ROH 224 – Take No Prisoners 2009 – 4th April 2009
This event marks the end of Ring Of Honor’s venture into nationwide ppv, at least for the time being. When they first launched in 2007 this was treated as a HUGE deal for ROH. The first three events (Respect Is Earned, Driven and Man Up) were hyped to the moon and were critically warmly received. But the quality has gradually declined since Undeniable, the point where New Horizons last year barely got any hype or “special distinction” as a pay-per-view event at all. A last ditch attempt to save the ppv market saw the memorable Tag Title change at Driven 2008, then the final blow-off of the Aries/Jacobs and McGuinness/Danielson rivalries at Rising Above ’08. Whilst the idea was noble one, the ppv endeavour never really succeeded in hooking in enough NEW fans to the ROH product to make it worthwhile. They weren’t necessarily unsuccessful, it’s just that it was purely the existing fanbase funding it. They never really got the market penetration they were looking for, and if you’re being realistic, the two ppv events this year (as we headed to the expiry of the two year contract) have felt a lot like toys discarded by an infant with no further interest in playing with them. Sure Caged Collision got the big cage main event, but in truth the Albright & Co. vs S’n’S Inc. feud was barely anything more than a midcard feud, and it was a main event that ended up seeing ten guys shoehorned into a cage match and given 15 minutes to work with. And there’s even less hype for tonight’s event – to the extent that they gave away the World Title change which COULD have happened tonight (had they given Nigel the night off last night) at the house show last night instead. This is still the second show in a huge weekend for ROH, looking to win over new fans on the back of the WrestleMania buzz, so the card isn’t weak by any stretch of the imagination. But an un-hyped tag team main event, a total filler World Title defence and an assortment of thrown together undercard bouts don’t scream MAJOR show at you. By this point ROH had already switched it’s focus to the HDNet show, so all they’ll want to do here is sign off the ppv airwaves with a few great matches. With KENTA/Tyler vs Aries/Nakajima in the main event, you’d certainly expect there to be at least one absolute cracker tonight. Hosts in Houston, TX are Lenny Leonard and Dave Prazak…along with Nigel McGuinness providing an interesting insight into life after the World Championship.
Ace Steel vs Colt Cabana
Old friends and fellow WWE rejects collide in a ‘battle of the Second City Saints’ in what should be a fun opening contest. Everyone knows the extensive history these two have with each other, and even if they don’t, this is a far more positive way to open a ppv than an Alex Payne match. It’s a significant match for Colt as he left ROH right before the first pay-per-view taping, so this is the first time he’s made it onto an ROH ppv. He doesn’t appear to have invested any money into new ring gear in that two years though, as he’s wearing the same singlet he was working matches in back in 2007.
Big hug between the student and the teacher since they’re good friends as well as being opponents tonight. Remembering the events of last night, Ace and Colt go around checking the turnbuckles to make sure they don’t break again. Steel then ambushes a ringside photographer to take pictures of Colt’s ass. When they actually do get down to business Cabana uses the technical skills to gain control. Having seen enough of that Ace breaks and spends more time playing with the fans, raising the ire of Cabana by pulling his hair then taking a cheap shot at him when his back is turned. He clobbers his former student again with a clothesline, using more hard hitting stuff to counteract Cabana’s endless chaining ability. Punches and elbows from Cabana, then the Flying Asshole to make the point that he won’t just work the mat. Colt 45 is countered by Ace, but Cabana turns it back into the Billy Goat’s Curse. Boom Boom (still hate that name) picks up a victory at 09:26
Rating – *** – Really fun opening match. Nothing serious as you might expect, but they were spot on with their comedy stuff, working the live crowd well but still maintaining an interest from the people watching at home too. Although the actual wrestling was basic, I liked that they worked a genuine little story in with Ace trying to use power and a more physical style to negate Cabana’s funky technical skills, only to have Colt out-punch him for the win. Terrific choice to raise the curtain
Jimmy Jacobs compares Necro Butcher leaving Age Of The Fall to ‘a garbage man who threw away the winning lottery ticket’. He vows to end Necro’s career tonight then watch as his whole life falls apart as a result.
Chris Hero/American Wolves/Incognito vs Kevin Steen/El Generico/Jay Briscoe/Magno
A pre-match hype video very much bills this one as a continuation of the Steen-erico/Wolves feud which continues to escalate. Their physical battle in the Hammerstein ballroom was superb, and the vicious post-match assault Richards and Edwards carried out on a helpless Mr Wrestling ensured that the issue will continue even after the Tag Champions managed to retain their belts for the second time against the Wolves. Tonight we add Chris Hero and the man he recently beat in singles competition Jay Briscoe (who also has issues with the Wolves after they put his brother on the injured list) and rival luchadors Incognito and Magno, who worked to impress people last night in a broken ring.
Big brawl gets us going, with the lucha stars in the ring with Dave Prazak implying that one of them is Dragon Soldier B. Magno hits a backflip kick in the corner and a satellite headscissors which sends Incognito to the floor. SLINGSHOT HEADSCISSORS TO THE FLOOR! ‘I liked them in Nacho Libre’ – McGuinness. Steen flattens Edwards with the somersault leg drop before Richards and Briscoe take centre stage. Davey takes Jay down with a spinning heel kick, but Briscoe rallies and sends Hero into the turnbuckles with a flatliner. The Wolves try to isolate Generico and succeed in pulling him away from his corner. Springboard into a somersault senton (with added Kevin Steen taunting) from Incognito gets impressed gasps from the crowd. Michinoku Driver from nowhere levels Davey and allows Generico to get the hot tag to ALL THREE partners. Steen, Jay and Magno clear the ring. STEREO SOMERSAULT DIVES by Steen and Briscoe. SPRINGBOARD MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR BY GENERICO! TOP ROPE CORKSCREW MOONSAULT BY MAGNO! Generico hits the Yakuza Kick on Eddie, sending him into Steen’s pumphandle cradlebreaker. Briscoe hits a flying frog splash and it takes all three of Edwards’ partners to make the save. Generico takes Hero to the corner, but Chris knocks him away and pulls out the loaded elbow pad. YAKUZA KICK! LOADED ELBOW SMASH! JAY SAVES! He ducks another Emerald Elbow attempt and bulldozes through Hero with a spinebuster. SPIKE JAY DRILLER! Magno became an honorary Briscoe brother to assist Jay with that. The babyface team score the victory at 09:24
Rating – *** – Something I don’t think ROH has got much credit for this year is the number of surprisingly high quality multi-man undercard tag matches we’ve had. There was a terrific 6-man tag featuring the Dark City Fight Club at Proving Ground 2009 Night 2, and Steen and Generico, flanked by Bobby Dempsey, were involved in another one with Sweet’n’Sour Inc. at Stylin’ & Proflin’. All eight men in this were bang on their game tonight, and produced an absolutely frantic ten minutes of constant action. Far from a technical classic, this was a spotfest reminiscent of the 2002 Scramble Match era, and really lit up the Houston crowd.
Jimmy Jacobs vs Necro Butcher – No DQ Match
Hopefully this is the match that finally ends the issue between these two men. Necro was SO over when he left Age Of The Fall, but his poor wrestling skills have been badly exposed since he stepped out from the stable ‘enforcer’ role, and his feud with Jacobs has been made to seem less significant that both Austin Aries’ and now Tyler Black’s…meaning he’s gradually losing heat. He could really do with a strong and defining blow-off match with the man who brought him back to ROH in 2007 at Man Up, when Age Of The Fall debuted to assault the Briscoe brothers.
Jacobs tries to jump Butcher but doesn’t succeed and is hauled to the floor and repeatedly introduced to the guardrails. Into the crowd they go where Necro finds the trusty ‘Section D’ sign to plaster his former leader with. They fight all the way up the stands with Butcher trying to throw Jimmy off the back of the bleachers into what appears to be a dining hall several feet below. Back to the ringside area, where Jacobs finds a giant screwdriver and stabs Butcher right in the forehead. Pretty soon Necro is bleeding heavily as a result of multiple screwdriver shots to the head. But he still punches a chair OUT of Jacobs’ hand and throws it into his stomach, and follows that moments later with the Chair Slam. One more chair shot to the head sees Jacobs busted open too but he defies that to hit a spear off the apron. They battle on the turnbuckles…JACOBS WITH A SUPERPLEX TO THE FLOOR! Jacobs realises that Necro is badly hurt and calls for some jobbers (I believe the jobbers in question are actually the future Bravado Brothers) to help him put Butcher back into the ring. Chair shots to the head get NO SOLD by the wild man, who drops Jimmy with a bulldog on the same chair. To the apron now…NECRO WITH A F*CKING UGLY DVD THROUGH A TABLE! Even uglier crossbody block from the top rope gets Necro a 2. END TIME DDT ON A CHAIR STACK! END TIME! Surely Jacobs won’t be able to make Butcher tap out? He does not an takes a Tiger Driver on the chairs. Necro gets his definitive victory and ends the Age Of The Fall chapter of his career in 14:52
Rating – *** – Necro got a little sloppy at the end (as he does in every match to be fair) but it didn’t really spoil a good undercard brawl. My interest in Necro has declined rapidly since he left AOTF and gets more and more exposed as a limited performer. But this was his element here and he threw himself around with real gusto.
Appallingly lit promo time for Bryan Danielson now. He recalls his time as ROH World Champion fondly, and has a chance to relive those days with a second reign if he can win tonight. Good promo which gave real purpose to what is very clearly nothing more than a perfunctory ROH Title match. The crap lighting makes Ring Of Honor look incredibly amateurish on ppv though. Would it have killed them to tape somewhere more appropriate?
Nigel McGuinness gets an in-ring promo segment, and is showered with streamers as he makes his way to the ring. He isn’t wrestling tonight, and doesn’t apologise as he’s torn his body apart preserving the integrity of the ROH World Championship. Claudio Castagnoli was supposed to team with Nigel tonight, and his unhappiness at the change of plans is such that he comes out and attacks the former champion. Brent Albright makes the save, leading to…
Claudio Castagnoli vs Brent Albright vs Blue Demon Jr.
Obviously this match had to be re-booked off the back of Nigel’s injury, but it looks set to continue the rivalry between Double C and Brent Albright. There still hasn’t been a decisive winner in their series together, although Claudio was able to score a pinfall win over Brent last night following a low blow. NWA Champion Blue Demon Jr. gets thrown in just because. Hopefully he works harder than he did last night, when an entire four way match passed with him barely having moved.
Claudio thumbs Albright’s eyes to cut short any momentum he had, as Blue Demon strolls casually to ringside. Apparently the change to triple threat matches now requiring tags in ROH has been formalised. I’m ok with that. Demon baseball slides into a headscissors on the outside. Castagnoli drops him with a tilta-whirl backbreaker then the Les Artess Lift. Tag to Albright who steams into some big offence on Claudio. 61-Knee then the swinging neckbreaker get 2, but Claudio swiftly comes back with a backbreaker against the guardrails. Tope suicida from Demon as the two rivals get too preoccupied with fighting each other. Double C levels Brent with a European uppercut. Nigel slides into the ring and distracts Castagnoli as payback for earlier, allowing Albright to nail the Half Nelson Suplex and score a pinfall victory at 05:37
Rating – * – Whole lot of filler nothing really. The star is for the progression of the Albright/Claudio feud since, as a match, this was a total non-entity. Demon was a wasted booking this weekend too, contributing absolutely nothing to both matches he allegedly participated in.
Backstage Jerry Lynn calls winning the ROH Championship the biggest moment in his career. He admits that not everyone is glad to see him as World Champion, but he worked hard to get there, and he’ll work even harder to keep it.
Alex Koslov vs Roderick Strong
This is dubbed as a special ‘international challenge’ match. I like the sound of that, and on paper at least, this is one of the more enticing matches on the card. Both had terrific outings last night – with Strong tearing the house down with Nakajima in an entertaining 10 minute bout, whilst Koslov pitted his skills against Bryan Danielson in another highly watchable contest.
Lenny Leonard points out that Koslov is in a stable in Mexico with Rocky Romero, former NRC associate of Roderick. Strong takes the Russian off his feet with an early backbreaker for 2. Fallaway slam sends Koslov to the apron, but Alex rakes the eyes to escape a suplex out there. Strong goes for a shoulder tackle to the floor but wipes out against the railings. Cossack stomps drive Roddy down to the canvas. He hangs the neck over the apron, then busts out a HANGING MEXICAN SURFBOARD IN THE ROPES! Roddy boots him in the corner and climbs the ropes for a big superplex to leave both men down. Back suplex backbreaker gets Strong another nearfall and is followed by the Death By Roderick. SOVIET STRIKE counters Strong’s Sick Kick, and he busts out another sweet counter with the crucifix driver out of a half nelson backbreaker. SICK KICK! STRONGHOLD! Over at 07:40
Rating – *** – Strong/Nakajima and Koslov/Danielson were both better matches, but I suppose when ROH are taping a ppv and airtime is at a premium, this was a decent outing. Had this been on HDNet you get the feeling people would’ve raved about it. Koslov has been the outstanding talent of all the Mexican-based guys that were brought in this weekend and would certainly be welcomed back.
Jerry Lynn vs Erick Stevens vs D-Lo Brown vs Bryan Danielson – ROH World Title Match
Do any of these challengers actually deserve a title shot? Even Dragon, who you’d say is permanently worthy of a title shot given his iconic status in Ring Of Honor, has been very short on wins in 2009. Stevens and D-Lo have picked up a few victories recently, but nothing really creditable enough to give them this sort of opportunity. That said, it’s a chance for new champion Lynn to prove himself a fighting champion on his first night with the belt, and also presents a chance for him to renew rivalries with Bryan Danielson, with whom he’s already contested two fiercely competitive battles.
New ‘stock’ entrance music for Danielson tonight. Hopefully this is the version he keeps since it’s much better than his first HDNet theme. He and D-Lo have a really intense staredown as the match starts. We even get some vintage D-Lo headshaking action. Stevens kicks the knees out from under Brown and football tackles him out. He goes for a TKO on Danielson, but settles for a tilta-whirl slam. D-Lo and Lynn take centre stage next. D-LO LEG DROP NAILED! Where was the random head shaking???? STEREO DIVES by Dragon and Lynn to their larger opponents on the floor, and that was purely so they have a chance to renew their own rivalry uninterrupted. Danielson nails a running knee then briefly goes to Cattle Mutilation before Stevens makes the save. Shining Wizard from D-Lo to Stevens, followed by a tornado DDT by Lynn, then the Danielson missile dropkick. Jerry tosses him across the ring with a German suplex then locks in a cross armbreaker. LO DOWN BREAKS THE HOLD! Stevens gets 2 on Brown with the lifting lariat. They fight in the corner until Lynn arrives to powerbomb D-Lo. Football tackle prevents Jerry from scoring with the Cradle Piledriver. Dragon upstairs for the SPRINGBOARD CROWD DIVE! Choo Choo on Lynn, who comes back with the CRADLE PILEDRIVER! Jerry pins Stevens to retain at 08:09
Rating – *** – Actually, for all that this was one of the most pointless ROH Title matches in history, it was really enjoyable. I have been hugely forthcoming in my criticism of D-Lo in ROH, so I’ll be the first to say that he was the STAR in this match. His power exchanges with Stevens, his arrogant beatdown on Lynn and his brief interactions with Danielson were absolute highlights. He also ditched a lot of the plodding WWF Attitude offence and stuck to hitting his big novelty spots then getting out. I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but I’d quite like Danielson/D-Lo in a singles match off the back of this. So yeah, this really didn’t need to be a title bout, but they had three experienced athletes (and Stevens) in there, who all produced enough to make it a decent watch.
In the back Tyler cuts a drunk-sounding promo. He is disappointed that he wasn’t the one to dethrone Nigel, but now has Jerry Lynn in his sights somewhere down the road.
Austin Aries/Katsuhiko Nakajima vs Tyler Black/KENTA
The Ring Of Honor ppv era began with a huge tag team main event – featuring then champion Takeshi Morishima teaming former champion Bryan Danielson who was returning from a significant shoulder injury, against future champ Nigel McGuinness and one of the participants in tonight’s closing ppv bout – KENTA. It was a thrilling match that this one will hope to emulate. Obviously the core of the storyline coming into this is the Black/Aries rivalry which started at Final Battle 2008. But there’s also a fierce rivalry between Nakajima and KENTA coming out of Japan, and in turn Aries and KENTA were part of some superb matches back in 2006 (at Chi-Town Struggle and Honor Reclaims Boston). The levels of athleticism and talent on display here are undeniable. Which make-shift team will gel better and gain the feather in their cap of winning the last ever Ring Of Honor ppv main event?
Amusing moment before the bell as KENTA points out to Nakajima that the fans are chanting for HIM. Aries and Tyler start, with Austin quick to remember how he pinned Tyler last night. Positive start from A-Double, who grounds Black and delivers a big palm strike. Nakajima in, but unable to deliver any significant kicks to Black. KENTA takes a tag and gets another massive pop as he enters. The two Japanese stars waste no time in laying into each other with some frightening strikes. KICK DUEL! NAKA LEGSWEEP MISSES! KENTA BUZZSAW KICK MISSES! STAND-OFF! Nakajima’s chest has already started bleeding as KENTA boots him in mid-air. Having seen enough, Aries tags back, and requests that KENTA wrestles rather than tries any such kicking antics with him. Headscissors escape dropkick misses, with KENTA keen to point out he remembers his previous matches with Aries. Aries SLAPS the NOAH star then leaves the ring for a victory lap rather than face any retribution. Tyler ambushes him and sends him back in to a big boot. Slingshot disrespect kick by KENTA before he brings Tyler back in. He looks for the springboard clothesline and gets shoved to the floor by Aries. FROG DOUBLE AXEHANDLE TO THE FLOOR! Nakajima tags in as his team now looks to wear down Tyler.
Aries gives him the Neck Pinch but takes WAY too long to deliver the Power Drive Elbow and allows Tyler to tag out. Springboard dropkick from KENTA, then REPEATED Yakuza kicks in the corner. Boston Crab applied only for Naka to break it with kicks. Aries gets the tag and Nakajima floors the GHC Jr. Heavyweight Champion with a DDT. Rebound kick to the neck takes KENTA down for 2. STANDING spinning heel kick to KENTA on the top rope only for him to block the avalanche brainbuster. KENTA with a TOP ROPE DOUBLE STOMP! GO 2 SLEEP IS COUNTERED! SUPERKICKS! LARIATOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Both the Japanese men are down and inching towards their corners. Aries stops KENTA tagging and delivers the shinbreak back suplex. IED nailed for 2. NECK DROP GERMAN! TAG TO TYLER! Peroxism gets 2 on A-Double. Lionsault feint into the BLACK STAR PRESS! Phoenix Splash misses and Aries scores with a crazy TURNBUCKLE ARMDRAG! LAST CHANCERY! KENTA SAVES! Running F-5 from Black, then the BUCKLE BOMB! Nakajima saves his partner with a SUPERKICK FLURRY! BUSAIKU KNEE FROM KENTA! ARIES WITH THE KICK OF DEATH! GOD’S LAST GIFT ON ARIES! Tyler ends the weekend with a return victory over Aries at 22:12
Rating – **** – Exciting, athletic and high quality main event action once again from an ROH ppv. This ppv will definitely go down as one of the least memorable of the promotion’s pay-per-view run, but at least they went out with another great tag team bout. I could be harsh and criticise this as being pretty much a spot-fest, and whilst it was a tad low brow, it was a fine example of exactly what ROH brings to the table when it’s at it’s very best. Terrific way to sign off…
Tape Rating – ** – I’m sure some will call that a harsh rating and I’ll admit, I’ve been a little mean. However, this was a total one match show. Even if Jacobs/Necro was decent, everything else was little more than solid, TV-level bouts, and unlike previous ppv shows, the great main event wasn’t QUITE good enough to drag the whole show up to 3* level. In reality, this has probably been the weakest WrestleMania double shot ROH has run thus far. Neither show has been really bad, but without the Dragon Gate stars and a whole host of in-house feuds to blow off, they haven’t quite felt like the monolithic, MUST SEE events that we’ve become used to seeing. I think ultimately in KENTA/Richards, Kamala in ROH, the World Title change and the main event tonight, they still did a hell of a job upping their game from the standards they’ve been hitting thus far in ’09 and providing some really memorable moments, but I also think these events actually highlighted how far ROH has fallen back since 2008, and we end the ppv era with one of the weakest ROH ppv offerings (to date). If you’re picking up one of the weekend’s events it has to be Supercard Of Honor rather than this one. If you do get your hands on it Tyler/KENTA vs Aries/Naka is a great watch though
Top 3 Matches
3) Kevin Steen/El Generico/Jay Briscoe/Magno vs Chris Hero/American Wolves/Incognito (***)
2) Necro Butcher vs Jimmy Jacobs (***)
1) Tyler Black/KENTA vs Austin Aries/Katsuhiko Nakajima (****)
Top 5 Supercard Of Honor 4/Take No Prisoners 2009 Weekend Matches
5) Bryan Danielson vs Alex Koslov (*** – Supercard Of Honor 4)
4) Roderick Strong vs Katsuhiko Nakajima (*** – Supercard Of Honor 4)
3) Tyler Black/KENTA vs Austin Aries/Katsuhiko Nakajima (**** – Take No Prisoners 2009)
2) Nigel McGuinness vs Jerry Lynn (**** – Supercard Of Honor 4)
1) KENTA vs Davey Richards (****1/2 – Supercard Of Honor 4)