ROH 174 – Breakout – 25th January 2008
Two reasons behind the ‘Breakout’ title of this show. Firstly, the main event takes place inside a Steel Cage, with Nigel McGuinness defending his ROH World Title against long term nemesis Chris Hero. Secondly, Tyler Black’s performance in his match with Bryan Danielson is widely regarded as a “breakout” performance by that young star on the rise. Those are your two main events tonight and I can’t wait to check them out. There’s also an FIP Title three-way, a No DQ match featuring the Hangman 3, lots of shenanigans with the Age Of The Fall…and that’s not including the scheduled Briscoes/Vulture Squad match which was scrapped at the last minute after injury/illness struck down Jack Evans and Ruckus. Lets join Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard in Dayton, OH
ROH VIDEO WIRE (23/01/2008) – No new content, just highlights from the first shows of 2008.
Nigel McGuinness opens the show with a promo from inside the steel cage. He puts over defending the World Title in NOAH against Go Shiozaki (who heads to ROH for an extended stay next month) and promises to start creating a special legacy for himself…starting tonight with Chris Hero.
Meanwhile Larry Sweeney is backstage as Tank Toland is taking Hero through the early stages of his warm-up. Hero says there will be a new champion tonight.
Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Jigsaw/Matt Cross
Talk about bad luck. The Vulture Squad finally looked like an actual threat after their stunning victory in the main event at Transform, and were rewarded with a high-profile match against the Briscoes tonight – probably to determine top contenders for AOTF’s Tag Team Championship. Instead, Jack Evans destroyed his face wrestling in Japan and will be out for sometime, whilst Ruckus has been hospitalised battling pneumonia. What started (I believe) as a potential high-flying war between the Briscoes, Ruckus and Evans is now the Briscoes jerking the curtain in what appears to be nothing more than an enhancement match for them. Jigsaw looks bad as, after the massive win in Edison, he now drops straight to the bottom of the card without Jack.
Matt Cross’ new look is just about the gayest thing in ROH since the Christopher Street Connection. Being Fidel Castro’s Mini-Me isn’t something he should pursue. He out with Mark and they move at a rapid pace. Tilta-whirl gourdbuster on him by Jay, but Jigsaw had blind-tagged in, so now it’s that pair’s turn to go at it. Gory Special from Jigsaw to Mark, then a jumping heel kick. Bow and arrow by M-Dogg next, leaving the younger Briscoe cut-off from his corner. He springboards into a forearm smash and makes the vital tag to Jay. He spins into a big lariat on Jigsaw for 2. Briscoe Biel sends Jig into the lights as it’s now the masked Vulture that is isolated in the ring, on the receiving end of lots of patented Briscoe double-teaming and desperate for a tag. At last he hits a DDT combo on both Briscoes and rolls into the hot tag to M-Dogg. Springboard double stomp on Mark get 2. Mark nails a fisherman buster, but the Vultures combine for a SUPERKICK/CODE RED COMBO! That gets 2 and Jay takes Jigsaw outside. HEAD DROP EXPLODER from Mark to Cross. He wipes out Jigsaw with a running plancha to the floor. Jay wins it at 12:14 with the Jay Driller on Cross.
Rating – ** – I think this was a little long and all four men would’ve benefited from working a shorter, faster-paced match. However, the last few minutes featured some exciting stuff that really revved up the crowd, without burning them out for the night of action ahead. Job done really…
We cut to…somewhere outside. It’s pitch black so I have no idea what’s happening. From the vague, emo statements they’re dropping…I’d suggest it’s the Age Of The Fall. Lacey laughs at how she verbally tore Tammy Sytch a new one at the final Manhattan shows and vows to beat up Daizee Haze tonight. Tyler Black then says Jimmy Jacobs has recruited a great partner tonight to help take the NRC out of the Tag Title picture…and then he’s going to beat American Dragon to round off a great night. They seemed a little lost without Jacobs’ charisma to hold things together.
Adam Pearce vs Claudio Castagnoli
I doubt this is a match that will shift too many tickets and put too many asses in the seats, but in theory both guys should be desperate for wins. Castagnoli is undefeated in 2008 thus far, and is keen to force himself into the World Title picture. Meanwhile Pearce has the feud-ending Dog Collar Match with Delirious tonight, so will be looking to build some momentum in this one.
Claudio dominates the early going as Pearce struggles to deal with both his wrestling skill and his popularity with the Dayton fans. He has a hard time simply escaping a wristlock. In the end it takes some assistance from Shane Hagadorn to hotshot Castagnoli over the top rope that gives Pearce an advantage. He rakes at the eyes next to keep Double C on the canvas then gets a 2-count following a spinebuster. The assault continues for a few minutes before Claudio hits back with a flurry of uppercuts then the Match Killer. The ever-popular Giant Swing is next but Adam still manages to kick out at 2. Rack Bomb by Pearce and despite the dizziness following the Giant Swing he lands the Superfly Splash for 2. He then distracts himself going for a Dog Collar to gain an advantage, and walks straight into the Riccola Bomb. Claudio wins at 09:14.
Rating – * – That felt much longer than the ten minutes it ran for, and I think the finish made Adam Pearce look silly. But the only real significance of the match was that Claudio’s positive start to 2008 continues, so we can all forget about the actual match and move on with our lives.
In the Sweet’n’Sour locker room Chris Hero’s warm-up continues…
Erick Stevens vs Davey Richards vs Austin Aries – FIP Heavyweight Title Match
Another big FIP Title defence for Erick Stevens, as he seeks to move up the ranks in Ring Of Honor, and make it to February with the belt still in his possession so he can return to Florida as champion (there hasn’t actually been a FIP show since he won it in December). And he has issues with both opponents. He successfully defended the belt against former stable-mate Aries at Proving Ground, and with Aries looking to avenge that defeat and stop a horrible losing streak he finds himself on at the moment, he’s a dangerous opponent. The third man in the match is Davey Richards, the guy who injured him during the NRC/Resilience feud and put him on the shelf a couple of months last year.
Lenny Leonard is STILL persisting with his boring Stevens/NFL analogy. Aries and Stevens tee off on Richards in the early going, putting their differences aside to beat up a common enemy. However, it’s an alliance that’s doomed to failure and they soon start squabbling over who gets to actually pin Davey. Erick lines up the Choo Choo avalanche, but is cut off by a clothesline from Aries and we’re back to every man for himself. Richards lands a volley of kicks on the champion and Stevens quickly becomes a kick bag as Double A tries to top that series with a kick flurry of his own. Golden Gate Swing from Aries to Richards puts him in complete control. Davey mocks him but misses his own version of the Power Drive Elbow. Stevens hits back in style with a front slam on Aries then a German suplex to Richards. Davey goes for the Kimura that injured Erick at Undeniable, but the champion has enough in the tank to power out…AND GERMAN SUPLEX BOTH HIS OPPONENTS AT THE SAME TIME! The Resilience members trade blows again before Austin takes it to the outside with the Heat Seeking Missile. TWISTING TOPE SUICIDA onto both men by Richards. Back in the ring the NRC member gets 2 with a beautiful bridging German suplex. Stevens comes back in and hoists both opponents up for a DOUBLE TKO! He pins Richards…2. He pins Aries…2 again! Choo Choo body avalance squashes both opponents but Davey as enough about him to roll the champion into a Texas Cloverleaf. Aries breaks it…knees to the head into the Horns Of Aries! But Stevens stops him before Richards taps. KICK OF DEATH! But Stevens stops the Brainbuster with a monster lariat. DOCTOR BOMB ON RICHARDS! Stevens retains at 14:06
Rating – *** – What a pleasant surprise this match was. I’m not really a huge fan of the triple threat format these days, particularly on throwaway midcard matches like this one…but these three really went for it and produced an entertaining, non-stop fifteen minutes of action. I liked all the sub-plots stemming from the Resilience/NRC feud, plus there were some nifty three-way spots thrown in too, building to a big finish and a CONVINCING victory for Stevens. In my mind, this made him look much more credible as FIP Champion and ROH upper carder than either of his matches at the last Boston/Edison double shot.
Once again Austin Aries refuses to shake hands and he trudges to the back looking miserable.
Brent Albright/BJ Whitmer vs Delirious/El Generico – No DQ Match
Both the masked babyfaces have been the victims of numerous attacks at the hands of the Hangman 3. For Delirious, he wants to end his issues with the group’s leader tomorrow night in Chicago and is warming up for that one with some no holds barred action tonight.
Tonight it’s the evil red Delirious persona, so no pre-match lunacy…this one gets underway in the aisle. Whitmer immediately breaks a guardrail with Generico’s body then bashes him with a steel chair. Shane Hagadorn distracts Delirious, allowing Albright to blindside him. Generico lines up a big dive at BJ but Albright moves into the ring to cut that out too. Delirious knocks him out of the ring with a leaping lariat then runs straight into an STO from Hagadorn. Pelle Primeau runs in to go at it with his perennial ROH Wrestling Academy nemesis. Delirous with the BLACK MIST on Hagadorn! Albright grabs Primeau and MUDERS him with an Ocean Cyclone Suplex. Whitmer rounds off the devastation on poor little Pelle with a frog splash. Double jump cross body block from Generico to BJ gets 2. Duelling dives from Delirious and Generico find the mark and Delirious drags a table out from under the ring. He sets it up but the Hangm3n take the battle into the crowd before anyone gets a chance to use it. Generico puts Brent into a garbage can and dropkicks it whilst fans hold chairs up for Delirious to whip Whitmer through. He gets his own back by flogging Delirious with a belt. He hoists the lizard man up and powerbombs him THROUGH THE TABLE! That leaves the Hangm3n alone with Generico and they dish out a beating to the generic luchador. He manages to stay in the match, and soon a chair-throwing Delirious is up and back in the contest. MULTIPLE CHAIR SHOTS TO WHITMER! Albright has to dive in and make a last gasp save. The Gun for Hire brings a table in now, then grabs the metal supports from the previously broken one and uses it to choke Generico. He breaks that with the ring bell and Delirious lays Brent out. Generico climbs the ropes…FLYING SPLASH THROUGH THE TABLE! Now it’s BJ who makes a save at the last possible second. Yakuza Kick into the Panic Attack on him. SHADOWS OVER HELL…but Adam Pearce stops the ref from counting to three, then assaults Delirious with a Dog Collar. He drags Delirious to the back so Generico is by himself again. Exploder suplex by Whitmer. REPEATED KNEE STRIKES from Albright, and Generico is limp. The ref has no choice but to stop it at 19:08.
Rating – *** – Again that was probably slightly too long, but all four men let it all hang out and gave the Dayton crowd a wild and violent match. It was also a rare occasion where all the run-ins actually added to the match. Hagadorn’s intervention brought Pelle Primeau out…and his appearance gave us the opportunity to see Whitmer and Albright toss him around like a small child. Pearce dragging Delirious out when he had the match won builds to their match tomorrow…and Generico succumbing to the superior odds at the end does him no harm. Good booking and a decent match.
Back in the Hero/Sweeney camp, Larry Sweeney announces that he’s re-negotiated the rules for tonight’s cage match…and the title can now change via escaping the cage.
Jimmy Jacobs leads Lacey and Allison Wonderland to the ring. His explanations of Age Of The Fall’s ideology is awful to the point of pissing me off. I really hate people who act all political, or all revolutionary, spouting off a load of empty statements, meaningless sound bites and emotive buzz words without actually saying ANYTHING indicating clear policy, moral, ethical or ideological direction or purpose. Anyway, he calls out to Austin Aries, suggesting that the AOTF is the solution for all the problems he’s been experiencing as of late.
Lacey vs Daizee Haze
This is about the 79th rematch these two have had…with no signs of their issue ending yet. Not that it’s surprising as there are only these two and Sara Del Rey as active female workers on ROH’s permanent roster. Don’t expect this to go long. Don’t expect this to be the last time these ladies wrestle. Don’t expect this to end their feud. Don’t expect this to be as good as what they’ve done in SHIMMER.
Lacey in PVC is smoking hot. But that doesn’t stop her getting pounded by Haze, and she retreats to the floor to get some respite. From there she traps Daizee in the ropes and snaps her back-first onto the middle rope. That’s followed by a savage whip into the guardrail doing severe damage to Daizee’s midsection. Camel clutch locked in, with pulling at the nostrils and big crossfaces to do maximum damage. Lacey then distracts the official whilst Allison chokes Haze in the ropes. Backbreaker gets Lacey a 2. Daizee scales the ropes to hit a missile dropkick, but with all the damage she’s sustained she takes an age to follow up on that. German suplex scores…but Lacey comes up and drops her with a LUNGBLOWER! Daizee comes out of the corner with a bridging sunset flip and wins at 05:29
Rating – ** – This may well have been their best match in ROH. It was certainly on course to be. They worked a fast pace, packed in lots of action, told a great story, worked their respective roles superbly well, the execution was relatively good…but I hated the finish. Lacey assaulted the back/ribs literally from the first minute of the match. Could Daizee not think of any other pinning combination other than a bridge – i.e. something that is obviously quite demanding of one’s midsection. Still, the match leading up to it was enjoyable enough for it’s spot on the card.
Jacobs, Lacey, Wonderland and now Tyler Black as well surround Daizee and look ready to attack her…but the Briscoes sprint from the locker rooms to help her out. They take control of the AOTF. That is until Joey Matthews (complete with big MNM fur coat) hits the ring and takes them out with a steel chair. He thanks Jimmy Jacobs for being there for him after he was sacked from the WWE and battling his personal demons – the low point of his career – and announces that he is the newest member of the Age Of The Fall. Awesome little promo there…
Jimmy Jacobs/Joey Matthews vs Roderick Strong/Rocky Romero
The premise here is fairly straight forward. The No Remorse Corps want to move into the Tag Title picture (not to mention Roddy won’t want to get into the losing habit ahead of his World Title shot tomorrow in Chicago), the AOTF want to knock them all the way to the bottom of the pecking order by beating them here. How will the former Special K member Joey Matthews fare in his first match in ROH for several years?
Nobody is particularly popular here, so lots of smart ass shouts and cat-calls from wiseasses in the crowd. Romero takes Matthews down into an armbar and Joey immediately retreats to the floor to talk strategy with Jacobs and Black. He hits a shortarm clothesline on the apron to send Rocky to the floor. Strong in and he ties up both AOTF members in the corner before launching Romero into a flying dropkick down onto the pair of them. Matthews drops Romero again with a clip to the knee and the move serves as a cue for both Jimmy and himself to work the leg. The wounded Romero has to tag out and Strong comes in like a house on fire. Joey shows more good sense by tossing him back out…and Jacobs takes advantage with a RUNNING PESCADO THROUGH THE CHAIR! That’s nice work from the new AOTF duo as they’ve now opened up injuries on both opponents. Jacobs gets 2 with the senton bomb. Romero sneaks into the ring for an illegal kick to Matthews’ head and this allows Roddy to hoist him up into a backbreaker. Tags all round and Romero hits a backbreaker on Jimmy. Matthews pulls him and drives him FACE-FIRST on the floor! Strong dives into a boot to the floor on Joey, but barely has time to get up before he is wiped out by Jimmy Jacobs diving off the apron. Jimmy saves Matthews from the Diablo Armbar and the AOTF drop Romero with a jumping double superplex. Contra Code blocked by Strong into Death By Roderick. Argentine gutbuster into the Sick Kick but Matthews breaks the pin before it goes any further. He then hides behind the referee to stop Roderick booting him as well. Superkick on Romero, then the Double Arm DDT. Torture rack backbreaker from Strong but Jacobs spears him as he lines up the Gibson Driver. Contra Code blocked…END TIME INSTEAD! Countered into a version of the Gibson Driver for 2. Stronghold applied…and Jacobs taps at 17:34. The NRC move right in line for a Tag Title shot now.
Rating – *** – That was a very well worked match. It was never hugely intense or out of control awesome, but it was intelligently wrestled throughout, and a testament to the ability to all four men that they were able to keep the crowd very much into a near 20-minute, largely methodically paced tag team match between two heel teams. I’m not sure how long Joey Matthews will be around for as there were rumblings basically from the time of his debut that he was desperate to get back to the WWE and only looking to keep himself ticking over and in-shape on the indies. But he was fantastic in this one, so I hope he sticks around for a while. Literally everything he does in the ring is for a purpose. Romero looked good in the match, he worked the leg. Strong gets the tag, he slings him out of the ring where Jacobs is waiting to put him through a chair. Romero gets a hot tag…Joey drags him out of the ring and drops him on his face. It’s basic stuff but his timing and importance he projects into everything he does was almost Bryan Danielson-esque at times. Case in point…early in the match there were a handful of fans trying to get a ‘Joey Matthews’ chant going. Joey picked up on it, and keen to keep working as a heel, immediately broke into a little MNM ‘paparazzi’ pose…killing that chant dead. I’ve singled him out for praise after a commendable re-debut, but Strong, Jacobs and Romero certainly contributed too.
So Age Of The Fall are 0-2 for the night thus far. But Tyler Black now steps into the ring ready to set all that straight. He says he’s going to emulate Jacobs at Unscripted 3 by beating American Dragon
Tyler Black vs Bryan Danielson
There’s been some momentum growing beneath Tyler Black since he first appeared at the Man Up ppv. He’s put in some terrific performances and has gradually been rewarded with more and more high-profile matches, and they don’t get bigger than this. When they first arrived on the scene, Age Of The Fall struggled a little to live up to the hype that had surrounded them…that was until Jimmy Jacobs defeated Bryan Danielson in a memorable match at Unscripted 3. That was the springboard the group needed, that provided the credibility they needed. From there they won the Tag Titles at Final Battle 2007 and have provided two very good main events in 2008 thus far. What I’m saying is, you can trace the upturn in the AOTF’s fortunes both in the ring and with the fans to that night in Chicago. Now Tyler is looking to repeat that feat and delivery a ‘breakout’ moment in his ROH career. And it’s a defeat I’m sure Dragon is rather anxious to avenge.
Tyler makes his point that he is here to win right from the first bell, displaying his confidence with a number of pie-faces to the former World Champion. Dragon, in all fairness, maintains his composure and shakes the cockiness of Tyler aside. Clearly not happy with this lack of response, Black moves up to slapping the taste out of Danielson’s mouth. That is the final straw…and Dragon drives Tyler into the corner and repeatedly b*tchslaps him. Tyler slides out of the ring with his tail between his legs and needs to re-think his strategy. But Danielson has moved up a gear now, pinning him against the canvas and pulling at the nose then further exerting his dominance with the Mexican surfboard. I love Danielson in the grumpy veteran slapping about the disrespectful young boy role. He gets 2 with a slingshot suplex. Switching approach Tyler draws Dragon into a striking game, then shoves him out of the ring to the floor. Clearly Black feels more comfortable opposing Danielson having taken him out of his in-ring element, and drops him with a suplex on the hard floor. He does more damage by whipping him into the guardrails…then climbs them to hit a MOONSAULT! Taking the match out of the ring looks like a stroke of genius by Black. Clearly Danielson was less comfortable out there, and now when they roll back between the ropes it’s the AOTF man that’s in total control. Now he has the advantage he feels confident enough to slap Dragon about again…and again it only enraged Danielson who flattens him with European uppercuts. A missile dropkick sends Black out of the ring and in prime position for Dragon to fly into a TOPE SUICIDA! Impressively, Tyler has the guts to get back to his feet and SUPLEX DRAGON OFF THE APRON! RUNNING CORKSCREW PLANCHA FROM BLACK! Back inside he drops Danielson with a version of Davey Richards’ Alarm Clock kick (Wall Of Death??) for 2. Dragon responds with a running enzi then REPEATED face stomps! Crossface Chickenwing blocked into a wonderfully executed nearfalls sequence. Double clothesline and both men are down in the middle of the ring. They return to their feet and exchange forearm smashes. Dragon rolls into Cattle Mutilation but Tyler manages to roll over. Duelling chants for both athletes now…as Danielson takes it to the top rope to deliver a back superplex. MMA ELBOWS! Tyler looks out cold, but he somehow kicks out of a pin. Cattle Mutilation again but STILL Black refuses to quit and he rolls free again. Tiger suplex…but Tyler lands on his feet and kicks Dragon in the head. PEROXISM GETS 2! Black goes to the top…PHOENIX SPLASH! DRAGON KICKS OUT AND INTO THE SMALL PACKAGE! Danielson wins at 23:23.
Rating – ****1/2 – Breakout is absolutely the right word to describe that performance. What a fabulous match. Remember at the last show my main problem with Danielson’s match with Erick Stevens (designed, very similarly to this one, to elevate Erick to the next level) was that it was essentially a Bryan Danielson exhibition – the kind of match he could wrestle with a young kid fresh out of wrestling school…he’s just THAT good. Well, this one was an example of how good a match can be when someone steps up to the plate and wrestles on a similar level to him. Of course, Danielson was absolutely fantastic as the ROH veteran, grumpy and annoyed at this young upstart, who initially disrespects him…then EARNS his respect by repeatedly defying Dragon’s tried and tested finishers. That Black forced Danielson to bust out the Small Package, traditionally a move he only uses in times of extreme desperation (such as his World Title defence vs Colt Cabana at Gut Check) speaks volumes for him. But the real joy of this match is that it truly was a breakout for Tyler…not just another example of Dragon wrestling a great match. Tyler was awesome in his role. Cocky, arrogant and downright annoying at first, the way he held the story of him being the youngster desperate to make a splash by defeating the promotions top star was almost faultless from bell to bell. The journey he took the fans on as he grew in stature as the match progressed, as he went from cocky punk to standing up and holding his own in the face of Danielson unloading everything he had at him…and STILL almost got the victory was tremendous. Aside from perhaps McGuinness/Aries at Rising Above, this was the best match ROH has produced in months. Incidentally, first time round I only gave this 4*. But coming back to it and re-watching the subtle little touches from both guys, the facial expressions, the fantastic way both athletes told their story throughout the match…it was actually better on second viewing than it was first time round. Rematch!
If there was any danger of Tyler getting some cheers and applause after that fantastic match, he immediately re-establishes himself as a heel and regains some heat by laying Danielson out with God’s Last Gift. The Briscoes save Dragon before he can do any more damage…
Adam Pearce reminds Delirious of how the Hangm3n choked him to unconsciousness last time in Chicago at Unscripted 3. He can’t wait to finish Delirious off tomorrow night.
Nigel McGuinness vs Chris Hero – ROH World Title Steel Cage Match
These guys have been enemies for sometime. Chris Hero believes he had the title won when he defeated McGuinness in an impromptu title defence at Glory By Honor 6 Night 1 in Philadelphia. But Nigel had his feet in the ropes, the decision overturned and Nigel went on to win. Hero continued his dogged pursuit and last time we were in Dayton (Reckless Abandon) Nigel promised the Ohio fans (in the very building where he made his ROH debut) that he’d defend the ROH Title here tonight against Hero. Some slick negotiating by Hero’s agent Larry Sweeney has certainly helped him out…as now the title can change hands via cage escape…and of course Sweet’n’Sour Inc will be at ringside and will inevitably be a factor at some point. Can Nigel defy the odds and escape Dayton with his belt?
Hero attacks Nigel literally as he walks through the cage door and sets a precedent by trying to escape the cage in the first minute. Prazak points out that Nigel has no way of hitting the Jawbreaker Lariat in this environment. McGuinness tries to walk out the cage door, but is confronted by Larry Sweeney battling the referee to try and keep it shut. Hero tries to run the ropes with a little too much enthusiasm and hurts his head on the cage…walking into a McLariat in the process. The two athletes jostle for position trying to escape through the cage door, with Sweet’n’Sour Inc helping Hero and hindering Nigel in turn. Hero ducks a McLariat then comes from the second rope with a blockbuster for 2. He tries to climb out but McGuinness drags him back in with a back superplex. The champion seems to have injured his leg somewhere along the way and that’s something Hero immediately looks to exploit as he dropkicks at it as Nigel tries to climb the cage. Having an injured leg when in the ring with a skilled technician like Chris Hero isn’t an ideal situation and the challenger dismantles McGuinness’ leg which stops him being able to wrestle, stops him from trying to escape the cage, and should prevent him from stopping Hero exiting too. Tank Toland passes a chair into the ring which Hero promptly stomps down onto the bad leg. He folds the leg up in the chair then DROPS A SENTON across it. Still McGuinness courageously stops Hero from climbing the cage…so Hero takes a seat in the chair, applying a half crab to Nigel at the same time. Nigel escapes and busts Hero open by tossing him face-first into the cage. McLariat out of nowhere nailed for 2. Both men fight in the corner, culminating with Hero hitting the Cravat-oclasm for 2. He tries to climb the cage again…but has lost so much blood that he collapses and crotches himself on the ropes. Nigel is up…TOWER OF LONDON THROUGH A CHAIR! He thinks he has it won and crawls for the door only for Larry Sweeney to slam it in his face! He had the match won, and that’s the final straw for S’n’S Inc as the referee on the floor ejects them from ringside. Hero tries to capitalise on all the distractions by climbing the cage the other side. He is caught at the last possible second. SUPERPLEX OFF THE CAGE! Sweet’n’Sour Inc reappear in the crowd to distract the referee as Bobby Dempsey grabs the cage door. BUT HE ACCIDENTALLY SLAMS IT INTO HERO’S FACE! Tank intervenes to hold the door shut and make sure McGuinness can’t escape. Now it’s a straight race as the bloody and groggy Hero crawls for the (now open) door whilst the tired and limping McGuinness tries to climb out. It’s close…BUT NIGEL’S FEET HIT THE GROUND FIRST! The champion retains at 25:32
Rating – **** – Possibly not the most exciting Steel Cage match you’ll ever see, but it certainly had a very unique feel. Normally big Steel Cage World Title main events are bloody, grudge match affairs – full of violence and evil intentions. There was something intriguingly different. Initially the cage seemed ideal for Nigel in that it kept the rest of S’n’S Inc out of the ring. But thanks to the late rule changes, the cage became not a weapon for the two men to beat each other up with (although Nigel used it as such on one occasion) but a pawn in both men’s tactical games. Hero knew it robbed McGuinness of his big finish, knew he could win easily by escaping, and knew he had his cohorts on the floor to help him should Nigel look like winning. His entire strategy was based around injuring Nigel – not to beat him, but simply to keep him down long enough so he could get out of the cage. McGuinness came in with all the intentions of beating up a hated foe as you’d expect to see in a Steel Cage grudge match…but instead had to battle being outnumbered and being taken completely out of his element. The last few minutes as all these stories came together were so much fun. I’m not sure this will appeal to everyone’s taste, and I’ve seen it receive some horrible reviews. But yeah, I thought it was a clever take on the typical cage match.
Hero is absolutely furious, and tosses Bobby Dempsey to the ground before stomping out of the arena as the show fades out.
Tape Rating – **** – That’s probably a little generous…but this was the best Dayton show in a VERY long time. Better than anything this venue saw in 2007 by some distance. And it was made all the better by the fact that, looking at the line-up, I really wasn’t expecting too much. Danielson/Black got a lot of hype (and rightly so as it’s fantastic and well worth checking out) but I hadn’t seen too much praise for anything else. The FIP Title match came out of nowhere and was really exciting. The No DQ Tag was a great showing for the Hangm3n. Joey Matthews’ return performance was really impressive in that solid tag match, whilst the main event was memorable almost for being anti-Steel Cage match. Hell, even that which didn’t make 3* could’ve been much worse. The Briscoes opener was fine for it’s slot on the card and considering the last minute booking changes that had to be made. Haze/Lacey was one of their better ROH outings and would’ve been pushing for a 3* ranking of it’s own had the finish not sucked. Castagnoli/Pearce wasn’t so much bad but completely forgettable. This isn’t a necessarily a MUST BUY show from ROH…but it’s one of the better ‘B-shows’ the promotion will do this year. Danielson/Black is certainly something worth going out of your way to see. I think how you feel about the rest of the show hinges on how much you like the main event, which is very much love it/hate it…
Top 3 Matches
3) Erick Stevens vs Davey Richards vs Austin Aries (***)
2) Nigel McGuinness vs Chris Hero (****)
1) Bryan Danielson vs Tyler Black (****1/2)