219 ROH Stylin’ & Profilin’ 3/13/2009

ROH 219 – Stylin’ & Profilin’ – 13th March 2009

As you may well have been able to guess from the title of this event, this would be Ric Flair’s first appearance in Ring Of Honor. As it has subsequently come out just how much Flair was (reportedly) getting per appearance, and how little he (reportedly) did for the company, and how much he (reportedly) screwed them over both financially and professionally on his way out, I’m perhaps not quite as excited as I otherwise might be. That said, Flair in ROH is still MASSIVE and a real show that Ring Of Honor continues to grow as a promotion even during what, it has to be said, has been a borderline slump in show quality thus far this year. So yeah, I’m pretty sure history remembers this as the Flair debut night, but there’s a decent card too. MsChif defending the SHIMMER Title, Kenny Omega returns in a strong four corner match, Bryan Danielson and Bison Smith collide for the first time and the main event sees Nigel McGuinness defend the World Title against Brent Albright. More on that later. We’re in Collinsville, IL (St Louis area) with Dave Prazak and, in a change to commentary, Larry Zbysko. May as well get used to ROH DVD’s without Lenny Leonard sadly…

ROH VIDEO WIRE (04/03/2009) – First promo goes to Kenny King and Rhett Titus who deliver a decent promo hyping their match with Steen and Generico at the Indianapolis debut.

– Ric Flair hypes his appearance in St Louis. He says he’s coming to endorse Ring Of Honor, and to check out just how good Nigel McGuinness really is.

– Chris Hero shows off his Loaded Elbow pad. He says it was a gift from Mitsuharu Misawa, who supposedly pleaded with him to continue the legacy of the rolling elbow smash. Superb promo…

– Nigel McGuinness is upset that KENTA has signed an open contract for a NOAH representative to get a title shot and is coming to Manhattan for the 7th Anniversary Show in order to cash it in.

– Prince Nana arrives in a chauffeur driven car, and invites Ernie Osiris to carry his bags. He appears to have discovered some new funding, is back in ROH and has already recruited Bison Smith.

– Brent Albright sulks like a little girl about Claudio attacking him rather than wrestle for five more minutes to determine a clear winner in Danbury. They clearly need to sort another rematch.

– In a promo filmed on a webcam circa 2002, Jay Briscoe hypes his big singles matches against Strong and Hero this weekend.

– Daizee Haze vows to defeat MsChif for the SHIMMER Title as part of her war against Age Of The Fall and campaign to free Delirious.

– Jerry Lynn walks in on Nigel mocking him in a promo. He points out that Nigel’s body is falling apart, and he could lose the belt any day now…

Brent Albright cuts basically the same promo as he did before his NON-title match with Nigel McGuinness and promises to prove he’s no joke by beating the World Champion tonight.

Jay Briscoe vs Roderick Strong

Supposedly these two are good friends outside the ring. That means that there’s nothing personal here, just two guys looking to prove who the better wrestler is. In the Video Wire Jay pointed out that last time Mark was injured he took the time off too. This time he’s stuck around to prove what a strong singles competitor he is. This weekend he has big singles matches against top stars in ROH. He’ll be looking to pick up wins and validate his big talk

Competitive and even opening couple of minutes. Briscoe cranks up the pace with a rana then a drop toehold to give himself the advantage. Backbreaker from Strong, only for Jay to fire back with a jumping heel kick. He follows up with a boot to the mouth for 2. But he tries to trade chops with Strong, which isn’t a good strategy. He takes a bit of a pummelling there so levels Roddy again with a dropkick. His chest is bleeding now though. Stretch Plum applied, but then Jay tries to get into an exchange of strikes, and once again Roderick comes back into proceedings. Larry Zbysko is already annoying me by the way. Lariats then a slingshot falcon arrow gets 2 for the former FIP Champion. Briscoe once again goes to kicks, this time a mafia kick, to get another nearfall. Flatliner into the buckles nailed to go close again. Jay Driller blocked and turned to Death By Roderick for 2. Fast paced standing switches…until Strong manages to plant himself on top of Jay to score the flash pin at 10:41

Rating – *** –
Hot opening match, which is something I haven’t said much thus far this year. This is what ROH has been missing in recent shows. Good, competitive matches just put on the card for the sake of having a good match. There’s been too much focus on angles, and storylines, and false finishes, and keeping people over etc. This was two guys going out to get the crowd hot for a big night of action, and it really worked. I liked that this match made Briscoe look like a credible singles wrestler even in defeat. I liked that it played up his strengths as a brawler by using repeated boots to the face to maintain his advantage, then struggling whenever he tried to enter into traditional Roderick territory like chops. I don’t know when Mark is due back but I hope we get more opportunities like this for Jay to shine before the Briscoes reunite.

SIDENOTE – Larry Zbysko being on commentary means Dave Prazak has had to return to his old, neutral play-by-play persona. I’ve loved his work as a classic heel announcer alongside Lenny Leonard, so it’s a shame to see that axed. And in another, more irrelevant aside, my aging, cheap DVD player finally gave out on me after my Eliminating The Competition review. Until I decide whether to invest in a good one or just pick up a cheap, stop-gap player until Blu-Ray fully takes over and sends traditional DVD players to the VCR graveyard, I’ve got to watch DVD’s on my PS3. And, the picture quality looks amazing. Has ROH invested in new cameras with the transition to HDNet, or has it looked like this for ages but my DVD player has been so sh*t that I’ve not noticed?

MsChif vs Daizee Haze – SHIMMER Title Match

This is the perfect time to toss this match onto an undercard. Daizee is at war with Age Of The Fall over their treatment of her former friend Delirious (and to be fair, has been for much longer since before that she was feuding with Lacey). She’s spiked, she’s been spiked, she even held the spike hostage. She’s sided with the Briscoes, Necro, and anyone else who will oppose them. Can she strike a hammer blow to the group by winning the SHIMMER belt from Age Of The Fall’s MsChif? Of course, I say hammer blow, since joining AOTF MsChif can’t have been on more than two or three shows. So it’s more like a blow with some kind of stuffed animal. But still…

Jacobs and Delirious are at ringside with MsChif. Intense handshake between the women as the match starts. Encouraging start for Haze who grabs a wrist and confidently outwrestles her larger opponent. Larry keeps calling her a ‘little thing’ and referring to every move she does as ‘little’. Please tell me Lenny comes back before we make the switch to in-house production. MsChif retreats to the floor to have a rethink, and behind the ref’s back Jimmy climbs onto the apron to throw Daizee off the turnbuckles. Haze satellites into a standing Rings Of Saturn which is just all kinds of awesome. Chif hits a drop toehold into the ropes then chokes her in them, right in front of the smiling Jacobs. Bridging hammerlock from Daizee in response, going back to the arm to regain her advantage. BALDO BOMB gets MsChif a 2. ‘It’s amazing how much pain females can take’ – Zbysko. The Haze hits an enziguri and leaves both women down. Sadly Zbysko doesn’t use the break to slip in more borderline sexist comments sadly. Daizee with a facecrusher then a missile dropkick for 2. Heart Punch scores but Jimmy sweeps her legs before she can hit the Yakuza Kick. MsChif gets a nearfall with her Gateway To Annihilation. Haze hits CODE GREEN on MsChif, and the belt is only saved by Jimmy pulling her out of the ring. TOP ROPE PLANCHA ONTO JACOBS AND DELIRIOUS! But the distraction hands MsChif the advantage. She evades the Mind Trip and nails the Desecrator to retain at 11:26

Rating – ** – Parts of that were disjointed and sloppy, whilst some of their transitions were a little hesitant and loose. I also thought there was a touch too much interference. Not that I minded it, I just felt it got to the point where Jacobs had interfered so much that the referee would have to be completely blind and stupid not to have seen at least one instance. But aside from that, this was a good match, better than many of Daizee Haze’s efforts in an ROH ring. Her assault on MsChif’s arm in the first half of the match was surprisingly fluid and well executed. Long term followers of my reviews will now I often rag on her for sloppiness, but she looks to have really stepped up her game. Have these girls wrestled a longer match in SHIMMER? I might have to check that out if so…

Jimmy Jacobs gets on the microphone and tells Delirious that bad things will happen if he doesn’t produce a good performance in their tag match later in the night. He then promises to attack Daizee with the spike if she interferes in that match.

Silas Young vs Claudio Castagnoli vs Kenny Omega vs Austin Aries

Although at this point they’re both undercard guys who haven’t racked up too many ROH appearances, you can certainly tell who ROH has bigger plans for by the fact that Young is still allowed to use Journey as his entrance music whilst Kenny has been given an in-house HDNet theme. Claudio has finally gone the Chris Daniels route and shaved his head and immediately looks more imposing for doing so.

Larry moves from light sexism towards the women to some casual racism at Claudio. Double C starts with A-Double in a show of pseudo-sportsmanship, mostly intended to rile up the crowd. They manage to wrestle for nearly three minutes without really touching each other. Finally Young and Omega get fed up of waiting, opting to invade the ring to hit simultaneous dropkicks to the back. Both the heels get tossed to the floor to allow Kenny and Silas to actually wrestle a match. Fast-paced back and forth between them which ends when Young rolls into a Boston crab on his Canadian foe. Claudio gets some revenge by dragging Silas out of the ring as Austin sneaks in to blindside Omega. Kenny hits a rana on Castagnoli as Young hangs Aries in the ropes with a missile dropkick. Headstand Arabian press misses but Young lands on his feet and boots Austin to the floor. Castagnoli then obliterates Silas from behind with a bicycle kick. Les Artess Lift gets 2 for him, as does an impressive spinning heel kick. He teases the Big Swing but instead catapults him into a strike from A-Starr. Power Drive Elbow misses purely because Aries took SO much time preparing the crowd for it but the former World Champion quickly brings the Very European athlete back in to maintain their advantage. ‘US-HEY’ chants comically levelled at Castagnoli. He takes a frog crossbody for Omega, followed by the Stop Sign Enzi. LEAPFROG BULLDOG on Aries into Claudio’s crotch. Young wipes Claudio out with an Arabian Press to the floor as Kenny hits a DRAGON SUPLEX. Ocean Cyclone Suplex blocked, and Aries avoids the Stop Sign Enzi to hit a shinbreak back suplex. Silas blocks the IED with a swinging backbreaker. POP-UP EUROPEAN BY CLAUDIO! Omega takes MILES too long getting ready for a dive, and winds up taking a SUNSET FLIP POWERBOMB ALL THE WAY TO THE FLOOR from Aries. Impact Explosion Dropkick followed by the BRAINBUSTER! Aries wins at 14:03

Rating – *** –
That was, quite possibly, the best 4CS match in at least a year. If I gave half stars this would be comfortably in ***1/2 territory. The whole set up was just perfect, with two embittered ROH veterans refusing to wrestle, opposed with two popular, unproven babyfaces who were absolutely desperate to get out there and show what they could do. It was a dynamic that worked well for the whole match. Young did the face in peril thing well whilst still getting to hit his spots, and kept the crowd hot for the inevitable tag to Kenny Omega, who has enough flashy offence to really entertain down the stretch. It felt like Adam Pearce had loosened the reins on these guys a little. These midcard matches have felt VERY undercooked since Pearce took over, with the focus very much on not taking heat from the main events rather than having a good match. Having seen Strong/Briscoe earlier and now this, maybe Pearce is starting to relax a little and let his stellar roster do what they do best…

Dave Prazak goes to the ring next to introduce Naitch. Flair comes to the ring and shows an incredible ability to shake as many hands as possible without actually looking at ANY of them. Even if I question his purpose for being here, seeing Flair in an ROH ring is right up there with the most surreal things we’ve ever seen in ROH. It’s a level of the respect fans have for him that he manages to name drop HHH in a Ring Of Honor ring and not get pelted with garbage. He puts over the ROH locker room before being interrupted by the World Champion. He takes the obligatory cheap shots at Flair and does a decent job amidst technical difficulties in one of the biggest promos of his career. Ric fishes for his son Reid to get a shot in ROH, then says he’ll be watching the World Title match from ringside.

Chris Hero/Davey Richards/Eddie Edwards vs Kevin Steen/El Generico/Bobby Dempsey

Lots of talent (and Bobby Dempsey) and lots of issues coming into this one. Steen and Generico are feuding with the American Wolves over the ROH Tag Titles, with Generico particularly keen for revenge having missed Eliminating The Competition (and presumably the first six episodes of ROH on HDNet) after suffering an attack at the hands of Davey Richards in Florida. You’ve also got Bobby Dempsey in the ring against representatives of Sweet’n’Sour Inc, the group he spectacularly walked out on at the conclusion of Caged Collision. And Chris Hero’s return from NOAH continues, still armed with his dangerous ‘Emerald Elbow’ and promising a whole new run of knockouts in the near future.

Edwards spits at Steen, who snot rockets back at him and hits the somersault leg drop to the back of the head. Generico and Richards next, with the Mexican hammering on Davey in the corner looking for swift revenge after Florida. Hero in to some initial success, but Generico manages to boot him away and make the popular tag to Dempsey. Hero verbally buries him so Bobby gives him a tasty slap to the face. The Wolves jump Bobby from behind to end his brief spell in charge. Earthquake butt bomb from Dempsey to Edwards allows him to make the tag to Mr Wrestling who scores with a belly to belly Taz-plex. Richards gives him a dragon screw in the ropes amidst distraction from Hagadorn and Sweeney, and that hands the initiative back to S’n’S Inc. He follows it with a Strykerlock which continues putting pressure on that bad knee. Leg grapevine next with Edwards and Hero standing guard to prevent a save. Handspring Enzi scores, but the diving headbutt misses. Steen dives past Eddie and Hero in kung fu movie fashion and makes the hot tag to Generico. DOUBLE SPRINGBOARD SOMERSAULT PLANCHA TO THE FLOOR! Hero stops him hitting the Yakuza Kick but he drops Richards right onto his neck with a Michinoku Driver instead. Somersault blockbuster from Hero gets 2. Big boot nailed, then a BACK DROP DRIVER! Dempsey tags himself in and NO SELLS HERO’S OFFENCE! Even after getting his nose busted with an elbow smash he still keeps coming and hits a big dropkick in the corner. Body avalanche on Edwards next, so Davey comes in with KAWADA KICKS TO THE NOSE! Spinebuster on Richards! Cannonball by Steen. STRAPS DOWN SENTON BY BOBBY! YAKUZA KICK! DVD ON HERO! The Wolves save Hero from an embarrassing defeat right at the last. STEEN-TON BOMB MISSES as Kevin struggled with his bad knee. Dempsey saves Steen from defeat and gets MASSACRED with kicks from Davey. Flying splash from Generico into the Sharpshooter! HERO SAVES WITH THE ELBOW! DR Driver countered to the pumphandle cradlebreaker. Steen thinks about his moonsault only for Larry Sweeney to hit his injured leg with a chair. TEXAS CLOVERLEAF! Steen taps at 16:25

Rating – *** –
Another ***1/2 star bout there if I went for such things. It started a little too slowly to push the rating any higher, but once it did shift into the higher gears this was a riot. Bobby Dempsey finally came to the party, showing the kind of intensity and fire that meant his breakout at Caged Collision was such an epic moment. The sequence of him no selling Hero’s offence and getting bloodied by all three members of S’n’S Inc was a real highlight. I also liked the fact that the limb work seen throughout a match actually paid off in the finish. It’s Steen-erico/Wolves II in New York at the Seventh Anniversary Show by the way.

Chris Hero and the American Wolves to continue to assault Steen’s knee until El Generico saves his partner with a steel chair.

In the back Nigel roundly refuses to give any kind of title shot to Reid Flair (and rightly so). He’ll prove his World Championship credentials to the Nature Boy in person when he defeats Brent Albright in the main event.

Larry Sweeney hypes the American Wolves as the next ROH Tag Champions.

Irish Airborne vs Kenny King/Rhett Titus

The All Night Express of Rhettski and Kenny King have looked decent thus far. They have a huge match against the Tag Team Champions in Indianapolis tomorrow night, so need to prepare for that with a strong showing here against the Crists, who will be determined to make THIS the time they earn a permanent spot on the roster.

Rhett Titus’ entrance music strongly resembles Shawn Michaels’ entrance theme. That’s definitely a good thing. ANX jump the Crists to kick start a brawl around ringside. Stereo somersault dives from Jake and Dave flatten King and Titus. Rhett plants a cheap knee in the back of Jake, allowing King to vault over the ropes into an athletic guillotine choke. Suplex into mounted forearms get Kenny a 2. Titus hits an atomic drop then ducks down for King to deliver a powerful clothesline out of nowhere. Several minutes of keeping Jake in isolation follow. Finally Crist manages to evade both opponents and get the hot tag to Dave who lands a double missile dropkick. Hurricanrana on Kenny then a crossbody on Titus for 2. Leapfrog dropkick from Irish Airborne before they look to line up the Irish Air Raid. King saves to hit the DOOMSDAY BLOCKBUSTER BOMB! The ANX win in 08:38

Rating – ** –
Once again King and Titus look like a promising team. These development matches are crucial for them as it allows them to develop an identity as a team, a pattern to their offence, establish a regular dynamic to the partnership and so on. There are still some kinks to iron out but it’s a good way to build up two decent young wrestlers. It’ll be interesting to see what they do in something more than an elongated squash tomorrow night.

Bison Smith vs Bryan Danielson

No sign of Prince Nana here tonight even though he proclaimed to have signed Bison on the recent Video Wire. This one has been building ever since Bison gave Dragon a concussion on ppv in Chicago. He attacked again during the Florida shows. Now American Dragon is looking for some revenge. What can the ‘best in the world’ come up with to combat the mass and power of his undefeated opponent?

Final Countdown is gone now, although generic screamy metal makes a fitting entrance theme for the fired up Dragon ahead of this grudge match. He moves quickly to stay out of the clutches of Smith in the early going. He fires off kicks then backs away smiling, still staying out of the grasp of his opponent. He then starts to demonstrate his stamina by doing press ups and dancing, further irritating Bison. Sleeper hold locked in, but at last Danielson is caught and Smith swings him into a backbreaker. Nigel McGuinness is breaking out some hilarious verbal jibes at the expense of Larry Zbysko to kill some of the dead time here. Smith hits the press slam to the turnbuckles and a volley of elbow strikes. Danielson looks for some forearms but is floored again with a single knee to the gut. Basement dropkick in the corner does score. Kicks to the chest next and he floors Smith for the first time. Incredibly, Bison’s kick out elevates Dragon all the way to the apron. Danielson lines up a roaring elbow but it’s ducked into a HALF NELSON SUPLEX! Danielson nails a missile dropkick which sends the big man to the floor. SPRINGBOARD CROWD DIVE SCORES! Incredibly, despite hitting the move, Danielson barely has time to celebrate before being thrown backwards into the chairs. GUARDRAIL JUMP FOOTBALL TACKLE from Smith. Dragon blocks the powerbomb that concussed him at Caged Collision and boots Bison in the face. Count-out win for Dragon at 12:43

Rating – ** –
There was some cute stuff at the start with Danielson approaching a grudge match in a rally unique way, and a few big spots at the end. But mostly that was pretty dull, and the finish was really disappointing. I sense this was only meant to be the first match in a series so I’m sure they were told to keep a lot in their locker, but still, you can’t hide the fact that this was a disappointment. You sense they were going for a Danielson/Morishima vibe, but I’m not sure Bison has the speed and swiftness in his legs that we’ve seen from the likes of Takeshi Morishima or Samoa Joe. I’m not sure how much more we get Smith booked in ROH, but you’d have to say this was a real opportunity for him. Even handicapped with a poor finish, you have to feel it’s a major strike against your name when even Danielson can’t get a great match out of you.

Jimmy Jacobs/Delirious vs Tyler Black/Jerry Lynn

The stakes are high for everyone involved here. Delirious needs to produce a performance having beaten a number of times recently and with Jimmy threatening him with ‘bad things’ should be not address that slump tonight. Jacobs and Black are still bitter enemies after the events of Final Battle 2008. Their bad blood runs so deep that Tyler has opted to decline the opportunity to cash in his #1 Contendership until after he’s ended the feud with Jacobs. And Jerry Lynn has waded into the AOTF situation as well, including teaming up with Necro Butcher in a recent match against them. He’s still making noise about getting another singles match for the World Title too.

Tyler is preoccupied with getting to Jacobs and doesn’t see Delirious slide in from the side and attack him. Jacobs doesn’t want to get in there with Black though, demanding Delirious stay in the ring with him. Black evades an early attempt at the Panic Attack and brings Lynn in. Satellite headscissors followed by a tilta-whirl backbreaker from Jerry. Tyler gets 2 with the Black Star Press. And finally he gets his hands on Jimmy, mounting him for a flurry of punches. Jimmy quickly rolls across the ring and tags Delirious back in. Jerry delivers a satellite gourdbuster for 2. Lynn sees Jimmy look for a cheapshot through the ropes and react quickly to deliver the guillotine leg drop in the ropes, but it serves as enough distraction to enable Delirious to score with a neckbreaker to turn the match into the favour of Age Of The Fall. They work on Jerry’s midsection and back, making it incredibly hard for him to breathe, let alone get all the way across the ring for a tag. Miscommunication sees Jacobs inadvertently knock Delirious to the floor, but AOTF recover their focus in time to prevent a tag. Contra Code countered to the TKO by Lynn, and this time he does make the crucial tag. Black quickly focuses on Jimmy, allowing Jerry to hit a super rana on Delirious. Spear on Jerry, before Tyler nails the F-5 on Delirious for 2. Age Of The Fall sent to the floor for STEREO TOPE ATOMICO’S! But taking it to the floor means Jacobs and Delirious can get steel chairs. They miss with a Con-Chair-To attempt before Delirious brings Tyler back in for Chemical Imbalance II. Jacobs is in with another chair, but he accidentally levels Delirious with it. Black covers for the victory at 15:32

Rating – ** –
It’s not that I didn’t like the wrestling on display here. It’s that it was almost brutally formulaic and predictable. I know lots of ROH tag matches fall into that category, but here that predictable part just went on for so long. I kept waiting for them to amp things up and it never came. There was no heat on Delirious’ defeat. There’s no real clamour for Delirious to break away from Jimmy. Tyler Black seems to be losing overness after coming BACK from the brink of the World Title to feud with Jacobs too. So yeah, it’s not a bad match, it’s perfectly functional. But it’s nothing special, and the fact that it wasn’t anything at all special in the sub-main event really drained the heat from it.

Delirious is bleeding heavily after taking that chair shot from Jimmy Jacobs. But now attention turns to Age Of The Fall as, if you remember earlier, Jimmy promised there would be consequences if Delirious lost tonight. He threatens to spike him…and as Daizee comes out to save him. SPIKE TO THE HAZE INSTEAD! What the f*ck, is Daizee bleeding too? That’s surely going too far? COBRA CLUTCH SUPLEX ON JACOBS! Delirious runs through Jimmy with the spike as the Age Of The Fall starts to fall apart again. Daizee and Delirious hug in a Savage/Elizabeth moment. I’m still finding Daizee getting colour a little unsettling though…

Nigel McGuinness vs Brent Albright – ROH World Title Match

Surely this match is an example of why Tyler Black should probably already have the World Title by now. We’re at the point where Nigel has defeated so many challengers that you don’t even have to beat him or do anything to earn a title shot now. I suppose at a stretch you could say that Albright won the recent Steel Cage Warfare bout, ran Nigel close in Florida and is a former NWA Heavyweight Champion. Still, as Jerry Lynn pointed out in the video wire, the speculation is that Nigel is really starting to fall apart and badly needs some time off to heal some nagging injuries. The belief is that, at this point, any defence could be the won which sees his body finally give out on him and a new champion crowned. Is tonight Brent Albright’s lucky night? Don’t forget Ric Flair is at ringside…

No offence to Brent Albright, but there’s no way that t-shirt brought in a lot of revenue for ROH. Positive start by him though, getting the best of the early mat exchanges. Nigel responds with a slap to the face before retreating to the floor to hurl abuse at Flair. Albright is clearly fired up though, hitting a baseball slide then a pescado. But going to the outside turns out to be a real mistake as McGuinness uses the ringpost to launch a major offensive on the shoulder. Wristlock suplex follows that and Brent now has to flee to the ropes. THAT ARM SUBMISSION! Impressively Brent manages to counter to the Crowbar, but by that point they’re both far too close to the ropes. Bridging chickenwing from the champion and we’ve already reached the point where Albright’s arm is hanging limp at his side. He can’t manage to get Nigel up for the Flair-esque press slam, and has to watch as McGuinness flings himself into a crossbody block. I love how, even when Brent tries a comeback, Nigel targets even his basic strikes at the shoulder. He kicks out of a pin, and once again drives Albright’s arm into the buckles. Grounded cobra clutch applied at the 10 minute mark.

Cobra Clutch McLariat ducked into the Rock Bottom and that buys Brent some time. He grabs the champion and aggressively starts throwing him into the railings, knowing he’s now fighting from a long way behind in this match. But as soon as they re-enter the ring Nigel grabs the arm. FLAIR PRESS SLAM! Swinging neckbreaker nailed for 2. He counters the Tower Of London but takes an ugly drop toehold into the bottom turnbuckle. SHOULDER FIRST TOWER OF LONDON OFF THE APRON! Albright blocks the regular Tower Of London for a second time and comes out of the corner with his own crossbody block. But he goes to the well once too often and this time does eat the Tower Of London into the ring for 2. Cobra Clutch McLariat gets 2 as well. Jawbreaker Lariat COUNTERED to the Crowbar. But Brent has been on the defensive for most of the match and just hasn’t done enough damage to secure the win. Referee gets bumped, so with no official McGuinness hauls Brent up for a TOWER OF LONDON THROUGH A TABLE! But still Albright kicks out at 2. London Dungeon locked in but COUNTERED AGAIN! CROWBAR! Nigel has to rake the eyes to break the hold this time. Air Raid Crash gets 2, so we go back to the Crowbar. Claudio Castagnoli runs in to attack Albright and force a disqualification at 22:13

Rating – *** –
Good match then an absolutely lousy finish. I mean, really awful. Considering you’ve got a legendary figure sitting at ringside, was this really the right time to pull such a crappy finish? Sorry Pearce but you got that call dead wrong…again. Before that this was another impressive match. It was a lot more of a carry job by Nigel this time I felt, but that was mostly due to how they’d laid the match out. But, as much as I enjoyed the contest, that lousy finish really soured it. And I’m getting sick of saying that by this point. This BS is exactly why I stopped watching other companies, and leaves me questioning why I’m being alienated by the promotion that prides itself on being an ALTERNATIVE to this garbage. It’s not like Albright/Claudio is such a major feud that it needed this rub. It’s not like Brent is so important that he needed the rub of needing an ‘out’ in a World Title match. Nigel is one of the longest reigning ROH Champions in history. There’s no shame in a clean loss to him. Why couldn’t he go down to a valiant defeat then be attacked by Claudio if that attack was so important. Why not have Claudio attack the shoulder BEFORE the match and add heat to it. Pathetic booking that has honestly left me furious. Am I being too harsh?

Flair tears the jacket off and gets in the ring to fight off Nigel and Claudio with the trademark chops and sends the fans home happy. I hope ROH didn’t pay extra for that…

In the back Kevin Steen refuses to give the American Wolves the credit for injuring his knee. He says it’s an injury he’s had for 8 years, they did nothing more than take advantage of it. Uber-intense…

Tape Rating – ** –
It started really brightly with probably the best opening match of the year so far (although Danielson/Titus takes it close) and had two fantastic undercard bouts in the S’n’S trios tag and the 4CS…but the second half of the card was really mediocre. King and Titus were being built for future, higher profile matches. Dragon/Bison was an obvious first match of the feud. AOTF vs Lynn/Black was just there to go to the Jacobs/Delirious separation…which is all well and good but it got to the point where we are sacrificing Tyler Black’s heat for the sake of everyone else. And as Tyler is the clear standout pick for future franchise player in ROH, it’s a dangerous game to be risking his popularity. Then the main event was spoilt by another spectacular piece of sh*tty booking in an ROH World Title Match. Flair’s debut was actually decent, despite my cynicism at the top of the review. He came in, put over the locker room, got involved in an angle that put Nigel over, and threw some chops at the end to send the people home happy, so it’s a strong thumbs up for his involvement. Unfortunately it’s a definite thumbs in the middle, leaning just about downwards for this show on the whole. Unless you’re a huge Flair mark you don’t really need this. When Bobby Dempsey and Silas Young are in the best matches on the card you know it won’t be making the ‘must have’ list.

Top 3 Matches

3) Roderick Strong vs Jay Briscoe (***)

2) Austin Aries vs Kenny Omega vs Claudio Castagnoli vs Silas Young (***)

1) Chris Hero/Davey Richards/Eddie Edwards vs Kevin Steen/El Generico/Bobby Dempsey (***)

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