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210 ROH All Star Extravaganza IV 12/26/2008

ROH 210 – All Star Extravaganza 4 – 26th December 2008

Ring Of Honor is rounding out another year with a massive weekend of shows. We’re in the ECW Arena tonight, then the Hammerstein Ballroom tomorrow so a such a huge weekend is given suitably historic venues. Under Gabe’s stewardship this was to be the weekend Tyler Black claimed the World Title and the forces opposing Sweet’n’Sour Inc. allied to take the faction on in Steel Cage Warfare. Both of those main events have been axed by Adam Pearce (one rightly, one wrongly in my opinion), but in their place, we still have a pretty stellar couple of nights lined up. Tonight, although there aren’t any major titles on the line or grudges to be settled or axes to grind, the card looks fantastically solid. Pro-Wrestling NOAH have sent a trio of stars in meaning Takeshi Morishima and Go Shiozaki will collide in a special attraction match, whilst Naomichi Marufuji takes on Austin Aries in another appetising contest. There’s also the Kensuke Office guys, the debut of the American Wolves as a team, Age Of The Fall in trios action and Bryan Danielson taking on Jerry Lynn in a dream main event. Obviously, since this is the ECW Arena, we’re in Philadelphia, PA.

ROH VIDEO WIRE (10/12/08-16/12/08) – Bryan Danielson talks to Jerry Lynn about their upcoming match. Both are respectful to each other, and pay tribute to the influences they’ve had on each others careers, and look forward to their first ever singles match together.

– Kyle Durden asks Age Of The Fall if there was any fallout from their arguments after Rising Above 2008. Jimmy confirms that Tyler took full responsibility for his humiliation…Tyler isn’t exactly nodding in agreement with that statement.

– Drunken Briscoes ramble on about how they’re going to fight Sasaki and Nakajima at Final Battle. I hope they’re this drunk when they actually wrestle the Kensuke Office

– Larry Sweeney talks about what a major opportunity it is for Go Shiozaki to wrestle former World Champion Takeshi Morishima in Philadelphia.

– There’s a terrifying video of Delirious in a graveyard, which then segues into Daizee Haze promising Jimmy Jacobs that she’ll save Delirious from Age Of The Fall

– Kyle Durden interviews Austin Aries about his match with Marufuji. Aries is particularly grouchy…

– Bryan Danielson says he will truly fight without ANY honour when he finally gets his hands on Takeshi Morishima at Final Battle 2008.

– Brent Albright tells Bobby Dempsey to stand up for himself with Larry Sweeney.

– This video wire (admittedly it’s 2 weeks worth back to back) is 25+ minutes long and packed with new material. I’ve really noticed ROH stepping up it’s game with the video wire since Pearce took over, and it’s good to see. Danielson was in a number of fun segments. We’ve also seen character enhancing videos for the likes of Delirious, Grizzly Redwood, Nigel McGuinness, the Briscoes etc. Hopefully the days of putting out a rushed video wire with 10 minutes of highlights from the most recent shows and nothing else are long gone.

Kenny Omega shows off more of his goofball persona. Rhett Titus comes in to trash him…

Chris Hero is interviewed by Kyle Durden, looking like a slim Balls Mahoney circa 1999. He is going to knock Erick Stevens out tonight apparently…

Frank Talent is still the representative for the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission. He was present way back in 2002 when ROH ran the Murphy Rec. Not sure why he gets his own introduction, but what the hey.

Rhett Titus vs Kenny Omega

Omega has got his hands on Kenny King in a great opener at Wrestling At The Gateway, but now he gets his hands on the other half of the duo responsible for his two-on-one beating at the hands of the Briscoes – the virginal Rhett Titus.

Titus cartwheels away from an Omega attack, but gets over-excited and celebrates a little too early, turning into a couple of nasty chops from the Canadian. Omega lands on his feet from a monkey flip and comes right into a nice hurricanrana. Rhett grabs the curly hair and drags Kenny backwards into a backbreaker for 2. He stretches the back with a couple of submission holds on the mat, then sweeps Omega into a tilta-whirl backbreaker to continue that assault to the spine. Polish Hammer from Kenny, followed by the leapfrog bulldog…but he pauses after that feeling the back injury. He can’t hit the electric chair suplex either. STOP ENZI! ELECTRIC CHAIR SUPLEX! Omega wins at 07:42

Rating – *** –
I’ve generously rated this for two reasons – firstly because Kenny is an outstanding talent (easily the brightest newcomer ROH has seen in some time), and secondly because this match showed a marked improvement in Rhett’s in ring work. He wasn’t reinventing the wheel, but he noticeably downplayed his ‘ladies man’ gimmick, and worked a basic, focused offence that didn’t seem cliché’d, didn’t seem simplistic…but rather ruthless and effective. In less than eight minutes, I’m not sure these two could’ve done much more.

Chris Hero vs Erick Stevens

This is a rematch from Night Of The Butcher 2 when Erick Stevens managed to defeat Chris Hero to retain the FIP Heavyweight Championship. Since then Stevens has gotten far more involved in the affairs of Sweet’n’Sour Inc. – culminating in the savage beating he received at Bound By Hate which put him out injured for a few shows.

Stevens makes like Ultimate Warrior and sprints to the ring, and straight into a feisty grapple with That Young Knockout Kid. He mauls Hero from the bell, eventually flooring him with a single chop. Hero rakes the eyes but still runs into a power slam and has to roll outside. Choo Choo into the guardrails from the Floridian, but Sara Del Rey succeeds in distracting Stevens, allowing Hero to drive his head into the ringpost. He exposes the familiar, grimy floor of the ECW Arena, only for Erick to recover and throw him into the ringpost. Unfortunately Hero’s associates at ringside distract Stevens before he can take further advantage. Back inside Stevens rides a few elbow smashes from his opponent to hit the usual Choo Choo variant then a second rope football tackle for 2. More elbow strikes from Hero, including a second rope rebound elbow smash which nearly wins it. Lifting lariat from Erick…but Sara dives into the ring to save Hero from the Doctor Bomb. Larry hands Hero the loaded elbow pad so you know what’s coming. LOADED ELBOW SMASH! Hero wins at 09:37

Rating – ** –
Nothing wrong with the match, other than the fact it was somewhat dull. I don’t think the methodical, slow-paced style of Chris Hero is particularly complimentary to Erick Stevens. Their last match got over because it was SO slow for SO long that it sort of gained an epic struggle feel to it. In sub-10 minutes…it’s just slow viewing. The Hero KO Kid gimmick has got a mixed press, but personally I really enjoy it. He’s a great worker who deserves more chances to shine than he actually gets in ROH. At some point they surely have to pull the trigger and give him a MAJOR storyline to work with.

Brent Albright psyches Roderick Strong up for his rematch with Kensuke Sasaki. Strong says it’s a huge opportunity for both of them…

Roderick Strong/Brent Albright vs Kensuke Sasaki/Katsuhiko Nakajima

In his first two Ring Of Honor matches, it was a genuine treat to see Kensuke in an ROH ring, however, he certainly didn’t bring his working boots with him for either match. He was in full-on house show mode both times. Now he’s back for another weekend, I think this time the novelty of simply ‘seeing’ Sasaki in ROH may wear off a little…so it’s good to see him in tag team matches where his young protégé Nakajima can carry the bulk of the workload. The better of Sasaki’s two ROH matches thus far was his slug-out with Roderick Strong in Tokyo, and those two men get to go at it again. Roddy has picked Brent Albright as his partner after all they’ve been through together fighting Sweet’n’Sour Incorporated. This is a huge opportunity for them, and considering all the hype is for Briscoes vs Sasaki/Nakajima tomorrow night, a real chance to slip under the radar and put in a great performance against two of puro’s bigger names.

One of the floor cameras has a REALLY poorly adjusted light setting, making the already luminous trunks of Nakajima and Sasaki almost blinding whenever they flash across the screen. Strong hits a crossbody, and is rewarded by a couple of Nakajima’s brutal kicks to the chest. Sasaki in…and he NO SELLS Strong’s chops! He bowls Roderick over with a shoulder block, and in comes Albright. He is much more capable of matching strength with Kensuke, and even holds his own in a big chop fight. Philadelphia comes to it’s feet to applaud Brent’s efforts in fighting the GHC Heavyweight Champion. Nakajima back in with a beautiful missile dropkick for 2. Swinging backbreaker by Albright gets him a nearfall in return. Roderick returns and shoves Sasaki off the apron before rocking Nakajima with some thunderous chops. Naka kicks at Albright and gets the tag to Kensuke who knocks him about with a clubbing lariat combo. LIGHTNING FAST STRIKES in the corner from Nakajima, allowing Sasaki to return and work a spinning toehold. Strong tries to make a save…and does so by countering Naka’s triangle choke attempt into a powerbomb on Sasaki. Hot tag to Roddy who lands more chops on Nakajima. Cradle backbreaker scores for 2 but Naka is up in a flash for a big boot to the face. CHOPS AND LARIATS IN THE CORNER FROM SASAKI! Judo throw then the one arm powerbomb for 2. Stranglehold locked in, only to be broken by Albright. Death By Roderick on Nakajima sends him out as Brent lands the Air Raid Crash. Nakajima back for a SUPERKICK FLURRY ON STRONG! KICK/LARIAT COMBO ON ALBRIGHT! Nakajima wipes Roderick out with a pescado…as Brent kicks out at 2 after a Sasaki lariat. NORTHERN LIGHT BOMB! Sasaki wins at 15:59

Rating – *** –
I’m only giving this one 3* as I felt the middle portion (with Albright isolated in the ring) was pretty mediocre. Other than that it started brightly with terrific exchanges between Strong/Naka and Kensuke/Albright…and recovered nicely for a brilliant final 5 minutes. Sasaki’s performance was easily his best in an ROH ring thus far, really dialling up the intensity and looking far more like he wanted to be there as a wrestler, rather than a special attraction. Nakajima remains an absolute phenomenon.

In the back Larry Sweeney hypes up the debut of the American Wolves tonight. Richards proclaims that they’re on the hunt for the Tag Titles…

Go Shiozaki vs Takeshi Morishima

This show is very much befitting of the All Star Extravaganza moniker, with three familiar faces from NOAH brought in on top of the Kensuke Office duo. This should be a great exhibition match for Ring Of Honor. Go has been on tour in ROH since February, and I believe is departing after this weekend so this is a great way to say farewell. At Death Before Dishonor this year he put up an amazing fight against Naomichi Marufuji but lost. Has his American experiences over the past year improved him to the point where he can now beat another former GHC Heavyweight (and ROH) Champion in Takeshi Morishima…who is using this match as preparation for the final showdown with Bryan Danielson.

Morishima is WAY over. Shiozaki charges at him and sends him all the way to the floor with a single chop. He doesn’t allow Morishima any time to recover, slingshotting the ropes into a pescado to establish his dominance. Even when he can’t land a body slam, he reacts quickly to drop Mori again with a big dropkick. Finally Morishima SNAPS and batters Go to the canvas with a barrage of strikes. Bossman Slam drives Shiozaki to roll out of the ring…and into a chair. RUNNING ASS ATTACK THROUGH THE RAILINGS! That sliced Go’s back open pretty nastily and he takes a while to get back into the ring afterwards. No mercy from Morishima who claws at his eyes and wipes him out with the rolling butt strike. Go, incredibly, manages to hoist Mori into a fisherman buster for 2. Morishima to the top rope…MONSTER missile dropkick. Urinage suplex gets 2…but Takeshi tries to go the top once too often and gets caught. SUPERPLEX…NO SOLD! GO LARIATO FOR 2! He tries to use his ass as a weapon again, but it’s COUNTERED to a German suplex. Morishima responds with a big powerbomb as Shiozaki tries to climb for his moonsault. Chops from Go, who runs into a violent lariat. BACK DROP DRIVAAAAAAAAAA! Morishima wins at 11:31

Rating – *** –
Disappointingly short (although given that Dragon/Morishima is THE money match of the whole weekend, I suppose they need to protect Morishima) but there was enough quality in there to make it enjoyable. This match made me realise how much I miss having Morishima in ROH. He’s such a big, grumpy man. I love the way he can be getting battered, then suddenly snap and destroy an opponent with a facial expression something akin to the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man after the Ghostbusters open fire on him.

American Wolves vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Nigel McGuinness/Claudio Castagnoli

Elimination rules are in effect here. In case you missed it, the American Wolves are Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards, and it’s a real opportunity for them on their debut as a team. They’re being out straight in there with the Briscoes (with whom Davey has had some great matches in the past) and the ROH World Champion and his ‘very European’ associate Claudio Castagnoli. Not sure what the base logic is here…I imagine something along the lines of determining #1 contenders for Kevin Steen and El Generico’s Tag Team Championship for 2009.

Jay starts with the World Champion, Nigel seeming in good spirits as he shakes hands with the Briscoes and promises a good contest here tonight. Good stuff from Jay in the early going as he hangs on the mat with McGuinness, then Richards and Edwards in quick succession. The Wolves almost corner Nigel, so the champ quickly hops to the floor to protect himself. Mark in, and it’s him that gets trapped in a corner and assaulted by Davey and Eddie. With the American Wolves having put the Briscoes on the back foot, Nigel and Claudio decide it’s an opportune moment to re-enter proceedings and take turns in beating up Jay. Briscoe responds with a superkick on Nigel then a mafia kick on Claudio for 2. Things break down with Mark and Nigel brawling on the floor. This time it’s the Wolves who wait for the perfect moment to interject. Richards hauls Mark off the apron and attacks his bad knee as the Briscoes line up the Springboard Doomsday Device…and Eddie sneaks in to roll up Castagnoli and eliminate him at 10:33. HUGE moment for the debuting team there! Claudio has another temper tantrum and hurls the timekeeper into the crowd before they’re ejected. Richards gets 2 on Mark with the Alarm Clock before the Wolves launch into a full-blooded assault onto Mark’s injured knee. Bridging toehold from Richards, with Edwards positioned to stop Jay coming in to assist his brother. Eventually Jay manages to land a blow on Eddie and allow his brother to make the crucial tag. Falcon arrow on Richards gets 2. Briscoe football tackle nailed, but Mark collapses with his knee injury again right afterwards. Richards blocks the Jay Driller and holds Jay in position for a flying knee drop from Edwards. Jumping enzi in the corner, then the BACKPACK STUNNER gets Eddie a 2. 2k1 Bomb blocked though…and all four men decide it’s better just to beat the sh*t out of each other in the middle of the rung. SUPERKICK/GERMAN SUPLEX COMBO gets 2 for the Wolves. They line up their own version of the Doomsday Device but Mark saves his Jay with an URINAGE SUPERPLEX! JAY DRILLER! Briscoes win at 18:58.

Rating – *** –
Very enjoyable stuff, in a format of match (triangle elimination tag) that you don’t see in ROH too often. I couldn’t go higher on the rating purely because, whilst the match was well planned, well executed and full of really solid wrestling…it never kicked into that higher gear and got really exciting. The American Wolves looked great, which ultimately was the purpose of this match anyway. They eliminated the World Champion’s team, then pushed the Briscoes (the standard bearers for tag team wrestling in ROH) to the limit, leaving Mark Briscoe having to be assisted out of the building. They’ll get better when they add some more combo moves and more fluid double teaming, but Richards and Edwards are very talented in their own right and should provide an engaging injection of new blood into the tag team division.

Naomichi Marufuji is interviewed by a translator. He’s looking forward to wrestling Austin Aries…

Austin Aries vs Naomichi Marufuji

International dream matches are always good. Both men have held the top singles Championships in their respective promotions, and work extremely complimentary styles. On paper it should be great, so can it live up to expectations?

The early going provides a nice mix of both men showing off their speed and mat skills, and are very evenly poised. Aries outsmarts Marufuji by suckering him into a test of strength then flooring him, then shows his smarts again by grabbing the ropes to evade one of Maru’s trademark superkicks. Headscissors by Marufuji…but he shows he’s been watching his Aries tapes by diving away from the escape dropkick. He rolls to the floor to escape as Austin lines up the Last Chancery as well. Superkick NAILED this time, leaving Aries outside the ring and clutching his face in pain. He tries to steal Maru’s blindside lariat but isn’t able to connect. Marufuji starts focusing on Aries’ neck which is obviously prep for the Shiranui. Knee strike to the back of the head, and he then hangs Aries in position for the Van Marufujinator. But Aries SITS UP to avoid it! Neckbreaker over the ropes from the fourth ROH Champion. It’s roles reversed now as Aries starts breaking out weird stretches to work his opponent’s neck. Marufuji goes into a sunset flip from nowhere…but NOW it’s time for Aries to pop up into the escaping dropkick. Aries then misses the Power Drive Elbow after spending too much time yelling at the fans. Marufuji sets up for a Brainbuster (of all things) but Austin blocks. He puts his head up into a LOW SUPERKICK for 2. Shiranui blocked, and this time Austin does hit the Power Drive Elbow. Maru blocks the Brainbuster but gets hoisted out of the ring. Aries goes for the Heat Seeking Missile but dives into a KNEE STRIKE from Marufuji! Elbows to the neck block the Shiranui…and Aries busts out an AWESOME CRUCIFIX DRIVER COUNTER to the blindside lariat. LAST CHANCERY! Still no victory…SHINBREAK BACK SUPLEX drops Marufuji on his neck again. Impact Explosion Dropkick COMBO! Having seen his usual finish blocked already, Aries tries to line up an avalanche Brainbuster instead…but Maru STOMPS THE NECK! Springboard dropkick to the back of the head scores too. SUPERKICK COMBO! SHIRANUI FAKED INTO A SOMERSAULT SNAPMARE DRIVER! WHAT THE F IS THAT? Marufuji wins at 20:07

Rating – **** –
Fantastic match. Completely different to what I expected, but awesome nonetheless. I think a lot of the fans were expecting a fast-paced, all guns blazing spotfest, so when that didn’t occur they were a little confused – and largely silent throughout which was a shame. However, that was such an intelligent match, I really loved it. Both guys worked the necks very hard, and interspersed that with fantastic little touches of spot theft and familiarity (through watching tapes) countering. All their signature moves were blocked – which paid off all the way to the finish with Marufuji faking on the Shiranui to hit something completely different to snatch the win. This also featured, what I imagine anyway, is the start of an Aries heel turn. He was noticeably sarcastic and snide towards the ROH fans in recent Video Wires, and continued that into the match. In the ring Aries has had another excellent year in 2008, so I’m glad that, going into ’09 we’ll be seeing efforts made to keep his character fresh.

Austin Aries seems to be smiling sarcastically as the crowd gives him a standing ovation. But attention quickly turns to Prince Nana. He jumps the guardrails again and begs Cary Silkin to take him back.

Jimmy Jacobs/Tyler Black/Delirious vs Kevin Steen/El Generico/Necro Butcher

There’s a number of issues to cover ahead of this one. Firstly there’s the obvious fact that Steen and Generico defeated Black and Jacobs for the Tag Titles…and a victory here would be a measure of revenge for the former champions. There’s also the fact that Jacobs and Delirious can soften the new champions up tonight ahead of their title shot tomorrow at Final Battle. There’s also the added intangible of the Necro Butcher. He has his own issues with Age Of The Fall, and has now been recruited by Daizee Haze to help her save Delirious from Jimmy Jacobs’ clutches.

Age Of The Fall, even armed with chairs, seem hesitant to get into the ring. Necro doesn’t help things by wildly hitting himself with a steel chair. They try to leave but are dragged back to ringside by the babyface team. The bell rings as Generico and Tyler become the first two wrestlers to hit the ring again. The Tag Champions grab Jacobs and hold him for Necro…but Black saves his partner before Butcher can land one of those big right hands. Generico gets 2 with a standing moonsault on Delirious before bringing Necro in to manhandle him. Steen and Generico isolate Black from his partners, with Prazak pointing out that Tyler can’t afford to get injured tonight as he has a #1 Contendership match tomorrow. Delirious in and he THUMBS Generico in the throat whilst dragging him around by the mouth. Weirdest offence ever? Jacobs wipes him out with a spear, only to be shoved off the ropes by Mr Wrestling. There’s an awesome spot in there with Generico diving through the air to try and make a tag, and Black taking to the air almost like a football (soccer) goalkeeper to block his path. At last he does get the hot tag to Steen who takes on all three opponents by himself until Delirious crotches him against the turnbuckles. Necro in to batter Jacobs…and together with Generico they stomp the sh*t out of the AOTF leader. Somersault plancha nailed by the Generic Luchador. Necro lines up his own dive but is stopped by Delirious. He tries to use a spike on Necro…but Daizee Haze gets into the ring and pleads with him to stop. Necro uses the distraction to chokeslam Delirious. OVER THE RINGPOST SOMERSAULT PLANCHA BY NECRO! Delirious is still down in the ring and it looks like Steen and Generico have it won…until the American Wolves run in! Richards wears out Steen’s knee with a pipe…allowing Jacobs to apply the End Time for victory at 15:27

Rating – *** –
I’m not the biggest fan of outside interference, and I’m definitely not enjoying how often the Pearce booking regime is using them…but in this case, I think it’s justifiable. After their terrific performance earlier, attacking the Tag Team Champions now immediately establishes Richards and Edwards as legitimate, dangerous and IMMEDIATE threats to the belts. If there was one thing Gabe was guilty of it was waiting for AGES to pull the trigger on pushing a newer act with a lot of potential (Erick Stevens aside). The match itself was a reasonable, hectic six man. I thought the Generico/Delirious exchanges were a lot of fun so I’m going to hope for a singles match between them in 2009. It’s strange to think that, under Gabe, Black was winning the World Title tomorrow night. He barely figured in this match at all…

Before the main event there’s a commercial for the New Horizons DVD. I thought I’d draw attention to the inexcusable misspelling of Marufuji’s name in it. I hate amateur looking little things like that. I know it’s a poxy little thing to moan about, but it did annoy me.

Jerry Lynn vs Bryan Danielson

This is a strange choice to main event the show, but in the ECW Arena, a technical clinic between a former ECW World Champion and a former ROH World Champion somehow seems an appropriate way for Ring Of Honor to forge their own legacy in the historic building. In the Video Wire we saw these two being jovial and respectful to each other, and eagerly anticipating this opportunity to test themselves against the other man. However, when the bell rings, both will be all business. And given that both are coming off recent World Title defeats, the chance to get back into World Title contention is surely a driving force behind looking for a victory tonight.

Nigel McGuinness has decided to do commentary for this one since he feels the fans didn’t get enough ‘McGuinness time’ on this DVD after his early elimination earlier in the evening. Naturally this one goes straight to the mat, each testing the other man for weaknesses. Hiptoss battle…and both go over the top rope! And they’re both straight back inside ready to go at it again. The pace of the matwork quickens…and we’re all even AGAIN. Fans chant ‘ROH’ as they watch these two seamlessly go back and forth on the canvas. Advantage Dragon as he starts to pick apart Lynn’s legs. They go for multiple hiptosses again, but this time rather than fall to the floor they each place a hand on the top rope to block another potential fall. Jerry misses a springboard crossbody and EATS a running enzi kick from Dragon for 2. Lynn has made one mistake, and after immediately capitalising, Danielson is now in total control. Mexican surfboard applied at the 10 minute mark. SEXY PARTY arm wrench from Dragon, in the direction of a few fans who had been heckling him.

‘I don’t like pie’ – Leonard on commentary. I’ll leave you to work out how that conversation between the three commentators went. Meanwhile Danielson floats from a Fujiwara armbar into a cross armbreaker. Nearfalls traded…before we go into a rolling cradle, and BOTH men stay down! They struggle to their feet…and once more have the same idea at the same time by colliding in mid-air going for crossbody blocks. Tilta-whirl backbreaker from Jerry, followed by a satellite headscissors out of the corner then a swinging DDT for 2. ROLLING PRAWN HOLD topples Lynn to the floor though, buying Danielson some valuable breathing space. He uses it to wind up for a TOPE SUICIDA! Back inside, Dragon looks for a missile dropkick. But he does that in every match, and Lynn is sensible enough to counter with a catapult which sends him outside again. SOMERSAULT PLANCHA TO THE FLOOR! Now we’re even on dives to the floor as well. In the ring again and Danielson Sayama flips away from Lynn…but when he looks for his running elbow smash Lynn is right on the ball and blocks it with a dropkick. CROSSFACE CHICKENWING ON DRAGON!

Danielson makes it to the ropes, and after avoiding the traditional Jerry Lynn through the ropes leg drop, springboards into a flying knee strike. German suplex into CATTLE MUTILATION! Lynn struggles to the ropes…so it’s MMA ELBOWS! Still Jerry fights his way free. He drops Danielson face-first to the canvas…and Dragon plays possum to sucker him into the TRIANGLE CHOKE! Lynn counters…but as he goes for another catapult Danielson turns him to a roll-up. Cradle Piledriver countered, only for Lynn to COUNTER his counter into a powerbomb for 2. Cradle Piledriver COUNTERED TO THE TRIANGLE CHOKE AGAIN! WITH ELBOWS! But still Jerry finds a rope. He blocks Danielson’s back superplex and turns into a sunset flip out of the corner for 2. Both men return to their feet. SMALL PACKAGE FROM DANIELSON…COUNTERED BY LYNN. DOUBLE PIN? It’s over at 26:29. The ref has a brief word with Cary Silkin and the timekeeper, and says that Dragon got his shoulders up before the three…meaning he wins the match.

Rating – ****1/2 –
How is it that I’ve heard no praise or hype for this match at all? It’s an absolute classic. Admittedly I’m more into my lengthy technical battles than other fans who may favour other styles, but I thought this was spectacular…even with a somewhat hokey finish. A phenomenal, epic battle between two technicians. Lenny Leonard said on commentary that whilst Jerry may not be as quick or as exciting in the ring as he was in his ECW heyday, he more than makes up for that in additional experience, and he absolutely does. Admittedly it helps when you’re in there with the best wrestler on the planet right now, but this was NOT a one-sided carry job. This is the first ROH match in ages that has come out of nowhere and really knocked my socks off. The ways they found to put over just how even they were over 25 minutes, right down to the climactic sequence, was marvellous to watch. Get your hands on this DVD for that match alone…

To be fair, I went back and watched the finish again, and Danielson did indeed visibly get his shoulder away from the canvas right before the 3. Jerry falls to his knees in despair as the result is announced. He is covered in sweat and looks exhausted…and now went through all of that only to lose in the most desperate of manners. Danielson gets on the mic to put Jerry over, and says he’ll happily have a rematch down the line. Jerry cuts an equally humble promo thanking everyone in sight for his latest run in Ring Of Honor.

Tape Rating – **** –
This DVD was only going to get 3*, but the main event really does make this a must see show. There isn’t a bad match on the card (the only thing not to reach a minimum of 3* is Stevens/Hero, and that’s fine, just forgettable), and with an unbelievably good main event to round things off, it’s hard not to recommend this. Aries/Marufuji, whilst different to what you might expect, was great in it’s own right as well, and you’re also getting the debut of the American Wolves and a number of big puro names rolled out on the packed undercard. I think what I liked most about this show is that it was great in it’s own right, but viewed in context of this weekend, this one is very much the support act. Whilst Danielson/Lynn, Aries/Marufuji etc are major matches, in purely Ring Of Honor storyline terms, ALL the big matches are tomorrow night. Tomorrow has Dragon/Morishima, Aries/Black, a World Title match, a Tag Title match, a Street Fight, Briscoes/Kensuke Office etc. People could easily skip over this one in a rush to all that, but if they do they are very much missing out. It’s been a long time since an ROH show has surprised me with it’s quality, but this was a great 3 hours of pro wrestling. Best show of the Pearce era thus far (JUST ahead of Rising Above ’08)

Top 3 Matches

3) Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs American Wolves vs Nigel McGuinness/Claudio Castagnoli (***)

2) Naomichi Marufuji vs Austin Aries (****)

1) Bryan Danielson vs Jerry Lynn (****1/2)

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