ROH 182 – Bedlam In Beantown – 11th April 2008
It was around this time back in 2008 that I stopped following ROH altogether. Up until this point I’d still been following the product on the internet, waiting to purchase the DVD’s in the usual fashion, but life, finances and the real world all caught up with me and I drifted away from wrestling. Following the excellent Supercard Of Honor 3 show, there are now LOTS of shows (particularly the lesser shows in smaller markets) where I have NO idea what’s going to happen, what matches to look out for etc. Which brings me to this show – I’ve heard literally nothing about it, which is strange because the card looks decent. Jack Evans returns to ROH to team with Ruckus against the Briscoes in a match I’ve been dying to see. Kota Ibushi makes his long awaited debut as he has been flown in from the DDT promotion in Japan for the next four shows. We’ve also got a Nigel McGuinness title defence, a Six Man Elimination tag featuring Sweet’n’Sour Inc. which could be highly entertaining, and a rematch from Proving Ground in the main event as Kevin Steen takes on the Necro Butcher (on the eve of his big World Title Match in Edison). Lets venture into the unknown! And to Boston, MA…
ROH VIDEO WIRE (02/04/2008) – Lenny Leonard is hosting the Video Wire in front of a packed crowd in Orlando. Unfortunately his mic is lame so it’s hard to understand a word he’s saying. Mostly highlights from Orlando – the only new material is Kevin Steen hyping his massive weekend and promising to be the most unlikely World Champion ever come Sunday night.
Jack Evans and his grinning, surgically repaired face opens the DVD, flanked by the rest of the Vulture Squad who are delighted to have their leader back. They will win their matches tonight. Emotive stuff…
El Generico vs Erick Stevens vs Rocky Romero vs Roderick Strong
Winner gets a World Title shot later tonight. Obviously everyone will be keen to see Stevens (sporting his new, de-Mohawked look for the first time tonight) interact with the NRC after the head-shaving in Florida. And of course, if El Generico wins the belt tonight, it’ll mean he has to defend it against his own tag partner tomorrow night – so lots of unique possibilities here.
Strong and Stevens immediately pick up where they left off at Supercard Of Honor, trading brutal strikes straight from the off. Everyone in the front row gets a good look at Erick’s new haircut as they brawl around ringside. Generico and Romero get bored of waiting so hit the ring to trade holds themselves. Some nifty pseudo-lucha exchanges between those two before the NRC begin to work in tandem for the first time by isolating the Generic Luchador. He gets a tag to Stevens and as is so often the case in these four corner matches, an impromptu tag team contest has broken out. Rocky and Strong remain in total control and don’t allow Stevens near Generico to tag out. Romero 619’s around Strong’s shoulders into a kick to Stevens’ head for 2. He nearly gets a submission victory with a cross armbreaker that has Erick scrambling or the ropes. Finally he does make the hot tag after a powerslam on Romero. Double springboard crossbody gets Generico a 2. Michinoku Driver gets 2 as well. Stevens and Strong fight on the floor as Generico catches Rocky with a Yakuza Kick in the corner. Roddy in to hit a half nelson backbreaker then hoist him up for the DOOMSDAY KNEE STRIKE! But both members of the NRC go for a pin and subsequently bicker about who gets to win. Stevens capitalises by squashing them both with a Choo Choo in the corner. He pins Strong to win at 11:06.
Rating – ** – Have to say, I wasn’t feeling that. After all the intensity and verve of the Strong/Stevens exchanges in Orlando, this just felt phoned in and bland. A pretty generic four corner match, no real excitement, and in truth it went on a little long considering how little happened. Generico was criminally underused here, and the crowd was noticeably disappointed when it was Stevens rather than him that got the victory and title shot.
The NRC members leave separately before we cut to Erick Stevens backstage. He says this isn’t going to be like Detroit in 2007 when he won a fourway and then lost to Takeshi Morishima. This time he’s taking the gold…
Mike Bennett vs Jason Blade
Ummm…jobbers? Seriously? Unless some kind of angle goes down during this match, it REALLY should’ve been cut. Even Blade’s YRR gimmick isn’t enough to make this interesting.
Blade goes low and seizes the advantage right away. Bennett looks like a scaled down Chris Masters. Jason drops mini-Masterpiece with a nice dropkick. Lenny Leonard and Dave Prazak have spent most of the match discussing Blade’s YRR team-mate Chasyn Rance (who isn’t there tonight). Bennett drops Blade with a spinebuster for 2. Blade wins it with a back drop face buster. Does that move have a name? Oh well, it’s over at 03:27.
Rating – DUD – Absolutely no need for that on the show at all. Why these two were booked is beyond me. For a company supposedly trying to tighten the purse strings this was a puzzling waste of space and DVD time! Bennett didn’t look like anything special (for instance, an Eddie Edwards, or an early ROH Matt Sydal – both guys who, in their initial undercard tryout matches looked full of potential).
Kota Ibushi (wearing an awesome DDT t-shirt) seems excited about his ROH debut. Davey Richards interrupts to try and intimidate him.
Eddie Edwards vs Jigsaw
Did Eddie have short hair last time he was here? Oh well. He’s always a steady hand on these Boston shows, displaying a solid grasp of the fundamentals and generally always making his opponent look good in the process.
Jigsaw’s rock cover of ‘Rock The Casbah’ is easily the best thing about him in ROH. Both of these two are solid mat technicians so their early exchanges are very proficient. Jig quickens the pace and runs through Die Hard with a dropkick. Edwards catches him around the throat with a clothesline and gets a chant from the fans as a result. Rolling snap suplexes into a northern lights suplex get him a 2. BACKPACK STUNNER gets 2 again. Both men connect with superkicks and both go down. And whilst they recover Larry Sweeney appears on the ramp. Edwards uses the distraction to hit a 2K1 BOMB! Edwards wins at 05:34
Rating – ** – Better than I thought it would be. Aside from a couple of awkward moments, they meshed well and both helped each other look good. The crowd was largely indifferent to start with but got more and more into it as time passed, which can only be a good sign. And I’m guessing the result and ensuing angle means we’ll be seeing more of Eddie Edwards in future. I’m down with that
Larry Sweeney introduces Eddie as the newest member of S’n’S Inc. and promises to turn him into a star.
Jack Evans/Ruckus vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe
If they’re allowed to go flat out here this one could be really good. Coming off the back of two loaded shows full of superb, spot-filled tag team action featuring the stars of Dragon Gate, this one also has lots of potential. It should also have big implications for the tag team rankings/future title picture…
Check out the heavy cast on Mark’s left arm. That wrist has been reportedly causing him increasing problems. He’s healthy enough to bust out some REDNECK DANCING! Jack got served! They trade headlocks with Mark getting the better of the returning Evans, despite Jack’s impressive flexibility. Ruckus knocks Jay out of the ring with a corkscrew enzi, and Jack connects on Mark with a springboard variant of the same move. HANDSPRING CORKSCREW DIVE TO THE FLOOR BY EVANS! Not to be out-done Mark climbs for a SPRINGBOARD SOMERSAULT PLANCHA! The Briscoes hit the big biel on Jack then look to isolate his partner Ruckus. They line up the biel on him too but Ruckus holds on to turn it into a double facebuster and gets the hot tag to Evans. He flips around the ring and hits kicks from all over the shop before finally walking into a spinebuster from Jay. Ruckus hits a rolling fisherman buster on Mark but soon gets dumped out of the ring by Jay. He comes back to save Evans from the Doomsday Device. 630 SENTON! The Vultures win at 11:01
Rating – ** – Disappointing in the extreme sadly. Not exactly bad, but after a promising opening couple of minutes it completely lost it’s way and never regained any momentum. The heatless and forgettable beatdown of Ruckus basically killed the match and the finish was just a clusterf*ck of spots which were as poorly layed out as some of the early 2002 Scramble Matches. Chalk it up to Mark wrestling at well below 100% (reports suggested he had minimal movement and almost zero sensation in that injured wrist/hand thanks to nerve damage that would, at some point, require surgery) and Jack working off the ring rust from a couple of months on the shelf.
Sara Del Rey and Daizee Haze arrive for another match in their feud. In fact, these two have wrestled so many times it seems that Ring Of Honor doesn’t even bother listing their matches on the back cover anymore. Larry Sweeney comes out and stops them before they wrestle. Sara walked out on S’n’S Inc. and, since her contract is with him not ROH, she’s not allowed to wrestle. She has no choice but to walk out, leaving Sweeney to appeal to the No Remorse Corps to accept his buyout offer. He then brings out Chris Hero and Brent Albright to take on Daizee in a handicap match. Delirious makes the save which leads into our next match…
Chris Hero/Brent Albright/Larry Sweeney vs Claudio Castagnoli/Delirious/Pelle Primeau
I believe this is under elimination rules. Lots of backstories to keep this one interesting. Everyone knows the history between Claudio and the Hero/Sweeney duo, going back to Final Battle 2006. Delirious and Daizee seem to be watching each others backs lately, and obviously both Delirious and Pelle have past issues with Albright from his time in the Hangmen 3.
Sweeney is in wrestling gear tonight, I believe for the first time. He is chased around the ring by Delirious as the bell rings. Hero starts with Primeau and lifts him into a suplex from a simple collar and elbow lock-up position. Delirious tags in and fares better until Hero goes to his eyes. Leaping lariat from the second rope connects on Albright. Sweeney distracts the referee allowing Hero and Albright to get in some illegal double-teaming in Castagnoli. Team Sweet’n’Sour trap Pelle in the ring and effortlessly beat him around. Prazak and Leonard point out that Larry still hasn’t tagged into the match. Primeau comes out of the lights with a terrific headscissors counter on Hero. He hits a press from the ropes onto Albright but the Gun For Hire soon drops him on his neck. HALF NELSON SUPLEX! Sweeney tags in and eliminates Primeau at 09:18. He then tags out again, allowing Hero and Albright to go after Claudio. From there Larry only tags into the contest when Castagnoli has been beaten down to the point of being defenceless. Delirious in with the Panic Attack on Hero but he gets distracted as Sweeney goes after Daizee Haze on the floor. HALF NELSON SUPLEX AGAIN! Albright repeatedly knees Delirious in the head until the ref stops it at 13:07 to eliminate Delirious. Sweet’n’Sour Inc. now have their biggest nemesis at a 3-on-1 disadvantage. Riccola Bomb out of desperation on Hero…and he’s eliminated at 15:33! Brent Albright still doesn’t seem to keen on his new boss and waits until Sweeney promises him more money before getting in the ring with Double C. Bicycle Kick on Albright but Larry still ducks Claudio, hiding behind Shane Hagadorn on the floor. Albright tries to tag him but Sweeney sprints out of the arena! Brent absolutely decimates Castagnoli with forearm smashes but still runs into a European uppercut. Crabwalk elbow dropped blocked and Albright hits a swinging neckbreaker from the second rope. Giant Swing on Albright though then the RUNNING UPPERCUT for 2. Riccola Bomb countered into an AIR RAID CRASH! Castagnoli goes for another uppercut but gets dropped into the CROWBAR! He blocks that so Albright ties up the legs and locks in another armbar. Enzi kick sends Albright to the floor…TOPE SUICIDA! Back inside…Riccola Bomb COUNTERED TO THE HALF NELSON SUPLEX! But Double C landed in the ropes so Brent can’t pin. Match Killer into the RICCOLA BOMB! Albright is eliminated 23:49. Is that a win? Larry Sweeney wasn’t pinned? His music is playing…so I guess Claudio wins?
Rating – *** – Maybe a tad long, but most of that was pretty fun. Albright was made to look like a real star by being positioned as the killer paid assassin of the group. Castagnoli got the big win he needs as he continues his momentum towards an eventual World Title shot (pinning Chris Hero along the way) plus the screwy finish means Larry Sweeney can maintain that he’s still undefeated. The final minutes between Albright and Claudio were pretty good too.
Nigel McGuinness admits he’s not looking forward to wrestling Erick Stevens since he’s big and hits really hard. But tonight won’t be Erick’s night apparently.
Kota Ibushi vs Davey Richards
This one should be good. Kota first sprung to ROH’s attention when he shone in a tag match at a NOAH show the Ring Of Honor crew attended on the eve of their tour of Japan last year. He’s a leading star of the DDT promotion in Japan and ROH promptly joined the queue of people looking to bring this exciting talent in for a show or two. He’s here for the next 2 weekends, but arrives with a hell of a reputation to live up to. The only Ibushi match I’ve seen is that NOAH tag that won Gabe over so I’ve not seen a lot of him. Looking forward to this…
Davey tries to rattle off a very early kick only for Kota to duck and look to fire one right back, quickly establishing that he’s more than a match for the Tag Champion in the striking stakes. He drops Richards to his knees with a quick kick to the quad. Davey tries to intimidate Ibushi with kicks and slaps but the Japanese import dropkicks him through the ropes then kicks him around ringside. Finally Richards plants him down into the apron with a vicious arm wrench to give himself a clear advantage. In the ring again and Kota bumps on his neck to sell a simple clothesline. This kid is pretty crazy! He sends Richards out of the ring again and his time lands a SPRINGBOARD MOONSAULT to the floor. He gets 2 after another flurry of kicks. Richards tries to duck a kick so Ibushi floats effortlessly into a gorgeous standing moonsault instead. Superplex gets Richards a 2-count in response. Richards tries to roll out of the path of an Ibushi moonsault…but Kota LANDS ON HIS FEET AND FLOATS INTO ANOTHER STANDING MOONSAULT! Awesome spot, and he climbs the ropes again. GERMAN SUPERPLEX BY RICHARDS! Kawada kicks by Davey but Ibushi fights the DR Driver. MATRIX UNDER A CLOTHESLINE! Snap German gets Kota 2 and Davey kicks out into the KIMURA! Ibushi just about makes it to a bottom rope. HEAD DROP GERMAN! RICHARDS NO SELLS! DRAGON SUPLEX FOR 2! Ibushi MISSES a Phoenix Splash and Richards lifts him into the Tombstone Piledriver. KIMURA AGAIN! Ibushi taps at 13:31.
Rating – **** – I’m sure I’ll get some heat from some quarters, but I loved that match. Sure there wasn’t a lot of story-telling or psychology, but it was an awesome sprint of a match with stiff strikes, crisp exchanges and lots of head-droppy goodness at the climax. I don’t think Ibushi has the mat skills or ring presence of some of the NOAH imports we’ve seen (KENTA, Marufuji and Morishima for instance), or even Shingo from the Dragon Gate promotion. But he has strong babyface charisma and is so exciting he’s bound to pop a crowd who haven’t seen his stuff before. He’s a hell of a wrestler in mindless sprint matches like this one.
Nigel McGuinness vs Erick Stevens – ROH World Title Match
It’s fair to say that former FIP Champion Erick Stevens wasn’t everyone’s first choice out of the four guys involved earlier to get this shot. But, looking objectively at his ROH career of late, since Final Battle 2007 he’s been on a good run and featured in a number of highly watchable matches. From epic clashes with Roderick Strong to great mat battles like his FIP Title defence against Austin Aries to the hardcore brawling of the Strong/Stevens/Necro 3-way at the 6th Anniversary Show. Nigel had a hell of a match with Tyler Black recently – can he repeat that with another rising star of ROH’s midcard.
Unfortunately before Stevens even makes the ring he’s attacked by Roderick Strong, injuring his arm and leaving with doctors trying to escort Erick out of the arena. Nigel tries to take advantage of the situation to have the scheduled defence thrown out and announces he’ll defend the belt against Ernie Osiris instead. Stevens turns that option down and climbs in to wrestle effectively one-armed. As you’d expect, it’s an injury McGuinness targets from the get-go. He goes for a steel chair but the challenger punts it straight back into his face. Sadly the Nigel quickly turns the tide back in his favour by arm wrenching Stevens down into the concrete floor. Back in the ring he works over that injured arm with ruthless precision and dominates the contest for the next several minutes. Nice touch from McGuinness as he changes up the usual Cobra Clutch into the lariat combo to end it with a shoulder tackle driven straight into Erick’s damaged arm. Out of nowhere Stevens breaks out the Samoan drop and buys some time to recover. One-armed Choo Choo avalanche then a flying shoulder tackle gets 2 for the challenger. TKO gets 2 again. Strangely Stevens tries a top rope move, which turns out to be a big mistake. Nigel drags him off with the Tower Of London and goes right into the London Dungeon, holding on until Stevens finds the ropes. He ducks the Jawbreaker Lariat then appears to fall over for no reason. HEAD DROP GERMAN SUPLEX! NO SOLD! Jawbreaker Lariat attempt countered into a lariat from Stevens instead. McGuinness escapes the Doctor Bomb attempt with ease. McLariat out of nowhere gets 2 for Nigel. Stevens goes to the top rope and FALLS OVER AGAIN!!! Nigel puts the poor guy out of his misery with the London Dungeon to win at 15:11.
Rating – ** – One of the poorer World Title Matches in recent memory. To give the guys some credit, it’s certainly not as bad as I’ve seen a few people review it as though. The pace was lethargic and, after wrestling earlier and having to cool down, warm up and come back out again in the second half of the show, Stevens looked absolutely gassed. His speed and agility were something resembling an aircraft carrier at the start of the match. By the end the poor guy kept falling over for no apparent reason. He’s taken some big strides forward this year with some good matches. Unfortunately a nightmare performance in this one pushes him back a few steps.
Backstage Delirious babbles. I actually have no idea who or what he was talking about then. Daizee Haze comes to return his ring jacket and thank him for saving her earlier. Delirious stares like a loon…
Necro Butcher vs Kevin Steen – Boston Massacre Match
This would be the first time we’ve seen a Boston Massacre Match since Honor Invades Boston, the sixth ever ROH show. These two had a hell of a fight back at Proving Ground so it’s only natural we’d see a rematch signed. Tomorrow night Steen cashes in his guaranteed shot at the World Title, so you have to question the wisdom of accepting a rematch with the crazy Necro Butcher tonight…
Necro draws one of the biggest pops of the night for kicking the referee during his ring entrance. Kevin Steen appears from behind him and annihilates him with a savage chair shot to get the match going. Naturally that isn’t going to keep Necro down for long and he soon sends Mr Wrestling out of the ring for a brawl outside. He finds a plastic bag and uses it to suffocate Steen. Big trash can shot to the head next. Steen hits back with a running powerslam up the aisle onto the metal ramp. FROG SPLASH OFF THE GUARDRAIL! He positions Butcher on the timekeeping table but Necro moves before Steen can hit the big dive through it. Steen tries to launch him off the apron instead…only to have the tables turned as Butcher nails the swinging neckbreaker through that table. It’s Necro well and truly on top for the next few minutes, until Steen fights back with an Ace Crusher into back to back open chairs. He puts the trash can over Necro’s had and ABSOLUTELY PASTES HIM WITH A CHAIR! Cannonball senton with Necro still trapped in the can scores as well. Necro cuts Kevin off as he climbs the turnbuckles then fills the ring with thumbtacks. SUPER RANA INTO THE TACKS! How crazy do you have to be to fill a ring with tacks when you wrestle barefoot? Tiger Driver in the tacks gets 2. Shades of Da Hit Squad vs Carnage Crew in the first Boston Massacre Match now as Necro pulls out the barbed wire board. He hoists Steen up for a BACK BODY DROP INTO THE BARBED WIRE! Steen doesn’t allow himself to be pinned though and fires back with a POWERBOMB INTO THE BARBED WIRE…THEN A BARBED WIRE SHARPSHOOTER! Necro submits at 17:48.
Rating – *** – There were some sloppy moments and it took a while to get going, but the last few minutes of craziness sent the fans home happy, and gave Steen a HUGE win going into a World Title Match tomorrow night. I still think it was a ridiculous booking decision to have your challenger in a marquee title match diving around with tables, tacks and barbed wire the night before though! To be honest, I think their first match was better – it felt more natural where this one felt a little dull, with wrestlers and fans alike seemingly stalling their way through 15 minutes waiting for the inevitable barbed wire spots at the end. If you’re looking to see Necro wrestle this style of match in ROH go back to ’06 and check out War Of The Wire 2. Forgettable fun…nothing more, nothing less.
As the lights go up a bloody Necro Butcher gets a lot of applause from the fans as they start to filter out of the building. That’s nice to see.
Elsewhere the victorious Kevin Steen says the pain and injuries he’s suffered tonight won’t stop him beating Nigel McGuinness tomorrow night in Edison.
Tape Rating – ** – Very much a B-market show here with very little to recommend it. Considering only 3 matches all night made it to 3* or higher, this is actually a really disappointing effort from Ring Of Honor, considering the decent run of shows they’ve been on recently. Richards/Ibushi was a really exciting, fast-paced encounter, and a match which had it’s qualities further emphasised by the lethargic nature of the rest of the show. The 6-man Elimination Tag was a decent bout, but going near 25 minutes it felt like a real marathon to sit through. Necro and Steen contested a physical main event, but even that seemed sluggish compared to their previous clash in January. Erick Stevens seemed so gassed after wrestling once already that his World Title Match with Nigel looked like it was being fought in slow motion. If I’m honest, it was tough to watch this DVD. If you do lay your hands on it then there is some good stuff to be had. But, for the first time in a while, there’s a lot of bad stuff to wade through in order to find it. And in truth, outside of Kota Ibushi’s ROH debut match, it leaves very little legacy and will be forgotten pretty quickly too.
Top 3 Matches
3) Kevin Steen vs Necro Butcher (***)
2) Claudio Castagnoli/Delirious/Pelle Primeau vs Chris Hero/Brent Albright/Larry Sweeney (***)
1) Davey Richards vs Kota Ibushi (****)