194 ROH Fueling The Fire 8/1/2008

ROH 194 – Fueling The Fire – 1st August 2008

Really buzzing about ROH after the last double shot. The Toronto debut was an excellent show, whilst New Horizons produced a solid ppv effort featuring Necro Butcher seemingly leaving Age Of The Fall and Danielson/Black III – one of the best matches Ring Of Honor has produced all year. Now we’re back in the south for this event, the kick off to Death Before Dishonor 6 weekend. It’s a strong card with Age Of The Fall defending the Tag Titles against a NOAH team, Team Work vs Motor City Machine Guns, Albright vs Hero and the frankly bizarre prospect of Ruckus challenging for the World Title after winning the Honor Rumble in Detroit. Prazak and Leonard await in Manassas, VA

ROH VIDEO WIRE (31/07/08 EDITION) – Rhett Titus busts in on Bobby Cruise and Todd Sinclair to show then his Daizee Haze video. He then strolls over to Roderick Strong and Naomichi Marufuji to show them. ‘Roderick…I am showing No Remorse’ – Titus. Next he tries to show Dave Prazak, who is surprisingly angry at him.

– Exclusive post-match footage from New Horizons. Nigel says Claudio Castagnoli proved himself to be a worthy opponent after their match…but Claudio walks out rather than shake hands

Americans spell ‘Fuelling’ differently to my British method. Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black cut a downright awful promo, spouting copious amounts of utter crap devoid of any meaning at all. Cutting all the stupid vague phrases and carefully placed buzzwords out, all they actually say is that they’re going to beat Marufuji and Shiozaki tonight, go to Japan as Tag Champions in September, and watch the Team Work/MCMG tag in the midcard…

Adam Pearce/Shane Hagadorn vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe

Mark Briscoe returned to action at Northern Navigation and had his first official match back from injury at New Horizons the following night where he and Jay rolled over the ‘standby opponents’ of Silas Young and Mitch Franklin. I imagine the Briscoes are being booked low on the card to ease Mark back into competitive action.

‘This place is a toilet’ – Pearce. New shorts for the Briscoes tonight, who have promised to hone their style and go back to a more ground and pound style of offence to start picking up the wins. Jay easily outwits Hagadorn from the bell, making him look like such an idiot that even his own mentor slaps him in the face. Mark in to drive shoulders deep into Hagadorn’s ribs then punt him in the spine. It does seem like the Briscoes are making an effort to keep their offence more simple and hard-hitting. It takes a cheap shot from Pearce to finally give Shane a chance to get out of the match. Jackhammer gets 2 for Scrap Iron. He gets another nearfall with the Superfly Splash. Lots of standard heel team cheating from the Sweet’n’Sour representatives, until Mark finally rocks Hagadorn with a springboard forearm smash and gets the hot tag. Hagadorn accidentally clocks Pearce, then gets hoisted up into the Springboard Doomsday Device. The Briscoes win at 07:54

Rating – * – Short, boring and, to the point, nothing more than a brief display of the Briscoes’ more rugged offensive style. To be fair, I admire them for changing up their game a little. They hadn’t exactly grown stale so could’ve played off their old formula for a while longer yet, but freshening things up should allow them to work a less high risk style (obviously beneficial for Mark who’s been struggling with a number of nagging little injuries) and give a new look to their matches. For a team that have been in ROH since show one, occasionally reinventing yourself is a must.

Brent Albright has no plans to wait until later, sprinting from the locker room to try to get at Sweeney and Pearce. They leave before he can get his hands on them, but with Hero tonight and Pearce tomorrow with the NWA World Title on the line, he’ll get his chance…

Nigel McGuinness says that Ruckus won’t be so lucky tonight. He’s interrupted by Rhett Titus showing off his Daizee sex tape again. Nigel compares it to 2 chicks 1 Cup…

Rex Sterling vs Pelle Primeau

Urgh, why isn’t this on the pre-show? I believe Rex was on the Manassas debut show (Southern Navigation) but, to be honest, I don’t remember too much about his performance. He looks like a chubby, slightly retarded eleven year old boy. I hope he wins though since the joke has worn REALLY thin with Primeau now.

The crowd’s complete indifference to Primeau’s entrance implies they’re probably sick of him too. Sterling makes some vaguely amusing jokes about Pelle on the ring crew. They battle it out in a knucklelock, ending with Rex countering a hurricanrana into a sitout powerbomb for 2. Armdrag sends Sterling out of the ring and into position for Primeau to hit a baseball slide headscissors. Springboard press misses though and Sterling drives a double stomp into his spine. He hits a jumping enzi kick which knocks Primeau off the turnbuckles. Border City Stretch locked in but Primeau makes the ropes. He’d best hope Alex Shelley wasn’t watching that. Primeau nearly throttles himself on the ropes but manages to hit a slingshot headscissors, then gets the win at 04:08 with the Jimmy Rave combo.

Rating – * –
Pretty sloppy from Primeau. I was fairly entertained by Sterling, who’s cranky, sarcastic midget routine was fun. However, I think the cranky, sarcastic, entertaining, looks nothing like a wrestler spot is already filled by Kevin Steen in Ring Of Honor, so not sure he’s really got anywhere to go with that. Ultimately, 6 wasted minutes of DVD time…

Rhett Titus vs Delirious

We all know that in his attempts to suck up to Daizee Haze, Rhett has tried to form a team with Delirious, training with him at the wrestling school and so on. But behind her back he’s been going round the locker room showing a questionable video on his phone, and even eliminated Delirious from the Honor Rumble on the last show. Revenge time for Delirious?

I’m weirdly enjoying Titus’ stuff at the moment. Even nearly slipping off the apron during his entrance doesn’t throw him off his game. Interesting to see if he can go in the ring as yet. He gets on the mic and announces that he wants a clean, competitive match tonight. Delirious works an arm wrench and Rhett stays true to his word, declining to use a closed fist right hand to break it. Basic stuff in the early going with Delirious noticeably walking Titus through things. Titus looks for a punch this time, much to the anger of Delirious. He tries a kick in the stomach too, but still gets clobbered by Delirious so decides to bail instead. LOW BLOW behind the referee’s back, and out comes Daizee Haze to berate Titus. Pelvic thrust suplex gets Rhettski a 2-count. Delirious responds by crotching him on the top rope. He thinks about a dive to the floor…but Titus HIDES BEHIND DAIZEE! What a bastard! Delirious holds and manages not to dive though. Daizee tries to offer Delirious some encouragement…AND TITUS DIVES OFF THE TOP ROPE AT THEM! He misses! Cobra Stretch wins it for Delirious at 09:33

Rating – ** –
The wrestling was VERY basic, but then again, Titus is relatively still very green. What they did do was entertain throughout, and as this storyline is basically there to offer some comic relief amongst all the ‘serious’ angles ROH has going on at the moment, job well done to both men. If Titus can develop some wrestling ability around his cheeseball persona he’s got a bright future.

Daizee gives Delirious a kiss on the cheek as reward for his victory…which Delirious celebrates like a championship victory.

Necro Butcher vs Roderick Strong

These two have clashed already this year, and we know it should be a physical match. Necro still comes out to Age Of The Fall’s entrance music, so his status in the group must still be up in the air, even after throwing Jimmy Jacobs off a ladder during the climactic moments of the New Horizons ppv.

Straight into the action with Butcher attacking Strong, much as he did in their first match. Roderick delivers a series of chops but is knocked backwards by a solid right hand from Necro. On the floor he tries chops again…and is knocked clear off his feet with a straight-forward headbutt. Suplex on the hard wooden floor by the former FIP Champion, then a flying forearm from the apron. He seems to line up a Samoa Joe style Ole Ole Sick Kick, only to have a chair launched into his shins as he charges in. Chair slam on the floor by Butcher, then Necro takes his turn jumping off the apron with a forearm. Guardrail across the head then another chair for Strong next, so clearly the ref is letting things go here. Inside the ring and Necro goes for an actual wrestling hold, trying to choke Roddy out with a sleeper. Death By Roderick countered into a Back Drop Driver and Necro goes for some chairs. Roddy evades the chair backbreaker but takes a violent flurry of chops and punches in the corner, then a facecrusher into the chairs instead. Victory roll nearly wins it for Butcher, and as the shock settles in that he actually hit that move, he goes back to basics with another massive punch. Roddy drops him in a chair for a SEATED Sick Kick for 2. HALF NELSON BACKBREAKER ON THE CHAIRS! NECRO KICKS OUT! Strong wins with the Gibson Driver at 11:14.

Rating – ** –
Not bad, but probably booked to go a little long, and if you’re being critical, this match blurred into about twenty other Necro Butcher matches. I don’t want to demean the stuff they did in the ring (that half nelson backbreaker spot was obscene)…but it was nothing we haven’t seen before, A LOT. I’m maybe suggesting book Necro in singles matches a little more sparingly, meaning that when he’s out there getting the hell beaten out of him, it actually means something.

Motor City Machine Guns vs Bryan Danielson/Austin Aries

Alex Shelley and Chris Sabin have been brought in from TNA for another weekend of shows, which is obviously an immensely popular decision amongst ROH fans. And who better to book them against than the part time tag team of Aries and Dragon, probably the top two wrestlers IN Ring Of Honor at this time. There’s even history here too. It was Alex Shelley that formed Generation Next way back in 2004, but he had his power usurped in December of that year by Aries, who ousted him from the stable on the same night he dethroned Samoa Joe to win the ROH World Title. Danielson, meanwhile, successfully defended the very same belt against Shelley and Sabin when HE was World Champion.

The sound system gives up during Team Work’s entrance, so Aries and Danielson march to the back to wait for it. Shelley and Danielson start ensuring the opening moments are crisp and technically superb. Fans are really into all four which certainly helps. Sabin ties Dragon up into a swift half crab and draws deserved applause. More applause for Sabin as he goes hold for hold with Aries at a rapid pace. Austin attacks the arm then applies the Rings Of Aries, leaving him exposed to a running dropkick to the mouth from American Dragon. MCMG pitch both opponents out of the ring then line up STEREO TOPE SUICIDAS! The Machine Guns have control now, Shelley working an octopus stretch on Danielson, followed by Sabin leapfrogging over him into the former World Champion’s arm. Spinning heel kick from Alex drops him again, preventing him from making the tag. Finally Aries does get in and plants the Power Drive Elbow into Sabin’s midsection. Both Machine Guns to the floor for the HEAT SEEKING MISSILE! Now it’s Chris Sabin trapped in the ring getting picked apart by the opposing team. They’re still working over that arm, almost completely incapacitating the TNA competitor until he kicks Dragon down and gets the tag. Aries and Shelley increase the pace. Air Raid Crash blocked…Last Chancery countered…AIR RAID CRASH! Aries kicks out at 2 though. Duelling kicks to Danielson, then an amazing MISSILE DROPKICK/DOUBLE FLATLINER COMBO! FROG SPLASH from Shelley gets 2.

Double back drop from Team Work then their own successfully executed stereo kick for 2. Cattle Mutilation on Alex who rolls through it quickly. Sayama flip from Dragon, only to run straight into a lariat from the founder of Generation Next. Cradleshock blocked for Sabin but he hits a straightjacket German suplex instead. Cattle Mutilation on Sabin…Last Chancery on Shelley! MMA ELBOWS! CATTLE MUTILATION AGAIN! Shelley switches Aries to the BORDER CITY STRETCH! Danielson and Sabin battle on the top rope…as the time limit ticks down. This ends as a 20:00 minute draw. Seems like EVERYONE wants five more minutes though, fans, wrestlers, referee etc. So we’re on again. IMPACT EXPLOSION DROPKICKS BY ARIES! MMA ELBOWS/KNEE STRIKES ON SABIN! CATTLE MUTILATION! Sabin makes it to the ropes. UNPROTECTED FACE STOMPS! SHELLEY SUPERKICKS DANIELSON! Hot tag to Alex now but Aries blocks Sliced Bread #2. POWERBOMB SLICED BREAD #2 ON DRAGON! Shelley dives out of the way of Aries’ Kick of Death and sweeps him into a schoolboy for 2. Shellshock blocked, but so is the Brainbuster. SHELLSHOCK CONNECTS! Sensibly Double A clings to the ropes to prevent himself being pinned. BORDER CITY STRETCH! COUNTERED TO THE DEATH KICK! BRAINBUSTER! SHELLEY KICKS OUT! LAST CHANCERY! COUNTERED TO BORDER CITY STRETCH! LAST CHANCERY AGAIN! OVERTIME EXPIRES! 25:00 draw!

Rating – **** –
This is a fine example of why it’s fun to be an ROH completist. I’m sure this DVD isn’t going to be an all time classic, but by skipping it, you’d miss out an absolute classic like this. These are four supremely talented men, and they just went out their and WORKED for 25 minutes. In truth, they probably have a better match in them, opting to go with more of an exhibition style for the majority of the match, then KOOL MOVEZ at the end, but you know what, they’re so f*cking talented that even them holding back smokes half the stuff you see on TV from the major promotions at present. Aries and Shelley, in particular, had some terrific exchanges.

To be fair, the fans and wrestlers seem to want ANOTHER five minutes, but this time they’re disrupted by Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black who come out to attack Austin Aries and Alex Shelley. American Dragon and Chris Sabin chase them off. Aries wants to shake hands with Shelley to end their issues going back to Final Battle 2004. Alex isn’t so willing to forgive and walks out though…

INTERMISSION – Daizee Haze reiterates her gratitude to Delirious. Roderick Strong makes a random cameo for no apparent reason…

Chris Hero vs Brent Albright

Tomorrow night in the Hammerstein Ballroom Brent Albright will get his hands on Adam Pearce and a chance to get some revenge for throwing the fireball in Chicago. But tonight he’ll have to content himself with a wrestling match against another member of Sweet’n’Sour Inc.

Larry Sweeney announces he’ll be watching this match from the locker room…but before he can get there Brent Albright charges through the curtains trying to attack him. Hero uses the distraction to level Albright on the outside. Brent catches Hero trying a flying forearm from the guardrail and tosses him into the steel. Bell rings after a few minutes of back and forth brawling on the floor. Albright drives Hero’s knee into the ringpost, continuing his very purposeful match thus far. Hero delivers his first Roaring Elbow strike to knock Brent back. Another rolling elbow staggers him again, and as he tries to skin the cat Shawn Michaels style, Hero leaps over the ropes to drop him neck-first on the arena floor. Cheap shot from Del Rey as Albright lies exposed between the ropes. Cross armbreaker out of nowhere though, forcing Hero to scurry to safety. Crowbar attempted next but once again Chris is near to that bottom rope. Belly to belly suplexes from the Gun for Hire, then a German suplex for 2. Hero hits a mafia kick which knocks Brent off the turnbuckles and all the way to the floor. He seems out cold and lifeless, meaning Hero has to dry and dead-lift him back into the ring before attempting a pin. He tries a springboard but gets swung into a powerslam. Blockbuster out of the corner gets Hero a 2. 61-Knee evaded into the ROLLING ELBOWS! Albright kicks out again! Belly to belly superplex scores, then the KOBASHI-PLEX! Albright wins at 12:49

Rating – ** – It wasn’t the worst match ever, but it was tough to sit through. After the brilliance of Team Work vs MCMG, it felt like these two were wrestling in slow motion. Watching them plod through tenuous slug-outs and power moves was a big ask, and I found myself wishing this one would be over long before it was.

Adam Pearce runs out to get into a fight with Albright, which really doesn’t end well for him as Brent starts blasting him with a steel chair. They crash into guardrails, swing chairs, almost injure front row fan etc. Tomorrow night they do battle over the NWA Title

Nigel McGuinness vs Ruckus – ROH World Title Match

I don’t think there’s been a less likely challenger to the ROH Title since 2004 when Samoa Joe was defending against the likes of Matt Stryker and Trent Acid. Ruckus earned this though, winning the inaugural Honor Rumble at New Horizons, even eliminating Nigel to win it and this title shot. Can he go on to score an even bigger upset and become the most unlikely ROH Champion ever?

Nigel rather cruelly completely ignores the guy in the front row waving a huge Union Jack flag and wearing a Wigan Athletic football (soccer) shirt as he make his way to the ring. Sensibly Nigel looks to keep the contest on the mat where he holds the obvious advantage over Ruckus. The pace is slow as well, which also puts things squarely in the champion’s favour. Finally the challenger backflips into a headscissors then blocks the Jawbreaker Lariat with a standing enzi kick for 2. McLariat nailed in the middle of the ring, grinding Ruckus’ momentum to a halt again. He hits the moonsault legdrop out of nowhere for 2 though. Razzle Dazzle countered with a BRUTAL rugby tackle to the spine. Ruckus immediately starts favouring his back, rolling around in pain on the canvas. McGuinness to the floor, and Ruckus MISSES a running moonsault attempt, once again collapsing and holding the back. INVERTED Boston Crab in the ropes puts even more pressure on that back. As if that wasn’t enough, he applies a half crab with Ruckus wrapped up in the turnbuckles. Cobra Clutch McLariat gets 2. Ruckus still has enough in the tank to avoid the Jawbreaker, but right away falls victim to a hiptoss into the turnbuckles. London Dungeon applied and Ruckus submits at 11:36.

Rating – * –
I’ve been VERY harsh in my rating here. Not because it was a squash, my main criticism here is that Ruckus is COMPLETELY devoid of any kind of physical charisma. His wrestling act is literally nothing but a few high flippy high spots. There’s nothing for a fan to get behind, no reason to emotionally connect with anything he’s doing in the ring. Nobody thought he was going to win, but I think everyone thought we’d get some kind of plucky underdog story, with Ruckus looking to make the most of his big shot. Instead…he just did the same things he always does. In the end, this was only really memorable for Nigel dismantling him and winning with ease. I would suggest this marks the climax of Ruckus’ run in ROH and he’ll start to be faded out with the rest of the Vulture Squad over the coming months. It’s already been a number of shows since we’ve seen Smokes, Jigsaw, Jack etc. The real shame in this is there were other guys in the Honor Rumble who could’ve taken this slot. Nigel vs Mark Briscoe could’ve been good. Or we could’ve gone the comedy route and had Nigel vs Bobby Dempsey or Sara Del Rey. Had Alex Payne won and put the title match on a Chicago show, the crowd would’ve been NUTS. A missed opportunity in truth…

The poor British guy with the massive Union Jack doesn’t even get a high five as Nigel leaves the ring. What a HEEL!!

Jimmy Jacobs/Tyler Black vs Naomichi Marufuji/Go Shiozaki – ROH Tag Title Match

This is your main event. It’s a tough ask for Age Of The Fall to overcome two NOAH stars, but with Go joining Sweet’n’Sour Inc. this also marks a real opportunity for Larry Sweeney to bring more championship gold into his group. Will the belts be going home with Age Of The Fall or, as we saw in 2007 when Shingo and Naruki Doi won them…back to Japan?

Any question as to how Marufuji will interact with Larry Sweeney after turning him down at New Horizons is ruled irrelevant when Roderick Strong sprints from the back to chase Sweeney away. Jacobs opens up with a chop on Shiozaki, which probably isn’t his best decision. He is sensible enough to dodge all attempts Go makes to deliver one of those massive chops. Finally Go does manage to land chops to both Black and Jacobs, sending them both to the mat. Marufuji and his goofy curly hair tag in for the first time. He runs through a tremendous fast-paced sequence with Tyler, ending when Black stomps him in the breadbasket. Tags again for both teams, and the power of Shiozaki gives the challengers the edge on Age Of The Fall at this stage. Maru jumps from the floor to deliver a dropkick to the side of Jimmy’s head. Go then puts him in a similar position over the edge of the apron, getting up some speed before hitting a big knee strike. Double abdominal stretch from Team NOAH as Tyler’s protests distract the referee. Go thinks about trying something from the top rope but is held by Black allowing Jimmy to make the vital tag. Tyler announces his presence in the match with a flipping neck snap for 2. The champions now have the ring cut in half with Shiozaki miles away from his corner and the former GHC Champion Marufuji.

But suddenly Go hits a hurricanrana then a chop. That rana was a somewhat surprising sight. Anyway, tag to Maru who drops Tyler with the blindside lariat. Shiranui blocked and Black delivers an enzi kick to the back of the head. Spear from Jacobs then Rob Van Dam-like frog splash from Tyler gets 2. We’ve passed the 15 minute mark now, with Age Of The Fall on top with Marufuji isolated. End Time applied by Jimmy but Marufuji stands up, leaving Jacobs exposed to a SUPERKICK from Go. Springboard clothesline from Tyler, who pops up into another superkick, this time from Maru…and all four are down! Black and Shiozaki fight on the top rule, culminating in a SUPERPLEX by Tyler…but it’s no sold. CHOPS from Go…RUNNING CHOPS FROM GO! The Go Flasher is avoided though, so he converts to a fisherman buster instead. Dragon sleeper applied, rolled to the DRAGON CLUTCH! Black saves his belts by getting to the ropes, but is left exposed for the VAN MARUFUJI-NATOR! German suplex by Shiozaki gets 2. GO MOONSAULT! TWO AGAIN! Superkick…SPEAR FROM JACOBS TO SAVE TYLER FROM THE GO FLASHER! POWEBOMB CONTRA CODE by the champions but Marufuji makes the save. Chops again by Go, NO SOLD by Black who responds with a Pele kick then GOD’S LAST GIFT for 2. CRAZY SPEAR THROUGH THE ROPES BY JACOBS! PHOENIX SPLASH BY TYLER! He pins Go at 23:20 to retain the belts

Rating – **** –
For most of this match I was going 3*. It wasn’t bad, but it seemed like everyone was holding back, knowing that tonight wasn’t a “big match” or a “big show” or whatever. But, even with that, down the stretch they really turned it on. Considering the winner of the match was never really in doubt, and considering that I can’t remember too many believable nearfalls for the challenging team, this had a really exciting conclusion to the match.

Alex Shelley comes from the back to attack Age Of The Fall again…and when the numbers start to overwhelm him, it’s former stable-mate Austin Aries who comes out to make the save. ‘There’s nothing worse than emo cocksuckers’ – Alex Shelley. The fact that this guy is wasted in TNA rather than booked full time in Ring Of Honor continues to make me sad. This time Aries and Shelley do shake hands…

Tape Rating – ** –
In the end, this one was completely skippable. A lot of the show is actually tough to sit through, with only two matches breaking the 2* barrier. The two main event tag matches are good though. They’re both worth a watch, and at nearly 50 minutes combined match time, plus entrances, they represent a good chunk of the DVD. The thing is, there’s not a lot else. No major story line advancements, completely forgettable ring action. Like I said, those two main event tags ensure it’s not a total bust, but it’s not really the kind of show you need to go out of your way to check out. If it’s already sold out at ROHwrestling.com, you’re not missing a massive amount. Perhaps most worrying is that, even with the two matches worth a second look, 50% of that talent isn’t even ROH core roster. I thought ROH had been doing a good job of building up it’s own undercard talent this year. I’m wondering on the back of this if perhaps I was wrong…

Top 3 Matches

3) Delirious vs Rhett Titus (**)

2) Jimmy Jacobs/Tyler Black vs Naomichi Marufuji/Go Shiozaki (****)

1) Motor City Machine Guns vs Bryan Danielson/Austin Aries (****)

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