ROH 195 – Death Before Dishonor 6 – 2nd August 2008
I’m going to say this at the top of my review – THIS is the show ROH should’ve used to debut at the Hammerstein. A New Level wasn’t a bad show at all, but debuting at the Hammerstein is a massive deal. ROH needed a BIG show to justify the occasion, and at that point in time, it just wasn’t there. Ring Of Honor were effectively trying to shoehorn a big must-see event, when all they delivered was an impressive building-for-the-future show. Tonight things should be VERY different. We have a World Title match with McGuinness defending against 3 men he’s beaten this year, two men he has issues with (Danielson and Claudio), alongside Dragon who’s also been trading wins with the remaining two participants. We’ve got Motor City Machine Guns in from TNA, the fallout from Necro turning on Age Of The Fall, Adam Pearce and Brent Albright clashing over the NWA Title, plus a NOAH exhibition match, the Briscoes back at full strength etc. What I’m saying is – this time we have a GREAT card and one of the “big name” ROH events to go along with the great occasion that is ROH in the Hammerstein. Good things come to those who wait and all. Anyway, we’re in Manhattan, NY of course. Commentary will come from Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard
ROH VIDEO WIRE – See Fuelling The Fire (ROH 194) review for details
Nigel McGuinness is not happy about having to defend his World Title against three challengers tonight, but still promises to beat them all and leave New York with his belt around his waist.
Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Ruckus/Jigsaw
For the second night in a row the Briscoes are opening the show looking to get their rhythm back after Mark’s injury. Obviously Ruckus is also looking to rebound after losing his big World Title match last night. I have to be honest and say I was really looking forward to Briscoes vs Evans/Ruckus, but when we eventually did get that it was a bit of a let down. Will this one fare better?
Jigsaw gets the better of Mark from the bell before things breakdown into an impressive high-speed wrestling exchange. Slingshot double stomp from Mark scores before he tags in Jay for the double football tackle. Ruckus backflips into a headscissors then kicks Jay out of the ring. Mark cuts off the Chocolate Vulture before he can hit a dive. RUNNING PLANCHA TO THE FLOOR by Mark! Jigsaw then dives onto everyone on the floor with a somersault plancha. TOP ROPE MOONSAULT OUTSIDE BY RUCKUS! He climbs again and hits the MOONSAULT LEGDROP on Mark, who then counters to a schoolboy for 2. Jay Driller countered into a rolling neckbreaker from Ruckus. Fisherman Powerbomb gets the Vultures a 2 before Jay drives Ruckus into the mat again with a spinebuster. SPRINGBOARD DOOMSDAY DEVICE! Briscoes win at 05:56
Rating – *** – Probably not a 3* match in and of itself, but for it’s spot on the card, this was near perfect. Obviously it’s a packed, pumped New York crowd so it shouldn’t take too much to set them off, these four men ensured they started the night off just right with a fast paced spot exhibition which everyone would have enjoyed. I spend most of the time they appear on ROH DVD’s wondering why the Vulture Squad are still booked, but matches like this really put me in their place. In little spotfests like this they’re still perfectly capable
Out comes Larry Sweeney who tries to recruit the Briscoes. They leave which probably doesn’t bode well for that recruitment effort. Chris Hero gets on the microphone and demands revenge on Delirious who beat him at the last Hammerstein show.
Chris Hero vs Delirious
As we just heard – Hero was embarrassed by losing to Delirious at A New Level, but blames Brent Albright for that, and points out that since then he’s been on a streak of knocking people out. Will Delirious encounter a similar fate tonight?
Delirious hides under the ring, then sneaks out as all of Sweet’n’Sour Inc. look for him to hit a somersault plancha from the top rope. He continues to use his bizarre approach to get the better of Hero for the opening 90 seconds of the contest. Never Ending Story in the corner next but Hero counters the following bulldog attempt with a stalling atomic drop. On commentary Prazak and Leonard are being really amusing with Delirious/Daizee-themed ‘A New Level’ jokes as Chris starts to really dominate proceedings. He gets 2 after a Roaring Elbow with Delirious’ head exposed over the ring apron. Delirious comes from the top with a flying headscissors then gets 2 with a swinging DDT. He ducks the rolling elbow once, but then runs into a second time and is nearly defeated as a result. More elbow smashes from Hero…but Delirious hits back with the MOST TELEGRAPHED headbutt ever. That looked horrible. Shadows Over Hell COUNTERED into an elbow smash. Rolling Elbow wins it for Chris Hero at 08:16
Rating – ** – That was a decent battle of Delirious’ speed and insanity against Hero’s desire to be methodical, serious and knock him the f out. I have to be honest, that headbutt sequence REALLY hurt my enjoyment of the match – it was that bad. Another solid win for Hero as he continues to develop this new ‘Young Knockout Kid’ gimmick.
Eddie Edwards vs Roderick Strong
Since ‘Die Hard’ Eddie Edwards was already at ringside with Larry Sweeney and co. we float straight into this next match. Strong has had issues with S’n’S Inc. for some time, and tonight has to face a guy Sweeney has referred to as the ‘top prospect’ in wrestling today. I’ve been desperate to see more bookings for Edwards for a while now, so I’m hoping for a decent match here.
They trade wristlocks from the bell, with Edwards looking more than confident in his ability to match the former FIP Heavyweight and ROH Tag Champion. 2k1 Bomb blocked and Roderick NAILS Eddie with some hard chops and a slingshot suplex for 2. Sweeney distracts him and Edwards capitalises straight away with a standing Shining Wizard. With Strong down in the corner he takes the referee across the ring, allowing Hero to deliver a cheap shot too. Missile dropkick gets Die Hard a 2. Roderick batters Edwards out of the ring with forearms, then runs off the apron with a flying elbow smash. Crisp dropkick get Roddy another nearfall. Death By Roderick blocked and Eddie hits the BACKPACK STUNNER for 2. 2k1 Bomb blocked again, and Strong reacts quickly to counter the Asai moonsault too with knees to the chest. JUMPING CODEBREAKER then the sitout facebomb gets Eddie a close two count. Death By Roderick then the Half Nelson Backbreaker for 2. Gibson Driver…but Hero sneaks in behind the ref’s back. LOADED ELBOW PAD STRIKE! Roderick is out cold and Edwards hits the Lionsault to win it at 09:45
Rating – *** – Really hard-hitting stuff from these two. This was easily the biggest match we’ve seen from Edwards thus far in his ROH tenure and he looked very comfortable. He seemed a much easier fit with the Sweet’n’Sour style (something Go Shiozaki has struggled with thus far), has some exciting moves and can easily hang with most guys on the roster for intensity and technical ability. He needs to be booked WAY more often – and hopefully this win signifies Gabe’s intention to do just that. It’s amazing how much more motivated Roddy has looked since he’s gone back babyface as well. He’s had some quality matches (vs Hero in Dayton and vs Marufuji in Toronto) and done a terrific job elevating Eddie tonight. I really can’t wait for Davey to get back and get the Strong/Richards bout…
Adam Pearce vs Brent Albright – NWA World Title Match
Ultimately, the catalyst that led to this one being booked was Pearce throwing a fireball into Albright’s face in Chicago, but in truth this one has been brewing for far longer. Both men are former members of the Hangmen 3, a faction which ended when Adam Pearce made the decision to sell the group to Larry Sweeney in exchange for bringing the NWA Title to ROH. Albright was never a happy, paid up member of Sweet’n’Sour Inc. and we saw that unhappy alliance meltdown spectacularly at A New Level when Brent finally snapped and decimated every member of S’n’S in the middle of the ring. Now he gets his hands on his former friend, and the chance to take what he holds most dearly, the National Wrestling Alliance Heavyweight Championship.
Pearce is now carrying a red strap version of the NWA Title belt, specially presented to him in honour of the NWA 60th anniversary. Remember, this is NWA rules which means we’ve got a ten count on the floor, no throwing people over the top rope etc. Shane Hagadorn immediately tries to drag Albright out of the ring. The challenger survives that and delivers a couple of massive slaps to Pearce’s face. Both men test the rules early on, Albright shoving the referee down, Pearce then biting him and spitting at the official. Scrap Iron catches Albright with a big headbutt and blood immediately starts to pour from a wound at Brent’s hairline. From there Pearce is remorseless, taking things out of the ring to throw Brent into the guardrails. But it soon counts against him as Albright manages to catapult Pearce into the ringpost, busting him open too. Larry Sweeney steams into the ring to try and get his man intentionally disqualified…but Roderick Strong appears from NOWHERE to deliver the Sick Kick to him! Crowd is really into this now as Albright scores with the 61-Knee. UNPROTECTED KNEE STRIKES, PEARCE COUNTERS TO THE FIGURE 4 LEGLOCK! That isn’t enough to win it for the champion though and Brent makes it to the ropes. The Scrap Daddy scales the ropes for the SUPERFLY SPLASH! Albright kicks out so Pearce goes to an STF. ‘F*ck John Cena’ – New York. COUNTERED TO THE CROWBAR! Pearce is way too close to the ropes to win it…but I loved that submission counter. Albright tries to climb the ropes…AND GETS THROWN OFF THE TURNBUCKLES THROUGH A TABLE! Amazingly, Brent doesn’t stay down and beats the 10 count back into the ring. JUMPING PILEDRIVER! ALBRIGHT KICKS OUT! HALF NELSON SUPLEX SCORES! But Albright is too beaten up to capitalise. HALF NELSON SUPLEX AGAIN! PEARCE KICKS OUT AT 2! Both men are exhausted and on their knees, but still don’t stop trading punches in front of the raucous crowd. Brent delivers ROLLING GERMAN SUPLEXES! Shades of Benoit vs Austin as he refuses to quit, eventually hitting five Germans before covering for 2. Pearce goes for the Figure 4 again and nearly gets pinned. CROWBAR LOCKED IN! PEARCE TAPS! IT’S OVER! Brent Albright is the new NWA Heavyweight Champion at 19:41.
Rating – **** – Where the hell did that one come from? This was one of those rare occasions when everything clicked into place to deliver a match just SO far above anything you were expecting. I don’t dislike these guys, in particular I’ve been a fan of what Brent has contributed to ROH thus far this year. But this was genuinely a fantastic match. Of course it helps that the NYC crowd was absolutely mental, but it takes more than a hot crowd to make a good match. Albright was superb as the babyface, but the way Scrap Iron Adam Pearce cast aside his usual stalling, crowd interaction etc and laced up his working boots to contribute as much to the match as his opponent did was truly memorable. He hasn’t produced a performance like this since 2006 and the feud with CZW (or the cage match with Homicide at The Chicago Spectacular). He’s not the most gifted but he is good at working a crowd, and after almost TWO years of cheating, winding fans up, evading his enemies and generally pissing fans off, finally getting the pay off of an epic match and a new champion was just a terrific moment and rewarding pay-off for ROH who have stuck with him even when others have questioned his worth to the company.
Backstage the Briscoes enjoy a beer after their big win tonight. In comes Rhett Titus to show them his Daizee Haze video.
Elsewhere Claudio Castagnoli seems edgy and berates a camera man for coming into his locker room as he prepares for his title match.
Jimmy Jacobs vs Necro Butcher vs Austin Aries
It’s fascinating how complex the issue between Jimmy Jacobs and Austin Aries has become. It started over Lacey, who is now gone from Ring Of Honor, but the hatred between the two is still intense. Jacobs is still Tag Champion and holds a numbers advantage so you’d think he holds all the aces, but in recent weeks we’ve seen Aries try to undermine the solidarity between his support cast. At Battle For Supremacy he refused to fight Necro (and took a hell of a beating in the process) saying he had no issue with him, and questioned why Necro is happy taking orders from Jacobs. And the seeds of doubt he planted came to fruition at the climax of the New Horizons pay-per-view when an angry and confused Necro Butcher shoved both Aries and Jacobs from a ladder as they were fighting around the arena. We all know Aries and Jacobs want to hurt each other, but where does Necro stand? Does he side with Aries who’s turned his head, does he side with his Age Of The Fall team-mate who brought him back to Ring Of Honor…or as we saw in Detroit, will he forego both of them to fly solo.
Jacobs and Necro seem to present a united front by coming to the ring together, and the way they shape up, it certainly looks like it’s going to be a handicap match with Age Of The Fall representatives combining to fight Austin Aries. Heat Seeking Missile scores on Necro, then a side slam on Jimmy for 2. Lenny Leonard points out that Jacobs and Necro WILL have to fight each other at the next Chicago show. Power Drive Elbow finds the mark as Austin does a good job of beating up Jacobs and keeping Butcher outside the ring. But it’s inevitable that the numbers catch up with him eventually and soon AOTF are well in charge. That is until Aries whips Jacobs INTO Necro, knocking him off the apron and sowing the first seeds of dissension in the AOTF ranks. Spear from Jimmy to Aries as Butcher asks fans in the front row whether Jacobs hit him on purpose. Looks like they’re on the same page for now and Butcher delivers the chair slam to the former World Champion. And he holds Aries down on top of the chair for Jacobs to hit a senton bomb. Necro covers…and Jacobs breaks the pin? He’s furious and gets on the microphone to berate Necro Butcher for overstepping his mark. He angrily shoves him and demands he blind Aries. Is he insane? Aries waffles Necro with a chair…THEN TOSSES IT TO JIMMY! Necro is furious now…RIGHT HAND TO JACOBS! All the while Aries is on the mat playing possum, smiling at the camera in quite hilarious fashion. Necro lays Jimmy out with a steel chair and walks out of the arena leaving him alone with Aries. IED nailed, then the BRAINBUSTER! 450 Splash scores for Austin to pick up the win at 11:46
Rating – *** – Pure sports entertainment, and they definitely sacrificed having a good match in order to develop the story, but you can’t deny that the majority of what we just saw was entertaining. The way they gradually started teasing the dissension between Necro and Jacobs, only to have Aries create a cavernous divide between then with *that* chair shot was certainly good fun, and the crowd responded enthusiastically when Butcher finally delivered that punch to Jacobs. That Necro/Jacobs match in Chicago should be fun if Jimmy recaptures the sort of form we saw when he feuded with BJ Whitmer and Colt Cabana last year.
INTERMISSION – Daizee Haze says she’s been taking time off to rehab her back. The Motor City Machine Guns interrupt to try and bag a threesome with her. That was entertaining. They then turn their attention to their match with Steen and Generico, providing more comedic quips in the process…
Bryan Danielson seems grouchy. He’d much rather have Nigel in a singles match tonight, and points out that although he’s beaten all three of his opponents tonight in the past…he’s also been beaten by them all in the last six months. He promises tonight will be unpredictable…
Delirious interrupts Bobby Cruise trying to kick off the second half of the show to call Daizee to the ring. He asks her out…but before she can answer perennial cockblock Rhett Titus makes his entrance. He announces she’s ‘used goods’ before pulling his trousers down to reveal probably the greatest wrestling trunks in history. Picture Ultimate Warrior’s trunks, except with Daizee Haze’s face across the ass. Delirious fights him off…but Daizee just wants to be friends. HUGE boos from NYC for that. Who says independent fans are all cynics and smarks?
Naomichi Marufuji vs Go Shiozaki
Last night these two teamed up to challenge for the ROH Tag Titles but were unsuccessful. Tonight, the two NOH stars collide for no real reason other than ‘because Ring Of Honor can’.
The match gets off to a low key start as Prazak and Leonard run through interesting info and career highlights for both men. Apparently Shiozaki hasn’t beaten Marufuji in singles competition. Go levels him with a big chop, then quickly sidesteps Maru’s traditional slow sliding dropkick. Fast-paced exchange ends in a stalemate and draws applause as they face off and pause for breath. They trade forearms but Shiozaki UNLOADS with another chop combo and sends Marufuji out of the ring as a result. Marufuji knocks his opponent out of the ring next with an impressive standing dropkick. Asai moonsault to the floor blocked though as Go sweeps the legs out from under him. Running knee strike to Maru’s exposed head as he lies on the ring apron. He tries to quicken the pace but that doesn’t work either, and Go hoists him into a spinning back suplex. Tree of woe chops get the Sweet’n’Sour member a nearfall. SLINGSHOT DDT ON THE APRON from nowhere by Marufuji. He follows that with whips into the metal guardrails then an APRON BRAINBUSTER! That looked like he genuinely wanted to break Shiozaki’s neck! This is all prep work for the Shiranui, and it’s continued by a neckbreaker in the ropes then a cravat. And in a revenge spot from earlier, Maru delivers a running dropkick to the exposed head of his opponent from the outside. Headscissors capture into a facebuster in the turnbuckles, then a back suplex get Marufuji a 2-count. HURRICANRANA AND A CHOP OUT OF NOTHING BY SHIOZAKI! He made that look almost effortless, and demonstrates more agility by leaping from the canvas to deliver a football tackle to the onrushing Marufuji. Running chops hit the mark, as does a FROG KNEE DROP for 2. Blindside dropkick from Maru, using his speed to get the advantage again. Shiranui…FAKED INTO A SWINGING NECKBREAKER FOR 2! LOW SUPERKICK! Still Go refuses to stay down. Shiranui countered…Go Flasher countered…fisherman buster instead for 2. Marufuji kicks himself free of the dragon sleeper but Shiozaki powerbombs him into the turnbuckles. Maru goes for the blindside lariat but this time Shiozaki manages to catch him out and drops him into the DRAGON CLUTCH! Marufuji crawls to the apron…and catches Go for a SHIRANUI TO THE FLOOR! Fans are chanting ‘NOAH’ as Go is basically unconscious. He tries to crawl into the ring…VAN TERMINATOR BY MARUFUJI! Incredibly Shiozaki still kicks out and converts another Shiranui attempt into a tree of woe chop. ORANGE CRUSH GETS 2! Go Flasher, COUNTERED INTO THE SHIRANUI. BUT BOTH MEN ARE DOWN! Maru is up quickest to hit a blindside lariat, but Shiozaki hits back with one of his own. CHOP VS SUPERKICK DUEL! POLE SHIFT FROM MARUFUJI! He wins at 22:58
Rating – **** – A little taste of Budokan Hall in New York there. This was classic puro style. Incredibly stiff, crisp ring work, lots of head dropping, near falls and crazy bumps to the floor. All you can say is heartfelt thanks to Pro Wrestling NOAH, not only for allowing Ring Of Honor to use their talent, but to allow their guys to undertake a gruelling travel schedule, come to the US and put on main event quality bouts for the American fans. To repeat, this was main event quality stuff. This wasn’t house show, taking it easy Marufuji vs Shiozaki. They really went for it and produced a memorable, classic encounter.
Tyler Black rambles through his usual array of cliché’s and buzzwords. He believes he’ll win the title tonight because he wants it more than any of his opponents.
Motor City Machine Guns vs Kevin Steen/El Generico
Much like the last match, this one appears to be nothing more than ‘because we can’ dream match booking, and it should be a great tag team match. However, credit to the Machine Guns and their promo at intermission as it provided an interesting framework for this contest. By defeating the Briscoes whilst they were Tag Champions they believe they should be top contenders for the ROH Tag Titles, even if this isn’t their home promotion. A win tonight against another of the company’s top duo’s tonight could cement a future title shot for them.
Alex Shelley shades it as the most popular of the four guys, but it’s close. He works an early bow and arrow stretch on Generico, who cranks up the pace with a running headscissors. Sabin leapfrogs into Generico’s arm, looking to work that limb but Mr Wrestling quickly tags in to put a stop it. He drives Sabin into Shelley’s feet, then ties Alex in the ropes for an unprotected enzi kick to the head. SNOT BLOWING DUEL between Steen and Shelley. The ROH team seem to have given themselves an advantage and have kept Chris Sabin in the ring for several minutes now. Shelley invades illegally for a unique double team stretch on Generico. Poetry In Motion dropkick to Steen then stereo kicks for Generico as the Machine Guns really start to hit their stride. They use a multitude of combo moves to wear El Generico down with the clock ticking past 10 minutes. Even when Generico does muster up a big palm strike, Shelley knocks him back with a rake to the eyes. Finally Generico does make the corner, only to find that Sabin as dragged Kevin Steen away from the apron. Hot tag at long last and now we do have Steen in legally. Backpack senton bomb then a SWINGING Air Raid Crash on Sabin for 2. Snap powerbomb scores…but Shelley enters to break the Sharpshooter before Steen can even lock it in properly. RUNNING SOMERSAULT PLANCHA BY GENERICO! SHARPSHOOTER ON SABIN! Mr Wrestling tries to line up the frog splash but he takes too long and gets caught. SUPER JAWBREAKER off Sabin’s back by Shelley, and Sabin then hoists Generico up for a running Splash Mountain into his own partner! MICHINOKU DRIVER on Shelley, then a YAKUZA KICK COMBO clears out both opponents. Mafia kick from Sabin, but Steen hits him with the pumphandle cradlebreaker as he looks for Cradleshock. STEEN-TON BOMB GETS KNEES! RUNNING AIR RAID CRASH BY SHELLEY! Sabin goes up the turnbuckles with Generico, nailing a super rana which sends the luchador down onto a prone Kevin Steen. Powerbomb Sliced Bread #2 countered with the CANNONBALL by Steen. SHARPSHOOTER ON SABIN! TURNBUCKLE BRAINBUSTAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH ON SHELLEY! Sabin taps at 19:51 – Steen and Generico secure the win!
Rating – **** – This was, in my opinion, the worst MCMG match in ROH, and yes, it was still THAT good. Once again they were just so fluent and precise in everything they did. Steen and Generico have known each other for years and have been working with each other as partners/opponents for as long as people can remember, but compared to Shelley and Sabin, at times it looked like they’d just met. As ever, the stretch here was just so much fun. CAPS LOCK play by play really doesn’t do that type of match any kind of justice. Just do yourself a favor and buy the DVD!
Backstage the Briscoes are still drinking. Daizee Haze comes in to offer her help to fight Age Of The Fall, but having seen Rhett’s video they don’t know where to look…
In their dressing room, El Generico seems jubilant about their win. Kevin Steen is still seething at coming close to the World and Tag Titles, and coming up short on so many occasions. He tells Generico to become a killer if they want to win the Tag Team Championship…
Nigel McGuinness vs Bryan Danielson vs Tyler Black vs Claudio Castagnoli – ROH World Title Match
And so onto the main event of what’s already been a superb show. This is one of those matches where you could genuinely see all four of these guys walking out of New York with the title. Granted Danielson really doesn’t need it at this stage, but he’s been picking up some big wins (as well as high profile defeats) this year, and is by some distance the most over guy in the match. Black and Claudio are HOT at the moment, both have big wins over American Dragon and both fit the typical ‘ROH Champion’ mould of promising upper midcard guy ready to break through to the next level. And Nigel has been tearing it up as champion of late too. Lots of interwoven issues here between all four men as well. Nigel is a long standing rivalry with American Dragon, and this year has taken to mocking him in his matches, stealing his catchphrases and gimmicks etc…as well as beating him in less than honourable fashion at the Sixth Anniversary Show. He’s also had issues with Double C going right back to their series of matches in pursuit of the Pure Title in 2005, and McGuinness has successfully beaten him twice this year. And the champion can also count a successful ppv defence against Tyler Black on his impressive 2008 resume thus far. Elsewhere Dragon has won a series of highly competitive singles bouts against Tyler Black, but was also pinned by him at the conclusion of the excellent tag team main event at Respect Is Earned 2…AND has traded wins in technical battles against Claudio as well. This is under elimination rules and, on paper at least, should be awesome.
Claudio seems to be doing the Austin Aries-style brooding, sulking ring entrance. There’s a vocal minority of fans who are notably hostile towards him too. The challengers all circle McGuinness, but he opts to step onto the apron and decline the opportunity to start proceedings. It’s Danielson and Claudio who kick off and they slide straight back into the high quality wrestling that we saw at Vendetta 2 and Northern Navigation. Nigel blind tags in to clobber Dragon with a clothesline…but Tyler does the same thing and nails the champion with a dropkick. DUELLING DIVES by Double C and Tyler Black get the fans buzzing. Black backflips as McGuinness evades another dropkick…and steps out of the ring in less than courageous fashion. American Dragon beats Tyler into the corner, and once again Nigel tags in with an opponent beaten down. Dead-lift gutwrench suplex gets Castagnoli a 2 on Black. He then blasts Nigel with a springboard uppercut, prompting him to leave the ring again. Dragon and Claudio take turns to blast each other with uppercuts before Tyler re-enters the fray to hit a flipping necksnap. McGuinness comes in again, and this time none of his opponents will trade spots with him. Castagnoli takes full advantage by hitting the Match Killer for 2. Alpamare Water Slide gets a nearfall as well. Danielson hits a missile dropkick on Nigel, and despite not being the legal man gets into a battle with Castagnoli, who nails him with a torture wrack backbreaker. DDT by McGuinness, then a German from a groggy American Dragon…all four men down at ten minutes. All four men are fighting now, with Nigel crotching Tyler on the ropes as he looks for the Phoenix Splash. CATTLE MUTILATION ON NIGEL! Tyler dives OVER them into a crossbody on Nigel. MMA ELBOWS! CASTAGNOLI BREAKS THAT WITH THE LES ARTESS LIFT! Was Claudio just more determined to get at Danielson than winning the World Title? Dragon traps him in the Triangle Choke and nearly submits him there. McGuinness hits the Super McLariat to send Tyler out of the ring. Sayama flip into a running elbow strike by Dragon to send Nigel to the floor.
SPRINGBOARD DIVE INTO THE FRONT ROW! And incredibly Danielson is right back to his feet and heading into the ring…into the Big Swing…COUNTERED to a roll-up for 2. POP-UP EUROPEAN NAILED! But Danielson floats him into the SMALL PACKAGE! Castagnoli is the first man eliminated at 16:12. Those anti-Claudio fans are delighted. Danielson tries to calm the irate Castagnoli…who LEVELS him with the bicycle kick and RICCOLA BOMB! Nigel is smiling on the floor as jobbers flood the ring to drag Claudio away. He comes back to STOMP A STEEL CHAIR INTO DANIELSON’S SKULL! At last the job squad haul his ass out of the building, but Dragon is out. UNPROTECTED MCLARIAT! McGuinness eliminates Danielson at 19:37. Fans start throwing garbage…Tyler Black is a MASSIVE babyface now! He gets a huge pop as he flies into the ring with a springboard clothesline. Neckbreaker gets the Tag Champion a 2-count. FIVE STAR FROG SPLASH misses as Naomichi Marufuji stands watching the match in the aisle. They battle on the top rope, and Black manages to hit the frog splash second time of asking. Hammerlock DDT from the champion, going after the arm and quickly following it with a shortarm McLariat. Tower Of London gets 2. Jawbreaker Lariat attempt…RIDICULOUSLY COUNTERED INTO THE TURNBUCKLE BOMB! Nigel goes well out of character to try something from the top rope and is caught. SUPERPLEX…ROLLED INTO PEROXISM GETS 2! Marufuji-esque low superkick gets 2 as well. The Hammerstein is deafening now. Spinning McLariat brings Nigel right back into things. London Dungeon blocked…Jawbreaker Lariat COUNTERED TO GOD’S LAST GIFT! NIGEL KICKS OUT! PHOENIX SPLASH MISSES! MCLARIAT FROM NIGEL! The champion hits another Tower Of London, then another McLariat, but Black just won’t be counted down. Black ducks the Super McLariat second time of asking…but SPRINGBOARDS into another lariat, then STILL KICKS OUT! LONDON DUNGEON! Black lost to this at Take No Prisoners! COUNTERED TO A ROLL-UP FOR 2! LARIAT FLURRY! McGuinness finally retains at 30:23
Rating – **** – I have to say I went back and forth on whether to give this one an extra ½ star or not. It was an awesome main event, packed with drama, excitement, excellent stories, wonderful wrestling and the kind of electrifying crowd that demonstrates exactly why New York gets all the big shows these days. Ultimately I thought it probably wasn’t, and that I was getting carried away in the excitement of the match and forgot about the few dead moments, the slightly slow opening, questionable enforcement of the legal man rule in the early stages etc. But yeah, you NEED to check this out as it was such an entertaining main event to cap off what has been one of Ring Of Honor’s best shows of 2008. Danielson and Claudio carried the work early whilst Nigel clowned around and played the dickish heel we know him to be. The Claudio heel turn was VERY well-executed, although I do think they should have played up how close he was to ‘snapping’ a little more in the shows leading up to this. The turn also lead to a plausible, believable way they could get the MASSIVE favourite Danielson out of the match without the crowd sh*tting on it, and gave Black another ten minutes to show why he’s been THE breakout star of the year. The match at Take No Prisoners smoked what they produced here (there were a few hiccups, some spot repetition from earlier in the match and so on), but the criticisms are relatively minor and their finale to the match was really memorable. That Jawbreaker Lariat counter into the turnbuckle powerbombed, contrived as it was, just left my jaw on the floor.
Nigel stands in the ring celebrating as fans pelt him with garbage. Fans chant ‘Marufuji’, who gestures that he wants the next shot at McGuinness as we close…
Tape Rating – ****1/2 – Were it not for the phenomenally good Supercard Of Honor 3 show (which featured a more diverse card, but also far more “guest appearances” to make up the numbers), this would be the best ROH has produced thus far in ’08. This year has gotten a really bad rap from a lot of sources, but at the moment, from where I sit, ROH seem on a real role. This was a truly excellent professional wrestling show. Fun, spotty opener, breakout performance from Eddie Edwards, a shockingly good NWA Title match, Necro turning on Jimmy Jacobs, Daizee rejecting Delirious, three magnificent main event matches and the Claudio heel turn too. From a storyline perspective, from a match quality from a perspective, from a live crowd perspective…from an any perspective you care to mention perspective, this one ticks all the boxes and is a must-own in my book. When a match as good as MCMG vs Steen/Generico doesn’t crack the top 3, you KNOW it’s been a great night.
Top 3 Matches
3) Brent Albright vs Adam Pearce (****)
2) Naomichi Marufuji vs Go Shiozaki (****)
1) Nigel McGuinness vs Tyler Black vs Bryan Danielson vs Claudio Castagnoli (****)
Top 5 Death Before Dishonor 6 Weekend Matches
5) Kevin Steen/El Generico vs Motor City Machine Guns (**** – Death Before Dishonor 6)
4) Brent Albright vs Adam Pearce (**** – Death Before Dishonor 6)
3) Bryan Danielson/Austin Aries vs Motor City Machine Guns (**** – Fuelling The Fire)
2) Naomichi Marufuji vs Go Shiozaki (**** – Death Before Dishonor 6)
1) McGuinness vs Black vs Danielson vs Castagnoli (**** – Death Before Dishonor 6)