ROH 199 – The Tokyo Summit – 14th September 2008
Although this is primarily an ROH/NOAH show, we’re calling it a summit since this event is actually bringing stars from five different promotions together under one roof for the evening. As well as stars from Ring Of Honor and NOAH, we’ve also got Katsuhiko Nakajima and his adoptive father (and veteran of the puro heavyweight scene) Kensuke Sasaki from the Kensuke Office. Kota Ibushi is here representing DDT, whilst we also have Team No Limit (Tetsuya Naito and Yujiro) from NJPW – although you might recognise them from a brief tour of TNA. Kazushi Miyamoto is on the show as well, although he’s had a crazily nomadic career and I’m not sure he’s actually got a home promotion. The card tonight is really juicy. Taiji Ishimori makes his ROH debut against El Generico. Former World Champion Takeshi Morishima teams with Davey Richards to face the Briscoes. At the top of the card we have more debuts with Yoshinobu Kanemaru defending the GHC Jr. Heavyweight crown against American Dragon, Kensuke Sasaki and Roderick Strong in the ‘Battle of the Chops’, Nigel McGuinness defending the World Title against Nigel McGuinness and a mouth-watering junior heavyweight tag match with Marufuji teaming with Katsuhiko Nakajima to take on KENTA and Kota Ibushi. WHAT a line up this show has. Hopefully it’s drawn a bigger and more vocal crowd to Differ Ariake in Tokyo, Japan. Commentary from Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard
ROH VIDEO WIRE – See Battle Of The Best (ROH198) review for details.
Tetsuya Naito/Yujiro vs Kotaro Suzuki/Genba Hirayanagi
This is dark match so there’s no commentary, house lights, crowd still filing in and it’s in the ‘bonus features’ rather than on the main card. I thought I’d include it though since I caught a glimpse of NJPW’s Team No Limit (Naito and Yujiro) in TNA and liked what I saw. Suzuki has been around NOAH’s Junior Heavyweight division for ages now, and appeared for ROH at Live In Tokyo last year. This is my first time seeing Hirayanagi and my first impressions are…his name is hard to type.
Coming out to 2Unlimited’s ‘There’s No Limit’ is a cheesily awesome touch from the New Japan guys. Hirayanagi is keen. He hops into the ring and runs straight at Yujiro to get this one started. The NJPW guy gets the better of that exchange, leaving No Limit able to double team Suzuki until Kotaro dropkicks Naito in the face. Shotei from him, and Hirayanagi holds Naito in place for Suzuki to hit a 619. Jeez Hirayanagi is a bad tempered little man. He gets into more handbags with Yujiro as he stands on the apron. Luckily the referee manages to pull him away to ensure the NOAH team have the advantage and keep Naito isolated. CRANKY Hirayanagi strikes again by stomping his opponent’s feet before delivering a vertical suplex. Finally Naito hits a suplex on Kotaro…but is cut off from the tag because the little f*cker Hirayanagi is already skipping into the ring to kick him in the back. He flattens Yujiro on the apron just because. With Suzuki keeping Naito occupied, Genba and Yujiro continue their little spate outside the ring. Seriously, what is this guy’s detail? He’s just AWESOME! Dropkick then a flying forearm finally allow Naito to tag Yujiro in. Unfortunately before he can even deliver a slam Hirayanagi plods in again to kick him in the knee. Pumphandle into a SPINNING powerslam gets Yujiro a 2. Suzuki pokes the ref in the eyes then punts him in the balls though. BACK DROP DRIVER from Hirayanagi nearly wins it. Poetry In Motion dropkick from No Limit bring them back into things though. Genba rakes Naito’s eyes then lays him out with another Back Drop Driver for 2. Spinebuster from Yujiro takes him down…but Suzuki then grabs him and takes it into the crowd. Naito and Yujiro LOCK SUZUKI OUT OF THE BUILDING! Team No Limit have the obvious advantage now and Naito seals the win with a corkscrew moonsault at 11:27.
Rating – ** – Very fun, if a little basic. Hirayanagi is very possibly the most bastard-ish wrestler around. Seriously, he was such a bad tempered little f*ck and was probably the highlight of the match. No Limit look like a promising young team as well, unfortunately I sense we won’t see much more of them in ROH as relations with NJPW aren’t anywhere near as strong as the ties with the likes of NOAH and (up to this point anyway) Dragon Gate. Entertaining dark match…
Suzuki is back and has to watch as Yujiro triumphantly taunts him. The NOAH and NJPW guys eventually have to be pulled apart but end up fighting all the way to the locker room.
The full show opens with an angry Larry Sweeney demanding Davey Richards make the Briscoes pay tonight for turning down his offer. Larry brings in his partner for the night – Takeshi Morishima.
Austin Aries interrupts Bobby Cruise during his introductions and demands his match with Tyler Black happens right now.
Austin Aries vs Tyler Black
Rematch from Age Of Insanity, which in truth was a disappointing match for two men this talented. Age Of The Fall attacked Aries after his match with Ryo Saito yesterday. Aries is wasting no time in looking to get his own back.
No chance for the bell to ring here as both men just go at it on the entrance ramp. Black misses a springboard clothesline into the aisle then gets back dropped into the ring. LAST CHANCERY ON THE RAMP! Tyler gets some respite by toppling Aries from the turnbuckles. Flipping neck snap out of the corner gets 2. Black’s offence is actually pretty vicious in this, ditching lots of his flashier spots to constantly stomp and choke Aries. He opens up an injury to Austin’s back, but once again doesn’t do anything visually amazing, instead whipping him into the turnbuckles then grinding his boot deep into the spine. God’s Last Gift blocked, and Aries manages to counter then Turnbuckle Bomb with a rana which sends Tyler into the corner. Power Drive Elbow and the Heat Seeking Missile nailed as well. Tyler catches him with an F-5 to counter the Impact Explosion! TURNBUCKLE BOMB gets 2. Phoenix Splash misses and Aries armdrags Tyler into the turnbuckles. Shinbreak back suplex into the IED. Brainbuster gets 2. Black gets to his feet before Aries can set himself for the 450 Splash. Sunset flip out of the corner…Kick Of Death…Brainbuster…LAST CHANCERY! Awesome combo from Aries! Black taps at 11:05.
Rating – *** – Still lacking the sparkle and excitement of their first match at Unscripted 3, but this one was much more focused and fun to watch than their Cleveland encounter. I liked Tyler’s more gruff approach to roughing up Aries. It wasn’t necessarily as entertaining, but he came off as much more of a confident, believable threat with his determined, aggressive use of chokes and stomps. Not that it’s a bad thing watching him back flip and dropkick and hit all his bells and whistles spots, but it was nice to see he can hold his own a match even when toning down his style a little. That IED counter into a version of the F-5 was tremendously innovative as well. For the position on the card, this was fine.
Jimmy Jacobs runs in and chokes Aries out with End Time as a continuation of the ‘chaos’ he promised last night. It doesn’t seem *as* chaotic when said chaos is being conducted in front of a respectable, appreciative audience who offer nothing more than some applause and token pantomime jeers.
Kazushi Miyamoto vs Eddie Edwards
This is nothing more than an exhibition match, but after failing to defeat YAMATO last night, Larry Sweeney has heaped the pressure on Eddie Edwards to start picking up some significant victories if he wants to keep his spot in S’n’S Inc. Miyamoto is a strange case. He’s had stints in most of the major Japanese promotions but never really nailed down a spot. I think he was positioned as the ace of the ‘King’s Road’ promotion, but I’ve never really seen how that turned out for him. He’s appeared in ROH before though, as part of the AJPW contingent at Final Battle 2003, then as the Great Kazushi (Great Muta homage) at Death Before Dishonor 2 weekend.
Miyamoto wins the award for most uninteresting entrance music in the history of time by the way. Edwards isn’t remotely hesitant about going at it with him, trading shoulder tackles and big boots from the bell. Kazushi starts slipping on the turnbuckles but still blocks Eddie’s backpack Stunner. Lionsault gets 2 for the ROH representative. Crowd must be louder tonight as Larry Sweeney’s shouting and taunting at ringside isn’t as audible. Cameras clearly catch him taking a cheap shot at Miyamoto as he lies prone in the ropes though. Flying forearm from Kazushi, then a superplex for 2. Jumping lungblower from Eddie. He gets 2 with a standing powerbomb. 2k1 Bomb blocked by Miyamoto who then clobbers Die Hard with a lariat. Brainbuster nailed…but Larry Sweeney distracts him before he can pin. Larry accidentally wipes out Edwards…allowing Miyamoto to pin him at 05:08
Rating – DUD – Match was rubbish, and any marks I would have given it are taken away by the fact that they put a journeyman, mediocre wrestler who will most likely never appear in ROH again over one of their brightest prospects. I know ROH is trying to play nice whilst over there in Japan, but I don’t get that at all. And if Miyamoto insisted on going over, why book him? I imagine NOAH have a number of talented young lions who’d have benefited from a spot on this card.
Fans encourage Eddie to attack Larry Sweeney, but the two men hug it out and leave…
Bryan Danielson is proud of all he and Ring Of Honor have achieved together. It’s one of his dreams to win a singles championship in Japan – something he’s never done before. Tonight he’ll prove he truly is the best in the world by taking Kanemaru’s Jr. Heavyweight Championship…
El Generico vs Taiji Ishimori
This would be an ROH debut for Ishimori. He’s a solid hand at Jr. Heavyweight level. If I’m honest, I’ve always found him slightly overrated, but as I’ve only really seen him on lower card matches of major NOAH events, it’s tough to get a feel for how good he truly is.
Lenny Leonard calls Generico’s win in that trios match last night the biggest win in his career which I struggle to believe. Armdrags from him send Ishimori to the floor, so Generico ricochets off the ropes into a back flip fakeout and draws generous applause from the fans. Ishimori responds by dumping Generico out of the ring then doing his own innovative dive fakeout to draw an ovation from the crowd. He tries another tilta-whirl move which Generico converts to a backbreaker for 2. He follows that up with elbow drops then a standing moonsault across the back to open up a weakness there. Standing backbreaker then a split-legged moonsault gets 2. Running headscissors from Ishimori, and he knocks Generico to the floor again with a springboard dropkick. MOONSAULT PRESS TO THE FLOOR! HANDSPRING BACK FLIP KICK at amazing velocity by Taiji as we return to the ring. Generico pumphandles Ishimori into a MICHINOKU DRIVER for 2. He tries to climb the ropes but Ishimori pulls him down with a SPRINGBOARD SUPER RANA! Bridging German suplex gets the NOAH competitor a 2. Ishimori blocks the turnbuckle Brainbustah and scores with a TOP ROPE tornado DDT. YAKUZA KICK from nowhere gets Generico 2. Ishimori gets 2 with a crucifix driver then a DANGEROUS HAMMERLOCK CRADLE DDT! SUPERSTAR ELBOW! Ishimori gets the victory in an exciting 12:22.
Rating – *** – Zero psychology, but watching two guys just unload sick spot after sick spot on each other with minimal selling certainly had a cheap thrill factor charm to it. Obviously it was superficial stuff so it’s hard to go higher with the rating but it was a fun watch, and it drew the most vocal response from the crowd that any match has done this weekend. El Generico is as popular with the Japanese audience as anyone on the ROH roster incidentally. I wouldn’t mind seeing Ishimori get an extended run in the US along the lines of KENTA, Morishima and Shiozaki, or at least brought over for a few shows like Ibushi was…
Davey Richards/Takeshi Morishima vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe
At Death Before Dishonor Larry Sweeney offered to sign the Briscoe brothers to his group – an offer they declined. Larry doesn’t take rejection well (as Roderick Strong can attest to) so has signed up to this tag match. Apparently Go Shiozaki hooked them up with former ROH and GHC Heavyweight Champion Takeshi Morishima to partner Davey tonight, meaning the former ROH Tag Champions have their work cut out for them.
Briscoes get a ton of streamers during their entrance, demonstrating their popularity in this country. Jay and Davey start with an impressive little near miss sequence. Morishima in, and he stands in the middle of the ring and withstands a torrent of combo abuse from the Briscoes. Finally they floor him with their double football tackle. Despite that, Mori easily lifts Mark into a suplex then takes out Jay soon after with the running butt attack. Briscoes try a suplex…and Morishima counters that by suplexing both of them at the same time. STEREO BUTT SPLASHES from Davey and Mori. Richards drops Mark over the guardrail, then hauls him up for Larry Sweeney to get in some cheap shots whilst the official is preoccupied elsewhere. Flying reverse elbow from the top by Mark, but Morishima stops him getting the tag by knocking Jay from the apron. He makes it to Jay second time around and the older Briscoe takes the former World Champion down with a dropkick. Missile dropkick nailed as well for 2. Mori hits the Bossman Slam and tags out. Kicks and a top rope rana from Richards…getting 2 soon after with a bridging German suplex. Mark in to get 2 with a fisherman buster. Backbreaker/springboard knee drop combo scores and Davey soon has to fight free of a Doomsday Device attempt. Urinage from Mark…DVD from Jay! Sweeney tries to interfere again as Mark hits a tumbling senton for 2. Cut-Throat Driver countered into a modified Alarm Clock kick. Richards wins at 11:58
Rating – ** – Some good bits in there, but mostly that was a bit disorganised and messy. Morishima was barely involved either, spending most of the last 5 minutes on the outside. This never clicked
Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black attack the Briscoes again after the match. The Briscoes, Age Of The Fall, Austin Aries and Necro Butcher are looking to settle all their difference in one big Steel Cage Warfare match at Glory By Honor 7 so this is all setting up for that one…
Speaking of Jimmy Jacobs, his opponent in the main event talks about the match. Nigel congratulates Danielson on his victory yesterday but says he got lucky. Much like Age Of The Fall…whom he believes have been lucky all year to have had such success, and will end it with Jacobs this evening.
Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Bryan Danielson – GHC Jr. Heavyweight Title Match
This would be a Ring Of Honor debut for Kanemaru, and pulling a GHC Title bout onto one of their shows in Japan is a real coup for the promotion. Dragon is a regular with the NOAH promotion and has made it well known that he’s desperate to win a Japanese singles championship. Unlike the majority of the times a champion comes in to defend his title in another promotion, I’d say the winner of this match is very much in the balance.
Joe Higuchi is here to read the GHC declaration, and gets a bigger pop than most of the wrestlers on the show tonight. Danielson strikes first with a big forearm smash which rattles Kanemaru. The champion tries to lock up with Danielson, but quickly finds out how good American Dragon is on that area and is out-wrestled there too. The challenger is rampant here, tearing at Kanemaru’s arm, wrist and shoulder. Kanemaru quickens the pace to hit a couple of dropkicks then a nice pescado to the floor. RUNNING LEG DROP ON THE RAILS! Terrific balance from Kanemaru, who follows it up right away with a DDT on the floor. Quickening the tempo and taking some risks has worked well for Kanemaru, who seems to have injured Danielson’s neck with that leg drop on the barrier. Grounded headscissors applied to work that. Another DDT nailed for 2 and Dragon is really feeling that neck now. Camel clutch does more damage, and with Danielson down Kanemaru scales the ropes to hit a top rope splash before he can recover. European uppercut from Dragon to buy himself some time. He attacks Kanemaru’s arm again, repeatedly wrenching it then jolting it over his own shoulder. Japanese stranglehold into a top wristlock leave Kanemaru writhing in pain on the canvas. Triangle Choke applied, a move Danielson has won championship matches with in the past. Kanemaru is limp now, leaving Dragon to drag him to his feet and work a hammerlock. Kanemaru tries to speed things up again, rapidly going upstairs for a missile dropkick. Moonsault misses but the tilta-whirl DDT he hits next takes Danielson down onto his neck again. JUMPING DDT for 2. 15 minutes gone now and Dragon grabs the bad arm to break a sleeper hold attempt. Cradle backbreaker scores and both men stay down. Diving European into a butterfly suplex get Danielson a 2. Fujiwara Armbar on that bad arm! Out of nothing Kanemaru nails a brainbuster to leave us at another stalemate as both men recover. Jumping DDT blocked this time with a European uppercut, and Danielson hits a German suplex. Crucially he CAN’T hold the bridge because of his neck and has to switch to a folding pin instead. SECOND ROPE DDT FROM KANEMARU! Another brainbuster gets 2. He lines up the moonsault again but is crotched by Dragon. BACK SUPERPLEX…both men down! Kanemaru goes for another Brainbuster, reacts to block Cattle Mutilation but still gets taken into a tiger suplex. He STILL counters Cattle Mutilation…MMA ELBOWS INSTEAD! Tiger suplex again…CATTLE MUTILATION! KANEMARU TAPS! Danielson wins the belt at 20:41.
Rating – **** – Clear match of the weekend thus far. That was a real clinic. Danielson is genuinely one of the best wrestlers on the planet now, and Kanemaru has been around for f*cking ages and is easily experienced enough to hang with him. It wasn’t perfect – neither sold their injuries overly effectively, and if I’m being ultra critical, it felt a little like they needed a few more minutes to really expand upon the story they were telling and crank up the drama with a few more nearfalls – the finish felt very sudden. Very good match though, and a massive testament to how strong the NOAH/ROH relationship is that Misawa’s group gave Ring Of Honor the title switch on their show.
Danielson is handed the belt from a smiling Joe Higuchi, then receives the obligatory, too big to get back through customs ceremonial trophy. Photo opps all round and a historic moment for ROH’s fourth ever date in Japan.
Backstage an emotional Bryan Danielson cuts a heartfelt promo explaining to the Japanese cameras how much winning the Jr. Heavyweight Championship means to him. He’s announces that he wants his match with Katsuhiko Nakajima next week in Philadelphia to be a championship match. Kayfabe RULES by the way.
Naomichi Marufuji/Katsuhiko Nakajima vs KENTA/Kota Ibushi
Obviously there’s very little ROH interest here. This is just an exhibition match because…why the f*ck not? These are four of the very best junior workers out there so why not use ROH as a platform to show exactly what they can do for an American audience. Obviously we know all about Marufuji and KENTA as they’ve been making ROH appearances since ’05. Ibushi came to the US for a four-show tour earlier this year and produced a string of really exciting bouts too. But it’s Nakajima that has me most excited. This is his ROH debut, and having seen some of his work in Japan, I can tell you that this kid is an absolute FREAK. It’s only natural that the adopted son of Kensuke Sasaki would have an aptitude for wrestling, but seriously, he’s SO good at SUCH a young age it’s pretty scary. If he can stay injury free and continue gaining experience and improving at the rate he is now, in a few years we could be talking about him in much the same way as we talk about Bryan Danielson these days.
Kenta’s ‘Go 2 Sleep’ t-shirt is amazing. He and Nakajima refuse to follow the Code Of Honor which is interesting. Ibushi and Marufuji start with an unbelievable near miss sequence. Kenta is massively over as he steps in to go at it with the 20 year old Nakajima. KICK DUEL! Naka takes Kenta down for a kick to the back, which he takes a sign of extreme disrespect. He SLAPS Nakajima in the face then kicks him down. Ibushi in to take his turn trading kicks with Nakajima. Kota then repeatedly lands on his feet from Marufuji suplex attempts to kick the former GHC Heavyweight Champion in the face. Rear chinlock applied by the DDT wrestler, the pace slowing for the first time in the match…but he turns his back on Nakajima who strides in to PUNT him in the spine. Kenta drops him off the apron with a mafia kick. But Marufuji drops Kenta onto the apron, allowing Naka to blindside him with a horrifying big boot of his own. Marufuji works a submission hold on Kenta, but this time it’s Ibushi’s time to ambush and save his partner. All four in to battle over a suplex, and in the end it’s Marufuji and Nakajima who get hung over the ropes. DOUBLE flying knee strikes from Ibushi and Kenta for 2. They try to isolate Nakajima, with he and Ibushi staring down before tearing into each other with more kicks. This time Kota comes out on top of the kick duel and gets 2. Naka rolls out so Ibushi thinks about a dive…but Nakajima blocks with an epic STANDING ENZI kick as Kota tries to come from the turnbuckles. Marufuji grabs Ibushi for a SHORT BRAINBUSTER TO THE APRON! As if that weren’t enough, Maru slams his head in a guardrail gate too. Lion Tamer by Nakajima, and when Ibushi breaks the hold Naka releases it to sprint across the ring for a token kick to Kenta instead.
Marufuji’s turn to work over the weary Kota Ibushi who badly needs a tag. MATRIX DUCK…BACK FLIP KICK! Ibushi busts out the awesome then gets the hot tag to Kenta. STF on Marufuji, broken by Nakajima. Go 2 Sleep countered…Shiranui countered…Marufuji stomps the face and hits a superkick. Kenta and Nakajima battle kicks again until Naka grabs him into an anklelock. Kenta is limping, but still manages to block a Nakajima springboard attempt with a dropkick. Ibushi back to hit a STANDING corkscrew moonsault for 2. TOP ROPE MOONSAULT MISSES…STANDING MOONSAULT MISSES! Nakajima had that trademark Kota combo scouted! The DDT man hits back with a bridging German for 2. He goes to the top rope again but Nakajima takes him down with a spinning heel kick. Kenta and Marufuji floor each other with lariats. DRAGON SUPLEX BY IBUSHI, NO SOLD! GERMAN SUPLEX FROM NAKAJIMA! The two young opponents both look out on their feet, but still want to kick the living piss out of each other. Nakajima KICKS HIM IN THE FACE! There’s only 90 seconds left in the 30 minute time limit by now. Kota takes to the air for a missile dropkick. Cross Armbreaker applied but Nakajima desperately finds the ropes. ANKLE LOCK BY NAKA! IBUSHI HOLDS ON! 30:00 time limit expires…but the teams want 5 more minutes. Cary Silkin immediately grants that request, so the match continues. ELBOW SMASH DUEL between Kenta and Marufuji…until Kenta drops Maru onto his neck with a lariat. Ligerbomb gets 2, as does a tiger suplex. Blindside lariat by Marufuji to evade the Busaiku Knee. SHIRANUI! Ibushi breaks the pin. Kenta catches Maru on the top. HANDSPRING BACKFLIP KICK BY IBUSHI! ROPE RUN TOP ROPE FALCON ARROW BY KENTA! NAKAJIMA SAVES! PHOENIX SPLASH BY KOTA! Marufuji rattles Kenta with superkicks…BUSAIKU KNEE STRIKE! ALL FOUR DOWN! 5 minute overtime expires! This one is over and we have a 35:00 draw.
Rating – **** – Much like Generico/Ishimori from earlier, it probably doesn’t win points of subtlety or intellect, but this one was just so fun. Nothing complex, just four guys stiffing the sh*t out of each other with, ultimately neither team backing down. I liked how KENTA and Marufuji really backed off and let the younger duo of Ibushi and Nakajima share the majority of the limelight. I imagine had we seen more of the experienced NOAH juniors then the match have had more depth and emotional resonance, but the other two worked extremely hard…and will go home feeling much the worse for wear after such a battle.
Backstage in the Age Of The Fall locker room Tyler is firing up Jimmy Jacobs for the World Title match…Jimmy is pumped.
Roderick Strong vs Kensuke Sasaki
I’m surprised there hasn’t been more fuss about Sasaki in ROH. Obviously he’s not on the level of a Misawa, Kobashi or Muta, but he’s been one of the more prominent heavyweight wrestlers across the Japanese promotions for over a decade now and it’s pretty surreal seeing him in an ROH ring. It’s a shame ROH doesn’t have their own really dominant heavyweight (in the Samoa Joe mould) to step up and make this feel like a really monumental occasion. Anyone that’s seen the amazing Sasaki/Kobashi Tokyo Dome match will know that sticking Roddy in the ring with the current GHC Heavyweight Champion and calling it ‘Battle Of The Chops’ is a real mis-match. That said, if Kensuke is in the mood to sell and let Roddy get some offence in these two could strike up an interesting dynamic.
Roderick looks like a lamb being lead to the slaughter as he walks to the ring. He knows what to expect from this. Even the look on Sasaki’s face as he shakes Strong’s hand is one of ‘I don’t know who you are, but I’m going to hurt you’. Strong tries to work the arm to prevent him from getting chopped but Kensuke effortlessly tosses him away. CHOP DUEL…STRONG IS GIVING AS GOOD AS HE GETS! Finally Sasaki does chop Roddy to the mat, but the American recovers swiftly with a backbreaker. Fallaway slam and a bearhug next, with Strong looking to work the midsection. He looks to climb the ropes but gets nailed with another massive chop. Frankensteiner from Kensuke as Lenny confirms that his wife, Joshi legend Akira Hokuto, is here tonight too. He works a Boston Crab (a variant of Roderick’s own finishing move!) and makes the ROH wrestler work extremely hard to break it. Second rope superplex next but Roddy then ducks a lariat and scores with a jumping heel kick. Slingshot suplex gets 2, as does the urinage backbreaker. Sasaki blocks Death By Roderick and hits a powerslam then SPEARS Strong into the turnbuckles. Judo throw gets 2, then Kensuke delivers a one legged powerbomb. Stranglehold applied but Roderick refuses to quit. DEATH BY RODERICK! SICK KICK FOR 2! Lariats from Sasaki. NORTHERN LIGHTS BOMB! Kensuke wins at 12:18
Rating – *** – Basically a squash, but for the casual puro viewer who doesn’t catch Kensuke on a regular basis, it was cool to see him in an ROH ring. I’m not going to lie and pretend he wasn’t working well within himself, because he was visibly holding back. But credit to him, he sold for Strong who is a complete unknown in Japan compared to him and allowed him to get a few hope spots in along the way. Plus that first chop battle was cringe-tastic. As a one-off novelty, it was good to see. Kensuke is coming to the US for Glory By Honor weekend though, not sure I’m that keen on seeing him squash more of the ROH roster though, so he’ll have to be booked very carefully…
Post-match both men show each other respect, with Strong looking really touched by Sasaki’s handshake, hugs and kind words.
Nigel McGuinness vs Jimmy Jacobs – ROH World Title Match
This is a tough ask for these two guys. The crowd are generally WAY more into the local talent than the ROH guys. They have to follow the exciting title change of Kanemaru/Danielson, the thrilling time limit draw between the junior heavyweights and an appearance from Kensuke Sasaki to main event. But they’ve earned this spot and are more than capable of delivering. Nigel started the year with people calling him a bad champion, questioning his heart and reliability. He’s turned that around with a run of superb title defences and is currently in the best form of his ROH career. As he himself pointed out in his promo in the bonus features on this DVD, Jimmy has quietly become the top heel in ROH. He’s main evented more shows than anyone in the last year, he’s one half of the Tag Champions, the leader of the top heel group. After seeing Tyler go close on two occasions, Jimmy is now looking to seize the World Title and all the power himself tonight…
Jacobs has been heeling it up all weekend, which naturally places Nigel as the de facto babyface, which seems a little out of keeping, but I’ll roll with it. Jimmy tries to get the jump on McGuinness but is dumped unceremoniously to the floor. Prazak does a good job of explaining the Japanese fans support for Nigel. The challenger looks frustrated in the early going, and rather foolishly tries to go hold for hold with McGuinness on the canvas. That doesn’t turn out too good for him. McGuinness tries his headstand in the corner, but Jacobs refuses his demands to charge at him. Instead Jimmy shoves the ref into the World Champion, then kicks him in the balls behind the fallen official’s back. He leaves the ring again, this time to hit the RUNNING DROPKICK to drive Nigel’s head into the ringpost. Surrounded by a cluster of Japanese photographers, Jimmy chokes Nigel over the guardrails and continues to attack the head – which is a smart strategy considering the concussion problems he’s had recently. Nigel thinks about a running McLariat from all the way up the Differ Ariake entrance ramp, but Jacobs COUNTERS with a spear which rattles the back of the head against the wooden structure. Several times during the match thus far, Jimmy has teased pulling out a metal chain from his clothing, but put it back before using it.
McGuinness reacts quickly to block the Contra Code and draws a small ‘Nigel’ chant from the crowd. Super McLariat ducked…END TIME IN THE ROPES! Both men crash to the floor. I wish that spot had happened in the US for the crowd to react to, it was awesome. CORKSCREW PESCADO THROUGH A CHAIR! Jacobs scored big there, but looks to have sustained as much damage as McGuinness. Rebound elbow smash by the champion, then a TOWER OF LONDON OFF THE GUARDRAIL! He tries another Tower Of London into the ring which Jacobs blocks by biting the head. Senton Bomb nailed for 2. Contra Code gets 2 as well. End Time attempted, but Nigel blocks by wrenching Jacobs’ arm. Tower Of London scores again and draws a nearfall. Super McLariat connects second time around to get another 2. He looks for the Jawbreaker Lariat, but it’s COUNTERED INTO END TIME! After a lengthy battle, McGuinness finally manages to roll into the ropes. NOW Jimmy pulls out that chain he’s been teasing all match. Once again the ref is accidentally knocked aside…CHAIN TO THE FACE! Nigel barely kicks out this time! He hits a McLariat out of nowhere, and both men lie on the canvas, breathing hard. SPINNING MCLARIAT for 2. Jimmy tries to go for the chain, but this time gets clobbered with the JAWBREAKER LARIAT. Nigel wins at 21:02.
Rating – *** – I really liked this match, and I’m pretty sure I’d have scored it higher had it taken place in America. After a slow start they were doing some terrific work in there, the problem was, whilst they were dropping some serious BOMBS on each other, I couldn’t help but feel they looked a little silly for killing themselves in front of a near unresponsive crowd. Granted towards the end of the contest the audience had livened up, but I think this was really a match which needed the crowd support to ramp up the drama (think Joe/Homicide at Do Or Die, Aries/Punk at Death Before Dishonor 3) or more recently, Nigel/Steen in Canada). Without that element, it really felt like this was missing something. Still, credit to them for working extremely hard out there. Having to follow Kensuke Sasaki and four extremely popular junior heavyweights wasn’t an enviable task and they did a commendable job.
Tape Rating – *** – I’d say this was comfortably the best top to bottom show ROH has run in Japan, but it was also the card most supplemented by local talent. Indeed, the centrepiece, focal point and main selling points of this event are the Jr. Heavyweight Title Match and the time limit draw between the four juniors. Of those six athletes, only one of those is a member of ROH’s core roster, and that was American Dragon. In truth, the rest was a mixed bag. Sasaki in ROH had some novelty value, although I’m not sure others will have enjoyed his squash of Roderick Strong as much as I did. The World Title match, in a tough spot, was surprisingly good – and much better than some of the harsh reviews of it I’ve seen. Generico/Ishimori was a blast as well, and definitely made me want to see more of Ishimori in ROH. But, there were some stinkers as well. The Sweet’n’Sour vs Briscoes tag was majorly disappointing, whilst Miyamoto/Edwards was a mess. To be fair, you should pick this up because it’s fantastic value for money, and there aren’t many shows out there where you’ll see as varied and cross-promotional a talent line up as this DVD. Danielson winning the GHC Junior Heavyweight Title was a really special moment, and watching KENTA, Marufuji, Ibushi and Nakajima obliterate each other for nearly 40 minutes was a definite treat. Certainly this edges out Battle Of The Best, so if you’re only looking for one DVD from ROH’s second tour of Japan, this would be your winner.
Top 3 Matches
3) Nigel McGuinness vs Jimmy Jacobs (***)
2) KENTA/Kota Ibushi vs Naomichi Marufuji/Katsuhiko Nakajima (****)
1) Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Bryan Danielson (****)
Top 5 Battle Of The Best/Tokyo Summit Weekend Matches
5) Bryan Danielson vs Nigel McGuinness (**** – Battle Of The Best)
4) Generico/Shingo/Dragon Kid vs BxB Hulk/Naruki Doi/Masato Yoshino (**** – Battle Of The Best)
3) Roderick Strong vs Davey Richards (**** – Battle Of The Best)
2) KENTA/Kota Ibushi vs Naomichi Marufuji/Katsuhiko Nakajima (**** – The Tokyo Summit)
1) Yoshinobu Kanemaru vs Bryan Danielson (**** – The Tokyo Summit)