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180 ROH Dragon Gate Challenge II 3/28/2008

ROH 180 – Dragon Gate Challenge 2 – 28th March 2008

For the third successive year, Ring Of Honor is piggy-backing Wrestlemania, putting together a stacked roster (complimented by stars from Dragon Gate) and strong cards hoping to draw big crowds and win over new fans with everyone in town for the ‘Grandaddy of them all’. The only difference this year is that it’s taken them into a new market for the first time. In 2007 and 2008, WWE held Wrestlemania in the established Ring Of Honor bases of Chicago and Detroit. This time around they venture into all new territory, debuting in the Florida area (birthplace of sister promotion FIP) for the first time. Tonight, similar to the first Dragon Gate Challenge (held in Detroit in 2007), we have a series of Ring Of Honor vs Dragon Gate matches which, on paper, are all very promising. There’s also a Six Man Tag Main event pitting the No Remorse Corps against a joint ROH/NOAH/DG team, Nigel McGuinness in action, ‘plus Larry Sweeney, Tammy Sytch and much more’ apparently. Should be a good night. This is Orlando FL, lets join Prazak and Florida resident Lenny Leonard!

ROH VIDEO WIRE (26/03/2008) – Tyler Black talks to Lacey and Rain (is she in AOTF as well now?) then leaves the Minnesota Home Wrecking Crew to go talk to Austin Aries

– Larry Sweeney promises that, following his buy-out of the Hangmen 3, his hostile takeover is going to continue. Adam Pearce and Shane Hagadorn oogle the mysterious briefcase as Larry promises we won’t be hearing from BJ Whitmer again. Brent Albright doesn’t seem totally convinced by things.

– Lacey and Rain try to talk to Aries, but he says he’s only focused on his rematch with Nigel McGuinness this weekend.

– We also get part 2 of the excellent sit down interview with Nigel. Dave asks why he played up his head injury to beat Danielson at the Sixth Anniversary Show, to which he answers he took an opportunity and would do it again. Nigel also runs through his top challengers Aries (‘he hasn’t been the same since he came back from TNA’), Steen (‘largely overweight and troubled by acne’) and Claudio (‘Germany lost the war so he shouldn’t be allowed in the country’).

– The Video Wire ends with clips of Nigel laying both Aries and Roderick Strong out with his belt at a Full Impact Pro show.

AGEOFTHEFALL.COM – Jimmy Jacobs assesses the impact of Age Of The Fall over the first six months of it’s existence. The footage is grainy and dark and Jimmy’s statements are, as usual, pretty vague and pretentious. But the intention is noble, the delivery is superb and continues to keep AOTF prominent despite losing the Tag Titles and a major World Title shot on pay-per-view in recent times.

In the arena the YRR interrupt Rebecca Bayless’ intro to the show, much to her annoyance. The sound quality in this arena is abysmal so it’s impossible to understand what they’re saying. They mock Bushwacker Luke then Sal wins Becky over with another kiss…odd segment.

Floridian native Erick Stevens says it’s a huge weekend for him. He is honoured to team with representatives from Dragon Gate and NOAH to fight his old adversaries from the No Remorse Corps in the main event tonight.

Nigel McGuinness vs Delirious

The belt obviously isn’t on the line tonight. Delirious would still propel himself into title contention if he were to pin the World Champion tonight though.

The Orlando venue isn’t the biggest but does look absolutely packed. Nigel doesn’t look best pleased to be welcoming a new market to Ring Of Honor. Delirious mocks Nigel’s trademark ring entrance, then boots him when McGuinness tries to show him how it’s done. Somersault senton off the apron nailed but Nigel blocks the Panic Attack with a boot to the crotch. McGuinness works the arm as he normally does, pausing from time to time to wind up the fans. Delirious finally counters the McGuinness headstand with a torpedo headbutt to the abdomen. Neckbreaker over the knee scores but Nigel fights out of a Cobra Stretch attempt. Panic Attack nailed second time of asking but he turns and runs into a big lariat. He goes for Shadows Over Hell but McGuinness counters with a KNEE TO THE ARM! London Dungeon locked in and Delirious taps at 09:08

Rating – ** –
Nothing match really. It served its purpose in that it got the crowd hot for the night of action ahead and ensured Nigel will go into his title match tomorrow as a heel (as opposed to the tweener he was when he came to the ring). But for the DVD viewer, it was nothing we haven’t seen before. I feel like I’ve seen these two wrestle each other a few times now, and aside from maybe one Pure Title defence, I really can’t remember them anything doing anything particularly remarkable.

The YRR are so ready for action they don’t wait for the Vultures to get into the ring. Kenny blocks the handspring elbow from Ruckus with a nice dropkick then takes to the air with a somersault plancha to wipe out everyone else at ringside. He follows that with an absolutely brutal running double knee strike in the corner. He keeps bringing the awesome by BACK FLIPPING out of the corner into a wild jumping enziguri on Ruckus whilst he’s positioned on the top rope. At last Jigsaw gets a tag and cleans house on both opponents. Razzle Dazzle from Ruckus to Rinauro, into the rolling fisherman buster bomb. DOUBLE STOMP JIG’N’TONIC!! The Vultures win at 5:03.

Rating – ** –
They kept it brief so it was hardly a chore to watch. The whole five minutes was basically an advertisement for Kenny King anyway. He looks like he has a ton of ability. I imagine as soon as ROH feels they have a permanent spot for him he’ll be called up. That’s assuming he’s not called back to the WWE first. He got his start in the business on Tough Enough and he certainly has the right look, athleticism and charisma to make a decent go of it in the big time if they give him a shot.

Larry Sweeney and Shane Hagadorn relax in their private suite pointing out that everyone else is on vacation, so they’re the only members of S’n’S Inc in town this weekend. Sweeney gloats that he’s holding out all his talent from one of ROH’s biggest weekends of the year.

Genki Horiguchi vs Austin Aries

I think Genki has made every Dragon Gate trip to the states (bar the first one in 2005 which only featured CIMA and Shingo). He was a face that first trip, but is now a heel, complete with insane hair, freaky contact lenses and a generally random but utterly brilliant look. This is the first in the series of ROH vs DG matches tonight. It’s a big weekend for Aries as tomorrow night he gets his Rising Above rematch for Nigel McGuinness’ World Title. He’s also being scouted by Age Of The Fall and Sunny…

Aries gets the better of the initial exchanges, getting 2 with the Power Drive Elbow. Genki looks for the Backslide From Hell but quickly has to dive out of the ring as Aries goes for the Last Chancery. He tries to use a chair only to be stopped by the referee. He works the leg instead. Moonsault from the second rope misses and Aries abandons selling the knee in favour of a tomahawk chop from the top rope. Horiguchi to the floor for the HEAT SEEKING MISSILE! Genki gets a boot up to block the Impact Explosion Dropkick and comes out of the corner with a tornado DDT. IED nailed second time around for 2. Horiguchi counters the Brainbuster with one of his own and he gets 2. Beach Break blocked…Backslide From Hell instead and it’s another nearfall. KICK OF DEATH! BRAINBUSTER! LAST CHANCERY! Horiguchi is out at 09:08.

Rating – *** –
This was definitely wrestled in house show mode, but both are seasoned performers. The match itself was smooth, well paced and ultimately gave Aries the dominating win he needs on the eve of a big title match. Genki rarely steals the show when he crops up on ROH DVD’s, but always seems a solid hand and one that understands his role perfectly. Here it was to make Aries look good and put him over – he did so with great professionalism.

The lights go out and Jimmy Jacobs speaks from a lighting scaffold in the far corner of the building. Jimmy guarantees him victory tomorrow night if he joins Age Of The Fall. Lacey joins Aries in the ring and tries to lead him away. Tammy Sytch is out too. I’m so happy that she looks like she’s got her life together, but she really has no place in ROH. Watching her play the flirty diva just doesn’t work anymore. Anyway, Aries refuses to talk to any of them and leaves…which leaves Lacey and Tammy alone. More terrific promo work from both of them…ending with Lacey taking her out with a DDT.

Kevin Steen/El Generico vs Naruki Doi/Masato Yoshino

I believe that Steen and Generico both have Dragon Gate experience. Doi and Yoshino have both appeared before. Yoshino wowed everyone with his extreme speed during his three-show stint in 2006, whilst Doi is a former ROH Tag Champion.

Doi’s shiny man panties put Generico and Steen’s attire to shame. This is under Dragon Gate rules apparently. This means tags are, essentially, something that can be forgotten about when necessary. Doi and Steen start in an exchange surprisingly fast considering big Kev’s size. The ROH team try to isolate Doi from his partner but don’t succeed and Yoshino comes in to attack Generico’s leg. Double stomp the arm from Yoshino next. Mr Wrestling has to invade the ring as Doi and Yoshino bust out some trademark Dragon Gate double team sequences. Doi stretches him in a cross-legged abdominal stretch whilst his partner holds Steen on the apron. Double gutbuster into a double basement dropkick gets 2 for the DG representatives. Generico is in dire need of a tag and opens up an opportunity to do so after dropping Yoshino with the Blue Thunder Driver. Hot tag to Steen who dropkicks Yoshino then kicks the middle rope into Doi’s crotch. He and Doi trade strikes until Naruki ties him in the ropes and hits a somersault senton across the midsection. Cannonball senton in the corner next. Generico wipes out Yoshino with a springboard crossbody and comes from the ropes again…only to eat knees from the spit-legged moonsault. Doi 555 on Generico but Mr Wrestling comes back and cleans house. Pumphandle Cradlebreaker on Doi gets 2 and all four men are down! The DG team hit a flapjack/face crusher combo on Steen then a Poetry In Motion reverse elbow. MISSILE DROPKICK ON STEEN INTO A SENTON ON GENERICO! Fantastic hangtime from Yoshino there. He no-sells Generico’s Yakuza kick and hits the Tormelino. Baketori Sliding Kick from Doi gets 2! VICIOUS POWERBOMB on Yoshino by Steen. Generico hits Doi with the Yakuza Kick and hoists Yoshino into an AVALANCHE GUTBUSTER! STEEN-TON BOMB! TOP ROPE SPLASH FROM GENERICO! YOSHINO KICKS OUT!!! The crowd are all on their feet now. Steen wipes Naruki out with a somersault plancha. Generico plants Yoshino for another 2 with a half nelson suplex. BRAINBUSTER NAILED! TWO AGAIN!!! To the top rope…but Yoshino blocks the Brainbustah. Steen has him! PACKAGE PILEDRIVER! BRAINBUSTER! Yoshino is finally pinned at 17:35.

Rating – **** –
The usual insanity that you normally expect from these Dragon Gate tags. For me the most impressive of this one was how well Steen and Generico adapted to the Dragon Gate style. I know they made a name for themselves in the spot-heavy feud with the Briscoes last year, but for Steen in particular to go THIS fast for near 20 minutes is still quite a feat. We haven’t seen much of Steen and Generico teaming together thus far in 2008. This was a timely reminder as to what they bring to the table. Doi and Yoshino were every bit as good as you remember from their previous outings too.

INTERMISSION – Rebecca Bayless catches up with a still breathless Kevin Steen and El Generico. They want a Tag Title shot real soon. Steen wants to make love to his wife wearing an ROH Title belt apparently…

Shingo/BxB Hulk vs Jimmy Jacobs/Tyler Black

With Ring Of Honor 2-0 in the series, the pressure is on Shingo and BxB to pull out a win here. I believe this is Hulk’s Ring Of Honor debut which is exciting – but sadly he doesn’t appear to be bringing his trademark entrance (complete with full-blown dance number) to the US. Shingo is still extremely popular in ROH during 2006/7.

New music for Age Of The Fall at last. Hulk hits an awesome flipping dropkick to send Jacobs back into his corner. Shingo and Black have a super fast exchange which Tyler gets the best of. He trades chops with BxB who knocks him down with a reverse heel kick then leapdrops him so he runs straight into a DDT from Shingo. Tyler responds by throwing Hulk OFF THE APRON! That was wild and Jimmy follows it up with a Cactus Jack elbow drop. AOTF hit a nice dropkick combo in the corner as Hulk is tied in the tree of woe. They are in total control and dominate BxB Hulk for several minutes. Hulk at last lifts Black to the floor and almost knocks Jacobs’ head off with a missile dropkick. Hot tag to Shingo who MURDERS Jimmy with an Exploder suplex. OVER THE TURNBUCKLES SOMERSAULT PLANCHA BY BXB! Jimmy hits a satellite headscissors on Shingo but gets caught in the Barrel Throw for 2. Missile dropkick/back drop driver from the DG guys to Jacobs. Tyler walks in to a flurry of kicks from Hulk. He misses a moonsault but bounces straight into a Red Star Press for 2. Second time around Black catches BxB on the top rope. REVERSE SUPERPLEX INTO THE PEROXISM FOR 2! Shingo saves but is soon taken out by Jacobs’ spear. END TIME ON HULK! Shingo saves but gets sent to the floor by Black. RUNNING MOONSAULT BY TYLER! Moonsault press from BxB to Jacobs, but he’s too tired to cover. Black springboards into a Shingo lariat. DOOMSDAY SPINNING HEEL KICK! JACOBS SAVES AT 2!! BBO from Hulk to Jacobs. Tyler blocks the Last Falconry but is decapited by the SHINGO LARIATOOOOOOOOOO! LAST FALCONRY! Shingo pins Black for the victory at 16:15.

Rating – **** – It wasn’t quite as smooth as the Steen-erico vs Doi/Yoshino tag, but what it lacked in that department, it made up for in emotional storytelling with solid heel work from the Age Of The Fall working well with the ever-popular Shingo and BxB Hulk who worked the face in peril role superbly. If you like your crazy spotfests you’ll like the Steen-erico tag better. If you like to see a little more logic and plot to your wrestling, then you’ll prefer this one. Either way, they were both awesome matches and worth grabbing the DVD for by themselves.

Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Dragon Kid/Ryo Saito

We’ve already seen two fantastic tag team matches featuring the Dragon Gate talent, and the amazing thing is that ROH’s premier tag team are only now stepping through the curtain. Given that the Briscoes are NOAH talent in Japan this is a real opportunity to see some top tag teams go at it. And with the ROH vs DG series standing at 2-1 in Ring Of Honor’s favour going into this final match, the pressure is still on the DG team to make sure they’re going back to Japan with a share of the spoils.

Dragon Kid climbs onto his partners shoulders to engage in a test of strength with Jay. Duelling basement dropkicks knock him loopy so Mark comes in. Springboard headscissors from Kid send him straight back out. Jay flings Saito into a knee strike from Mark as the two teams exchange the advantage in the early going. Dragon swings round his partner into a 619 on Jay. You gain an appreciation for just how small Dragon Kid is when even Mark tosses him around like a ragdoll in a gutwrench suplex. He still gets the knees up as Mark goes for a moonsault, but the other Briscoe brother is soon on top of him with a big clothesline. Jay comes from the second rope into a Rocker Dropper for 2. DK tries to go for a tag only for Mark to dead-lift him into a back suplex. BRISCOE BIEL seconds Kid into the lights. Stretch Plum applied by Jay and Ryo has to save his partner. 619 to the back of Jay, then Kid flips into a jawbreaker on Mark before finally getting the big tag to Saito. SLINGSHOT HEADSCISSORS TO THE FLOOR on Jay. In the ring Saito hits the Fisherman Express on Mark for 2. The younger Briscoe drops him with the urinage. Dragon hits a blockbuster on Jay but is soon flat on his back as he runs into a spinebuster. The Briscoes launch Dragon into the sky again with a big pancake for 2. Saito gets Mark on his shoulders in the corner…and Kid climbs up for a SPRINGBOARD SUPER RANA! Mark blocks another springboard rana attempt but Dragon simply climbs him for a DDT instead. Jay murders Kid with the gorilla press DVD for 2. Saito drops Mark on his neck with a German suplex then eats turnbuckle from a Jay Briscoe flatliner. SPRINGBOARD DOOMSDAY DEVICE ON SAITO! The Briscoes win at 18:04

Rating – *** – Another excellent tag match here. In terms of excitement this was a step below what we’d seen in the previous two matches – which obviously hurt the crowd reaction. It was still a great contest but on the back of two undeniably better matches, it felt laboured. That didn’t detract from a brilliant virtuoso performance from Dragon Kid, upon whom the whole match was centred. His offence was placed as the centrepieces of the match, he was the face in peril, he was the guy with the major comeback spots etc. The Briscoes were excellent as the school yard bullies pushing around the little kid too, but this one was all about DK.

Back in the Sweet’n’Sour suite Larry Sweeney is seen desperately trying to negotiate with Sara Del Rey, who we saw angrily quit Sweet’n’Sour Inc last time around. Sweeney is secretive about the next recruit to his growing hostile takeover.

Briscoes redneck through a promo. They want AOTF to Man Up, then they want the Tag Titles again.

The NRC head out for the main event, only to be joined in the ring by Larry Sweeney. He offers them a similar deal to that which he offered to the Hangmen 3 – dissolve and join Sweet’n’Sour Inc. Roderick Strong declines since, as they have a lot of titles already, they don’t really need his help. Keep an eye on Davey Richards and you’ll notice him pocket one of Sweeney’s cards…

Roderick Strong/Davey Richards/Rocky Romero vs CIMA/Go Shiozaki/Erick Stevens

The babyface team is supposedly a dream team alliance of wrestlers from ROH, Dragon Gate and Pro Wrestling NOAH, essentially working an exhibition match against the No Remorse Corps. We know Erick Stevens still has a score to settle with the leader of the NRC, FIP Champion Roderick Strong and they’re pencilled in to wrestle tomorrow night.

CIMA is the most over man in the match by a long way. He starts in the ring with Romero and comes up short in the early going. Richards tries to out-strike Shiozaki next and is immediately floored with a big chop. Strong in for a SUPER STIFF CHOP DUEL! Stevens gets the tag and he doesn’t let up, delivering more chops to the enflamed chest of the FIP Champion. Shiozaki tries to pin Roderick but Richards and Romero distract the official. But this tactic comes back to haunt them as Go and CIMA start double-teaming their leader. Revenge is extracted as the Tag Champions team up to take Shiozaki out on the floor with a jumping knee strike. Rocky tries a crossbody from the second rope only to be caught and chopped down by Go. Samoan drop from Stevens to Strong as the format starts to fall out of the window. The referee is busy trying to restore order and doesn’t see Davey and Rocky once again illegally double-teaming an opponent (Stevens this time). The NRC start to isolate Erick now, cutting him off from his Japanese partners with ruthless precision. Stevens in a tree of woe where Strong elevates Romero into a flying leapfrog dropkick, then Davey adds insult to injury by slapping him in the exposed nutsack. Stevens finally hits a desperation powerslam on Roddy and gets the hot tag to CIMA. Lungblower on Richards then a double stomp to the other two NRC members. Backwards double stomp to Richards then a missile dropkick as he hangs draped in the ropes.

Shiozaki and Romero are noticeably stiff with each other, and it’s Go’s arsenal of chops that sees him get the upper hand. Erick saves Shiozaki from the Gibson Driver and at last we get to see Strong and Stevens stand toe to toe. CHOPS…TKO BY STEVENS! They fall to the floor as he looks for the Doctor Bomb. TWISTING LUNATIC DIVE BY RICHARDS! TOPE SUICIDA FROM CIMA! The face team trap Romero alone in the ring for Stevens to hit the Choo Choo. Lungblower into a HUGE German suplex gets Stevens a 2. SHIOZAKI MOONSAULT! MAD SPLASH! Romero’s partners have to dive in to make the save. Richards and Go…KAWADA KICKS ON GO! NO SOLD! SUPERKICK! ENZI! Death By Roderick gets 2 on Shiozaki. Sick Kick lands as well but CIMA makes the save. Stevens ducks Rocky’s Knock Out Kick and Go propels Romero into a big lariat. Stevens hits the big front slam as Strong destroys Shiozaki with a back suplex on the apron. PERFECT DRIVER FROM CIMA TO DAVEY! Strong saves his partner and nails the HALF NELSON BACKBREAKER! Stevens breaks the fall…so once again it’s Erick and Roddy alone in the middle of the ring. Lariats from Stevens. Romero knees him in the head as he lines up the Doctor Bomb leaving CIMA and Strong trading nearfalls. SCHWEIN! STRONG KICKS OUT! CROSSFIRE BOMB! CIMA wins at 27:36.

Rating – **** – This one certainly got a healthy time allocation, which allowed them to start slow and build the pace quite deliberately, culminating in a balls to the wall finale. Granted the rules were somewhat tossed out of the window, and it never managed to shake off that ‘exhibition match’ vibe, it was still an engrossing battle to end the show. I liked how much Go was put over as a lethal striker, and he had some terrific exchanges with all three NRC guys. The build towards Strong/Stevens tomorrow night was also a central theme of this match, and they did a good job of hyping that one without giving too much away. CIMA was always going to steal the show with his popular moveset, and anytime he was in there the pace really picked up. I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t expecting too much from this. I’m not sure the NRC are the right team to be carrying the Tag Titles (it seems like they’ve been given them to try to keep them over and give them an actual valid purpose, as opposed to something the ROH fans want to see), and wasn’t sure Stevens was good enough to get his feud with Strong over whilst teaming with CIMA (who is a massive babyface and huge personality to try and out-shine). I was pleasantly surprised…

Tape Rating – **** – If you like tag team wrestling, this is a fantastic show. If you think you’re ok with a three hour show that only has two singles matches, then it’s an easy watch, packed with good wrestling. It’s very light on ROH storylines (indeed, outside of the Aries/AOTF angle which Aries basically no-sold tonight anyway, and Sweeney trying to buy out the NRC, I don’t think any other long term storylines were really progressed) so you don’t need to be up to date with your DVD’s to enjoy it. The stars of Dragon Gate were flown on to put on some high quality exhibitions of their talent and they certainly delivered. Perhaps most surprising is the main event, which looked weak on paper, but actually delivered a high quality trios bout. Well worth picking this DVD up…and supposedly this is the weaker show of the weekend. Can’t wait for Supercard Of Honor 3!!

Top 3 Matches

3) CIMA/Go Shiozaki/Erick Stevens vs Roderick Strong/Davey Richards/Rocky Romero (****)

2) Shingo/BxB Hulk vs Jimmy Jacobs/Tyler Black (****)

1) Kevin Steen/El Generico vs Naruki Doi/Masato Yoshino (****)

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