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200 ROH Driven 2008 9/19/2008

ROH 200 – Driven 2008 – September 19th 2008

As this is a ppv taping, I’m not sure how much you’ll hear that this is ROH’s 200th show tonight. That’s an impressive milestone to reach for an independent promotion in the modern age to reach. Such a historic weekend is marked with a double whammy of major shows. Tomorrow night Glory By Honor 7, featuring a thousand title defences and Steel Cage Warfare, whilst tonight is the first pay-per-view taping to take place in Boston. The main event sees Tag Champions Age Of The Fall defend their belts against Kevin Steen and El Generico. Nigel McGuinness defends the World Title against Roderick Strong who has had an impressive year to date. After a great showing at Vendetta 2 Jerry Lynn has been signed up to most of the forthcoming dates, starting tonight. Bryan Danielson and Claudio Castagnoli clash again as their bitter rivalry continues to escalate, plus Austin Aries gets his hands on Delirious ahead of Steel Cage Warfare tomorrow night. Let’s join Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard

ROH VIDEO WIRE (16/09/2008) – We open with a recap of Delirious joining Age Of The Fall, then go into a Daizee Haze promo video…which appears to have been shot in a mobile phone. Horrific VQ, horrific audio…and Daizee’s weepy promo falls wide of the mark as well. She blames Rhett for forcing Delirious into the arms of Age Of The Fall.

Austin Aries vs Delirious

The former World Champion opens the show to verbally berate Age Of The Fall. He wants to pick up where he and Jacobs left off at New Horizons. Jacobs pops out to decline his invitation, allowing the newest member of his group, Delirious, to attack Aries from behind.

All black Delirious chokes Aries with his ring jacket as Jacobs stands at ringside encouraging him. Power Drive Elbow brings Double A back into it. Impact Explosion Dropkick misses though, and Austin continues to be distracted by Jimmy Jacobs at ringside as Delirious starts to punish him. Rock Bottom gets Delirious a 2. Aries evades the Panic Attack and counters to knee strikes and the LAST CHANCERY! Delirious has to rake the eyes to break the hold. Cobra Stretch blocked and Aries sends Delirious flying into Jacobs on the outside…Heat Seeking Missile to wipe out both of them. Neckbreaker in the ropes gets him a nearfall. Brainbuster blocked…COBRA CLUTCH SUPLEX! Aries is knocked goofy in the corner, and eats the REPEATED Panic Attack flurry. Jimmy Jacobs hops up onto the apron to demand Delirious keep delivering Panic Attacks. Finally Aries pops to his feet for an IED FLURRY! BRAINBUSTER! LAST CHANCERY! Delirious taps at 06:45

Rating – *** –
As fun as a match this short could be really. It was nothing more than a sprint to open the ppv in a hot way and warm up for Steel Cage Warfare tomorrow night…and served both purposes very well. It’s WAY overdue but this turn for Delirious has made him fresh and interesting for the first time in 18 months…

Jacobs is right in the ring to attack Aries with his Tag Title belt…and Tyler Black comes to the ring to help his partner bloody Austin. He wants to put Aries through a table, much to Tyler’s annoyance as he wants Jimmy to preserve his body for the main event. SENTON BOMB THROUGH THE TABLE! Aries is done, but Black and Delirious have to help carry Jacobs out…

Next into the ring is the staple of Ring Of Honor pay-per-view undercards – Sweet’n’Sour Inc. Sara Del Rey obliterates someone (Jessie McKay apparently) in a total squash to get the ball rolling.

Adam Pearce/Eddie Edwards vs Brent Albright/Erick Stevens

I don’t really have much of a hype paragraph for this one. Albright hates Sweet’n’Sour Inc, Pearce is angry that Albright took his NWA Title, that would be your core issue.

Stereo back drops by Albright and Stevens, but quickly S’n’S Inc manage to send the NWA Champion to the floor and go to work on Stevens. Pearce inadvertently collides with Edwards, leaving him exposed to an exploder suplex by the returning Albright. Stevens gets 2 with a football tackle from the second rope. Climbing Wizard by Edwards knocks Albright to the mat, and he gets a nearfall with the Asai Moonsault. Springboard DDT attempt countered to a powerslam by the Gun For Hire. SECOND ROPE CODEBREAKER from Eddie but Stevens drops him with a pop up front slam for 2. The babyface team have fun with their opponents, getting quite a rally going with back and forth punches, until Pearce drives Albright’s arm into the guardrail. Stevens back drops Edwards into Hero and Sweeney on the floor. HALF NELSON SUPLEX ON PEARCE! Albright wins at 06:04

Rating – ** –
Disjointed and occasionally slightly scrappy, but you can’t argue with the workrate on display here. The pace these four fought at was just unrelenting. Harmless fun that felt right at home on the undercard of a ppv. After his firing Gabe would sit down with Kayfabe Commentaries to discuss his time as ROH Booker (I’ll do a full review of that after Ring Of Homicide 2 – his final show with the book), and during that he said he felt obligated to his talent to try and get as many of them onto the pay-per-views as possible. This very much falls into that category. Did it need to be here? Probably not, but since Gabe was compelled to shoehorn all these guys onto an undercard…this could have been far worse.

A dejected looking Sweet’n’Sour Inc. look to return to the locker room. Chris Hero finds his path blocked by the returning Jerry Lynn, who gets a huge pop. He’s here to get some revenge for Lance Storm, who Chris Hero attacked at Northern Navigation and New Horizons. Despite his age, he wants one last major run…here in Ring Of Honor.

Chris Hero vs Jerry Lynn

As Lynn just outlined in his promo, he wants revenge for the beatings Hero dished out to Lance Storm a while back. He’s also said publicly that, despite his aching body and advancing years, he still feels like he’s got enough in the tank for another noteworthy run. After impressing everyone with his showing against Nigel McGuinness at Vendetta 2, he’s been signed up for the majority of the upcoming dates – giving the ‘New F’n Show’ a real chance to show what he’s got left to offer.

Lynn bashes Hero about on the outside, hitting the between the ropes leg drop in the process. In the ring, Jerry effortlessly trades holds with his younger opponent. Hero goes for stomps and elbow smashes to bring himself back into proceedings. Satellite headscissors from the veteran, then a springboard crossbody for 2. Hero rakes the eyes this time, once again subduing the vibrant offence of Lynn. He pulls up a segment of protective mats on the outside, body slamming Jerry into the uncovered floor. Suplex to that same exposed flooring blocked…SPRINGBOARD DROPKICK from Jerry, then the cannonball senton from the apron! Hero recovers by driving Lynn back-first into the ring apron, working over the back he injured moments earlier with that slam to the floor. Inverted DDT from Lynn, and this time it’s him raking the eyes! Tornado DDT gets 2 for the former ECW star. Cradle Piledriver blocked…ROLLING ELBOW! Jerry kicks out at 2! Hagadorn distracts the referee as Del Rey tosses something to Hero. LOADED ELBOW! Hero wins at 09:18.

Rating – *** –
Again, for it’s allotted time, it’s impossible to deny that was hugely entertaining. There are some mixed opinions on Jerry Lynn getting this extended opportunity with ROH. Say what you will (especially considering what was to come with him in 2009) but, watching this match, you can really see the value of his experience. This was nothing but a disposable midcard match. But a veteran of major national television and pay-per-view programming, Lynn knew precisely how to work his role to perfection. I’m not sure he’s going to make quite the impact that someone like James Gibson made during his 2005 run with the company, but I refuse to believe there isn’t a place in Ring Of Honor for a talent of his experience and ability.

Bryan Danielson vs Claudio Castagnoli vs Go Shiozaki

A video package before the match explains the reasons for booking this one. At Respect Is Earned 2 Nigel threw down the gauntlet to Danielson that he’d have to beat everyone he’s beaten before he’d be granted an ROH World Title shot on ppv. Dragon responded by defeating Tyler Black at New Horizons (McGuinness bested him at Take No Prisoners). He now faces Claudio and Go, the two other men McGuinness has successfully defended the belt against on Ring Of Honor ppv in 2008. He also has unfinished business with Claudio after their bitter falling out at Death Before Dishonor…and I’m sure Go would love to derail Danielson’s World Title plans to get some revenge for his defeat to Dragon on home soil in Tokyo last summer.

Elimination rules here, and once again there’s no niceties as Dragon storms to the ring and launches into an attack on Castagnoli. Shiozaki relaxes and lets them slug it out, then swoops in to chop up the remains like a vulture. Danielson goes for the Mexican surfboard on him, turning his back long enough to allow Claudio to line up the bicycle kick. Strangely in an elimination match, Shiozaki breaks a pinfall. He eats a running enzi kick from Dragon, who thinks fast to land on his feet from a Claudio German suplex attempt. POP UP EUROPEAN from Castagnoli as Shiozaki sits on the outside with Larry Sweeney. Castagnoli snaps again and SUPLEXES THE REFEREE! RICCOLA BOMB ON DRAGON! But Claudio is already disqualified at 05:12. He tries to line up the same chair stomp he decimated American Dragon with at Death Before Dishonor 6 but is restrained by jobbers and officials. He goes berserk and starts tossing people into the crowd and all over ringside, but is finally ushered to the back. Opportunistically, Go now returns to the fray to wear Danielson down with a barrage of chops. Running knee strike to the exposed head leaves the former World Champion near unconscious. The guy is limp, and only just kicks out after a fierce lariat from Shiozaki. He lands a desperation uppercut as Go tries a football tackle from the turnbuckles. Cross Armbreaker locked in but Go turns it over. Danielson floats seamlessly into MMA ELBOWS…THEN CATTLE MUTILATION! MMA ELBOWS AGAIN! CATTLE MUTILATION AGAIN! Sweeney is almost in the ring as Go finally drops a foot over the bottom rope. SPINNING PALM STRIKE gets 2 for Shiozaki, then a running LARIATOOOOOO! Repeated chops to the back of the head next, then the superkick scores. SHIOZAKI MOONSAULT INTO THE KNEES! Triangle Choke applied! WITH MMA ELBOWS! Go is finally choked out at 13:59!

Rating – *** –
Some will view this as a harsh rating (and rest assured, if I did bother with half stars – this would definitely have been a three and a half star job) as this was very good. However, I tried to look at this impartially and, as fun as undoubtedly was, for the casual viewer, how much rewatch value did this have. I enjoyed it, but I watch every show. It’s not one I’d say was necessarily worth going out of one’s way to watch, therefore I’m lowering my rating a tad. That said, it was commendable fare. The Danielson/Castagnoli feud advancement segment was great, and the last 7 minutes with Danielson and Shiozaki going at it hell for leather were just epic and really made me want a Live In Tokyo rematch. Dragon now moves into pole position for a World Title shot…

In case you missed that very point, Danielson gets on the stick to demand a title match on the next ppv.

Briscoe Brothers vs Vulture Squad vs YRR vs Necro Butcher – Scramble Match

Once again, this looks like an attempt by Gabe to repay the commitment the ROH locker room makes to him and the promotion by cramming as many of them onto ppv as is humanly possible. There are some talented guys in this one so it should be decent…it reeks of filler though. YRR are represented by Kenny King and Jason Blade, whilst the Vulture Squad are Ruckus and Jigsaw as Jack Evans is seemingly done with ROH and hasn’t been around for months.

Blade nearly pins Jigsaw in the early going, bringing Ruckus in to make a vital save. Ruckus goes for a few ugly looking flippy spots until King kicks him down. Briscoes in next and they stomp a hole in Kenny. Mark thinks about a dive only to be stomped by Jason Blade. CORKSCREW SENTON OFF THE APRON by King. Meanwhile inside Necro starts laying waste to everyone in sight with his wild punches. He throws both members of the YRR to the floor then climbs the ropes himself for a CANNONBALL TO THE FLOOR! In the background of the screen you can see Julius Smokes chasing Chasyn Rance around the ring which is quite amusing. Swinging neckbreaker from Ruckus to Jason. DOUBLE STOMP JIG’N’TONIC ON KING! Blade makes a desperate save! Briscoes become unpopular as they stop the Vultures going for stereo Van Terminators. Tiger Driver from Necro to Blade…and Mark breaks it with a CHAIR DROPKICK TO THE FACE! The Briscoes shunt Necro off the apron through a row of chairs then hit the SPRINGBOARD DOOMSDAY DEVICE on Blade. The Briscoes win at 06:20.

Rating – ** –
Standard Scramble action. I don’t think Ruckus did himself any favours, and it was a shame not to see more offence from the YRR. I’d also question the wisdom of putting the Briscoes over here. They hardly needed the win and could’ve been kept away from the deciding pinfall. At the last ppv (New Horizons) Necro was part of a major character turn when he laid out both Jacobs and Aries. To go from that to being thrown into random filler match and not even winning it really damages his momentum in the ppv canon.

Nigel McGuinness vs Roderick Strong – ROH World Title Match

I think I’ve missed the precise reason why this match is happening. Not that I care that much since I’m looking forward to it, and I feel like these two have a MUCH better match in them than their underwhelming contest at Without Remorse. Nigel’s gimmick is supposed to be that where other ROH World Champions have supposedly been worn down, sustaining more and more injuries and being battered into eventual defeat and surrender of that World Championship, he’s only getting stronger and more dominant with each passing defence.

Nigel is approaching a year as champion. It’s a tentative opening period with lengthy periods of mat work which obviously favour McGuinness. Strong quickens things and lands a crossbody and jumping heel kick – his first significant strikes of the match. So significant, in fact, that blood drips from Nigel’s mouth. He tries to work Roderick’s arm but is met with chop and a backbreaker. HAMMERLOCK Emerald Fusion finally does substantial damage to Roddy’s arm and buys Nigel some time. To the floor where Nigel hammerlock’s the arm again and shunts Strong shoulder-first into the railings. Back inside he hits a hammerlock DDT as Roddy continues to suffer. Strong tries to mount a recovery, but he’s in so much pain he runs blindly into the predictable headstand mule kick. The challenger takes a risk, leaping from the apron into a flying forearm. Cradle backbreaker gets 2, as does the pumphandle variant! But such is the damage that Strong has suffered that even something as basic as Nigel’s usual kick/chest club combo out of the corner stops him in his tracks. DEATH BY RODERICK into the Sick Kick gets him a close nearfall though. McLariat floors Strong for 2. Roderick slips free from the Tower Of London, only to stagger into ANOTHER MCLARIAT! 2 again for that one, the impact of which echoed through the arena. Tower Of London scores this time but if it wasn’t enough to beat TJ Perkins in the opener at Fifth Year Festival: Philly, it’s definitely not good enough to beat Rod Strong in a World Title Match. Super McLariat ducked and Strong turns it into a slingshot suplex. He takes it to the ropes for a TURNBUCKLE BACKBREAKER! Nigel’s landing from that was really ugly and has knocked him loopy. He tries to headstand in the corner again and gets bombarded with chops. Urinage backbreaker nearly wins it for the former FIP Champion. SUPER MCLARIAT DROPS STRONG ON HIS NECK! Not content with that, Nigel lines up his big match special…TOWER OF LONDON TO THE APRON! Incredibly, Strong still gets a rush of adrenaline. Sick Kick…countered to Jawbreaker Lariat…COUNTERED INTO THE GIBSON DRIVER! NIGEL KICKS OUT AT 2! Unbelievably close nearfall there. Strong thinks about an avalanche Gibson Driver, but is then rocketed into the ring from a SECOND ROPE MCLARIAT! More McLariats, then the Tower Of London again. Nigel essentially just battered Strong into defeat, getting the three count at 24:20

Rating – **** –
Easily better than the Without Remorse match earlier this year. If I was being hyper-critical I’d be focusing on the fact that this felt like two different matches – one where Nigel worked the arm/Strong worked the back…and a second part where they forgot all that, switched gears and just opted to beat the hell out of each other. Both were really great to watch so it was certainly a fun match. It wasn’t the classic it maybe could have been (and maybe these two could have on another occasion – the babyface/heel dynamic between them is really good) but it was a high quality World Title match to add to Nigel’s increasingly impressive 2008 resume.

Jimmy Jacobs/Tyler Black vs Kevin Steen/El Generico – ROH Tag Title Match

This one has been some time coming. There hasn’t been a massively intense feud between these two teams as there has been between Age Of The Fall and some other groups, but ever since Black and Jacobs bested a wounded Steen and Generico to win the Tag Title Tournament at Up For Grabs back in June, AOTF have done all they can to prevent this rematch. They repeatedly denied Steen and Generico a shot, forcing them to go through a number of matches to prove their credibility as challengers. At last they must now face the team they defeated in Hartford to secure the belts…and the challenging team will be further fuelled by Kevin Steen’s vow that he will have held an ROH championship by the end of this year. We’re into Q4 now – could this be his last chance?

In a cruel twist of irony, this time around it seems that Jimmy Jacobs is carrying an injury into this match, favouring his back after putting Aries through a table earlier in the evening. Steen and Generico pummel the champions out of the ring to get our main event underway. The crowd is very vocally behind Steen-erico from the very early going, cheering every blow they land on Tyler Black, and booing every shot he lands in return. Tag to Jacobs, and Steen attacks the back almost before he gets all the way into the ring. Steen powerbombs Generico into Jimmy to get an early nearfall. Eventually a cheap shot from behind by Black allows his team to seize the initiative from their opponents. Steen acts quickly to use his power to maul Tyler. Generico tries to climb the ropes but is distracted by Jacobs. Black catches him and SLAMS HIM OVER THE ROPES! El Generico ultimately wound up bouncing into the barriers there. Finally the champions dominate the match for the first time having now isolated Generico from his partner at the 10 minute mark. They take turns to distract referee Todd Sinclair whilst the other stands on the floor rattling Generico’s brain with punches and guardrail shots. But in an amazing scene, literally everyone in the building is on their feet chanting ‘Ole Ole’ for Generico, who at last makes the hot tag. Steen grabs Jacobs and POWERBOMBS HIM INTO THE APRON! Mr Wrestling misses Tyler with his moonsault and Jimmy runs into to lock in End Time. BROKEN WITH A YAKUZA KICK FOR 2! Seriously, everyone is on the feet willing the challengers to win here. They cheer heartily as Steen gets his shoulder up after Black’s Five Star Frog Splash gets 2. Generico leapfrogs Tyler into an AVALANCHE GUTBUSTER from Steen. STEEN-TON SPLASH COMBO GETS 2! Black blocks the Package Piledriver and hits GOD’S LAST GIFT FOR 2! PHOENIX SPLASH MISSES! Generico in to hit another Yakuza Kick. Jacobs saves his partner from the turnbuckle Brainbuster at the last second. They try to line up the powerbomb Contra Code but Steen wipes Tyler out with the Cannonball. SHARPSHOOTER ON BLACK! GENERICO WIPES JACOBS OUT WITH A SOMERSAULT PLANCHA! JACOBS MAKES THE SAVE! He rakes the eyes as the place was going nuts thinking they were going to see the title change. Real toughness shown by Tyler there. END TIME ON GENERICO! BLACK ACCIDENTALLY CLOTHESLINES JACOBS! PACKAGE PILEDRIVER! BRAINBUSTER! NEW CHAMPIONS!! Steen and Generico FINALLY get their hands on those Tag Titles at 20:29.

Rating – **** –
This was such an emotional main event. After their nightmare, aborted run in 2005 you really doubted you’d ever see Kevin Steen and El Generico in ROH again. At The Homecoming in July ’05 they wrestled each other in a match deemed so bad it was cut from the DVD release altogether. Now, a little over 3 years later they were headlining a nationwide ppv for ROH, winning the Tag Team Championship which ROH pushes as the best tag team titles in north America. And backed by a passionate crowd, absolutely desperate to see them finally get those belts. To come back from the disappointment of their 2005 failure, to sacrifice their bodies in the way they did in one of ROH’s greatest feuds ever with the Briscoes last year and for coming two of Ring Of Honor’s most unlikely babyface characters this year, Steen and Generico truly deserved this moment and it was a joy to behold. If I’m honest, the ability to impartially rate this match was completely lost as I was swept up in the overwhelming outpouring of support Boston showed for Steen and Generico. The atmosphere was reminiscent of the scene in Chicago at Reborn Stage 2 when the Second City Saints won the belts from the Briscoes in their hometown, a win so popular that the result and enjoyment of the occasion far outweighed the actual quality of the wrestling. Was this the best tag match ROH has ever done? Absolutely not, but it was an emotional main event, one of the more memorable moments in ROH history, DEFINITELY one of the defining moments for ROH ppv…and probably Gabe’s last great triumph as Ring Of Honor booker.

The new champions celebrate in the crowd as the show goes fades out…

Tape Rating – *** –
Another short, snappy and adrenaline-filled Ring Of Honor pay-per-view production. It’s a long way from their strongest ppv effort, but once again we saw a well-paced, fast and flowing (if slightly cluttered) undercard, with the two main event matches delivering to the levels we’ve come to expect. In truth, this show is worth tracking down for the main event alone. People will forget that it probably wasn’t the best show ever, the best main event ever…but the legacy of this ultra-popular win for Steen and Generico will really live on. Lynn/Hero, Dragon/Claudio/Go and the opening Aries/Delirious matches are all very decent as well.

In truth, my main disappointment with this DVD is the lack of bonus content. This is a ppv release, so the actual show is only 2 hours long. I assume ROH wants it’s die hards to purchase the ppv product at time of broadcast AND purchase the DVD months later when that’s released. In this case, there’s little to no bonus material that gives those people an incentive to do so. The formula of taping a “dark match main event” (the likes of Danielson/KENTA from Driven, Jay/Necro from Undeniable/Respect Is Earned 2 or the Honor Rumble from New Horizons) has been scrapped so the bonus content features nothing but enhancement talent – probably a good move in an era when ROH needs to cut costs. However, there’s a wealth of content they could include. There’s content to promote Dave Prazak’s SHIMMER promotion, a mountain of FIP material both released and unreleased, they could try to get more matches featuring ROH talent in Japan, re-issue some ‘Vaulted Classics’ from out of print shows etc. I don’t live in the US and I’m a completist, so it’s no great shakes to me. But had I shown loyalty to the promotion and picked up the ppv at time of broadcast, I’d be expecting a little extra sizzle if I’m purchasing the DVD as well. In this case, you’re paying the usual $20 for a greatly shortened show you’d already have paid to see once!

Top 3 Matches

3) Bryan Danielson vs Go Shiozaki vs Claudio Castagnoli (***)

2) Nigel McGuinness vs Roderick Strong (****)

1) Jimmy Jacobs/Tyler Black vs Kevin Steen/El Generico (****)

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