ROH 213 – Injustice 2 – 17th January 2009
We return to the New Jersey market for the first time since the Ring Of Homicide 2 event. I was surprised to hear that people are questioning the future of ROH events in Edison. The NJ market has been important to the promotion ever since the first Death Before Dishonor and the days of the RexPlex. But you can’t deny that the quality of show in Edison has gone downhill since ROH moved their “big” shows to Manhattan and Chicago and it looks like attendances are perhaps starting to drop. However, this is the first time we’ve been here since the dismissal of Gabe, so maybe a change in creative leadership will provide something better for the fans in this part of the world. The card tonight looks pretty good. The main event is scheduled to be a rematch of last night with Tyler Black immediately getting the title shot he effectively earned by pinning Nigel in non-title action. This is somewhat confusing because, as I understood it, it was supposed to be Austin Aries challenging. I’m sure all will become clear on that front. There’s also Danielson/Lynn 2 – a rematch from their epic technical clash at All Star Extravaganza 4 – and an undercard that has a Lumberjack Strap Match and a triple threat that may answer a number of our questions regarding the Aries/Jacobs issue. Lets head over to Edison, NJ to join Lenny Leonard and Dave Prazak
ROH VIDEO WIRE – See Full Circle (ROH212) review for details
Grizzly Redwood reminds Rhett Titus of the time he invited Brent Albright to the gun show. Rhett calls him a big a gorilla…with Brent standing right behind him. Albright’s promo is awful.
Larry Sweeney and the American Wolves eagerly anticipate their strap match tonight…and practice by flogging Bobby Dempsey with a belt.
Rhett Titus vs Brent Albright
The locker room skit we just saw is all the explanation you really need for this one. Titus has been having some fun at the expense of Brent Albright, and now has to back up his words in the ring.
Big chop from Titus to get us going, and he hilariously dives into the ropes and covers up as Brent looks to retaliate. He does it again then physically runs away from Albright, sliding back into the ring first to jump him with stomps. Of course, Albright does eventually land a couple of chops in return, then a big press slam dropping Rhettski onto his back (‘but not his chiselled six pack’ – Prazak). Titus slingshots Albright into the bottom rope, cranks on his neck then pokes the eyes to give himself the advantage again. He starts aggressively shoving Albright which is a step too far. Brent responds with HUGE slaps to the face. Exploder suplex scores but Rhett low blows as Brent looks for the Half Nelson. Powerbomb blocked…HALF NELSON SUPLEX! Albright gets the win at 07:17.
Rating – ** – I actually had high hopes for this one and I don’t think this actually met them. Not that it was actively bad, it was just a bit boring. I always think an opening match should make you pumped for the rest of the show, but both opening matches thus far in ’09 have been fairly mundane. The highlights of this were undoubtedly Rhett’s showmanship, and inevitable put-downs from the no nonsense Albright. Those slaps after he was getting shoved around were frightening.
Damien Wayne vs Sean Denny vs Delirious vs Necro Butcher
You have to wonder why this one is on the card. We saw Necro and Delirious battle last night, and the other two guys are enhancement talent from the Virginia show that have somehow been booked for tonight. The NJ area surely has better indy talent than these two for a random four corner like this? Wayne has looked very bland in his ROH appearances thus far, whilst Denny looked to have some talent going on his appearance last night, but has none of the traditional ‘look’ or drawing power you’re looking for in an up and comer.
Necro jogs straight into the ring and clubs Delirious, which is a nice pay-off from last night when it was Delirious jumping him. He hits the Chair Slam on him whilst the referee is distracted by Wayne and Denny going at it in the middle of the ring. Denny flattens Damien with a flying knee strike before the two enhancement talents spill to the floor thinking they better get involved with the talent that actually matters. Delirious blocks a bulldog by Necro and hits the Leaping Lariat. Denny looks to take advantage by putting a boot in Necro’s direction…and gets punched in the face. But Sean’s intervention does give Delirious the opportunity to haul Butcher outside and Russian legsweep him into the guardrails. Wayne takes Denny into the corner but has his superplex blocked, and somehow Denny slithers away from Wayne to nail a SECOND ROPE German. Necro takes Delirious upstairs now. NECRO-CANRANA! But Wayne tosses Necro outside and scores with a SLINGSHOT LEG DROP TO THE FLOOR! COBRA CLUTCH SUPLEX from Delirious to Denny, then the Panic Attack. SHADOWS OVER HELL SCORES! Delirious wins in 07:29
Rating – ** – Credit where credit is due, I was fairly critical of this match during my intro and, whilst I still maintain it’s a pointless match on the card and definitely not worth the cost of booking these four men, all four of them left it all out there in the ring. There were a few absolutely crazy spots in there at the end. Damien Wayne’s leg drop to the floor, in particular, was just nuts. Delirious scoring the win to even up his defeat last night means the right man won too if nothing else.
In the locker room the ROH students are signing up to be Lumberjacks in the Strap Match later tonight. Grizzly Redwood makes sure his is the first name on the list.
Kyle Durden summons Austin Aries to the ring for a special interview segment. Kyle asks for an explanation as to Aries’ recent transformation in character. In response, Aries demands an explanation from the fans as to why they turned on him and started cheering Tyler Black. He berates them for taking so much enjoyment out of the violence he and Jimmy Jacobs exchanged during their feud. He says he’s wrestling only for himself now – and that has brought him all the satisfaction that ending the war with Jimmy Jacobs didn’t. And with that he announces he has no interest in challenging Nigel (a guy he knows has equal disdain for the fans) at a ‘B-show’ in Edison…so will NOT be competing for the Ring Of Honor Championship tonight. Out comes Tyler Black to volunteer his services to replace Aries in the World Title Match tonight. Jimmy Jacobs jumps Black from behind and brings him to the ring. Just like in Manhattan we have the bizarre sight of Aries and Jacobs joining forces to beat on their mutual enemy. Jay Briscoe makes the save and calls everyone ‘little b*tches’. ‘You look like a damn pervert’ – Briscoe to Aries. He challenges Jacobs and Aries to a triple threat match…which is accepted.
Jay Briscoe vs Austin Aries vs Jimmy Jacobs
This is a unique situation which will go a long way to answering the questions we have about the relationship between A-Double and…J-Double? After a year spent tearing each other to pieces, are they really now allies? Or did they just find a common enemy in Tyler Black? Briscoe has history with both of them – having had his own problems with Jimmy Jacobs and Age Of The Fall in the past. And it was even Aries he chose to defend the ROH Tag Titles with him AGAINST Age Of The Fall when they injured Mark Briscoe last year.
The bell rings with Aries and Jacobs on the floor arguing, but wind up circling the ring like sharks waiting to pounce on Jay Briscoe. Finally they both slide in to attack him. Jacobs holds him in position for the Heat Seeking Missile, only for Briscoe to move and cause Austin to collide with Jimmy. Lenny Leonard mentions that Mark is expected to be out of action for 4-6 months, only for Nigel to imply that he drunkenly shot himself in the foot. Aries puts the Last Chancery on Briscoe, only for Jimmy to break it with a basement dropkick. After a brief argument they get their sh*t together again to execute some more double teaming on Briscoe. But their tentative alliance slowly starts to disintegrate, allowing Jay enough recovery time to come up to hit a flatliner/DDT combo on both of them. He goes for the Jay Driller on Austin, only for Jimmy to leap over his body to lock in the End Time. Aries breaks that with a back rake. Contra Code on Briscoe next but it’s not enough. Briscoe gets both of them on his shoulder for a DOUBLE DVD FOR 2! Aries stops Briscoe hitting the Jay Driller on Jacobs but then misses the IED in extremely ugly fashion (I thought this new gimmick was supposed to tone down his act??). Jacobs then inadvertently Spears him, allowing Briscoe to pick up the win at 08:45
Rating – ** – This one was tough to rate since it was fairly entertaining and did a great job progressing the idea that Aries and Jacobs AREN’T friends – they just both hate Tyler Black. However, after labouring that point for nearly ten minutes, it reached the ‘I get it now, do something else’ point. I’m looking forward to Jay getting a bit of a singles push though, and of course, the issues Aries and Jimmy have with Tyler are all far more interesting than this match was ever going to be.
Jacobs spits his gum at Aries after the match…and the former World Champion responds by picking it up and putting it in his own mouth. I am LOVING the new Aries gimmick by the way. Cary Silkin informs Bobby Cruise that he has authorised a Nigel/Tyler World Title Match tonight.
We’re supposed to have the Lumberjack Strap Match now, but before we can do so Prince Nana does another run in and has to be dragged away by security. Did he want to be a Lumberjack? All the jobbers in the building (meaning essentially it’s the ROH students and the Virginia guys) come out to be the actual Lumberjacks – including Ernie Osiris complete with change cup and Shane Hagadorn.
American Wolves vs Roderick Strong/Erick Stevens – Lumberjack Strap Match
You know how this one works – there are a crew of guys around ringside armed with straps ready to throw any competitors who spill out of the ring back into the action. The Wolves have been on a tear since debuting at the end of the year. They attacked Steen and Generico and they’re both not here tonight. They’ve put Mark Briscoe out of action for 6 months, and last night they picked up their first win as a team against Roderick and Jay Briscoe. We continue the road to Steel Cage Warfare at the end of the month with this one tonight.
Strong and Stevens don’t even let the Wolves take their homo ring vests before jumping them. Edwards is the first man dumped through the ropes to take a pasting from the job squad and their straps. You’ll notice Hagadorn on the outside actively trying to keep the other Lumberjacks at bay whenever Eddie or Davey are in jeopardy. Richards and Strong are in the ring together for the first time to trade ferocious strikes. Richards manages to kick him off the apron into the waiting straps on the floor to give the Wolves the advantage. They isolate Strong, with Edwards cleverly low-bridging him as he looks to run the ropes, forcing him to topple out of the ring again. Richards takes too long setting up for a diving headbutt and is caught with a superplex. Edwards blocks the Choo Choo but takes the lifting lariat instead for 2. He gets sent out for a whipping then levelled with a Death By Roderick/Lariat combo. Davey saves and goes for the handspring enzi…but Erick catches him with a German suplex. RUNNING CORKSCREW DIVE INTO EVERYONE by Roderick! Larry Sweeney comes in to use a chair on Stevens, only for Brent Albright to chase him away. Unfortunately Edwards smashes Stevens with the chair instead, giving the American Wolves a second victory of the weekend. Time was 10:30
Rating – ** – Nothing wrong with this one necessarily, it was just too short. They didn’t work at a fast enough pace to make you feel like you were getting your money’s worth out of a ten minute match. Obviously the cartoonish gimmick of the match didn’t help things, but it’s never been done in ROH before so at least had some kitsch, unique value. In a year’s time you’ll be able to remember nothing about this match other than the fact it had Lumberjacks. That’s quite a disappointing indictment on the quality of the match.
Chris Escobar vs Grizzly Redwood
This is very obviously your post-intermission popcorn match. I hope there’s a purpose behind this one otherwise it’d surely be worth cutting this one from the DVD. I can’t imagine, much as with the fourway earlier, that putting enhancement talent on your main show too often is going to shift DVD’s in the sort of numbers ROH needs.
Headlocks from Escobar to start the match, silencing the crowd’s demands for Grizzly to chop him down. Axehandles from Redwood as Nigel re-emerges on commentary to ominously promise that Tyler won’t win the World Title later. Headscissors neckbreaker gets Escobar a 2. Bison Smith comes in from the crowd to hit a DOUBLE HEAD DROP SUPLEX! The match is thrown out at 02:55
Rating – N/A – There wasn’t really a match at all to speak of. The first two minutes were essentially Prazak and Leonard hyping the main event, with Nigel briefly coming on commentary (having supposedly been going nuts in the locker room) to project a strangely calm persona to his ‘fans’. From there it was all about putting Bison Smith over much as we saw when he beat up Denny and Titus…
The comedy value of Redwood trying to ‘chop’ Bison down to size then getting press slammed into the turnbuckles before landing on his head is immense. Seriously…right on his head!
Jerry Lynn vs Bryan Danielson
After their superb match in Philadelphia, it was great to pick up this DVD and see the rematch booked so quickly. That night they put on a technical masterpiece, which Bryan Danielson edged by a fraction of a second when he got his shoulders up at the last possible second in a double pin situation. Lynn has credited that match with giving him renewed vigour for wrestling and believes he stands a real chance of beating the ‘Best In The World’ second time around…whilst Dragon comes in looking to score a more convincing victory than the marginal win he got previously.
They pick up where they left off in Philadelphia with a couple of mat reversals in the first 90 seconds. Lynn crawls to the ropes to block an early Mexican surfboard attempt. He seems to think about working Dragon’s arm but isn’t ever to stem the endless flow of counters his opponent can throw at him. Second time of asking Danielson is able to apply the Mexican surfboard. He comes out of that clutching the arm and seems to go for the Crossface Chickenwing but is driven into the corner. Lynn goes for the leg drop in the ropes spots and takes a boot to the chest. Hung in the ropes himself now, Dragon comes from the second rope into a knee strike. And thinking himself safe on the floor, he turns unsuspectingly into another flying knee, this time thrown from the apron. Lynn seems annoyed now, conveying that by holding Danielson in the ropes to hit him with hip attacks, THEN scoring with the guillotine leg drop. Cannonball senton from the apron follows that. He lures Danielson in going for another knee strike only for Jerry to show his experience and roll it into a half crab. Dragon with the Triangle Choke in response. Cradle Piledriver escaped and Dragon floors him with the running enzi. Tiger suplex rolled into MMA ELBOWS! CATTLE MUTILATION! BACK TO MMA ELBOWS! Jerry courageously finds the ropes after being trapped in Danielson’s finishing holds for over a minute. Sunset flip powerbomb countered to the Triangle Choke again…but Jerry escapes and lands a tornado DDT. CRADLE PILEDRIVER! LYNN SCORES THE UPSET! 16:37 is your time.
Rating – *** – Not a patch on the quality of the Philadelphia bout, but it was still miles better than the majority of this show. They were given basically half the time they got in Philly, and although they still produced a competitive back and forth technical battle, it never really hit the epic highs that we saw at All Star Extravaganza 4. I know he doesn’t leave ROH until September, but even here in the first shows of the year you get the feeling Danielson is on the way out and the ‘meaningful’ part of his ROH career ended at Final Battle when he settled his score with Takeshi Morishima. Maybe it wasn’t a done deal with WWE at this point, but you can’t help but feel like he’d started to cast his eye onto pastures greener and now views his time in ROH as fun (hence all the smiling we’ve seen this weekend), a chance to wrestle some good matches and put other talent over (hence staring at the lights for Jacobs and Lynn this weekend). It’s been a decent weekend for Jerry though. I’m sure he’d agree that neither of his matches were as good as he’d probably have liked them to be, going over two former World Champions in one weekend is a big deal.
Nigel McGuinness vs Tyler Black – ROH World Title Match
This will be the third time these two men have locked horns with the top prize in ROH up for grabs. Many believe the Take No Prisoners main event last year was when Black proved himself to be a main event player – when he nearly dethroned the World Champion in his first ppv main event. And he came close again at Death Before Dishonor 6 when he made it to the final two of a fourway elimination bout for the belt, once again coming up short. But last night in Manassas he proved he can beat Nigel, and pushed his way right back into World Title contention. With Aries refusal to cash in his right to a title shot here tonight, Tyler is an obvious choice to take his place. Fans have been calling him the next World Champ for some time. With McGuinness battered, bruised and showing the strain of a title reign that, in terms of length, is now second only to Samoa Joe’s, is it finally Black’s time?
A cheapshot from McGuinness gets us underway, taking the match straight to the outside to beat on Black before he even has a chance to establish himself. Black is thrown head-first into the guardrails and, within the first two minutes of the match, already looks out on his feet. Springboard dropkick scores for him, and now it’s his turn to throw the champion into the barriers. He drills his skull into the ringpost which will probably induce ‘Unified’ flashbacks for Nigel. SPRINGBOARD CLOTHESLINE OFF THE RAILS! Having seen enough of this, Nigel tries to grab his belt and walk out citing his torn biceps and the fact that he’s already beaten Tyler in the past. But his path to the locker room is blocked by Bryan Danielson, who reminds Nigel that he defended the belt for the last part of his reign with a serious shoulder injury, and DEMANDS he finish the match. He is dragged back to the ring by the challenger who continues to dominate. Having been on the back foot for the best part of ten minutes, receiving a bloody mouth in the process, Nigel seems to decide it’s time to go back to basics. He starts to work the arm, breaking out THAT ARM SUBMISSION for the first time in ages! Cobra Clutch applied next, followed by a poke to the eye when Tyler finds a counter to that hold.
Trying to pick up the pace Black stomps on Nigel’s bloody mouth as the clock ticks past 20 minutes. McGuinness wisely flees to the outside to catch his breath, then uses the guardrails to his advantage again when Black gives chase. He throws Tyler OVER the ropes, tumbling into the timekeeping table and a couple of chairs on the way down. He looks to have taken a serious injury there and several referees come from the back to assist him. They want him to retire hurt but Tyler refuses to allow himself to be carried to the back, instead limping back into the ring to continue. RUNNING MCLARIAT gets 2. Black goes for a Lionsault and misses, but just like last night lands on his feet for a BLACK STAR PRESS! Sadly his injuries mean he takes an age climbing upstairs for the Phoenix Splash and winds up getting caught and dragged off the turnbuckles into a superplex for 2. Jawbreaker Lariat countered into a neckbreaker by the challenger, but Nigel does more damage to the neck and back by sweeping the legs and causing him to drop backwards and bounce his neck off the ropes. TOWER OF LONDON OFF THE APRON! Tyler again crawls defiantly back inside the ring, and counters another McLariat attempt with the Pele Kick. He sets up for the Phoenix Splash…but Jimmy Jacobs runs in to distract him. Austin Aries then blindsides him…BRAINBUSTER ON THE FLOOR! JERRY LYNN IN TO HIT THE CRADLE PILEDRIVER ON NIGEL! Aries and Jacobs try to fight Jerry…only for Jay Briscoe to make the save. The American Wolves are next to run in to attack Jay, which in turn brings out the Albright crew to fight them. Bryan Danielson furiously marches back to the ring and berates them all for ruining a World Title match with ‘this garbage’, and is taken out by Jacobs in the process. SOMERSAULT PLANCHAS IN STEREO by Briscoe and Jerry. TOP ROPE SOMERSAULT DIVE BY ALBRIGHT! Everyone brawls into the crowd, meaning they’re in perfect for position for Dragon to hit the crazy SPRINGBOARD CROWD DIVE!
This is absolute pandemonium, but Bobby Cruise announces that the title match WILL continue. Meaning we’re at 35 minutes and Tyler seems to have been completely rejuvenated by that time to recover. Tower Of London COUNTERED to Peroxism for 2. Nigel ducks the springboard clothesline once, but eats another Pele Kick, then the springboard clothesline second time around for another nearfall. McGuinness positions Black on the ropes only to miss the Super McLariat. TOWER OF LONDON ONTO THE APRON! Both men are so beaten up now they barely beat the count-out – Tyler in particular sliding back in at approximately 19.5 seconds. Kicks to the damaged back by Nigel, into the LONDON DUNGEON! It’s a move that applies pressure to the injured arm AND injured back, but Black still finds a rope. HAMMERLOCK TOWER OF LONDON! LONDON DUNGEON AGAIN! He even modifies the hold to put more pain on the spinal region. KICK OUT BY TYLER…JAWBREAKER LARIAT! BLACK GETS THE BOTTOM ROPE! Tyler just won’t back down and peppers Nigel with slaps and another kick to the head. GOD’S LAST GIFT! MCGUINESS KICKS OUT! MAFIA KICK! PHOENIX SPLASH MISSES! Black press slams Nigel off the top (why he was going there is anyone’s guess!) and lands the FIVE STAR FROG SPLASH FOR 2! The whole audience is on their feet at this point by the way. McLariat blocked…INTO THE BUCKLE BOMB! SUPERKICK! THIS IS HOW HE WON IN MANASSAS! But before he can cover the bell rings?? The time limit expires…at 48:13? Apparently it’s a 60 minute draw…immediately Lenny Leonard points out that we haven’t had an hour, but that’s the decision apparently.
Rating – **** – The match itself was really good. I know this one has gone down in infamy because of the finish, but don’t let that blind you to the fact that, before the ridiculous ending, this match had Edison ROCKING. This was as vocal as a New Jersey crowd has gotten since Ki/KENTA or the CM Punk title win. Even the mass of run-ins in the middle weren’t the problem here. Of course I don’t want to see outside interference in an ROH title match, but as I’ve always said, it’s not actually run-ins in pro-wrestling I object to, it’s the volume of them used in major matches by the bigger companies. We haven’t had many ROH matches feature most of the locker room emptying for a fight at the 30 minute mark in a big World Title bout, so I felt it added something. Particularly when Dragon arrived to call them out on it and physically voice the point that this shouldn’t happen in an ROH Title match. So yeah, the match itself was very good. As I said last night, Nigel and Tyler have real chemistry as opponents. Nigel’s maniacal champion act really seems to mesh well with Tyler’s youthful fire and determination to succeed. There was LOTS to like about this one, but now lets talk about the finish. It was a completely farcical crock of sh*t. I know I vocally protested against Gabe’s sacking, but I always maintained I wanted to give Adam Pearce a chance. Here’s the thing Scrap Daddy, that finish was a joke. I hope now, 2 years down the line, he at least questions the decision to run with this conclusion. Honestly, no matter how strong the story to come out of it is, this is exactly the kind of stupid gimmickry that led me to turn away from WWE and seek out the ROH product in the first place, all the way back in 2002. I know it’s just one match, just one angle etc. But I really felt it was a silly thing to run with. ROH is supposed to be, at heart, a WRESTLING product. I’ve voiced my concerns about the increased run-ins and interference angles Pearce has been using, but ultimately tried to get on board. But to be completely honest, this one really left me feeling alienated from the creative direction. This is NOT the Ring Of Honor I want to watch…
Obviously since most fans don’t sit there looking at the time, many of them haven’t realised the fact that we’re 12 minutes short of a 60-minute draw. Dave Prazak (now heel of course) is heralding Nigel as a ’60-minute man’ whilst Lenny Leonard still smells something fishy. McGuinness walks out rather than wrestle ‘five more minutes’…so we don’t even get an explanation.
Tape Rating – ** – This is a really tough show to rate. Most of the card is forgettable and dull which doesn’t help, whilst Danielson/Lynn isn’t a patch on the original…and the 50 minute epic main event is completely ruined by one of the worst booking decisions ever seen in Ring Of Honor. My head is honestly spinning after that. But, I really did LOVE the Black/Nigel match itself. It was awesome in so many ways. Tyler, buoyed by winning last night, started hot and dominated the first 15 minutes. Nigel worked the arm as he does so well, then injured Tyler on the table. Tyler courageously returned to the ring and continued to compete with an injured back. I felt the mass of run-ins in the middle helped, and things were building nicely towards an explosive crescendo…but then IT happened. To be fair, if you’re buying one show from this weekend it HAS to be this one. Full Circle was probably a more solid card, but the only truly memorable thing to happen this weekend was the ’60 minute’ main event here in Edison. It’s one of the most infamous moments in ROH history, and is genuinely a great match first and foremost so, if you’re a keen follower of the product, this should probably be in your collection. Just try not to let that finish eat away at you…
Top 3 Matches
3) Jay Briscoe vs Jimmy Jacobs vs Austin Aries (**)
2) Jerry Lynn vs Bryan Danielson (***)
1) Nigel McGuinness vs Tyler Black (****)
Top 5 Full Circle/Injustice 2 Weekend Matches
5) American Wolves vs Jay Briscoe/Roderick Strong (*** – Full Circle)
4) Jerry Lynn vs Bryan Danielson (*** – Injustice 2)
3) Tyler Black vs Nigel McGuinness (*** – Full Circle)
2) Jimmy Jacobs vs Bryan Danielson (**** – Full Circle)
1) Nigel McGuinness vs Tyler Black (**** – Injustice 2)