ROH 215 – Caged Collision – 31st January 2009
I’m struggling a little for the words to kick off this review. That implies I’m not looking forward to the show, which of course isn’t true. But I’ll admit to some trepidation as a result of the Motor City Madness ’09 show. The main event tonight is the final battle pitting Larry Sweeney’s Sweet’n’Sour Inc. against the Albright/Strong/Stevens team. That’s an exciting main event to a Ring Of Honor pay-per-view show. But it’s also the final Gabe Sapolsky storyline thread closed off. Granted Adam Pearce has amended and extended it from Gabe’s original vision. But tonight sees the total end of the Sapolsky era, and after the booking last night (which I’ll politely describe as ‘patchy’), the fact that beyond tonight this will be Adam Pearce’s ship to steer…let’s just say I’m looking for a big improvement tonight. It’s one thing to go screwy finish crazy in Edison or in Detroit but I’m looking for stronger creative leadership and a product far closer to the ideals that Ring Of Honor was founded upon as we come to this, ROH’s first major show of 2009 (and penultimate national ppv in this deal). On top of the huge Steel Cage Warfare main event, we’ve also got El Generico challenging Nigel McGuinness for the World Title for a third time, the main event of Respect Is Earned 2 with the pack shuffled a tad, plus Claudio Castagnoli’s attempt to get his ROH career back on track. We’re taping in Chicago Ridge, IL with Lenny Leonard and Dave Prazak on commentary.
ROH VIDEO WIRE – See Motor City Madness 2009 (ROH 214) review for details
Kyle Durden interviews Jimmy Jacobs and Austin Aries. He informs them that the winner of their tag match tonight becomes #1 Contender to the World Title (which has apparently been stripped from Aries). Jacobs wants to win it and ensure Tyler Black doesn’t get anymore title shots. Aries floors Durden and leaves with a smile on his face.
Kenny King vs Alex Payne vs Silas Young
I would imagine this will be a brief, fast-paced opening contest. Sugarfoot is popular in Chicago, and in ppv canon, comes into this show fresh off interjecting himself into the main event at Rising Above ’08. He, Kenny and Silas will all be looking to secure more bookings with a win here.
King refuses to shake hands and decides to lay out both of his opponents at the bell instead. Payne looks like he’s slowly started adding some bulk to his gangly frame. Young runs the ropes into an enzi kick to knock Kenny out of the ring. Result of that is King hauling Sugarfoot under the ropes and introducing him to the guardrails. Neckbreaker from Young to Kenny gets 2. He scores another nearfall with a nice bridging German suplex. Payne comes in to floor both of them with a double missile dropkick, to some audible boos. Are fans in Chicago FINALLY starting to drop their ridiculous obsession with Sugarfoot? He gets 2 with a fisherman buster on Silas. King misses a double knee smash and takes a backbreaker from Young. ROPE HURDLE GUILLOTINE from King but Silas reacts quickly to block the springboard blockbuster. Hurricanrana wins it for Payne at 07:12
Rating – * – Messy, chaotic and fairly pointless opening match. As much as I dislike Payne and didn’t really want to see him win, it’s the logical decision after making him a major part of the last ppv event, so I’ll applaud that. Kenny King continues to impress and certainly looks like he has the most to offer to ROH in the immediate future.
Kevin Steen vs Claudio Castagnoli
Double C ended 2008 on a low by losing to Kenny Omega in the curtain jerker at the Hammerstein Ballroom show. Coming into 2009 he’s looking to springboard back up the card right off the bat and issued some challengers to some of ROH’s biggest hitters. Last night he secured a DQ victory over Brent Albright, and tonight he looks to prove that he remains ‘championship material’ by defeating one half of the reigning Tag Team Champions in Mr Wrestling.
The bell rings with Claudio throwing a temper tantrum in protest at the ‘HEY’-related taunts aimed in his direction. Steen goes for an early Sharpshooter and forces Double C to flee into the ropes. Claudio hides behind the referee to block the cannonball senton in the corner, then emerges from that shelter to level Steen with a Bicycle Kick. ROLLING backbreakers from Castagnoli for 2. LES ARTESS LIFT nailed too. That’s crazy strength to deadlift Kevin Steen. He teases the Big Swing, but instead pisses everyone off by converting it to Steen’s Sharpshooter instead. Mr Wrestling looks to fire back with some forearm smashes only to take a finger to the eyes. Springboard tornado DDT instead, then the pumphandle cradlebreaker for 2. Steen-ton Bomb INTO THE KNEES! Alpamare Water Slide nailed but Steen kicks out. Riccola Bomb blocked…but Steen blocks the Pop-Up European and hits the cannonball senton in the corner. Sharpshooter locked in…but Larry Sweeney comes out to distract Steen. Low blow into the RICCOLA BOMB! Claudio picks up a second victory this weekend at 09:05
Rating – *** – The fact that we’ve had the SAME Larry Sweeney run in to distract a wrestler finish multiple times now is getting annoying…however, the match before it was decent. We had a strong babyface dynamic, a good story with Claudio pissing the fans off and working the back, and well-timed comebacks from Mr Wrestling. For it’s spot on the card this was perfect, and probably should have opened the show (relegating that pointless triple threat to the dark matches).
Kyle Durden tries to interview Alex Payne, but Nigel McGuinness decides he’d rather have the promo time, so floors Sugarfoot and hijacks the interview. He says he’s going to kill El Generico tonight.
Jerry Lynn/Necro Butcher vs Delirious/Brodie Lee
I know there is the obvious beef between Necro and Age Of The Fall – although I’m not quite sure why Lynn is getting himself involved in this. Butcher has scores to settle with both his opponents tonight. He brawled to a double count-out in his match against fellow brawler Brodie Lee in their match in Detroit last night, whilst he’s also promised Daizee Haze he has her back in her quest to free Delirious from Jimmy Jacobs’ evil clutches.
Total brawl right off the bat, with Lee and Necro quick to pick up where they left off last night. Necro in the ring with Delirious next, breaking out the traditional wrestling with monkey flips then an abdominal stretch on the lizard man. But he lets go of the hold and demands he gets Lee in the ring. Headbutt flurry from Butcher, only for Brodie to NO SELL them. Brodie is so powerful that when he kicks out of a Jerry Lynn cover the veteran is launched high into the air. Jerry starts running around looking to tire the big man out, but finally Jimmy Jacobs (at ringside with his charges) grabs Jerry’s leg and holds him exposed to an attack. Huge boot from Brodie puts Lynn flat on his back for 2. Panic Attack to the back of the head gets 2. Brodie goes for the big Mafia Kick in the corner but misses…and he’s so tall that he falls all the way over the ropes. Clever work from AOTF though, as Lee uses his fall to his advantage, pulling Necro off the apron as Jerry lunges forward looking for a tag. Lynn does manage to lay Delirious out with a DDT though, and at last does get the hot tag to Butcher. He unloads on Lee, but the big man keeps getting up. Necro-canrana nailed, into a crossbody from Lynn. But Brodie NO SELLS and drops JL with a Black Hole Slam for 2. Necro and Brodie start brawling on the floor again, with Butcher sending Lee through the timekeepers table with an apron leg drop. In the ring Delirious MISSES Shadows Over Hell and eats CRADLE PILEDRIVER! Jerry wins in 11:38
Rating – ** – The work was solid, but I found most of this a little too predictable to go any higher in the ratings. It wasn’t a bad match, but there wasn’t anything to really get excited or worked up about either. However, I’ll single Brodie Lee out for praise as I thought he looked great in there. He looked good as a big man, but he also managed to link the big man offence to his heel character and showed surprising levels of personality. It’s that sort of thing that separates him from a hundred other huge, but otherwise talentless indy ‘big men’. Hopefully we’ll get more of him in 2009.
Just as we’ve seen on other recent ROH shows, Jimmy Jacobs angrily runs down Delirious for losing the match for Age Of The Fall. He threatens to beat him with a chain but Daizee Haze interjects with the spike. He DARES her to spike him. He ducks…DAIZEE SPIKES DELIRIOUS! Shades of Glory By Honor when Delirious accidentally spiked Daizee…
We’re all set for our big grudge tag team bout…until Bryan Danielson gets on the mic and points out that since none of them trust anyone else in the ring, and they all want to be #1 Contender, maybe it’s better if they make this one a Four Corner Survival
Austin Aries vs Jimmy Jacobs vs Bryan Danielson vs Tyler Black
These four met in the main event of Respect Is Earned 2, only then it was Jacobs teaming with Tyler Black to defend the ROH Tag Titles against Danielson and Aries. Indeed, Aries and Jacobs spent much of 2008 tearing each other apart, whilst Danielson and Black engaged in a thrilling series of matches, culminating at New Horizons on ppv when their battle became so intense it even broke the ring. Aries and Jacobs are now unlikely bedfellows in that they both hate Tyler Black (for different reasons) without actually trusting each other – as we saw during their triple threat match at Injustice 2. Former World Champion Bryan Danielson is an interesting addition to this. He has history wrestling Tyler all three of his adversaries, and a score to settle with Jimmy Jacobs having twice been beaten by him in singles competition. Remember the winner guarantees themselves a future ROH Title shot.
Dragon starts with Jacobs, and unlike their recent Full Circle match, there are no smiles from the former World Champion. He dominates Jimmy to such an extent that he backs off and tags in a less than thrilled A-Double. It means we get to see Danielson and Aries renew their storied rivalry…and the initial exchanges don’t go well for Austin. Jacobs declines another opportunity to lock up with Dragon, so Aries slaps Black across the chest…which in theory constitutes a tag. With Tyler in, Jimmy blind tags on Danielson to launch a sneak attack on his former partner. Black shakes off the assault and rocks the man who brought him into ROH with big punches. Jacobs dives into a corner and once again tags an unwilling Austin Aries in. Tyler steals a page from the Aries script and scores with a headscissors escape dropkick. Unrelenting kicks from Danielson to Aries, followed by an uppercut which sends him all the way over the top rope and into the front row. Danielson thinks about his crazy crowd dive, but gets knocked off his top rope perch and into the guardrails by Jacobs. The heels start to form their originally scheduled team in order to isolate American Dragon inside the ring. Black makes a well timed blind tag and lays out A-Double with the springboard clothesline. He then eats a missile dropkick from Danielson. Running knee to the jaw gets 2, before Dragon goes to Cattle Mutilation. Black stands up into PEROXISM! Aries stops him climbing for the Phoenix Splash, allowing Danielson to get mad height on a back superplex. Jimmy is in to make another opportunistic attack on Black…and is chucked straight out again as Tyler blocks the Contra Code. HEAT SEEKING MISSILE wipes out Jacobs, and as Aries looks to check on his ally’s well-being, Tyler hits a RUNNING MOONSAULT to knock the pair of them flying. Danielson sends them all into the front row. SPRINGBOARD CROWD DIVE FROM DRAGON! BISON SMITH IS HERE! HE POWERBOMBS DANIELSON ON THE FLOOR! That effectively rules Dragon out of the match as Aries and Tyler got at it in the ring. Jacobs comes from nowhere to put the End Time on Black. But Tyler ducks away to ensure Aries lands the IED on Jimmy. F-5 on Jacobs gets 2 before Aries breaks the count. Buckle Bomb countered…and Aries holds Tyler in position for Jacobs’ Spear. In a sweet twist, Aries and Jacobs join up to hit the dropkick combo in the corner that Jacobs and Black used to deploy during their time as a team. BUCKLE BOMB ON ARIES! JACOBS HITS HIM WITH A SPEAR! BLACK PINS JACOBS! Tyler is #1 contender again, much to the dismay of Nigel McGuinness, in 19:56
Rating – **** – That definitely edged into 4* territory. I’m quite sure if this match featured all four guys cutting loose and trying to blow the roof off the place it would have been better, but that wasn’t what they were on the card to do. Instead it was 20 minutes of sound wrestling, with lots of clever nuances, twists and storyline. These four have extensive histories with each other, so with so much back story to play off, and so much MORE story still to tell, they were clearly having a lot of fun. The tentative and frayed Jacobs/Aries alliance produced lots of great hits and misses, whilst Dragon did a good job of keeping himself over, but also staying out of the spotlight to allow Tyler to shine. And Bison Smith interfering to take out American Dragon provides an interesting swerve, and gives Danielson a fresh opponent to work in the near future.
Jerry Lynn tells Kyle Durden that if El Generico can’t defeat Nigel for the belt tonight then he’s coming for it…
Nigel McGuinness vs El Generico – ROH World Title Match
I’m not really sure what it is that qualifies El Generico for another World Title match so soon after two failed previous attempts…other than the fact that Nigel has basically been through the majority of the roster and we need a World Title Match for a ppv taping. But they show clips of their previous matches at Age Of Insanity and Glory By Honor 7, and they were both so good that I’m game for a rematch. Nigel is a lot more injured and worn down than he was when they last met. Is Generico the man to end his lengthy run at the top of the Ring Of Honor mountain?
Nigel doesn’t wait for any pre-match festivities, wasting no time in whipping Generico into the ringpost. TOWER OF LONDON TO THE FLOOR! Inside 60 seconds McGuinness has rendered Generico completely defenceless. He seems content to take a count-out victory, but Kevin Steen heads to the ring and manages to encourage his partner back into the ring. Generico blocks the headstand mule kick and hits a springboard dropkick which sends Nigel to the floor. But McGuinness stands up and grabs a boot, pulling the Generic Luchador out after him and throwing his head and shoulder into the guardrails. Ole Ole Kick misses…Nigel BOOTS Generico’s face into the railings again. London Dungeon is briefly locked in but El Generico is a little close to the ropes and quickly frees himself. The champion continues the attack on the arm, delivering a really nice takedown with his foot buried in the shoulder joint. London Dungeon is once again briefly applied, but again Generico’s height enables him to quickly make the ropes. Cobra Clutch McLariat, then the Jawbreaker Lariat blocked…but as he runs the ropes looking for the tilta-whirl DDT, McGuinness flattens Generico with a smash to the injured arm again. DOUBLE SPRINGBOARD FLYING HEADSCISSORS sends Nigel out. SPRINGBOARD MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR…GENERICO SLIPS AND TURNS IN MID-AIR TO A CROSSBODY! Yakuza Kick blocked twice, so Generico hits a Michinoku Driver instead and gets 2. Yakuza Kick missed for a third time, and on this occasion McGuinness turns it into a Tower Of London for another nearfall. Super McLariat blocked with a big boot. STILL he can’t connect with the Yakuza though. TOWER OF LONDON ON THE APRON! Generico dives into the ring fractions of a second before he is counted out. BRAINBUSTER SCORES! TWO COUNT! YAKUZA KICK! But McGuinness flicks the eyes as he thinks about the Brainbustah. SECOND ROPE MCLARIAT FOR 2! LONDON DUNGEON! Generico counters free, so EATS a McLariat and gets locked into the London Dungeon once again. Generico taps at 17:01
Rating – **** – Although it never quite hit the highs of Age Of Insanity, this is definitely my second favourite in the trio of McGuinness/Generico ROH Title matches. The shorter time meant they worked at a frantic pace. There were lots of fun references to their familiarity as opponents, and the last 5-7 minutes were just non-stop. If perfect psychology and selling are your thing then this won’t really impress you. But it was an out and out fun match that I got a real kick out of.
Nigel tries to flee with the belt, but finds his path blocked by Tyler Black. He seems to be thinking about cashing in his #1 Contendership Money In The Bank style and redeeming his guaranteed title match here and now. But he is ambushed by Aries and Jacobs. Jerry Lynn and Necro save…
Brent Albright/Roderick Strong/Erick Stevens/Jay Briscoe/Ace Steel vs Sweet’n’ Sour Inc. – Steel Cage Wafare Match
It’s been a long and winding road that has led us to this point. Brent Albright was never really onboard with the S’n’S buyout of the Hangman 3, eventually turning on former friend Adam Pearce and spectacularly leaving the group in a memorable moment at A New Level. Roderick Strong was brought into things when, after defeating Erick Stevens in a violent Fight Without Honor, he refused to sell the No Remorse Corps over to Larry Sweeney, prompting Davey Richards to turn on Roddy and join Larry’s group. Stevens and Jay Briscoe would also be offered spots in Sweeney’s faction, and it’s well documented that if you say no to that invite, you become enemies of S’n’S Inc. Jay has additional rage coming into this one as it was Sweeney’s American Wolves that attacked the Briscoe brothers at Final Battle 2008, putting Mark on the shelf with a knee injury. Ace Steel is technically a surprise partner for the Albright crew, but he’s a Chicago native and has been involved in previous ppv matches against S’n’S so knows exactly what the stakes are here. The big mysteries are on the Sweet’n’Sour team. We know Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards are in. Other than that, the three remaining partners are shrouded in secrecy. Chris Hero is in Japan but Sweeney has promised to put calls into the many various representatives of his group down the years and all have voiced their desire to get into the cage and do battle for the group. Who are the mystery three? Could it be Daniel Puder? Or Matt Sydal? Johnny Fairplay? All will be revealed. The rules to this Steel Cage Warfare match are slightly different. Due to ppv time constraints it’s first fall wins it, but only once all ten men have entered.
Former NRC partners Davey Richards and Roderick Strong get things off to an intense and hostile start. Roddy rams Davey’s head into the steel but is then floored by a snap suplex. It’s time for the next entrant, and it’s TANK TOLAND! Awesome! Jumping jack stomps on Strong by the personal trainer. Ace Steel arrives and pins both opponents between the ropes and the cage for stereo kicks by himself and Strong. Eddie Edwards is out next as the entrants start to come thick and fast. Edwards doesn’t actually enter the ring though, instead grabbing a chair and crouching at ringside. Top rope chops from Strong to Richards. Jay Briscoe heads out, but gets booted from behind by Sara Del Rey, then hammered by Eddie Edwards and the chair. STEEL CHAIR TO THE LEG! Bobby Dempsey is the fourth member of the S’n’S Inc. team which gets a big pop. With Jay immobilised on the floor it’s Ace and Strong taking a four on two beating as Erick Stevens comes in. He hiptosses Richards into the cage then starts beating up both Wolves at once. Entrant #5 for S’n’S Inc. is Adam Pearce. Brent Albright completes the set, although Briscoe has already been stretchered out of the building so Team Albright are still a man down. A bloody Roddy wipes out everyone with a steel chair…except Dempsey who cowers in fear in the corner. Edwards, Tank and Richards get thrown out the door as former NWA Title rivals Pearce and Albright battle on the top rope. Doomsday Powerbomb by Strong and Steel…and the fight starts to explode out of the cage and all around ringside. Everyone fights on the floor, once again with the exception of Dempsey who is still hiding in the ring. A limping Jay Briscoe, with heavily taped left knee, comes back out and immediately starts climbing the cage. SOMERSAULT PLANCHA FROM THE TOP OF THE CAGE ALL THE WAY TO THE FLOOR! Pearce is isolated in the ring with all five of his opponents. Choo Choo avalanche…DEATH BY RODERICK! HALF NELSON SUPLEX! Albright pins Pearce to win it at 17:25
Rating – *** – With so many guys and so little time it was certainly never boring. But, as entertaining as chaotic mayhem was, this never really reached the epic levels they probably would’ve hoped for. In truth the match probably sums up the Albright vs S’n’S Inc. feud – fun but not really main event quality stuff. Jay Briscoe’s crazy cage dive was certainly memorable though. Do yourself a favour and don’t go setting yourself high expectations going into this. If you don’t want/expect this to live up to the likes GeNext vs Embassy, or Team ROH vs Team CZW in the Cage Of Death, you may find yourself having a good time.
Larry Sweeney marches into the ring and yells at Bobby Dempsey for not helping Adam Pearce even though he was in the ring. DEMPSEY SLAPS SWEENEY! HE TEARS OFF THE FAT SUIT! THE STRAPS ARE DOWN! FATTY CANNONBALL SENTON ON SWEENEY! DEATH VALLEY DRIVAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! Bobby celebrates with the winning team as Larry Sweeney is left flat on his back and the ppv goes off the air.
Tape Rating – *** – This is probably ROH’s worst ppv to date in terms of actual match quality. Truth be told, it never really felt like anything more than your standard ROH house show. Two undercard matches were low end 4*, but outside of a brief Steen/Claudio bout and the fun but decidedly un-main event feeling Steel Cage headliner, there’s not a whole lot else. Certainly nothing even approaching the terrific MOTY candidate bouts we’ve grown accustomed to seeing every time Ring Of Honor hits pay-per-view. Perhaps by this point ROH were aware that they weren’t going to renew their ppv deal, so figured they may as well put on a solid building show, rather than shoehorn a somewhat forced ‘big’ event in when their storylines didn’t require it (they made that mistake last year with A New Level). Positives were that this was a decidedly more enjoyable show to watch than anything else thus far in 2009. Clear storyline progression, fun moments, crazy moments, relatively little outside interference and silly finishes…and of course, the pay-off to the Bobby Dempsey angle that has been essentially two years in the making. In a year’s time all you’ll probably be able to remember about this show is the moment when Dempsey took the straps down and finally left Sweet’n’Sour Inc.
I guess how much you enjoy this one will ultimately depend on your expectations and what you’re comparing it to. If you’re holding it up against previous Ring Of Honor ppv efforts then you’ll be very underwhelmed. But if you’re watching it in the context of 2009 thus far, wanting to see pronounced progression and improvements after the frustrations of Injustice 2 and Motor City Madness 2009 then you’ll like this. I personally came away from this one feeling far more positive than I did after the previous two shows. I criticised the booking in Edison and Detroit, so it’s only fair that I praise it here. This was meant to be nothing more than a solid, building show with a feel good ending to send people home happy. And in a show that wasn’t even 2 hours, with well over 65% of it being decent. I went home happy…
Top 3 Matches
3) Brent Albright/Roderick Strong/Erick Stevens/Jay Briscoe/Ace Steel vs Sweet’n’Sour Inc (***)
2) Nigel McGuinness vs El Generico (****)
1) Tyler Black vs Jimmy Jacobs vs Austin Aries vs Bryan Danielson (****)
Top 5 Motor City Madness 2009/Caged Collision Matches
5) Albright/Strong/Stevens/Briscoe/Steel vs Sweet’n’Sour Inc. (*** – Caged Collision)
4) Kevin Steen/El Generico vs American Wolves (**** – Motor City Madness 2009)
3) Nigel McGuinness vs El Generico (**** – Caged Collision)
2) Tyler Black vs Jimmy Jacobs vs Austin Aries vs Bryan Danielson (**** – Caged Collision)
1) Tyler Black vs Jerry Lynn (**** – Motor City Madness 2009)