ROH 188 – Up For Grabs – 6th June 2008
The situation with Ring Of Honor’s Tag Team Championship is far from ideal. We all know that. After needlessly taking the belts off Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black, hot-shotting them away from the No Remorse Corps onto the Briscoes, one of whom was carrying a serious injury…unfortunately was a booking error which caught up with Gabe. Mark’s troublesome arm/wrist injury finally gave out on him, leaving him needing surgery. Jay defended the belts with Austin Aries at the Hammerstein show (when maybe it would’ve been better to vacate them immediately)…but then promptly vacated them. Now we’re left with a tournament to claim new champions and a slightly farcical scenario which could easily have been avoided. Still, onwards and upwards, we have an NRC team, a Sweet’n’Sour Inc. team, the Vulture Squad, Age Of The Fall, Steen-erico, Team Work, World Champion Nigel McGuinness and the odd combination of Delirious with Pelle Primeau. As I said, it’s not an ideal situation, but it certainly jazzes up what would otherwise have been a run of the mill B-show in Hartford, CT. Bracket A has Vultures vs SnS Inc. and Nigel/Go vs Steen-erico. B has AOTF vs Delirious/Pelle and Team Work vs NRC. Commentary from Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard as usual.
ROH VIDEO WIRE (22/05/08 – 04/06/08) – Highlights from Manassas and New York. In a backstage interview a bloody Jay Briscoe tells his brother that he won’t be Tag Champions without them, and lays down the belts. The 04/06 wire is a ‘special interview’ edition which is a nice touch. Austin Aries talks to Dave Prazak about his relationship with Lacey and feud with Jimmy Jacobs. He refuses to answer any questions about Jimmy Jacobs’ bizarre attack outside Lacey’s gym. But he does say she’s gone for good because of it…that’s an interesting twist.
Chris Hero/Adam Pearce vs Ruckus/Jigsaw
This is the opening match in Bracket A. Pearce (still carrying the mysterious briefcase) hasn’t tagged with Hero too much since dissolving the Hangmen 3 and joining Sweeney. Will the experience advantage they hold over their opponents assist the Vultures?
Hero looks like he’s dropped a little weight. He and Jigsaw wrestle back and forth from the bell. Jig eats an elbow smash from Hero and is shaken, but recovers strongly with a flurry of lucha armdrags. Ruckus and Pearce in next…surely two of the most contrasting wrestlers ever to set foot in a ring together. Ruckus gets the advantage and exposes Scrap Iron’s arm to a flying double stomp by Jigsaw. He drops Pearce in a small package but the referee is distracted on the other side of the ring and doesn’t count the fall. In his rush to protest Jigsaw turns his back on Adam, handing the initiative to S’n’S Inc. for the first time. Crowd is absolutely dead which doesn’t help things. Double chokeslam drops Jig straight down onto his neck. Pearce then backbreakers him down into position for a top rope stomp from his partner. Eventually Jigsaw rolls through into a tag to Ruckus. He somersaults into the ring and flips all over the place taking it to Hero and Pearce simultaneously. Ruckus double stomps Hero for 2. Jig flies in with a crossbody to save his partner from Adam’s jumping piledriver. Hero evades Ruckus’ handspring elbow and hits the ROLLING ELBOW for 3. 12:05 is the time.
Rating – ** – The match itself wasn’t too bad, but it was never very exciting, which was a problem in front of a very quiet crowd. Glad to see Hero advance, although I sort of wish they’d have trusted Eddie Edwards enough to book him as his partner rather than Pearce, who I don’t think really contributed anything to this one.
Eddie Kingston comes in to check on Ruckus and gets into it with Jigaw. I’d completely forgotten about their little tiff at Double Feature. Ruckus has to pull his BLK OUT partner away. This would work better if Kingston wasn’t a billion times more charismatic than any of the Vulture Squad.
Backstage Larry Sweeney promises that the best is yet to come as far as his team goes tonight. Hero slams Albright and calls him unintelligent, whilst Adam Pearce asks if they can fit ‘two more’ belts into his briefcase. How cryptic…
Kevin Steen/El Generico vs Nigel McGuinness/Go Shiozaki
This one should be good. We already know that Mr Wrestling has a history with Nigel McGuinness, having been screwed out of the title cheaply in both their prior matches over Nigel’s World Championship. Nigel teamed with Claudio Castagnoli to defeat Steen and Generico at Tag Wars 2008, and is looking to repeat that feat tonight with Go (whom he teamed with in an awesome match against Aries and Danielson at Double Feature).
Apparently it’s Nigel/Go for the World Title on pay-per-view tomorrow night. I had no idea that was happening. That adds another level of interest to this match seeing how those to mesh as a team today. Generico chops Shiozaki, who doesn’t feel the need to sell that at all. Armdrags next as he uses speed to evade Go’s powerful striking. Not for long though…Shiozaki lands a flurry of chops that repeatedly drop Generico to the mat. Steen in, and he demands Go bring Nigel in to face him. McGuinness hits Steen with a quick chop then dives out of the ring before Mr Wrestling can fight back. Shiozaki in again so it’s a repeat of the Eye Of The Storm tournament final. They trade shoulder tackles until finally Steen tricks his opponent and heaves Go to the floor. Trip by Nigel as Steen goes for a dive, but Generico simply steps off his fallen partner into a SOMERSAULT PLANCHA TO THE FLOOR! Awesome move there, but in the melee McGuinness steps into the ring with an advantage over Mr Wrestling…until Steen pokes him in the eyes. Generico goes for the ropewalk tornado DDT but it’s countered into an arm wrench by the World Champion. He stretches the arm across the apron leaving it exposed to a superkick from Shiozaki. The NOAH star follows his partner’s lead and works a hammerlock on the fallen luchador. Chops TO THE SHOULDER! That’s just awesome psychology from Go.
McGuinness and Shiozaki do a really nice job working over Generico’s arm whilst the commentators ramble on about masked wrestlers being criminals (which is slightly distracting). Armbar DDT by Shiozaki, followed by dragging his opponent back towards his corner BY the injured arm. Generico shows real courage by trying to trade forearm with Nigel, only to be floored again with another arm wrench. Cobra Clutch McLariat blocked and Generico drops into a tag as Nigel tries to line up the Jawbreaker. Steen in with five minutes of the time limit remaining. Tower Of London by McGuinness but Shiozaki doesn’t have the strength to get the big man up for the Go Flasher. Fisherman buster instead gets 2. He hangs Steen in the tree of woe and chops him down like a motherf*cker. Strikes from McGuinness into a German suplex from Go for 2. SHIOZAKI MOONSAULT MISSES! HEAD DROP GERMAN NO SOLD! STEEN WITH A GERMAN…NO SOLD! SUPERKICK BY STEEN! Both men go down! Two minutes remaining. Double jump crossbody from Generico gets 2. McLariat ducked into a Blue Thunder Driver but he takes an age to get up due to his injured arm. YAKUZA KICK! Steen in…STEEN-TON BOMB! FLYING BODY SPLASH! SHIOZAKI SAVES! GENERICO DIVES INTO A SOMERSAULT PLANCHA ON GO! SHARPSHOOTER ON NIGEL! He taps at 19:20! Steen and Generico advance
Rating – **** – Great tag team match there, like an abbreviated version of some AJPW mid-90’s classics. I’ve made it known that I’m a fan of the Steen/Nigel feud, and the fact that Mr Wrestling just made the Champion submit certainly implies we’ll get one more match out of them, which for me is a good thing. Great chemistry between them again then, with Nigel and partner absolutely destroying his partner, with the fans absolutely desperate for the big man to get in there with his nemesis during the hot finish. If that isn’t best match of the tournament we’re in for a great night of wrestling. I’m hoping to see Generico continue to sell that arm in the next match btw…
McGuinness doesn’t take his defeat too kindly and stomps a chair down onto Steen’s leg until Shiozaki pulls him off. Steen and Generico advance but both are clearly heavily injured going into the semis.
Backstage the doctors try to attend to Steen’s knee and Generico’s shoulder. Awesome little promo by Steen firing his partner up to win the belts tonight.
Jimmy Jacobs/Tyler Black vs Delirious/Pelle Primeau
Not sure why the decision was made to chuck a makeshift jobber team into a tournament which, aside from Delirious and Primeau had a pretty strong line-up, thus making this match the only really predictable one. Personally I’d have put the Vulture Squad in here and booked Hero/Pearce vs Castagnoli/Albright as a continuation of their respective feuds in the other first round match. Age Of The Fall are looking to win back the belts they rather unceremoniously lost back at Without Remorse.
Lenny Leonard makes a valid point that Jimmy Jacobs (who was the man that injured Mark Briscoe in the first place) is probably the reason this whole tournament is taking place. Black struggles to deal with his illusive opponents in the early going. He catches one eventually (literally) by catching Delirious and body slamming him over the ropes. That leaves his less experienced partner alone to deal with both members of Age Of The Fall. Primeau botches running the ropes (sigh) and is choked like a little b*tch by Black and Jacobs as punishment. ‘Not exactly sure what the revolution involves’ – Dave Prazak. Amen to that. ‘Jimmy – who did your hair?’ – fan making a funny. I’m getting distracted as AOTF isolating and wearing down Pelle isn’t particularly enthralling stuff. Primeau finally flips across the ring and makes the hot tag to Delirious. Jacobs accidentally spears his own partner allowing Delirious to get a 2. Primeau goes for his springboard press but gets caught and powerbombed by Black. God’s Last Gift nailed and it’s AOTF advancing at 07:57
Rating – ** – Coming after the great match we saw previously, this one felt very flat. The AOTF isolation of Primeau was just SO inferior to the expert dismantling of Generico we saw in the previous match that it was impossible to care about. Still, they kept it thankfully short, we all knew it was going to be Black and Jacobs advancing. Hopefully AOTF kept a lot in the tank for better matches later on.
Delirious puts on a green and black tie and calls out Daizee Haze. He clearly wants to ask her out…but just like in the Hammerstein, Rhett Titus comes out to interrupt. His gimmick is basically The Todd from Scrubs but without the high fiving. Once again Daizee walks out leaving Delirious alone.
Backstage Tyler and Jimmy psych each other up. Black’s promos are (slowly) improving.
Roderick Strong/Davey Richards vs Bryan Danielson/Austin Aries
Lots of interesting combinations of guys here in what should be a great match. Aries and Strong are both former Tag Champions, having invented the tag division as we know it today with their epic run with the belts in 2006. Their eventual split led to them forming rival factions and spending most of 2007 feuding, so tonight could spark a re-ignition of that. It could also reignite one of the signature rivalries of Bryan Danielson’s World Title reign as, once again he steps into the ring with Roderick Strong – a man with whom he had four memorable heavyweight title battles. Aries also has extra motivation for wanting a Team Work victory tonight as he’ll be looking to advance into an opportunity to get his hands on Jimmy Jacobs once again.
Danielson and Strong are the only two to shake hands before the bell rings. Weirdly Danielson is the only guy in this match NOT to have held Tag Team Championship gold. He knocks Richards about the ring with a couple of amazing strikes. Surfboard applied, to which Aries capitalises by running into an elbow smash. Strong in to deliver a couple of big chops then to steal the MMA Elbows finisher. Davey lifts the ‘I have till 5’ gimmick as well to further piss off the former World Champion. Strong and Danielson have a SUPER INTENSE pull apart brawl as Roddy tries to interrupt some double teaming on Davey. Strong is unsuccessful in his efforts to save his partner and Richards falls victim to a few minutes of ‘team work’ from his opponents. Dragon baseball slides Davey into the guardrails then connects with a pescado. Strong finally sneaks in to hit a half nelson backbreaker from behind on American Dragon. The momentum has now switched and it’s the NRC in control of proceedings. Richards works a camel clutch, then Roderick comes in to hit another backbreaker and apply Dragon’s Mexican surfboard. With the referee’s back turned the NRC mock Aries by doing the exact same surfboard/running strike combo Team Work utilised earlier. Dragon drop toeholds Richards into Strong and makes the hot tag to Double A.
BACK DROP DRIVER ON DAVEY! The Impact Explosion Dropkick takes Roddy out, but as he goes for it again Davey gets the knees up. Ligerbomb countered into the knee strikes. LAST CHANCERY! Too soon for Richards to tap though and Strong makes the save with an Argentine backbreaker. Danielson off the top with a missile dropkick on Strong…then pops straight up into a regular dropkick to block Richards as he comes from the top. 5 minutes remaining. Cattle Mutilation on Strong but not for long before Davey breaks it. Urinage backbreakers from Roddy get the FIP Champion 2. STRONGHOLD! Danielson counters…but as he goes to flip into Cattle Mutilation Richards ROLLS HIM INTO A CLOVERLEAF! Aries breaks that with the KICK OF DEATH! HEAT SEEKING SUNSET POWERBOMB! Execution wasn’t totally clean but that spot was just jaw-dropping. That leaves Dragon and Strong left standing in the ring. DEATH BY RODERICK! SICK KICK! TWO ONLY! Stronghold blocked so Roderick rolls it into an inverted cloverleaf with bodyscissors. Gibson Driver blocked into a dragon screw. UNPROTECTED FACE STOMPS! TRIANGLE CHOKE! Danielson wins it at 19:22. It’s Team Work vs Age Of The Fall in the semis.
Rating – **** – I marginally preferred the Steen-erico tag from earlier, but this one just awesome too. Four guys right on top of their game given a 20 minute time limit and free reign to just go out and entertain people. The Danielson/Strong interactions, in particular, were a pleasure to watch. I’m glad we steered away from too much Aries/Strong stuff as we’ve seen that done to death over the last year.
Backstage American Dragon tries desperately to focus his partner, as Aries seems a little deranged and excited about the prospect of getting his hands on Jimmy Jacobs.
Chris Hero/Adam Pearce vs Kevin Steen/El Generico
Block A semi-final action here. Ordinarily you’d give Kevin Steen and El Generico the advantage here given their experience as a team. However, they had a gruelling open bout which left them both injured, whilst Sweet’n’Sour Inc. had a relatively easier progression by overcoming the Vulture Squad in a shorter match.
Both Steen and Generico come out selling their injuries. Hero doesn’t waste any time going after Steen’s knee, something Pearce also does with great relish. I guess Matt Sydal had made his WWE debut by this point as the commentators are talking about Evan Bourne. Sweeney holds Scrap Iron’s arm to add extra leverage to a leglock on the fallen Mr Wrestling. Finally Adam has the middle rope kicked into his groin allowing Generico to tag in. He looks to line up the Yakuza Kick on Pearce…but Hero steps in and hits a SHOULDERBREAKER on him. And now we go again with Pearce and Hero working over the injured body part, this time on El Generico. Hero, in particular, is absolutely remorseless when it comes to working over the arm. He then plants a low dropkick to the injured knee of Steen even whilst he waits for a tag. DOUBLE SPRINGBOARD FLYING HEADSCISSORS from Generico, but Pearce distracts the ref so he can’t count the fall. Hagadorn up on the apron wielding Pearce’s mysterious briefcase…but Generico sends Hero head-first into it. Hero is out and Generico pins him out of nothing to win at 08:14.
Rating – ** – Considering this was nothing but a short match, we all knew that Steen and Generico would probably be the team advancing, and that particular team had already gone through one gruelling near-twenty minute match, this was actually pretty fun. Hero and Pearce are both exceptional at being dicks, and did a fine job of it here. And the finish puts them out of the tournament, but keeps them strong and keeps up the enigma surrounding that briefcase.
Backstage again Steen and Generico are both unable to stand. Steen says they’re used to fighting hurt, and will happily fight through them again to win the Tag Titles.
Jimmy Jacobs/Tyler Black vs Bryan Danielson/Austin Aries
Block B semi-final. As we saw backstage earlier, the main storyline focus of this one will clearly be Austin Aries desperate to get his hands on Jacobs. Jimmy was furious at Lacey and Aries after they began a relationship at the expense of Lacey’s relationship with him AND the Age Of The Fall. And he went off the rails to the extent that he staked out Lacey’s gym for a confrontation that was supposedly so extreme it put her out of wrestling for good. To that end, will American Dragon be able to keep control of his partner and stop him putting the desire to settle his personal issues with Jacobs over and above their united goal of winning the Tag Titles. And it’s not like Dragon doesn’t have his own problems with Age Of The Fall. He still has a score to settle with Jacobs since AOTF’s leader defeated him in less than honourable fashion at Unscripted 3, and has been involved in a couple of highly competitive and warmly received bouts with 2008 breakout star Tyler Black.
Aries and Jacobs start fighting in the aisle before the bell even rings, whilst inside the ring Black and Danielson reignite their rivalry. Lenny Leonard points out that these two are scheduled to fight on ppv tomorrow night too. Aries kicks the chair into Jacobs’ head…then swings it wildly at both Jimmy and Tyler. Team Work are disqualified at 0:55
Rating – N/A – Disappointing that they sacrificed what could’ve been a decent match here. But since they’re the main event of tomorrow night’s pay-per-view, I suppose it isn’t too surprising or too much of a let down for anyone other than those in attendance in Hartford. I think it’s a trend in tournaments (particularly the one night variety) on the independent scene right now to have somewhat underwhelming and brief semi-finals, usually going for explosive first round matches, then having guys save their energy for a big final. Can’t say I’m a fan of it to be honest.
Dragon tries to calm Aries down, but to no avail as he charges to the back like a wild man, chasing Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black.
In the back a confident Jimmy Jacobs proudly proclaims that he’s in Aries’ head, pointing out that Aries just gave up a Tag Title opportunity for ‘one chair shot’. He has a point…
Alex Payne vs Shane Hagadorn
Seriously? I know we need to kill some time to allow the four finalists to recover…but students? I think I’ve made it pretty well known I’ve little interest in seeing the ROH graduates “showcase” or “develop” their skills on the main shows. This is a $20, premium quality product. My opinion is they should be used sparingly until they have an effective use (popular lower card spot money like Pelle Primeau) or they’ve developed a look, skills and gimmick to get themselves over (Rhett Titus). For his part, Hagadorn has carved out a decent niche for himself as an extra-curricular character. But his development as a wrestler stalled sometime ago and you have to wonder whether management might be a better route for him to pursue in this business.
To be fair to Payne, maybe it’s a different camera angle, but he does look like he’s slowly packing on a little more size to his slender frame. He looks far quicker on his feet than the somewhat cumbersome Shane Hagadorn too. His offence is painfully basic and uninteresting though. Hagadorn hits a wicked running STOMP to the back of the head. Sugarfoot gets 2 with a sunset flip out of nothing but Shane is quickly back on offence with a back suplex. Swinging neckbreaker next, and we cut suspiciously to Larry Sweeney implying some kind of botch. Del Rey drags Payne out of the ring and beats the sh*t out of him. Hands down my favourite part of the match. Hagadorn wins at 05:45 with an STO.
Rating – * – To be fair, it wasn’t irredeemably horrible. Hagadorn is fine at working his Adam Pearce-lite gimmick and he pieced together an adequate match. Problem is, Payne is still very raw around the edges, which provided very little excitement and gave the fans very little to latch onto. Definitely a fine example of why guys like Payne should still be on the pre-show. Sara Del Rey decimating Sugarfoot was by far and away the high point of this otherwise painfully mediocre 8 minutes of DVD. I think I’d rather have seen Castagnoli/Edwards (which is up next) get more time…
Larry Sweeney claims that his team were screwed over in the tournament by a fast count.
Eddie Edwards vs Claudio Castagnoli
Everybody knows the history between Larry Sweeney and Double C. Sweet’n’Sour will be looking to see his newest charge do a number on his old nemesis. Meanwhile Claudio is looking to rebound and work back into title contention after losing his big World Title match at the Hammerstein show.
Edwards pounces on Castagnoli whilst his attention is taken by Larry Sweeney. He tries to seek safe haven on the floor after falling victim to a flurry of Double C European uppercuts, but Claudio chases him out and continues to deliver them out there. JUMPING lungblower from Eddie then a kick to the chest knock Claudio back. He knocks his opponent out of the ring then distracts the official allowing Sweeney to get a few cheap shots (well, attempt anyway) to the shaken Swiss athlete. Camel clutch as Edwards continues to focus his offence on the chest/midriff region. More uppercuts from Castagnoli as he looks to start his comeback. Match Killer gets 2. Riccola Bomb blocked and he catches Double C for the BACKPACK STUNNER for 2. Missile dropkick nailed with excellent precision but Claudio hits back with the springboard European. Still he can’t hit the Riccola though as Eddie kicks him down again and nails the Lionsault. Giant Swing from Castagnoli. Les Artess lift blocked and Edwards scores with a back drop gourdbuster for another nearfall. POP UP UPPERCUT! Claudio wins at 09:51.
Rating – *** – I enjoyed that. It certainly wasn’t anything to write to any relatives about, but for it’s spot on the card, they did a hell of a job. I’ve been singing Edwards’ praises and saying I wanted to see more of him ever since he first debuted with the strange dreadlocks a while back. But putting him in Sweet’n’Sour Inc. is a major statement of intent from Gabe and Ring Of Honor…and as this was his first significant match since that turn, it was important he put in a good display here. And you know what, he delivered. He showed more personality than we’ve seen before, put in a crisp, focused wrestling performance and generally looked like a credible, dangerous athlete despite suffering a clean loss. He’ll get a few pats on the back in the locker room after that one I’m sure.
Erick Stevens vs Brent Albright vs Necro Butcher
We’ve seen a few surprisingly decent undercard three ways this year like Stevens/Richards/Aries at Breakout, Strong/Stevens/Necro at 6YA and Strong/Stevens/Go at A New Level, so I suppose this is an attempt to produce another big hitting, triple threat match in the midcard. As I said earlier, I’m sad there wasn’t a spot in the tournament for Brent Albright opposing Sweet’n’Sour Inc. as I felt that would have a tad more credibility and believability than the random Delirious/Primeau pairing
Stevens and Albright decide to double team Necro before he even gets into the ring before opening up on each other. Amazingly Brent manages a military press slam on Stevens. Apparently there are relaxed rules here, something all three men take advantage of as they lay into each other on the floor. Necro finds an unused segment of guardrail to swing like a lunatic at his opponents. Unfortunately Erick traps him in between the spokes of that and rams it into the ringpost. Albright is back up to hit a belly to belly on Stevens then a brainbuster on Necro, both outside on the floor. Everyone piles into the front row to continue the fight here. Necro seems particularly deranged tonight, throwing chairs around and causing wrestling geeks and their moms/lady friends to dive for cover. Albright nearly takes Stevens’ head off with a chair shot. Back at ringside Erick’s head is further abused as Butcher smashes it with the bell hammer. Chair slam on the exposed concrete floor for Stevens…and Necro is so crazy he tries (for the second time in the match) to try and pin an opponent outside of the ring. Albright does return to the ring with a top rope elbow drop to Stevens for 2. The former FIP Champion blocks the ‘Necro-canrana’ though. Tiger Driver blocked as well but Necro punches him right in the face as he looks for the second rope football tackle. Air Raid Crash from Albright into the repeated knee strikes. Necro bundles in to save Stevens and the match. Doctor Bomb on Necro gives Erick the win at 11:34.
Rating – *** – As a match it was ok, although the last few minutes were a little sloppy. I appreciated all three men putting in 100% effort and taking some really brutal shots all over the arena for our entertainment. Have to question the booking here a little though. These guys just had a pseudo-hardcore brawl all over the building…despite having no pre-existing issues whatsoever. Surely that somewhat devalues things when a grudge match is essentially exactly the same routine. Frankly, it’s also bizarre that you wouldn’t put Albright over here given that he’s red-hot having just ditched Sweet’n’Sour Inc. Like I said, the match was good. Creative direction…not so much.
Speaking of Sweet’n’Sour Inc. they arrive to do a number on Brent Albright. Unfortunately he fights them all off…until Adam Pearce comes from nowhere to knock him out with the briefcase. The group flog Albright with a belt until he fights them off again…
Jimmy Jacobs/Tyler Black vs Kevin Steen/El Generico – ROH Tag Title Match
Finals of the tournament now, and you have to give the former champions Age Of The Fall a clear advantage here. They have no injuries to speak of, and have wrestled less than 10 minutes total all night coming into this one. Steen and Generico have wrestled the best part of 30 minutes already tonight, and both come in carrying injuries. Will Jacobs and Black regain the belts they unceremoniously dropped back in January at Without Remorse? Or will Steen and Generico finally get their hands on the championship they’ve fought so tenaciously to gain since they re-debuted back in Philadelphia during the Fifth Year Festival over a year ago?
Lots of girly slaps and pie-facing between all four men before the match finally gets underway. Steen and Generico get the upper hand early but the effects of their injuries is still very apparent as they both look extremely laboured. Generico’s night gets a whole lot worse as he takes a brutal back body drop INTO A CHAIR! Tyler follows it with a POWERBOMB INTO THE RAILS. Steen grabs him for a POWERBOMB INTO THE SIDE OF THE RING! Massive pop from Hartford for that. He hits the pumphandle cradlebreaker on Jacobs for 2. Generico in for the flying splash…but he favours the shoulder and takes too long to cover. That time allows Tyler in to save, and allows AOTF to start focusing on his injured shoulder. Black launches him off the apron into the barricade again leaving Generico in a mess on the outside. The referee calls help from the back to attend to El Generico, so the focused Age Of The Fall team attack Steen instead as he tries to help out his partner. Generico is helped to the back as Black and Jacobs go to town on Steen’s knee. Indeed, Black kicks out Mr Wrestling’s knee with such intensity that Kevin flips entirely head over heels before crashing to the canvas. Figure 4 Leglock applied (w/ illicit assist from Jimmy) to do yet more damage. Jacobs tags in and mockingly goes to the Sharpshooter. Powerbomb from Steen to Black…then another one down on top of him to Jacobs as the fans start to rally behind Kevin Steen. He struggles to the top rope but STEEN-TON BOMBS INTO BLACK’S KNEES! Jacob chopblocks Steen’s knee out from under him and AOTF are firmly in charge once again. He looks for a desperation Package Piledriver but the knee gives out. GOD’S LAST GIFT FROM BLACK! TWO COUNT ONLY! They line up the assisted Contra Code…BUT EL GENERICO SAVES WITH A YAKUZA KICK! SPRINGBOARD MOONSAULT ALL THE WAY TO THE FLOOR AT BLACK. PACKAGE PILEDRIVER ON JACOBS! BUT TYLER SNEAKS IN AND ROLLS UP GENERICO! IT’S OVER AT 16:51! AGE OF THE FALL WIN THE BELTS AGAIN!
Rating – **** – Probably a generous rating as the match was total sports entertainment in formula. But you know what, it worked. It worked because Jimmy Jacobs is right back on top of his game as the demented leader of a talented heel group, whilst Steen and Generico are two of the most popular guys in the company. The pop when Generico finally made his way back to ringside was amazing (particularly given the fact that the Hartford crowd tonight wasn’t electric by any stretch of the imagination), and the way Black and Jacobs systematically dismantled Steen, slowly building up to that frenzied explosion of activity in the final two minutes was just wonderful. You KNEW it was coming, but it was still an awesome moment when it came. And just like that you’ve got a brand new, ready made rivalry over the Tag Titles.
Fans pelt the new champions with garbage, which is a memorable (if somewhat distasteful) visual. Credit to Jacobs and Black, they play up to it and turn a great main event into a truly memorable moment in Ring Of Honor history.
Tape Rating – *** – I must confess I wasn’t feeling all that positive about this one. It felt like Gabe had booked himself into a hole with the Tag Titles, made it worse by having them unnecessarily defended at the Hammerstein show, and would use a thrown together title tournament to dump the belts on someone whilst sacrificing match quality in order to further angles and storylines. In truth, I didn’t believe he’d waste a significant event (i.e. a tournament to crown new champions) on a B-show market as Hartford is (with all due respect) without having some kind of ulterior motive. And I’m glad to be proven wrong as that tournament really surpassed my expectations. The field was strong (with only one thrown together team), existing storylines (Aries/Jacobs, “the briefcase” etc) were furthered…but we also saw three first rate tag matches and a brilliant trio of performances from Kevin Steen and El Generico, who worked themselves into the ground tonight on a show based around themselves and eventual tournament winners Age Of The Fall. I can’t help but feel we’re back where we started in January with AOTF over as Tag Champions and the top heels group in the promotion before Gabe curiously stripped them of the belts and jobbed them out all over the shop. But I’ve said my piece on that. The tournament was way better than I expected and marked the culmination of several months spent rebuilding Age Of The Fall. The image of the triumphant Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black in the middle of the ring getting pelted with garbage is an iconic and unforgettable moment. If you don’t like tag wrestling, or you don’t like Age Of The Fall, then you probably won’t like this show as much as I did. Me – personally I thought it’s a really underrated event that I’ve heard minimal to no hype about. The rest of the card may well have been a little patchy, but the main event, along with Team Work/NRC and Steen/Generico vs Nigel/Go along with some interesting angle developments make this well worth splashing out on…
Top 3 Matches
3) Bryan Danielson/Austin Aries vs Roderick Strong/Davey Richards (****)
2) Jimmy Jacobs/Tyler Black vs Kevin Steen/El Generico (****)
1) Kevin Steen/El Generico vs Nigel McGuinness/Go Shiozaki (****)