193 ROH New Horizons 7/26/2008

ROH 193 – New Horizons – 26th July 2008

This has to be the first time that the OTHER show from a pay-per-view weekend actually looks a lot better than the ppv taping itself. Nothing against the line-up in Detroit tonight, but the Toronto debut last night turned out into such a knockout that it’s hard to see it competing. And that’s WITH a World Title main event rematch from A New Level with Nigel defending against Claudio Castagnoli. There’s also Danielson/Black 3, Steen vs Necro 3, Hero/Go vs Strong/Marufuji and an Aries/Jacobs confrontation with a lot of potential. Plus ROH’s attempt at a Royal Rumble style match in the bonus features, with the ‘Rumble Of Honor’ for a World Title shot in the future. This is the first ppv taping in Detroit, MI. Commentary from Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard with Nigel McGuinness interludes.

ROH VIDEO WIRE – See Northern Navigation (ROH 192) review for details.

The show opens with Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black standing defiantly in the middle of the ring. They’re here to use ppv airtime to spread their message and publicly announce that they will not be defending their belts tonight. The Briscoes return to ROH pay-per-view to clear them from the ring. Austin Aries emerges briefly to attack them as they run to the locker room.

Still in the ring, Dave Prazak interviews the Briscoes. Mark says he’s ready to go, so they’re quickly booked into a rush tag match with some ‘standby opponents’.

Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Silas Young/Mitch Franklin

Obviously the majority of ROH fans will have seen Mark make a comeback of sorts last night in Canada, but this match marks his first official appearance on an ROH show in a couple of months since being put on the shelf by Age Of The Fall. The Briscoes want to get back into the hunt for the belts they forfeited after A New Level…

Young hits the headstand springboard moonsault early but is soon overwhelmed by the double team prowess from the Briscoes. The former Tag Champions are even more vicious when throwing Franklin around the ring. Springboard Doomsday Device on Mitch win it at 01:43

Rating – * –
Too short to mean anything significant, but the crowd certainly enjoyed it, and it made the Briscoes look like monsters on ppv, so hard to complain!

We get a hilarious redneck video vignette on the Briscoes, featuring beer, boxing, guns, dogs and public urination. I would say this 60 seconds of footage may just edge out James Gibson’s ‘dick in ma f*ckin ha-yand’ promo for best redneck ROH moment ever…

Delirious vs Erick Stevens vs Ruckus vs Shane Hagadorn

In all seriousness, who booked this onto a Ring Of Honor pay-per-view. I wouldn’t want to see this on a regular show, when they have a whole extra hour of airtime. In fairness, Stevens is having a good 2008 thus far, Delirious is as interesting as he’s been in ages thanks to the storyline with Rhett and Daizee, and as far as ROH jobbers go, the other two aren’t the worst. But still…this is ppv!

Delirious starts in deranged fashion but has his initial momentum crushed out of him by a Stevens Samoan drop. Handspring backflip kick from Ruckus to Erick, but the FIP Champion hits back right away with a belly to belly suplex. Hagadorn in to get mullered by Stevens, and he is so outmatched he tries to walk out. Delirious and Ruckus retrieve him for Erick to deliver a HUGE chop. Choo Choo nailed, followed by Ruckus’ Razzle Dazzle. Running somersault plancha to the floor by Ruckus before Delirious lands the Panic Attack on Erick. Shadows Over Hell nailed to Stevens, and Ruckus steps in to hit a swinging neckbreaker on Delirious. MOONSAULT LEG DROP gets 2 for the Chocolate Vulture. Hagadorn ambushes him and goes for a Hogan pin…LARIAT from Stevens! He pins Hagadorn following the Doctor Bomb to win at 04:47.

Rating – ** –
Again, short and completely harmless. I liked the lightning quick pace they worked at.

Austin Aries comes out to talk about his feud with Jimmy Jacobs. He wants a fight with Jimmy, but instead has to stave off sneak attacks from his minions Tyler Black and newest recruit MsChif. Jacobs pulls out a big metal hook from his tights and bloodies Aries up. It looks like that sequence has been heavily edited down for ppv as it’s interspersed with various Age Of The Fall propaganda messages.

And as Aries is carried away, Kevin Steen strolls in to demand a Tag Title shot. Necro Butcher attacks him from behind, so once again the show moves seamlessly from one chapter to the next.

Kevin Steen vs Necro Butcher

So in ppv-canon terms, this is Steen trying to beat Necro to prove he and Generico deserve a Tag Title shot. Those that follow ROH more closely will know that plot is supplemented by the fact that these two have already had two physical bouts this year – including the second ever Boston Massacre Match at Bedlam In Beantown.

Necro hits a double underhook suplex on the darkened ramp before the match even starts. Is Necro wearing jeans? Mr Wrestling chases him with the ring bell…speaking of which, I haven’t heard a bell so there’s no stopwatch on at the moment. Steen grabs Necro for a RUNNING POWERSLAM ON THE RAMP! In the ring Butcher hotshots Steen over the ropes and claws at his face. Kev can’t quite turn Necro into the Sharpshooter and he’s rocked by a big punch to the kisser. Another big punch sees Steen plummet out of the ring. That works out to his advantage as he grabs a chair and PRESS SLAMS Necro through it! FROG SPLASH OFF THE APRON! Steen-ton Bomb is met by Necro’s knees though. He gives Steen a bulldog on a chair for 2. The Canadian blocks the Tiger Driver – MICHINOKU DRIVER THROUGH A F*CKING CHAIR! THAT IS SICK! TWO COUNT! PACKAGE PILEDRIVER ON A CHAIR! Steen wins it…that was nuts.

Rating – *** –
I never heard a bell to start timing, but it was shorter than their other two matches I believe. That didn’t have too much of a detrimental effect on the quality of the match though, as once again these two tore lumps out of each other in a hard-hitting fight. That finishing sequence was borderline psychotic too – well worth checking out!

Replays of that Michinoku Driver make it look even more brutal…

Adam Pearce mocks Brent Albright for burning him with his fireball, and doesn’t care that he’s suspended and not on the ppv tonight.

Chris Hero/Go Shiozaki vs Roderick Strong/Naomichi Marufuji

What’s interesting is that the footage of Davey Richards turning on Roderick Strong and joining Larry Sweeney (thus staring the Strong vs S’n’S Inc. feud) was actually left off the last ppv so it seems a bit of a jump for ppv viewers to go from Strong as a heel against Stevens to now being a face against Sweeney’s troops for no apparent reason. Match should be good though. Hero beat Roddy in a hard fought match in Dayton recently, and the few times we’ve seen Strong and Go in the same ring together this year some of the chop exchanges have been frightening. Plus toss in NOAH standout Naomichi Marufuji and this could be an exciting match.

Larry tries to recruit Marufuji before the bell even rings. He is NOT successful. He then tries to lead a walk out…but LANCE STORM RETURNS TO PPV! He forces Hero and Go to get back in the ring, and promises to stay at ringside to stop Larry intervening too. Match starts with Strong and Shiozaki chopping lumps out of each other’s chests. Hero drops Marufuji over the ropes to give Sweet’n’Sour Inc. the advantage. The babyface team back on offence with a backbreaker/big boot combo from Strong and Maru. Chris pulls Strong out of the ring and marauds him against the guardrails to stop that. Sweeney at his crew at ringside try to do a number on Roderick on the outside, but the presence of Storm makes them think twice about that. Roderick almost kicks Go’s head off but Shiozaki locks him into his Stretch Plum variant before he can get a tag. He hangs Strong over the turnbuckles and sends him CRASHING to the mat with a hug, unprotected chop. Running chop blocked though and finally Rod does get the hot tag to Marufuji. Blindside Lariat on Shiozaki then a low superkick for 2. Shiranui blocked, but Maru blocks the tree of woe chop in return. Go Flasher blocked…Shiranui blocked! Fisherman buster from Go leaves both men down. Hero in to boot Marufuji in the face. DOUBLE DEATH BY RODERICK ON HERO! Strong and Go chop each other again but Marufuji cleans Go’s clock with another superkick. ROLLING ELBOW on Marufuji. SICK KICK on Hero! Cradle backbreaker nailed as well and Roderick gets the win at 11:54.

Rating – *** –
Probably shorter than they would’ve liked due to the 2 hour ppv timeslot, but they packed a lot in. Marufuji, it has to be said, looked a class above everyone else in the ring.

S’n’S Inc. once again attack Lance Storm. HALF CRAB ON SWEENEY! Crowd goes wild for that but Hero quickly breaks the hold. ROARING ELBOW ON STORM! He’s out for the count

Brent Albright, face wrapped in bandages, cuts a pre-taped promo. It’s actually pretty good too. He vows not to stop until he’s messed Pearce’s face up every bit as badly.

Nigel McGuinness vs Claudio Castagnoli – ROH World Title Match

This is a rematch from A New Level (although I don’t think Prazak or Leonard will mention that on ppv). Claudio has had an outstanding first half of 2008 and has been in hot pursuit of the ROH World Title. He came up short in the Hammerstein, but has pinned Nigel this year, and also scored a recent high profile victory over Bryan Danielson in Chicago.

Lenny Leonard points out the significance of the ROH Title with former champions now holding World Titles in WWE (CM Punk), TNA (Samoa Joe) and NOAH (Takeshi Morishima). That’s a nice touch. Prazak DOES mention the Hammerstein match. Castagnoli flies out of the traps with the bicycle kick. MCLARIAT NO SOLD! RICCOLA BOMB! TWO COUNT! Nigel flies out of the ring to try to get some breathing room but the challenger gives chase again. He floors the champion in the aisle with a barrage of uppercuts. He looks for the uppercut suicida but Nigel blocks it. Tower Of London off the apron blocked too though, and once again it’s Claudio getting on the front foot with more European uppercuts. Rebound elbow smash by Nigel finally sees him score some significant offence for the first time. He looks for a guardrail McLariat…misses, but reacts quickly to smash Castagnoli over the railings as he tries to springboard from them. TOWER OF LONDON OFF THE BARRICADE! The first five minutes of this match have been non-stop! Back in the ring they trade uppercuts until Nigel drops the challenger with a spinning McLariat. SKULLF*CK by McGuinness! DDT next as Castagnoli looks like he might mount some offence, once again dropping the challenger down on his head. He snapmares Claudio down, driving a massive knee strike into the shoulder and face. Second rope diving uppercut from Castagnoli…both men down. Uppercut flurry from Double C, then the Match Killer. Nigel clotheslined out of the ring…TOPE SUICIDA BY CLAUDIO! McGuinness looks for the Tower Of London again but that leads to a real battle on the turnbuckles. Crossbody misses for Claudio and Nigel is on top of him immediately with a hammerlock DDT. Tower Of London gets 2. Another bicycle kick brings Castagnoli back into the match though. Jawbreaker Lariat…COUNTERED TO THE BIG SWING! Super lariat COUNTERED with a ROPE WALK ENZI! Superplex gets Castagnoli a 2-count. LES ARTESS LIFT! ALPA MARE WATER SLIDE! TWO COUNT! Riccola Bomb blocked…Jawbreaker Lariat…COUNTERED TO THE POP UP UPPERCUT! RICCOLA BOMB FOR 2! Castagnoli holds on but can’t hit a second Riccola. Nigel tries to hold the tights but nothing doing there either. JAWBREAKER LARIAT! Nigel wins at 19:21

Rating – **** –
This was the match they should have had at the Hammerstein. Fought at a frantic pace, innovative spots, hot crowd, shorter match. Both men are on a rich vein of form at the moment and have put on two great matches this weekend. The final few minutes of this one were really spectacular. My one concern would be that the climactic sequence makes Claudio look very weak given that Nigel basically kicked out of all of his finishers, and then put Double C with a single Jawbreaker Lariat. Nothing that detracted from a quality bout though

Bryan Danielson vs Tyler Black

This is the third time they’ve clashed in singles competition, with Dragon winning the previous two battles at Breakout and Southern Navigation. Since that time, at the last ppv in Philadelphia, Tyler managed to pin Danielson clean in the tag team main event. That sets up this match, with Danielson looking for revenge on Black and looking to run the gauntlet Nigel laid down to him of beating everyone McGuinness has beaten to earn a ppv World Title match.

Jimmy Jacobs is at ringside and he distracts Danielson, allowing Black to ambush him at the bell. Danielson hits back with a dragon screw and Tyler scurries out of the ring to regroup. Back in and Tyler has to react quickly to club Dragon to the mat as he tries to pick at an arm. Instead Bryan delivers a few kicks to the hamstring, then one to the spine. That’s followed by a unique half crab variant which obviously does damage to both those body parts. Black winds up cowering in the ropes, very much on the back foot in the contest. Arm wrenches from the former World Champion now. Double underhook suplex into a cross armbreaker does more damage until Tyler kicks him in the head to break. He grabs Tyler’s wrist and twists it with almost grotesque amounts of torque. He looks set to tear Black’s arm clear from his body, urged on by emphatic ‘this is wrestling’ chants from the crowd. They battle on the apron where Tyler BLOCKS a neckbreaker attempt, forcing American Dragon to crash down against the edge of the canvas. He’s clearly dazed after that, a fact Black pounces upon by bouncing his head off the guardrails and the ringpost in quick succession. In the ring again, nothing fancy from Tyler, he mounts Danielson and repeatedly punches him in the head. Dragon tries to mount some offence, wisely shut down by Black and a sleeper hold. Stomp to the head next. I’m loving how basic Tyler is keeping is offence whilst still doing considerable damage to his more experienced opponent. Basic standing neckbreaker nailed for 2.

A running forearm smash in the corner then another huge kick to the back put Danielson on top again though. Eye rake from Tyler, then back to the straight right hands. Danielson hits a missile dropkick perhaps out of desperation and once again Tyler rolls out. Danielson goes for his tope suicida…BUT TYLER MOVES! MOONSAULT PRESS TO THE FLOOR BY BLACK! Springboard clothesline right across the head scores for Black. Even his moonsault press to the floor connected right on the head and neck. He SLAPS Danielson in the face. Having dominated for ten minutes now, Tyler is taunting the Ring Of Honor legend. That’s a mistake as Dragon almost flips him out of the ring with a RUNNING ENZI! Cattle Mutilation locked in right away but Black manages to drag both bodies into the ropes. SLAPS from Danielson now! Black lands on his feet from a tiger suplex, but is then almost pinned by Dragon as he tries a hurricanrana. BACK TO THE SLEEPER! Black returns to the basic offence which saw him control things earlier in the match. Countered to a sleeper by Dragon, then down into a cross armbreaker. TRIANGLE CHOKE! BLACK PICKS HIM UP FOR A RUNNING TURNBUCKLE BOMB! HE BROKE THE F*CKING RING! That turnbuckle literally snapped underneath Dragon! FOREARM STRIKES! Pele kick by Tyler. DANIELSON DOES THE SAYAMA FLIP OFF THE BROKEN TURNBUCKLES…BUT GETS CAUGHT! SUPERKICK GETS 2 FOR TYLER! GOD’S LAST GIFT! DANIELSON KICKS OUT! ELBOW SMASH DUEL! PALM STRIKES FROM DANIELSON! MMA ELBOWS! DRAGON WINS AT 24:29!

Rating – ****1/2 –
What a f*cking match that was. I’d put that one right up there as one of the best matches thus far on Ring Of Honor ppv. Once again that was another storytelling masterpiece from these two men. What I loved here was that, where as in matches one and two, Danielson carried the majority of the workload, this time Tyler was more than happy to carry his share. He absolutely BOSSED the middle of this match with his assault on the head and neck. He superbly walked the line between looking like the young lion to the veteran Dragon, but also kept enough in there to ensure the fans were ALWAYS on Danielson’s side. Obviously breaking the ring may have unintentionally made this match feel even more epic, but it was on it’s way to this rating well before that spot. And being able to have a match THIS good, without actually referencing either of their previous matches in any major way makes you think there’s easily legs for another match in this rivalry now. I would genuinely compare the star-making job Bryan Danielson has done with Tyler Black in 2008 to that which elevated Austin Aries to the point where he won the World Title at the end of 2004. Literally, Tyler has come out of nowhere to become one of Ring Of Honor’s top stars. He’s a top character thanks to the booking of Age Of The Fall, but the fans seem to be accepting him as a potential future main eventer on the back of this series with American Dragon. Hats off to both men…

And as Danielson and Black lie exhausted from that monumental battle, Austin Aries storms from the locker room to pick another fight with Jimmy Jacobs. Impact Explosion Dropkicks in the corner (shades of Vendetta 2), even with the broken ring. Jacobs tries to leave the ring, but then smartly DUCKS the Heat Seeking Missile, causing Aries to land ugly on the outside. Austin is bleeding now, and Jacobs sits him in a chair. TUMBLING PESCADO THROUGH THE CHAIR MISSES! Jimmy’s landing their was messy as f*ck as well. IED against the railings by Aries as this unsanctioned fight continue. The fight spills into the crowd with Aries literally lunging off the guardrail, desperate to hurt Jacobs in any way possible. In response Jimmy dives off the bleachers, swinging a chair at Aries. Double A hits an awesome diving clothesline from some oddly positioned concrete pipes. Jacobs tries End Time but gets driven into the wall. Spear countered…LAST CHANCERY! Jacobs drives fingernails into the face to escape. They stumble upon a ladder set up next to one of the lighting scaffolds and it’s MASSIVE. Austin dumps Jacobs onto some conveniently positioned tables but the AOTF leader gathers his thoughts quickly enough to stop Aries climbing. BOTH men start climbing, but through the mass of people comes Necro Butcher with a chair…AND HE SHOVES THEM BOTH OFF THE LADDER THROUGH TABLES! Necro walks off looking confused, and the ppv goes off the air in chaos with the battered Aries and Jacobs STILL trying to fight each other.

Bonus Matches

Kenny Omega vs Silas Young

For a throwaway bonus match I’m interested in this one. Omega debuted in Toronto last night and looked promising. He has a big reputation in other promotions so I’m looking forward to see what he can do. And it’s a rare chance to see Silas in a match where him losing the match isn’t a total certainty.

Do you think people in Detroit get fed up with hearing that Journey song? Young’s beard makes him look like Jim Duggan tonight. Kenny looks lightning fast during the early exchanges. He does eventually get caught and put into a cloverleaf by Hacksaw Silas Young. Nigel McGuinness refers to Kenny Omega as Alex Payne on steroids. Leapfrog bulldog then a spinning dropkick to the neck gets 2 for Kenny. He misses a clothesline and gets dropped with a back suplex backbreaker that gets Young his own nearfall. Omega flips and somersaults all over the place. ELECTRIC CHAIR GERMAN! Young recovers well to hit a rope run enzi kick. Headstand Arabian press wins it for Silas at 04:33.

Rating – ** –
As good as a sub-5 minute match could really be. Omega needs to be brought back as he’s had a great debut weekend despite not being given any significant match time. Even here when losing in four and a half minutes he looked very good. He looks to have all the flips and tricks of a Matt Cross with a lot more physical charisma and visual persona than M-Dogg.

Standing ovation and ‘please come back’ chants for Kenny Omega. Can’t say fairer than that!

Honor Rumble

This one should be surreal. Ring Of Honor trying their hand at a Royal Rumble style match for the first time ever. I suppose this is the best time to do it. If the concept bombs then, it doesn’t matter since it’s a ppv dark match. If it gets over, who’s to say they can’t do it again in the future and make more of a deal of it? Anyway, the winner gets a World Title shot. I’ve got no idea who the entrants are though! Entrants are every 60 seconds here (I believe WWE’s variant has 90 seconds). Everything else is standard Royal Rumble rules.

Entrant #1 is Bobby Dempsey (still in the fat suit). ‘Next World Champ’ – Detroit. #2 is Kyle Durden? If this thing is all ROH students it will bomb. Larry Sweeney instructs Bobby to hide in the bottom corner since nobody will be able to lift him over the top rope. Durden tries to use a cheeseburger to tempt him up. #3 is Jay Briscoe, that’s better. He and Kyle can’t lift Bobby up so Briscoe eliminates Durden instead. #4 in…and it’s Erick Stevens. Even together Briscoe and Stevens can’t get Bobby up. #5 is Claudio Castagnoli…but he doesn’t come out. Jay and Erick trade a few spots but can’t eliminate the opponent. #6 is Ernie Osiris, with still no sign of Claudio. Ernie goes right after Bobby in the corner whilst Briscoe and Stevens continue to go at it. #7 is Necro Butcher who batters everyone in sight with Nigel (on commentary) pulling for anyone but him to win. #8 is…Bushwhacker Luke? HE’S THROWN STRAIGHT OUT BY NECRO! Shades of the Royal Rumble there! #9 is Mark Briscoe meaning both the Briscoes are now in. Mark brings out the REDNECK KUNG FU on Necro but is knocked out by a clean right hand. #10 is Ruckus as Mark and Necro are eliminated. Somersault dropkick to take out Osiris. #11 is Rhett Titus, who takes his time getting into the ring, greeting the ladies on his way out. #12 is Sara Del Rey, and Rhett still isn’t in the ring. Sweeney instructs Dempsey to be a HUMAN SHIELD for Death Rey. She hilariously kicks Erick Stevens in the nuts then hides behind Bobby before he can retaliate. #13 is Alex Payne…but his entrance is lost in the hilarity of Titus trying to flirt with Sara and getting clobbered. #14 is Delirious, which is probably bad news for Rhett. He rallies the troops in lizard speak and ensures that everyone combines to toss Bobby Dempsey out. #15 (the final entrant) is NIGEL MCGUINNESS! He’s coming to win it and ensure nobody gets a title shot. Del Rey smashes Stevens in the face, and gets eliminated as punishment. Jay Briscoe is tossed out too. Delirious and Rhettski TEAM up to eliminate Ernie Osiris as the field starts to thin. RHETT ELIMINATES DELIRIOUS! He then acts sorry as Daizee Haze comes out to attempt to keep the peace. In the background Stevens is eliminated. That distraction sees Titus eliminated, leaving the final 3 as Sugarfoot, Ruckus and Nigel. MCLARIAT to Payne…and he’s gone. McGuinness goes for the Jawbreaker Lariat…AND GETS THROWN OUT! Ruckus wins at 16:54. Who had him in the sweepstake????

Rating – *** –
Not a classic or anything approaching it, but it was some fun comic relief in a promotion which often gets accused of taking itself too seriously. They ran a nice blend of comedy, storyline advancement (particularly with Rhett and Delirious) and action. I have to say I’ve got NO interest in Ruckus challenging for the World Title and, to be honest, I think there were far better candidates to get the win here, but maybe he’ll surprise me. Even if they never do another Honor Rumble, it was something different and I liked the variety.

Tape Rating – *** –
I’d say this was one of the weakest undercards of any Ring Of Honor ppv. Granted there have been some phenomenal pay-per-view efforts up to now, but when Silas Young, Mitch Franklin, Shane Hagadorn and Ruckus all get booked, you know it’s not that strong. The two main events really carried this show though. Nigel/Claudio was exciting, whilst Danielson and Tyler produced arguably their best match yet (and given that I have their Breakout match as my ’08 MOTY right now, that should tell you all you need to know about how much I enjoyed it). The Aries/Jacobs finale had an unquestionably ECW vibe to it, and the dingy arena and poor lighting actually contributed to the out of control feel to their brawl – and pimped ROH off as a grungy, alternative wrestling product to the more polished looks of TNA and WWE. My other major criticism of the last ppv (Respect Is Earned 2) is that, whilst it was very good in the ring, ppv-canon only viewers would have enjoyed a really stop-start show, with the flow constantly interrupted by video packages and ‘here’s what you missed’ catch up reels. This one had a far better flow which made it an easier and less truncated watch. Was it as watchable as the Canadian debut? Probably not so if you’re only getting one, get that. BUT ROH ppv is always good and, to be fair, there’s easily enough to recommend this as a purchase somewhere down the line (if it’s still in stock). Danielson/Black III was must-see

Top 3 Matches

3) Kevin Steen vs Necro Butcher (***)

2) Nigel McGuinness vs Claudio Castagnoli (****)

1) Bryan Danielson vs Tyler Black (****1/2)

Top 5 Northern Navigation/New Horizons Weekend Matches

5) Naomichi Marufuji vs Roderick Strong (**** – Northern Navigation)

4) Nigel McGuinness vs Claudio Castagnoli (**** – New Horizons)

3) Bryan Danielson vs Claudio Castagnoli (**** – Northern Navigation)

2) Nigel McGuinness vs Kevin Steen (****1/2 – Northern Navigation)

1) Bryan Danielson vs Tyler Black (****1/2 – New Horizons)

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