to his knees once again. He hits a football tackle from the second, but overexcitement gets the best of him and he runs straight into a jumping enzi kick from Danielson as he lines up the Choo Choo. Tope suicida from Danielson as the battle leaves the ring…but Dragon looks like he hurt his leg hitting that one. Stevens spears him into the guardrail…and he wins by count-out at 13:39. Unfortunately they re-run the finish from the Aries match yesterday (except Stevens actually won this time around)…with Stevens demanding that the match is restarted because he’s a fighting champion. The match is restarted and the champion looks like he’s got a second win. Diving European from Danielson…but the Benoit headbutt that follows is wide of the mark and both men are knocked silly. Gorilla press into a front slam gets Stevens a 2 before he looks for a submission victory with a Horse Collar on that leg Dragon tweaked earlier in the match. TKO blocked and Danielson gets 2 with a Tiger suplex. Cattle Mutilation locked in but the champion rolls through…so he gets hit with the MMA Elbows instead. COUNTERED TO THE TKO! German suplex then a clothesline gets Stevens a count of 2. Doctor Bomb countered into the Triangle Choke but it’s still not enough to put Erick away. Bridging German gets Danielson a 2. SMALL PACKAGE…gets 2! MASSIVE Lariat nailed by Stevens. DOCTOR BOMB! He pins Danielson clean at 20:32.

Rating – *** –
Definitely a good match. Most of the reviews I’ve read this have this one down as better than Stevens/Aries from last night. I really can’t say I agree. I thought yesterdays match was better, and have a number of problems with how Stevens has been booked this weekend. First thing to say though, is that this was great stuff. Stevens has stepped up his game this weekend, and although obviously helped by being in the ring with arguably ROH’s top two guys, he’s delivered good matches and hasn’t disgraced himself at all. Stevens/Aries has the edge on this one due to the superior story-telling in that one, with the sub-plots surrounding The Resilience, Aries tweener persona emerging and Stevens’ desperation to prove himself to the fans, the doubters and most importantly to his former leader. Here we saw 5-7 minutes of solid wrestling (where Danielson looked streets ahead of Stevens without even trying), 5-7 minutes of Dragon in complete control, the same annoying cheesy fake-finish booking we saw yesterday (which I thought was corny and slightly annoying yesterday, but at least something different…today it felt unoriginal and stupid since Stevens got a fair victory under FIP rules), a few standard nearfalls at the end, then a finish. It was basically an exhibition of how good American Dragon is, rather than anything to do with Erick Stevens. And personally I feel like booking him to go over two of ROH’s most beloved stars in one weekend, with contentious, corny finishes on both occasions was a poor booking decision. Far from taking him seriously, I feel like the majority of ROH fans will rebel against having Erick Stevens shoved down their throats. Why not book him to go over Aries this weekend (since it was a great match, made sense storyline-wise and left Stevens with a ton of momentum yesterday) then save the Danielson match for a few weeks down the line when it would have more impact? In terms of actual wrestling, it’s been a good weekend for Stevens. But I can’t help but feel it did his long-term prospects as a main eventer in Ring Of Honor more harm than good.HaHhhcffgjfkHHhhcfdkjjjjjjjjjj

Backstage the YRR interrupt Rebecca Bayless so Sal can go in for another kiss. She leaves to party with them.

Tyler Black/Necro Butcher vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe – Street Fight

Obviously you know how this feud goes now. These two teams don’t like each other and have been at war since September. The Briscoes will be desperate to regain the Tag Titles they lost to the Age Of The Fall (Black and Jimmy Jacobs on that occasion), but are putting that ambition on the backburner to have an old-fashioned brawl here tonight. Plus, if they win tonight, you’d imagine they’d go straight to the front of the queue for a rematch with the champions.

Lacey accompanies Necro and Tyler to ringside, so the Briscoes have enlisted the support of Daizee Haze for tonight…and the fight is on before the former Tag Champions can even reach the ring. With the four men going at it on the floor, Lacey and Haze hit the ring and start brawling there. And Jimmy Jacobs takes advantage of the Street Fight rules to come through the crowd and go to work on the Briscoes with his cane. Chairs are swung from all angles, and with a 4-on-3 numbers advantage, the AOTF establish firm control of the match. Jacobs sets Jay up on a table. SENTON BOMB FROM A LADDER THROUGH THE TABLE! That leaves Jay injured and apparently unable to continue as he’s escorted to the back. Tyler jumps off the apron to put a boot into the side of Mark’s face as the younger Briscoe now faces impossible odds against him. With Haze down it’s now 4-on-1 and despite a valiant effort to defend himself, Mark is getting destroyed. Daizee tries to help him again…so Jimmy pulls out the railroad spike. Jack Evans and Jigsaw, still pissed off with the events of earlier tonight make a much-needed save. Springboard double knee drop by Evans on Necro, then a standing moonsault from Black’s chest as the Vultures clean house. Haze and Mark climb the turnbuckles. PLANCHA BY DAIZEE! MOONSAULT BY MARK! STEREO SOMERSAULTS BY THE VULTURES! Evans takes the fight into the crowd by nailing a springboard double stomp off the guardrail, whilst Mark dives into the front row with a corkscrew plancha.

It’s chaos now with 8 athletes brawling all over the place…so it’s pretty hard to follow. Prazak and Leonard abandon commentary amidst the carnage, which doesn’t make following the action any easier. Evans and Black take turns throwing each other through endless rows of chairs in absolutely brutal fashion. Springboard corkscrew enzi, again off the guardrail, by Jack gives him an advantage, and he returns to the rails for a third time for a SPRINGBOARD 450 SPLASH TO THE FLOOR! In the ring Mark drops Butcher with a fisherman buster, and holds onto the ropes to block Necro’s super rana. Springboard moonsault press gets Briscoe a 2-count…but Jacobs intervenes in that battle allowing Necro to use a headscissors to send Mark crashing into the barrier. Jack saves Jigsaw from a double-teaming at the hands of the Tag Champions with another springboard kick before Necro takes him out with a Tiger Driver. Redneck Kung Fu from Mark…but he dives through the ropes right into a vicious chair shot from Jacobs. In the crowd again where Tyler slams Jigsaw down onto a pile of chairs. The masked Vulture fights back…and joins Mark to grab Necro. DOUBLE SUPERPLEX OFF THE APRON AND INTO THE FRONT F*CKING ROW! In the ring Black and Jacobs drive Evan ribs-first over a couple of back-to-back chairs for 2. END TIME LOCKED IN! He tapped to this earlier tonight, but this time Jigsaw is there to save him. Inverted DDT on him by Tyler gets 2. To the top rope…AWESOME BOMB/CONTRA CODE COMBO! But Mark shoves Black off the ropes as he goes for the Phoenix Splash. CUT-THROAT DRIVER ON JACOBS! SPRINGBOARD 630 BY EVANS! Jack wins it at 22:45!!

Rating – **** –
Yes, Jack Evans did just pin Jimmy Jacobs to win a match officially slated as Necro and Tyler opposing the Briscoes. But you know what, I loved this match. It had a real ECW feel to it. Too often in ROH, perhaps due to internet spoilers, perhaps due to booking too many shows with too small a roster, you feel like you know what’s going to happen before you’ve seen it. This one was wild from start to finish, and had a real unique flavour to what you get in most Ring Of Honor main events. And just like that the Vulture Squad seem like a threat again (at least in tag team action). This was a massive win for Evans, and after looking like jobbers for most of their run so far, getting to save ROH’s poster boy tag team (the Briscoes) and win a big main event goes a long way to re-establishing themselves as a viable force in faction warfare, moves them to the front of the queue for a Tag Title shot. Super-fun main event. I haven’t seen much praise for it elsewhere but I had a blast watching it.

The show ends with Mark, Jack and Jigsaw posing victoriously in the ring.

Tape Rating – *** –
This was a tough show to review. The middle portion is very hard to sit through. The Sweet’n’Sour segment, whilst fun, runs very long and Strong/Jigsaw, Jacobs/Evans and the post-intermission tag match are best described as completely forgettable. The chaotic main event somewhat saved this show though, as it was a vibrant display of brutality, added depth to a number of feuds and had a delightfully unhinged and out of control feel that you don’t often get with ROH DVD’s. There is decent support from Stevens/Danielson (although it’s not as good as the Stevens/Aries match yesterday), Steen/Albright, Castagnoli/Aries and the enjoyable opening 6-man too. If I’m honest, I can’t recommend this one to much more than the ROH completists (or massive Vulture Squad fans) out there. The main event is fun, but not really enough to make the DVD a must-buy by itself, and the other 3*, whilst fleshing out the show and making it a solid release, aren’t enough to warrant a purchase in their own right. Maybe pick it up a discount sale as it’s worth checking out. But considering the high quality of other releases, this has to be some way down the pecking order. Still, the quality of these two shows is far above what ROH normally puts out for their first shows of the year.

Top 3 Matches

3) Kevin Steen vs Brent Albright (***)

2) Erick Stevens vs Bryan Danielson (***)

1) Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Tyler Black/Necro Butcher (****)

Top 5 Proving Ground/Transform Matches

5) Kevin Steen vs Brent Albright (*** – Transform)

4) Erick Stevens vs Bryan Danielson (*** – Transform)

3) Age Of The Fall vs Briscoes vs Hangman 3 vs Vulture Squad (**** – Proving Ground)

2) Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Tyler Black/Necro Butcher (**** – Transform)

1) Erick Stevens vs Austin Aries (**** – Proving Ground)

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