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186 ROH Southern Navigation 5/9/2008

ROH 186 – Southern Navigation – 9th May 2008

I’m feeling pretty positive about Ring Of Honor at the moment. It was with great hesitance that I started getting back into the wrestling review scene. Not because I didn’t want to watch the shows, but I’ve read lots of negative things about the ROH scene in 2008 and didn’t know what to expect. In truth, that’s far it’s been pretty good. There has been a few bad shows and a number of questionable booking decisions, but by and large the standard of in-ring action is as good as it’s ever been. Take the very decent last double shot weekend from Detroit/Chicago. ROH were able to deliver a couple of strong shows despite pitching up with a roster deprived of Bryan Danielson, the entire No Remorse Corps, Erick Stevens, Go Shiozaki and more (although admittedly boosted by guest appearances from Kota Ibushi and the Motor City Machine Guns). This can only be a good thing since it demonstrates guys like Steen, Generico, Castagnoli, Hero, Albright and so on are able to step up and help the likes of Aries, McGuinness and the Briscoes at the top of the card. That said, this is a big weekend for Ring Of Honor, and as such they’re at as close to full strength as is possible. Danielson is back, as are the NRC and a trio of NOAH talent has been flown in to bolster the ranks still further. Tomorrow is the debut in the historic Hammerstein Ballroom, home of multiple famous wrestling broadcasts in recent past. Tonight is the debut in the Virginia market where ROH are now looking to expand. The headlining matches are both good as the NOAH boys (Morishima, Marufuji and Shiozaki) take on the No Remorse Corps, whilst Danielson and Tyler Black meet again in a rematch of their epic at Breakout. Jay Briscoe is also looking for revenge on Jimmy Jacobs for putting his brother on the shelf last time out. Should be an interesting night in Manassas, VA. Let’s join Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard.

ROH VIDEO WIRE (23/04/2008-05/05/2008) – Dotted amongst the highlights from the previous two shows we get Cary Silkin making the official announcement that it’s Nigel/Claudio in the Hammerstein. Nigel makes a few amusing bald jokes about Castagnoli for good measure. There’s also an AWFUL promo video for Castagnoli. Absolutely cringe-worthy, almost making me desperate to see Castagnoli lose tomorrow.

The No Remorse Corps are back after their break. They take a look at the NOAH crew working out in the ring and Roderick seems confident that the run of bad luck that forced them to take a few shows out (Rocky toured Mexico, Strong and Richards went to Europe) ends tonight. Davey Richards asks whether Larry Sweeney has been in touch.

Chris Hero vs Pelle Primeau

I imagine this will be another enhancement match for Hero as he continues to establish his “serious” gimmick. Plus bringing Larry Sweeney with him is always a guaranteed way to get some heat. I think Hero knocked Pelle out recently so the little guy will probably be looking for some revenge. Or something like that. I don’t really buy into Primeau, so following his storylines becomes a slight issue.

Primeau starts enthusiastically with a springboard dropkick. He then falls off Hero going for headscissors. He lands a more impressive one from the second rope shortly afterwards though so all is forgiven. Hell, he even has the confidence to emulate Dragon Kid with a Déjà vu style double rotation. He lands another headscissors going through the ropes to the floor as Hero is completely rocked. Finally he comes back by kicking Primeau clean off the apron. Pelle wriggles into a nice roll-up for 2, but Hero retaliates with an atomic drop for his own nearfall. But Pelle still refuses to stay down and keeps coming back to attack Hero. He goes for one springboard move and eats Hero’s much-vaunted Rolling Elbow to the side of the head. Yakuza Kick finds the mark and Hero win at 05:41.

Rating – ** –
I enjoyed that more than I was expecting to. Primeau did well as the plucky underdog, and he was lucky to be in there with someone like Chris Hero who, like Claudio Castagnoli, has utilised his experience in Chikara and around the world to craft himself into a very capable worker with smaller, more agile opponents. I’m glad we’re seeing Hero’s character taken in a more serious direction to. Unlike guys like Albright or Strong (who need personalities) or Stevens (still very inexperienced), Hero is the type of guy who could carry Ring Of Honor if they needed him to. He is a creative and intelligent wrestler, mind-blowingly charismatic, and has one of the top managers in ROH flanking him. Hopefully now he’s ditched the silliness from his gimmick, shaken off the feud with Claudio that never really took off and never really ended either and regained some focus, we’ll see him given more competitive matches where he can really deliver the kind of performances fans of his have been seeing elsewhere on the indies for years. His one-man virtuoso performance on the CZW team during Cage Of Death at Death Before Dishonor 4 (yes, a year and a half ago!) remains one of the outstanding in-ring performances in all of Ring Of Honor history. I’m hoping we’re finally going to see him let off the leash again now…

Sara Del Rey comes to the ring, sporting somewhat of a new look since we last saw her walking out on Sweet’n’Sour Inc. Looks like all it took was a big fat cheque from Larry Sweeney to get her back on side. She beats the crap out of Ernie Osiris to prove a point.

Rhett Titus/Rex Sterling vs Mitch Franklin/Sean Denny

This match pits two ROH students teaming with two local debutants against each other. Sterling, Denny and Damien Wayne (who we’ll see later tonight) have reportedly been impressive in this region, so ROH is taking a look at them. Rhett remains the only academy graduate (outside of Hagadorn and Dempsey, who don’t really wrestle) I’m even vaguely interested by. From what little I’ve seen of his ring work, it seems limited, but his size and workable gimmick puts him streets ahead of the likes of Pelle Primeau, who at this stage may well be a better wrestler. Sterling looks like skinny Arik Cannon.

Denny seems popular with the locals. Prazak mentions that Sterling has already made some appearances in FIP. Those two put on a decent opening 30 seconds which reeks of familiarity. Rex distracts Franklin allowing Titus to lay him out with a clothesline for 2. Pelvic gyration vertical suplex gets Rhett a nearfall as well. Mitch looks for a tag but is stopped by Sterling who gets 2 with a suplex neckbreaker. Finally Titus misses a body avalanche allowing Franklin to make the hot tag to Denny, who promptly drops Rex with a German suplex. Titus dropkicks Franklin and hits a Splash Mountain to win the match at 05:31

Rating – * –
Nice to see Titus pick up the victory, but ultimately there was nothing here that warranted this match not being stuck on the pre-show rather than on the main DVD. We didn’t see enough of either Sterling or Denny to judge how good they are, although I suppose if Rex is already seeing some FIP bookings, if he is any good we’ll see him back at some point. Franklin seems to have plateu’d recently. Pelle has edged ahead of him in terms of being an athletic underdog and the rest of his game still seems sloppy and weak. Plus, he’s still working the generic student gimmick making him instantly forgettable.

Skip to somewhat strange footage of Jimmy Jacobs waiting in a car with Joey Matthews and Tyler Black. They seem disturbed too in all fairness. They’re parked up outside Lacey’s gym where Jimmy tries to talk to her…then pulls out his spike as we cut.

Damien Wayne vs Brent Albright vs Claudio Castagnoli vs Nigel McGuinness

I guess ROH sees more potential in Wayne than in the other two local debutants tonight, given that they’ve stuck him in with these three. This will be a warm-up for Nigel and Claudio before they clash over the World Championship in Manhattan tomorrow night. There’s also Albright (who sends Larry Sweeney to the back during his entrance) to factor in. A win here and he factors himself straight into title reckoning too.

Lots of streamers for Damien, and a big British flag implies there are some Englishmen in the house too. After all the bald jokes recently, Claudio has cropped his hair even shorter. Albright starts with the debutant, who more than holds his own. They mess something up at the 2 minute mark leading to a sloppy stand-off. Brent fakes a handshake and uses it to drag Wayne into an exploder suplex. Damien turns his back again and gets clobbered from behind from Nigel for good measure. Castagnoli runs up the ropes and kicks McGuinness to the floor. Nigel still takes his time tagging in to face Double CX legally for the first time though. He’s soon out again too, referring to let Albright do the work for him. He tags in again when he thinks Claudio is on the back foot, but Castagnoli soon rallies and delivers a flurry of uppercuts and chops. Wayne blind tags in and tries to pin the World Champion with a sunset flip. That would’ve been quite the upset, but unfortunately for Damien, he’s soon on defence as Nigel and Brent both start working his arm in preparation for their respective finishers. Shortarm McLariat gets 2 for Nigel. McGuinness lines up the Jawbreaker next but is cut off by more Europeans from Claudio. Match Killer on the champion for 2. McGuinness responds with a spinning McLariat. Jawbreaker COUNTERED to the Giant Swing. RUNNING UPPERCUT SCORES but Albright dives in to break the fall before Castagnoli gets the win. Wayne pitches him out but Nigel cuts him off before he can hit a crowd-popping dive. Instead he leg drops Brent in between the ropes. Wayne goes for a Randy Savage elbow drop but misses. UNPROTECTED KNEE STRIKES! Albright wins at 13:06.

Rating – ** –
Disappointing in my opinion. I don’t think Claudio or Nigel did a particularly good job of hyping their match tomorrow night. Their in-ring segments together didn’t feel like build up to a big main event calibre match, nor part of an epic feud that you’re desperate to see settled. Truth be told, Nigel and Claudio in the ring together tonight felt like any other random combination of two guys you get in this format of match. I wasn’t impressed with Wayne at all either. He fluffed his lines early in the match and never really recovered. At the end he looked completely gassed too, and just doesn’t seem to have enough in his arsenal to make up for his faults. Not keen to see him back based on that one.

In a scene more tense than anything they delivered in the preceding match, Castagnoli hands the belt back to McGuinness, who again indicates that Claudio hasn’t proved anything to him and doesn’t deserve his title shot. Claudio chases him out of the building.

Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black are hanging out in the woods. That’s not gay at all. Tyler says tonight will be different, and this time he’ll be beating American Dragon.

Up next it was supposed to be Austin Aries and Erick Stevens in a Proving Ground rematch. I didn’t mention it in my intro but I was actually really looking forward to it. I was in the minority that thought Stevens/Aries was superior to Stevens/Danielson during the push-Stevens-fest we have to start 2008. Anyway, instead of the match we have Aries coming to the ring in street clothes and calling out Jimmy Jacobs. Erick Stevens, however, isn’t interested in Aries’ personal life and wants to have his scheduled match. Thankfully for me that leads to us getting the match anyway

Austin Aries vs Erick Stevens

As above, Stevens successfully defended the FIP Title against Aries back at the first show of this year in what was, in my opinion, a really underrated match. Tonight it’s rematch-time with Aries wanting revenge (although right now he seems more focused on hurting Jimmy Jacobs) and Stevens wanting to prove his January win wasn’t a fluke.

It’s Aries who starts things by cheap-shotting Stevens for not letting him handle his business with Jacobs. According to Prazak nobody has heard from Lacey since that creepy stalker video was posted on Age Of The Fall’s website. Since he’s wrestling in jeans and dress shoes, Austin relies on a far more basic kick/punch moveset in the early going. He kicks Stevens off the apron and dives into him with the Heat Seeking Missile. Inside the ring again Erick rallies with a front powerslam. He then defies a flurry of knee strikes to power Aries into the TKO. Doctor Bomb countered into the shinbreak back suplex then the Impact Explosion Dropkick. Brainbuster nailed next, followed by the Last Chancery. Stevens powers out and hits a big German suplex then the Choo Choo Avalanche. Doctor Bomb again countered, this time into he Kick Of Death. He locks Jacobs’ End Time in on Stevens to win at 6:20.

Rating – ** –
Considering they sacrificed having the kind of quality they produced at Proving Ground in favour of furthering the Aries/Jacobs feud, this was surprisingly good. It makes a mockery of Gabe’s booking of Stevens though. Erick, like it or not, has been pushed hard this year. He’s gone over Aries and Danielson, battled Roderick Strong, earned World Title matches and generally been elevated right to the top of the card, without necessarily having the kind of fan support necessary to do that. That’s Gabe’s prerogative and, given his history with ROH, you give him the creative license to go ahead with it. But now having him squashed by Aries as part of an angle development? That is CRUSHING to the chances of people ever buying Stevens as a legitimate threat as opposed to a booker’s pet project that they tolerate because, with the right opponent he’s not completely terrible. A rematch with Aries was one of the few times you feel that fans would actively look forward to a Stevens match on the card. Something that may well sell the company some tickets. Why tease it, only to have ‘Stevens’ disappoint them yet again? Anybody could’ve been fed to Aries in that role. What about f*cking Jigsaw…or Delirious? Coming off the back of the strange decision to book Age Of The Fall into the ground during January/February, you do start to wonder where the wheels started to fall off for Sapolsky.

Aries gets on the mic to say that he didn’t steal Lacey – Jimmy threw her away by using her as a pawn in his Age Of The Fall mindgames. He wants vengeance for what happened to Lacey outside that gym (whatever it was) and calls him out again. Jacobs disappoints him again though…

Speaking of Jimmy Jacobs, Jay Briscoe says that tonight HE is going to beat Jimmy up for what he did to Mark at Return Engagement. He’s out for 3-6 months apparently.

Necro Butcher vs Jack Evans – No DQ Match

Age Of The Fall and Vulture Squad have traded matches and wins over the last few shows, so tonight it’s the leader of the Vultures against the Wildman of Age Of The Fall. Jack actually beat Necro in this environment back at Final Battle 2007 – a win Necro will be desperate to avenge on the eve of his big Hammerstein clash with Takeshi Morishima

No time for dancing tonight, Butcher punts Evans in the stomach and we’re right into the action. Kicks from Jack send Necro out for a traditional crazy dive. He follows that up with a flying chair shot from the apron, busting Necro open. Backbreaker over the guardrail from the Butcher in response. Body slam on the exposed wooden floor follows that. From there Necro is in complete control and is able to toss Evans about the ring with real ease. Chair slam gets 2. Finally Jack fights back, blocking a backbreaker into two open chairs to hit an Ace crusher over them instead. 630 senton nailed…but Necro kicks out at 2. Jack springboards into a big punch from Butcher that knocks him loopy again. Chair backbreaker wins it for Necro at 07:12

Rating – ** –
Nowhere near as good as the FB07 match, which is a shame. But it was nice to see Necro get a dominant win in the No DQ environment. He’s built his aura around being a ‘deathmatch’ worker and shouldn’t be dropping matches of that ilk to wrestlers like Jack Evans. Getting this convincing win was an important step in the development of Necro Butcher and something that had to happen.

MARK BRISCOE UPDATE – Lenny Leonard confirms that Mark Briscoe required surgery to repair the wrist ligament damage suffered ‘at the hands of Jimmy Jacobs’ and will be out for 3-6 months. Jay Briscoe has been allowed to pick a replacement partner and continue as Tag Champions and has selected another rival of Jacobs – Austin Aries.

SIDENOTE – In reality Mark has been carrying that wrist/hand injury for sometime (and has been wrestling with a cast for a long while now) and was always going to need surgery to cure those nagging issues eventually. That injury was finally exacerbated meaning he could delay surgery no further. That the Briscoes have been in such good form and put on a number of really good matches even with Mark essentially working one-armed is testament to their abilities as workers. HOWEVER, once again you have to question the wisdom of needlessly taking the belts from Jacobs and Black just when they were establishing themselves as a force to be reckoned with, putting them on Richards and Romero in an attempt to elevate a No Remorse Corps faction that is already on it’s last legs, then bailing on that idea before even giving the NRC a chance to shine as champions in order to hotshot the belts BACK to the Briscoes who were over without them and had one member of their team working with a timebomb injury that could put him on the shelf at any time. Now we have a situation where Jay is teaming with Aries for the sake of short term storyline advancement (i.e. feuding with Age Of The Fall)…so now we’ve come full circle, and all logic points to the fact that we’d have been MILES better off if we’d never have had the plug pulled on Age Of The Fall’s reign. As I’ve said before, it easy to criticise Gabe’s booking in hindsight, particularly as I’m writing this in 2010 and know he’d be gone by the end of ’08…but you have to say at this point, after the abject failure of Faction Warfare (and indeed the abject failure of many of the factions in general), the push of Erick Stevens beyond all realms of his crowd popularity, burying Age Of The Fall (one of the top heel groups), trying his best to bring the tag division back to the dark days of 2002-2005 (which, aside from the two Briscoes trilogies (vs AJ/Red and the Second City Saints) are largely remembered for champions like Special K, Carnage Crew and SERIOUS Tony and Sal Rinauro)…an era that the likes of the Briscoes, Aries and Strong, Steen and Generico and more worked so hard to make us forget…was he starting to book his own grave by the spring of 2008??

Jimmy Jacobs vs Jay Briscoe

This one is all about revenge. The Briscoes/Age Of The Fall feud has been rolling on for months, but the latest twist occurred last time at Return Engagement…when Jimmy Jacobs put Mark on the shelf by stabbing him in the hand with the railroad spike. As if Austin Aries wasn’t enough for Jacobs, he now has to deal with a pissed off, jibbering redneck too.

Austin Aries runs in to attack Jimmy Jacobs AND Tyler Black before the bell even rings. Jay comes out and marches straight past Black and Aries brawling to get at Jacobs. Prazak announces this is going to be Relaxed Rules, as immediately demonstrated by Briscoe hurling a chair into his opponent’s face. Jacobs appears to be wrestling in a mini-skirt. Not sure what’s going on there. He dropkicks Jay’s leg out from under him as he looks to swing a chair in his direction once again. Jacobs pulls out the chest double stomp trampoline spot, adding to the damage by stomping a chair into Briscoe’s midriff. Next he hits a chair-enforced shoulder charge to the ribs with Jay propped up in the corner. After a few minutes of Jacobs dominance, Jay nails a Flatliner into a chair. He hits a DVD as well, then a spinebuster despite Jacobs going after his eyes. Chairs piled in the centre of the ring but Jimmy blocks an attempted Jay Driller from the second rope. He shoves Briscoe away…BUT MISSES A SENTON BOMB AND CRASHES INTO THE CHAIR PILE! CHAIR DUEL! END TIME! Jay powers Jacobs up and slams him down into the chairs again. WICKED chair shot to the head takes Jimmy off his feet again. He looks for the Jay Driller through a chair stack…but Necro runs in to stop him. Jacobs is up – DDT THROUGH THE CHAIRS, INTO END TIME! It’s over at 13:14

Rating – *** –
I’m not sure I necessarily liked the interference at the end, but it makes sense that Jacobs would break a few rules to win given what has happened to him recently. Before that, they weren’t exactly reinventing the wheel, but they were certainly giving it their all in a lusty, chair-swinging brawl. Some of the chair shots became a bit repetitive but it wasn’t tough to sit through at all.

Jacobs refuses to break the hold until the inevitable happens and Austin Aries comes out to save. The four men have to be pulled apart by jobbers (in this instance it’s the new local guys Damien Wayne, Rex Sterling and Sean Denny wearing a Newcastle United football shirt).

Tyler Black vs Bryan Danielson

Since this is the third match in a row now, I’m a little sick of hearing Age Of The Fall’s entrance music. Anyway, Tyler took American Dragon to the limit in a classic match back at Breakout. In the end Danielson just escaped, breaking out his perfect Small Package pin to take the win. Tyler is convinced he has what it takes to defeat him this time.

Black explodes into action and drives Danielson back into the corner, eventually dumping him to the floor as he looks to get a quick start. Suplex on the hard floor follows that. Finally Dragon hits back with European uppercuts but he walks into Tyler’s beautiful dropkick and he’s right down on the mat again. Showing almost unbelievable levels of cockiness, he steps onto Dragon’s hamstrings and looks to put him into his vaunted Mexican surfboard. Danielson fights that but as we approach 5 minutes it’s been all Tyler thus far. At last Danielson responds with a running enziguri then lands a psychological b*tchslap by preparing HIS Mexican surfboard then opting to tug at the nostrils instead. Cattle Mutilation locked in but the tall Black is too close to the ropes. For the first time it’s the former World Champion that controls things now, methodically picking Tyler apart with submission holds. He taunts Black, beckoning him to his feet only to knock him down again with an uppercut. Stretch Plum into a vicious rear choke, still looking to keep Tyler on the mat. MASSIVE kick to the chest gets Danielson a 2-count. But out of nowhere Black suplexes Dragon over the top rope. SOMERSAULT PLANCHA SCORES! Once more Tyler has quickened the pace in order to get the advantage. Springboard clothesline misses but Black rolls seamlessly into a spinning heel kick instead. He connects with the springboard clothesline second time of asking and gets 2. But he attempts one springboard move too many, allowing Danielson to shove him off the ropes and to the floor. TOPE SUICIDA FROM DANIELSON! BUZZSAW KICK! Black kicks out at 2. Cattle Mutilation blocked. Crossface Chickenwing blocked. Black flips to land on his feet to escape a German suplex attempt…and is then nearly pinned as Dragon counters his hurricanrana pin. Fantastic sequence there. Roaring Elbow from Danielson, replied to by a jumping enzi. Black POWERBOMBS Dragon into the turnbuckles but doesn’t take enough out of him to scale the ropes for the Phoenix Splash. Back superplex blocked, PHOENIX SPLASH MISSES! CATTLE MUTILATION! Tyler rolls out…but that can only mean one thing. MMA ELBOWS! Still Black fights back. PELE KICK COUNTERED INTO AN ANKLE LOCK! That is rolled into a single leg crab and Tyler at last taps at 20:12

Rating – **** –
Another superb match between these two. Wonderful story-telling again as Tyler tried to use his experiences of wrestling Danielson in Dayton to his advantage, knowing he needed to work at a fast tempo and try to keep on his feet and out of the way of Danielson’s mat game. But where Dragon was perhaps unprepared for how good Tyler was in Dayton, tonight he had a sound strategy in mind, with the middle portion of the match dedicated to him picking Black’s entire body apart with countless submission holds. And as we entered the closing stretch once again it was anybody’s guess as to whether it would be Danielson’s ruthless attack or Tyler’s explosiveness and tenacity that would come out on top. Ultimately it was American Dragon that escaped with, what was probably a more convincing victory than their first clash. But once again Tyler Black took him right to the limit. I liked their first match more simply because it got a little longer to play out. The complex story-telling they went for in Dayton and tried to recreate tonight in Manassas is great to watch, but I thought this one just needed a few more minutes to reach the MOTYC standards that Breakout did. The roll-up finish in the first one was absolutely PERFECT for what they were going for. This time round the end felt anticlimactic…or maybe rushed. I didn’t feel like Danielson had done QUITE enough damage to Tyler to make a win with the more basic Half Crab as believable and exciting. Still a great one though, and these two have brilliant chemistry in the ring together. Anyone up for round 3?

SHIMMER UPDATE – Stills of MsChif defeating Sara Del Rey for the SHIMMER Championship

Takeshi Morishima/Naomichi Marufuji/Go Shiozaki vs Roderick Strong/Davey Richards/Rocky Romero

This is the first time we’ve seen Morishima or Marufuji in 2008. In the time since his last appearance at Final Battle 2007, Morishima captured the GHC Heavyweight Championship. Tonight he teams with other members of the NOAH roster (including Go Shiozaki who returns to continue his US tour after a brief break) to face the No Remorse Corps, who are also back in Ring Of Honor after a brief, two show hiatus. They’re looking to recapture some momentum and force their way back into title contention.

The front cover of this DVD has a magnificent shot of Morishima absolutely destroying Romero with an elbow smash. Can’t wait to see that in motion now! Richards starts with Go, slaps him in the face then quickly dives through the ropes to escape an angry retaliation chop. He delivers a swift kick to Shiozaki’s back which is no-sold…and at LAST Go lands his first few savage chops of the match. Davey immediately tags out and heads for higher ground. Bizarrely, Romero tag in and demands Morishima come in and face him. Mori absolutely DWARFS Romero. Doesn’t stop him diving into a big dropkick on the smaller opponent then stealing his ‘Azucar’ hip swivel. Strong in to take Marufuji off his feet with his own big chop. Lightening pace from Maru leads to him landing a dropkick on Roderick, leading to another tense stand-off between the teams. Shiozaki in and we get a brief chop duel before Strong goes to the eyes. Rocky mocks Go with “Kobashi” Machine Gun chops then pokes the eye again. Eventually Go tosses Richards over to his partners, then distracts the referee as Morishima squishes Davey against the guardrail with the running buttstrike. He then hangs Davey in the ropes for Marufuji to hit a running dropkick on the apron. 10 minutes in and Team NOAH have established themselves. With the referee preoccupied again they ALL stand on top of Richards, absolutely flattening him in the corner. The No Remorse Corps recreate the same spot on Shiozaki, but given their size disadvantage, it looks lame in comparison.

Death By Roderick blocked, but so is Maru’s Shiranui and Strong counters in into a sweet hanging backbreaker out of the corner. In that moment the momentum shifts and it’s the NRC on top by isolating Marufuji. Finally Naomichi blocks the Alarm Clock from Richards and tags out to Morishima. He run through Roddy and Rocky to hit the Cartwheel Avalanche on Richards in the corner. MONSTER MISSILE DROPKICK for 2. Davey grabs the ropes to block a Back Drop Driver but his strikes seem to have no effect on the former World Champion. Finally they take him off his feet with a running knee/German suplex combo. Bossman Slam in response and Morishima brings Shiozaki back in. CHOP DUEL! Go wins but is slow climbing to the top rope. Superplex by the FIP Champion…NO SOLD! Pumphandle Backbreaker gets Strong a 2. Romero runs at Shiozaki who CHOPS OUT THE LEGS! Marufuji dragon screws Romero off the turnbuckles then positions him for Mori’s rolling butt attack for 2. DOUBLE SPRINGBOARD DDT from Romero to Marufuji gets 2. Cross Armbreaker locked in but Shiozaki saves his partner. LUNATIC TOPE SUICIDA FROM RICHARDS TO MORISHIMA! DOOMSDAY KNEE STRIKE ON MARUFUJI FOR 2! SPRINGBOARD HEADSCISSORS BY ROCKY! Shiozaki in but Romero counters the Go Flasher. Mori in…but he walks into DEATH BY RODERICK! CODEBREAKER BY MARUFUJI! SUPERKICK GETS 2! He beckons Romero to his feet. SHIRANUI! The NOAH team win at 27:48.

Rating – **** –
The crowd really enjoyed that, which I guess is all that mattered. In reality it was never going to threaten 2008’s MOTY candidates already as a lot of what the NOAH crew did was house show stuff for them. That said, everyone worked at a crisp and snappy pace (something the all-NOAH main event at Night 1 of Glory By Honor 6 weekend with Misawa) and the last 5 minutes or so were REALLY exciting. Near 30 minutes of wrestling flew by without me noticing or feeling bored once. Decent main event to cap a debut show in a new market.

Roderick Strong leads a pretty distraught looking NRC back to the locker room as we fade out…

Tape Rating – ** –
It’s not a bad show at all…it’s just that, outside of the two main events, there’s nothing to see really. Briscoe/Jacobs is ok but really just something to serve as continuation to the Jacobs/Aries and Briscoes/AOTF feud rather than looking to put on a great match in it’s own right. Outside of that, most matches are short and not overly memorable. McGuinness and Castagnoli disappointed in the go home show before their big Hammerstein title match tomorrow, whilst I personally was left disappointed by the booking around aborting the Aries/Stevens rematch I was looking forward to. Danielson/Black is the clear show-stealer and a great sequel to their first match so is well worth checking out if you pick the show up in a sale, and the NOAH/NRC main event is a good watch as well. But with so many ROH shows out there, this certainly doesn’t count as an essential buy.

Top 3 Matches

3) Jimmy Jacobs vs Jay Briscoe (***)

2) Takeshi Morishima/Naomichi Marufuji/Go Shiozaki vs No Remorse Corps (****)

1) Bryan Danielson vs Tyler Black (****)

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