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212 ROH Full Circle 1/16/2009

ROH 212 – Full Circle – 16th January 2009

After my extended hiatus, it’s time to get on with catching up on my backlog of ROH reviews. 2009 has gone down in some circles as the worst year in ROH history. That’s an ominous start I know, but I’m just putting that out there. Giving credit where it’s due, the Adam Pearce regime looked like it was hitting it’s stride with a strong closing weekend to 2008. Final Battle was a superb show, closing some storyline arcs and opening a number more for us to explore this year. From a creative standpoint there’s much to look forward to. And with the launch of ROH’s national TV show coming in March, it’s sure to be a year of intrigue and change. It begins in Manassas, VA with this show. The headliner is Tyler Black getting to face Nigel McGuinness in a non-title match. Bryan Danielson and Jimmy Jacobs rematch their classic at Unscripted 3, Jerry Lynn faces #1 Contender Austin Aries and the war with Sweet’n’Sour Inc. continues. Lets join Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard.

ROH VIDEO WIRE (31/12/2008-06/01/2009) – There’s nearly 30 minutes of newswire here so lots to get through. Kyle Durden busts into the Sweet’n’Sour locker room to catch up with Larry Sweeney and the American Wolves. He brings the news that they’ll be in Steel Cage Warfare in Chicago. They take it surprisingly well.

– Jay Briscoe announces that Mark will be out for a few months as he needs knee surgery, and puts the blame squarely at the feet of the Wolves.

– Brent Albright, Roderick Strong and Erick Stevens are psyched for Steel Cage Warfare as well.

– Elsewhere Durden interviews the ROH timekeeper…who is then robbed by Ernie Osiris. Later Ernie is caught selling fake tickets to fans queuing to get into the New York show.

– Another character falling on hard times is Prince Nana, who is in the street selling newspapers.

– Claudio Castagnoli complains about going from main eventing the Hammerstein shows to losing in the opening match. He vows to turn his fortunes around in 2009.

– Tyler Black looks like he’s struggling to come to terms with the fall-out of his removal from Age Of The Fall, but distracts himself by turning his attentions to his match with Nigel in Manassas.

– Jay Briscoe stomps into Kevin Steen and El Generico’s locker room to say thanks for helping his brother as the American Wolves attacked.

– There’s an interesting pseudo-shoot interview piece with Jerry Lynn. He credits his recent Bryan Danielson match with re-energising his career, and looks forward to the rematch in Edison.

– Ernie Osiris finds Prince Nana on the street selling cologne and recognises him.

– Much like Jerry, Bryan Danielson admits that he really enjoyed their match at All Star Extravaganza. He wants a more convincing victory over Lynn in the rematch.

– Chris Hero announces he’s going to Japan for an extended stay in the NOAH dojo, and promises more knockouts than ever before when he gets back.

The main show opens with Kyle Durden interviewing Nigel McGuinness. His title reign has now lasted longer than Bryan Danielson’s, and he now has Samoa Joe’s run in his sights.

Damien Wayne/Chris Escobar vs Brent Albright/Erick Stevens

Obviously this is nothing more than a tune-up match for the pairing of Albright and Stevens as they prepare for Steel Cage Warfare with Sweet’n’Sour Inc. on pay-per-view at the end of the month. Wayne and Escobar are local talent. Wayne has been on ROH shows before and is getting another chance to impress and earn a more permanent roster spot.

Stevens has got the Mohawk back. Escobar starts with him, but is driven out of the ring by a football tackle. The opening few minutes are a whole load of stalling in truth. Wayne slaps Albright in the face a couple of times before it breaks down with all four men charging into the ring. Stereo clotheslines to the floor from Brent and Erick…and it’s Stevens who charges out of the ring retrieve Escobar and feed him to Albright. Damien Wayne hits a guillotine leg drop to the apron on Stevens to give his team the advantage for the first time. They get 2 with a chop block/big boot combo, and Wayne goes to the eyes before Stevens can mount any sort of comeback. Multiple tags from Escobar and Wayne as they cut the ring in half and isolate the former FIP Champion for a time. Hot tag to Albright eventually happens. LARIAT/HALF NELSON SUPLEX COMBO! Stevens and Albright win at 09:58

Rating – * –
What a slow and tedious match to start the year off. Outside of the awesome Lariat Kobashi-Plex finisher Stevens and Albright busted out, there really wasn’t ANYTHING else memorable about this. Wayne and Escobar look totally bland and really offer nothing to ROH in the long term, and this went on way too long for what was, in essence, a squash.

Rhett Titus vs Sean Denny

Another enhancement match here. Rhett had a good year in 2008, finally getting a spot on the main roster via an undercard feud with Delirious and Daizee Haze. He now has an alliance with Kenny King and comes into this match having produced one of his best in-ring showings to date at Final Battle. Denny is an English talent (apparently) based in this region.

Sean gets a ton of streamers so is clearly popular in this market. He starts brightly by putting some nifty pinning combinations together to score a quick win. He rattles Rhett’s jaw with a running knee then rattles another part of him by hauling him groin-first into the ringpost. Finally Titus drives his spine into the apron, then re-enters the ring to get decent height on a dropkick for 2. TILTA-WHIRL PILEDRIVER gets 2 for Titus. Sexy Suplex blocked by Denny, but his back is now too sore to capitalise on that. Rhett does more damage to it with a back suplex then an elbow drop to the spine. Sean muscles Titus into a German suplex, appearing to do more damage to himself than Titus in the process. Bison Smith (a powerhouse American who frequently tours NOAH) invades the ring and attacks both wrestlers to force a no contest at 07:01

Rating – ** –
Still completely dull and forgettable, but at least the basics were there in this one. Titus looks better every time he wrestles at the moment and really held this match together, whilst Denny at least had something more about him than Wayne and Escobar (although his physique needs some work). I have no problem with the non-finish here since I think Bison Smith debuting is easily more interesting than watching these two wrestle…

In the back Bryan Danielson calls Jimmy Jacobs a horrible human being, but says that has made him a top wrestler in ROH. He’s coming for revenge for his shady defeat in Chicago in late 2007.

Delirious vs Necro Butcher

Since Delirious essentially replaced Necro as the pet Wildman in Age Of The Fall this match takes on some interesting meaning. Jimmy Jacobs is at ringside with Delirious, and everyone will be curious to see the mental state of the pair following Tyler Black’s removal from the group at the end of 2008.

Delirious jumps Necro and rakes his eyes before the bell, but has no chance of matching power with the Butcher and promptly takes a right hand to the face. Necro tries to take the match to the outside, but Delirious actually shows surprising sense and refuses to follow and let it break down into a fight. The same thing happens for a second time, with Necro physically taking Delirious out of the ring only for the lizard man to turn around and slide straight back in. Jimmy Jacobs then illegally sweeps Necro’s legs and hammers one into the ringpost to give his charge the advantage for the first time. Delirious follows that up with a Figure 4 which puts a lot more pressure on the wounded body part. Don’t forget, Necro has had problems with his knees in recent months too. Out of desperation Butcher goes for the Tiger Driver but can’t lift Delirious up. COBRA CLUTCH SUPLEX ON NECRO! At the behest of Jacobs, Delirious slowly climbs to the top rope…RIGHT HAND BLOCKS SHADOWS OVER HELL! At last Necro manages to clothesline Delirious over the ropes, and limps out of the ring after him. As you’d expect, once the right spills out there, even with one leg it’s all Necro. Chair Slam on the exposed floor before he hammers Jacobs in the ribs with a chair too. He tries to put Delirious through a table, only to for Jacobs to return the favour and level Necro with a chair. Panic Attack scores, and Delirious grabs the Jacobs spike. Daizee Haze is on hand to convince him not to use it though. She takes the spike from him, to the fury of Jacobs. Chokeslam rolled into the TIGER DRIVER give Necro Butcher the victory at 11:51.

Rating – *** –
Until the overbooked finish that was decent. I liked the logic of Delirious refusing to go to the outside and trying to turn it into a wrestling match rather than a fight. Admittedly it went a little downhill once we saw chairs and spikes and a questionable lack of a disqualification, but for a throwaway midcard match this wasn’t bad.

Jimmy Jacobs berates Delirious for his infatuation with Daizee again, but doesn’t go as far as kicking him out of the group as we saw with Tyler.

American Wolves vs Jay Briscoe/Roderick Strong

Even though they only debuted as a team two shows ago, the American Wolves team of Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards are already a force to be reckoned with. They attacked the Tag Champions Steen and Generico on one night, then the top tag team in ROH history, the Briscoes on the second, putting Mark on the shelf with a knee injury. Jay is going to stick around and work solo for the duration of his injury, but tonight has a new partner to face the Wolves – in the form of Davey’s former friend Roderick Strong. The build to Steel Cage Warfare continues…

It’s nothing but a brawl in the early going as Strong and Briscoe are so eager to get things started they actually sprint to the ring. Briscoe double football tackle takes Edwards off his feet as the babyface team dominate. Strong ties Richards up in the corner and launches into a shoulder tackle to the exposed ribs. Finally Sweeney grabs a boot of Strong, distracting him for long enough for Richards to fly into a missile dropkick. The Wolves start to work the shoulder on the former FIP Champion, Edwards snapping the arm into the apron whilst Richards and Jay brawl on the other side of the ring. Any time Strong looks to mount a comeback the Wolves pin him in the corner and maul him. Double Team Alarm Clock nailed, but Strong ducks the follow up stereo kick combo forcing the Wolves to collide shins. Unfortunately there’s still no tag and Davey hauls him to the canvas to lock in another arm submission. At last we do get the hot tag to Jay who rocks both opponents with kicks to the head. Richards blocks a DVD and hits a flurry of kicks. Edwards seems injured and botches his own back suplex gourdbuster spot. Flatliner into the buckles by Jay, followed by a NECK DROP DVD for 2. Sick Kick from Strong to Edwards, before everyone hits big spots to leave them all in a heap. DR Driver blocked as Edwards evades a shoulder block off the apron and sends Roddy flying into the guardrail. Sweeney levels Jay with his shoe, leading to a superkick/bridging German combo. That’s enough for the Wolves to score the victory in 13:39.

Rating – *** –
Another solid midcard match. You felt that, with the talent involved, they had a better match in them, but for it’s position on the card, this was ok. I’m pretty sure Eddie Edwards injured himself because his work was REALLY sloppy in the second half of the match, but this was still an important win for the Wolves. They looked good in their first weekend as a team, and it was nice to see that followed with their first win here tonight. They are set to be a real force in 2009 ROH.

In very possibly the dirtiest back room ever Jimmy Jacobs cuts a brief promo. He has challenged Dragon tonight to disprove his claim to be the best wrestler in the world, and to show that he was the better wrestler in his team with Tyler Black.

Austin Aries vs Jerry Lynn

This is the debut of Aries’ new gimmick – the one he’d essentially carry until his tenure in ROH finished in 2010. It may not be fully formed as yet, but after becoming embittered towards the fans for cheering for Tyler rather than him, he’s gone into business for himself and the A-Double character was born, complete with new music, haircut, facial hair, tights, entrance vest etc. It looks to have drawn heavy inspiration from his Austin Starr gimmick in TNA. He’s currently #1 Contender to the World Title – a belt that Jerry Lynn would also very much like another shot at.

Austin’s new gimmick is appreciated, although the new look does make him look like he’s going to use his queer eye to help straight guys. He’s all stall in the early going too. He does show that he’s still a skilled wrestler by chaining with Lynn…until Jerry lands a dropkick which drives him all the way to the apron. He offers Jerry a congratulatory handshake in acknowledgement of that. Tilta-whirl backbreaker by Jerry…so Aries tries to steal his leg drop through the ropes spot. Lynn has it scouted and takes him to the outside to throw him into the railings. Neckbreaker in the ropes by Austin, then an elbow smash to the top of the head from the apron. He hints at doing the IED on the floor, but instead slows down and opts for a basic right hand to the face. Gutwrench suplex and a bell ringer next, followed by repeated choking in the ropes. Brainbuster blocked though, so he hits the STO. Power Drive Elbow misses but he right hands Lynn in the face to block the Cradle Piledriver. Chinlock applied next, Aries seemingly revelling in using more basic offence to wear his opponent down. He becomes an unfortunate victim of circumstance by hanging himself in the ropes, allowing Lynn to take a run up and dropkick him to the outside and into position for a pescado. Leg drop in the ropes nailed and Jerry gets 2 with a slingshot splash. TKO blocked, but Lynn counters right back by turning the shinbreak back suplex into a crossbody. TKO gets 2 this time. A back rake positions Lynn for the IED, then the Last Chancery. Aries breaks that because he decides he wants to win with Jerry’s finisher. Cradle Piledriver blocked…and Lynn picks up the win with a flash pin in the corner at 15:11

Rating – *** –
Rumor has it that Aries’ body was really starting to feel the strain of working the style he does for the best part of half a decade without a break. The new gimmick looks like a way to complete his heel turn, and get away with toning down his act to allow his body some time to recover and to prolong his wrestling career. I’m all in favour of it to be honest – I’ve always felt Aries is far more charismatic than his fiery babyface character allowed him to show, and this new gimmick looks like a chance for us to explore new facets to his character and keep him fresh going into another year. As such, the match (and Jerry Lynn) took a backseat for the most part since it was all about getting Aries over.

Jimmy Jacobs vs Bryan Danielson

Both guys have had some promo time on this DVD to explain the reasons they’re looking forward to this one. Jacobs has a lot of questions hanging over his head following his actions at Final Battle. People want to know why he kicked Tyler out of AOTF, people want to know what his deal with Aries is etc. He’s challenged American Dragon tonight since he wants to prove to the world that he’s superior to Tyler Black (remember Tyler couldn’t beat Danielson in a singles match last year). Meanwhile Bryan is coming for revenge, still sore after Jacobs cheated to beat him in their great match in late 2007 at Unscripted 3 in Chicago.

Jacobs declines a handshake then spends most of the first minute perched on the turnbuckles avoiding contact. A smiling Bryan Danielson grounds him immediately and teases going to the MMA Elbows early on. He instructs the crowd to get their cameras ready, then happily poses for pictures whilst putting Jacobs in the Mexican surfboard. Jimmy doesn’t seem pleased at the jovial approach of Danielson in this match thus far so angrily shoves him. In response to that Dragon gets serious and HAMMERS him with uppercuts, kicks and headbutts. A thumb to the eye from Jacobs keeps him at bay but Danielson drops him again with a legbar. His next tactic is to hide behind the official before getting the jump on Dragon, then suplexing him over the top rope and looking for a countout win. Bodyscissors applied until Bryan busts out a sweet counter to another surfboard stretch. Jimmy’s next underhanded tactic is to throw Danielson out of the ring just when he looks to pounce with more submission stretches. Dragon goes for a springboard move and SLIPS off the top, injuring his knee in the process. It’s a measure of the high regard that Danielson is held in that the crowd falls deadly silent in concern for him. Then when Jimmy pounces on the leg to apply a Figure 4, they sigh in relief that it’s a work rather than boo Jimmy’s heel actions. Jacobs continues his assault on the leg with a horse collar then a half crab as the time ticks past 10 minutes. REGAL STRETCH applied next, Jacobs insulting Danielson by using the signature hold of one of his mentors. Dragon dives off the second rope into a knee strike, but goes to ground again clutching his knee. Cross armbreaker locked in, but of course that hold uses the legs too, meaning Jimmy has an easier time finding the bottom rope. LIMPING TOPE SUICIDA BY DANIELSON! MISSILE DROPKICK! ONE-LEGGED NIP UP! That’s some crazy awesome selling. He goes for the Benoit Headbutt…COUNTERED TO END TIME! He tries to stand up out of it, but the knee gives way and he collapses again…luckily close enough to a rope that he lays a hand on it. Jacobs goes for a senton bomb…but Dragon gets the knees up. That hurts him, and he stays down longer than Jimmy but has enough about him to briefly apply a triangle choke. Bridging German into a ONE-LEGGED CATTLE MUTILATION! MMA ELBOWS! JACOBS COUNTERS! CONTRA CODE BLOCKED! MR SMALL PACKAGE FOR 2! END TIME AGAIN! TRIANGLE CHOKE BY DANIELSON! JACOBS WITH A ROLL-UP! JIMMY WINS! Jacobs cleverly ricocheted off the ropes into a pinning combination to snatch victory at 18:02

Rating – **** –
What will ROH do when they don’t have Bryan Danielson on their roster? Aside from Austin Aries’ new character, this looked like being such a forgettable show, until American Dragon steps into the ring and puts on another superb match. Had they allowed this one to go on for another few minutes my rating could have gone even higher. It wasn’t necessarily complicated story telling, with Dragon cheerfully dominating until Jimmy started to cheat then opportunistically attack an unfortunate injury to get the advantage…then Danielson making the classic one-legged babyface comeback. But the execution was really awesome, with a strong build leading to a really spectacular final few minutes as they countered back and forth. This may well end up being a one-match show, but at least if it does, it’s a hell of a match. I actually mildly preferred this one to Unscripted 3 if you’re interested. Had this got the same time allowance as the Unscripted match I think we could have gone into MOTYC territory on the very first show! And the idea of Jimmy randomly being Danielson’s kryptonite is definitely something fun to add weight to the Jacobs/Black feud.

Tyler Black vs Nigel McGuinness

This one is non-title. As we saw at the last show in Dayton, Nigel deems his opponent here as unworthy of receiving a title shot, so isn’t going to defend it. Nigel has a new #1 Contender to worry about in Austin Aries (a man who has taken him close on two previous occasions) and, much as with Aries, the rumours persist that injuries are starting to take their toll on his body. His gimmick thus far has been that, unlike previous guys who have had lengthy runs with the belt (Joe, Danielson and Morishima), he is actually getting stronger rather than worn down by injuries. But apparently the gruelling demands being the ROH Champion places on your body are now catching up with him. It was last March at the Take No Prisoners ppv that Tyler memorably came so close to shocking the world and defeating McGuinness for the belt. Now cut adrift from Age Of The Fall, and with nearly a year of additional experience, Tyler is now back in the hunt for the World Title and needs a win here.

We get a handshake before the bell, and you immediately notice that Nigel’s right arm is heavily bandaged. He jumps Black early, then rolls to the ropes and pitches Black to the floor as he threatens a comeback. Slingshot into a rolling heel kick gets Tyler an early nearfall. Sensibly McGuinness grounds Tyler and stays on top of him for the next minute running through various hold. Black connects with a big stomp which prompts Nigel to flee into the aisle to try to recover from. That winds up luring Tyler in and allowing him to hit a drop toehold into the guardrails. That looks like it did some damage to Black’s shoulder, something that McGuinness pounces on without hesitation. He hammerlocks the arm, then drives a knee to the exposed shoulder, but then noticeably stops to nurse his own injuries that he entered the match with. Match goes to the apron, where Nigel dives off the apron to send Black’s shoulder crashing into the ringpost. Cobra Clutch McLariat ducked into a back body drop by Tyler so Nigel comes up to headbutt the shoulder. Lionsault misses…but Black lands on his feet and floats into a RED STAR PRESS for 2. Interestingly, Nigel tries to lift Black into the corner for the Tower Of London, but again can’t lift Black because of that bandaged right arm. Jawbreaker Lariat countered to a neckbreaker for 2. Black thinks about the Phoenix Splash and is caught. But then COUNTERS the Tower Of London into Peroxism. McLariat gets Nigel a nearfall. Super McLariat ducked though and Black re-enters the ring to hit the Pele Kick. Springboard clothesline gets 2 for Tyler. Nigel then counters God’s Last Gift into a small package. TOWER OF LONDON OFF THE APRON! LONDON DUNGEON! Tyler rolls out and kicks Nigel in the head. Jawbreaker Lariat COUNTERED INTO THE BUCKLE BOMB! SUPERKICK! BLACK BEATS NIGEL! It’s over in 17:18

Rating – ***
– A slower paced match than I was expecting. A lot of the work was solid, but it felt like they were holding a lot back (knowing what was to come tomorrow, that seems likely). The last few minutes were really hot and these two really have chemistry as opponents. Unfortunately it never really managed to stop feeling a like a house show version of their Take No Prisoners clash. It’s also worrying to see Nigel look so injured. Starting a new year with your World Champion now apparently happy to wrestle with one fully functioning arm probably isn’t the position Ring Of Honor wanted to be in. I’m concerned that the criticism of Nigel being an injury-prone champion early in his reign have convinced him to work through injuries he really shouldn’t now.

Tyler celebrates with the World Title belt to make the point that he’s coming for Nigel’s championship.

Tape Rating – ** –
ROH kicks off 2009 with a vintage B-show. But, I’m going to surprise a few people and be positive about it. Although it was obviously skippable and, had I been in the live crowd that night, I may have left feeling a tad disappointed, being able to look back on this show with 2 years of hindsight, there are actually some positives. Firstly, I thought the pacing was much better. No match going over 20 minutes mean this one flies by. It might not be the best show ever, but at just over 2 hours, it’s an easy watch in one sitting. Whilst it may not be the best show ever, once the pointless filler matches with local talent are out of the way, the card is very solid with a host of 3* matches. Austin Aries debuts his new character, whilst Tyler explodes back into the hunt for the World Title with a popular win over Nigel after seemingly dropping right out of the queue for contention in defeat at Final Battle 2008. And in Jacobs/Danielson, you’ve still got at least one terrific match to look forward to. In terms of wrestling quality it’s a total one-match show…but I liked 2002/3 era ROH shows which were far worse than this one. If you’re a completist picking this up in a sale, it’s not the worst purchase ever by any stretch of the imagination.

Top 3 Matches

3) American Wolves vs Jay Briscoe/Roderick Strong (***)

2) Tyler Black vs Nigel McGuinness (***)

1) Jimmy Jacobs vs Bryan Danielson (****)

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