ROH 227 – The Homecoming 2 – 25th April 2009
After providing Dayton with a succession of jobber matches, cunningly disguised by a couple of absolute crackers, ROH heads into the second Chicago show of the year. The main event has been fixed for some time, with Colt Cabana returning to Chicago with ROH for the first time since he left for the WWE in 2007 and challenging Jerry Lynn for the World Title. The rest of the card looks much stronger than yesterday too with the American Wolves defending the tag belts, Chris Hero and Tyler Black in singles action and Jimmy Rave looking to finally defeat Bryan Danielson. Roderick Strong is in action too, which after leaving pints of his blood in Ohio yesterday, is a minor miracle. We return to the Frontier Fieldhouse in Chicago Ridge, IL. Hosts are Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard
ROH VIDEO WIRE – See A Cut Above (ROH226) review for details
Chris Hero does an AWESOME job hyping what had previously seen like a throwaway midcard bout between he and Tyler Black. This guy absolutely destroys the majority of the roster when it comes to microphone skills.
Rasche Brown vs Egotistico Fantastico
Both guys made their main show debuts in Dayton last night, in losing efforts. Skullkrusher was an intimidating presence in a Four Corner Survival but ultimately didn’t come out victorious, whilst Ego was on the losing end of a bout with Jimmy Jacobs. Rasche may have the Bobby Lashley body, Ernest ‘The Cat’ Miller face and Million Dollar Man goofy laugh, but he certainly has some charisma. Early indications are that ROH officials are really impressed with him and want to get behind him. Can he earn that vote of confidence against the luchadore from ‘Mexico City, Illinois’?
Brown seems like a total lunatic, giggling like a schoolgirl at the prospect of shaking hands with Fantastico. He wipes Ego out with a big clothesline and chokes him in the corner, easily tossing the smaller man around. Is Ego wearing the same mask that Jimmy broke yesterday? That’s just cheap. He tries a moonsault press only to be caught in a running powerslam for 2. Generic big man chinlock followed by a generic gorilla press slam come next. He goes for a near slow motion body avalanche but finds his knee dropkicked by Fantastico. Ego hits a springboard clothesline, only to be thrown to the ground moments later with a bowling shoe ugly spinebuster. TORTURE RACK DROP IN THE ROPES! Spinning powerbomb countered to the world’s ugliest sunset flip…and Ego gets the surprise victory over his huge opponent at 06:35
Rating – * – Personality wise, I love Rasche. He’s so incredibly weird that he almost becomes entertaining to watch purely because you don’t know what he’s going to say next. The problem is, on his two showings this weekend at least, is that he can’t actually do much in the ring. He moves very slowly, doesn’t seem to have an awful lot of coordination, and in a workrate promotion like ROH his massive shortcomings are going to be exposed very quickly. If ROH are serious about using him they’ll do well to put him into some kind of enforcer role for a stable asap and limit him to working tags and HDNet squashes…
Austin Aries/Rhett Titus vs Silas Young/Alex Payne
It’s nothing more than another night of enhancement talent for Aries and Titus, who dispatched the Phoenix Twins fairly comprehensively in Dayton yesterday. Tonight they face Silas Young (who has already clashed with A-Double a few times this year) and Alex Payne who, like Titus, is a graduate from the ROH school. A 2-0 weekend is on the cards for them…
Aries’ mixture of confusion and disgust as he watches the strange antics of Rhett Titus are really amusing. He then starts laughing at Alex Payne…just because. He disrespectfully pitches Sugarfoot out of the ring after catching sight of some fans holding up foam feet. Young in, evading the Kick Of Death and trapping Austin against the canvas for a series of nearfalls. ‘Get Sugarfoot back in here’ – Aries. Since Young refuses, Aries decides it’s time to let Rhett enter the fray for the first time. Masturbating Armbar (I know) from Titus but he can’t keep Young down and Silas finds some innovative ways to pop out of holds and counter on Rhettski. Payne joins his partner to dish out double flapjacks to both opponents. Aries and Young brawl on the floor as Sugarfoot blocks the Sexy Suplex from Titus. ARIES ATTACKS THE SUGAR FOOT! ELBOW DROP ON THE FOOT! Despite that work, Payne gets a hot tag to Silas who does a real number on Rhett. Back suplex backbreakers for both opponents…but Titus blocks the Arabian Press set-up. German suplex from Sugarfoot instead! SUGARY PLANCHA TO THE FLOOR! Silas thinks about the Arabian…ARIES SAVES WITH THE IED! Payne dives away and doesn’t suffer the same IED fate as his partner. KICK OF DEATH instead! BRAINBUSTER! Aries throws Rhett onto Payne to give his team the win in 14:25
Rating – *** – I’m surprised this was given as much time as it was, and it turned out far better than I’d been expecting. Thankfully they kept Payne’s involvement to getting beaten up or working brief offensive cameos – and since we’re in Chicago it went down well. Aries and Titus, meanwhile, carried the match on their shoulders with their incredible charisma. They worked a clever blend of comedy and crowd antagonism in the early going, which duly ensued a strong reaction for Young and Payne when they hit their comeback spots later in the match. Definitely not an all time classic (with Austin working HUGELY within himself), but for some forgettable undercard fun this was really good.
Silas Young lays out Payne after the match, and storms off in a huff just like he did with Matt Cross last night. Is Silas sulking after matches going anywhere at all?
Dark City Fight Club say they’re not in ROH to make friends or win fans. They want to change the entire landscape of tag team competition in Ring Of Honor. Applicants wishing to stop them are, apparently, very welcome…
Claudio Castagnoli vs Jimmy Jacobs vs Roderick Strong
This match pits 3 guys against each other, all of whom will feel like that have a point to prove and rankings to climb after drifting a little in recent times. Strong has been a little aimless all year, but despite that, and despite a ghastly laceration to his face, took Jerry Lynn to the limit for the World Title last night. He needs victories if he wants a rematch. Jimmy Jacobs still has problems with Tyler Black, and would surely love to be the guy to challenge and defeat Jerry Lynn since so many fans like to chant ‘next World Champ’ at Black. Claudio started 2009 vowing to climb the rankings once again after ‘embarrassingly’ losing to Kenny Omega at Final Battle 2008. Although he’s become sidetracked by his issues with Brent Albright, he’s not booked this weekend so it’s given Claudio a chance to refocus. He picked up a win last night with his new finish, the Swiss Sleeper Hold, and will want to leave the Midwest with a commendable 2-0 weekend.
Strong has a lot of bandaging on his head as a result of his guardrail adventures in Dayton yesterday. Considering Jacobs still has a pirate eye patch after getting spiked by Delirious, Claudio is the clear favourite it would seem. The very vocal crowd mask what is a pretty chaotic and messy opening sequence, with three guys stumbling around, throwing random shots then standing aside waiting for their next queue. Roderick manages to send Claudio to the outside with a big back body drop then heads out there to give Jimmy Jacobs a little taste of the guardrails he suffered at the hands of last night. Naturally, as heels, it comes down to Castagnoli and Jacobs double teaming Roddy. The crowd is making this match interesting, as they start HUSS-ing and HEY-ing every move the two heels make. DEATH BY RODERICK EUROPEAN UPPERCUT COMBO from Roderick and Double C in a moment of inadvertent double teaming. Castagnoli puts Strong in the Stronghold, only for Jimmy to break that with the End Time. Strong stops that hold with a Sick Kick and all three are down. Since Strong chops, he gets ‘WOO’s from the crowd to go with Claudio’s HEY and Jimmy’s HUSS. End Time on Strong…who taps! Random victory for Jacobs in 08:01
Rating – * – Lousy, thrown together match that accomplished nothing. Most of it was pretty badly executed, nothing looked particularly clean (other than that epic Strong/Claudio double team). It was just a messy match between three guys who were well down the card and working well within themselves. Credit to the crowd though, they get 5* for entertaining themselves during this pretty mediocre display. Bizarre decision to give Jacobs the win though. His whole storyline is that he’s on a somewhat out of control downward spiral as the Age Of The Fall breaks apart. Claudio is getting a push as part of The Embassy and involved in a major feud, whilst Roderick just lost a World Title match and could’ve done with a rebound win. When a match involving Alex Payne and Rhett Titus is MASSIVELY better than one involving three guys with this much experience…something’s wrong.
Jimmy Jacobs gets ready to run down the Chicago fans but is interrupted by Tyler Black. He says it was Jimmy’s ego that drove Necro, Delirious and himself away. He cuts a decent promo, makes more sense of the purpose and ethos behind Age Of The Fall than Jimmy Jacobs ever did, and does his best to inject some real life and emotion into their feud…unfortunately the crowd is still too goofy after the last match so don’t take it very seriously. He calls Jimmy a ‘disappointment’ then walks out, leaving his former leader on his knees in the ring in tears. I genuinely liked this, and thought it was Tyler’s best ROH promo EVER, making interested in Black vs Jacobs again. Good stuff…
Phoenix Twins vs Dark City Fight Club
This is a great match to showcase the continuing evolution of the ROH roster as two teams who in reality weren’t close to cracking the roster on a regular basis 12 months ago are now opposing one another. Both suffered defeats last night so you rather feel like future bookings are dependent on success tonight. Remember the Fight Club are currently undefeated on HDNet…
Davis and Chavis jump the twins, with Prazak pointing out the heavy cast on Davis’ wrist tonight. Apparently he dislocated his wrist in their match last night. Swinging gourdbuster from Chavis to Phoenix Twin #1 gets a nearfall. Davis tags in and is genuinely working one-armed, so he stomps the same hapless twin in the corner. Tag to Dash (??) who manages to send both members of the DCFC to the floor. It’s Tweek…since he yells to Dash to jump over the ropes at them for a somersault plancha. Double superkick by the Twins…but Davis catches one of them on the floor and DRIVES him into the barricade. Really ugly landing there. TOTAL ELIMINATION wins it for DCFC at 05:31
Rating – ** – Effective squash match, particularly since Jon Davis was wrestling with a pretty serious injury. They recaptured that mean streak that seemed to be missing from their performance last night and definitely upped their game. I’m interested to see when ROH will pull the trigger and put them in the ring with one of the ‘name’ teams in ROH like the Briscoes, Steen-erico or the Wolves.
Jimmy Rave vs Bryan Danielson
Many people consider the classic between these two men at the Fourth Anniversary Show to be the defining moment in Jimmy Rave’s ROH career (although others would probably point to the Cage Match with Punk in Chicago or the Fight Without Honor with Nigel in the UK). He pushed then-ROH Champion Bryan Danielson to the limit in a near-30 minute battle that was deservedly called an MOTYC at the time (and is well worth checking out if you haven’t seen it). He lost then, and was more comprehensively beaten again in 2007, shortly after Bryan made his return to ROH following a period of rehab on his shoulder injury. With two defeats against his record, and having lost his big comeback match this year in New York to the Danielson/Cabana team, he’ll be desperate to pull a win out here.
Dragon easily drags Rave down to the canvas for a stomp on the arm. Jimmy then goes for a Heel Hook and finds himself being pulled around again. MMA Elbows attempted but Rave, having lost to those twice before, immediately rolls away. Big wristlock applied next…but Rave comes out with a cheapshot and retreats to his corner again. Dragon stays on that arm though, repeatedly snapping it over his own shoulder. Mexican surfboard applied…into MMA Elbows but once again Jimmy flees and heads to the floor to be consoled by Nana and Osiris. LeBell Lock applied (before it became his WWE finish) and forces Jimmy to scramble to the ropes again. After 10 minutes this has been one of the most one-sided matches in ROH history. Rave begins a comeback by targeting the neck, stretching it out then driving elbows and forearms to that general area. Sadly for him it amounts to little and he gets laid out in the corner for more boots and elbow strikes from the former World Champion. Cattle Mutilation locked in…and this time Jimmy isn’t able to quickly scurry away. He has to battle to the ropes to break it on this occasion. And when he does finally get to the floor, Dragon is on him with a tope suicida. CRAPPY WIZARD to counter a sunset flip, and he looks for the Heel Hook right away. Dragon COUNTERS to an Achilles Hold of his own…meaning it’s a HEEL HOOK DUEL! From Dusk Till Dawn nailed, only for Danielson to turn the ensuing cradle to TRIANGLE CHOKE ELBOWS! Once again Dragon beats Jimmy by referee stoppage at a time of 16:12
Rating – *** – I could have lived with this one going another five or ten minutes. It really felt like it ended just as it was starting to move up through the gears. These two are always great together, with Danielson’s undisputable quality and aggression being such a natural foil for the highly unpopular Rave character. The fans were absolutely lapping up Danielson destroying Jimmy for the first 10 minutes…and they played out a great story of Jimmy continually avoiding the elbow strikes which have beaten him twice before. The first time Dragon seriously locked them in…he won. My biggest criticism is that, given that this was only a 15 minute match, the Danielson beating on Jimmy segment went on far too long. Although it was high-quality stuff, it was almost like a very long squash which, whilst enjoyable, doesn’t do much for the long term credibility of Jimmy Rave.
Chris Hero vs Tyler Black
Both men are former ROH Tag Champions, both have had a number of failed attempts at the ROH World Title. Both are viewed as potential future centrepieces of the promotion. Their ROH careers are surprisingly similar – but I believe this is their first singles match here.
Hero seizes the initiative early on since he has a slight edge when it comes to hold-for-hold mat work. Black goes for his mid-ring stomp but Hero rolls away. The break means that Tyler can increase the pace though and he capitalises with an armdrag and THEN lands the stomp. Hero drives an elbow to the back of the head then grabs the hair for a HIGH angle throw to the canvas. That gives him a clear advantage and leaves the way clear to lay into Black with elbow strikes. Tyler goes for the Lionsault but misses…then MISSES the Black Star Press too and falls victim to the Hero running senton for 2. Black tries to throw some elbows back in Hero’s direction and evades the Rolling Elbow to land a spinning heel kick. Springboard lariat scores for 2 but Hero then counters the Buckle Bomb to a Ligerbomb. To the floor where Hero goes for his running senton in the ring mats…but MISSES! Somersault pescado from Black compounds his misery further. Tyler then spend too long hopping around in the corner and eats the Flash Kick to the side of the head. Pele Kick from Tyler into a running F-5. SUPERKICK NAILED…FOR 2! He thinks about the Phoenix Splash but gets caught on the ropes. SUPER POWERBOMB BY HERO! That doesn’t get the win, so Hero pulls out the Loaded Elbow pad. Loaded Elbow…COUNTERED TO GOD’S LAST GIFT! Black wins at 13:46
Rating – *** – Another good match hampered by the fact that it ended just when it felt like it was starting to get interesting. As with Danielson/Rave, it felt like they worked the first half of a far longer match then rushed through the second act. They had surprisingly sound chemistry as opponents, with Hero’s rugged, forthcoming style these days actually bouncing quite nicely off the more flashy offence that Black tends to favour. I also loved the amount of familiarity countering on display here – with far more psychological depth and intellect than the majority of undercard bouts you’ll see. I’d like to see a rematch down the line where they get another 10 minutes or so, but for a first ROH encounter this was really watchable.
Tyler’s celebrations are predictably cut short by Jimmy Jacobs and his railroad spike. He drags Black into the crowd and bloodies him with the spike
American Wolves vs Kevin Steen/Jay Briscoe – ROH Tag Title 2/3 Falls Match
Although the match won’t actually air for a few weeks yet, it’s already been acknowledged on screen that the Wolves defeated Steen and Generico for the Tag Titles a few weeks ago at the most recent HDNet tapings in Philadelphia. They won a critically-acclaimed Tables Match that I look forward to reviewing. Normally you expect former Champions to get some form of rematch, but since Generico is currently on the shelf with a knee injury…Kevin Steen has recruited another guy who hates the Wolves, and another guy who is missing his own tag team partner through a knee injury sustained at the hands of the new champions – Jay Briscoe. Having fought in Tables Matches, and No DQ Matches, and 6-mans and other assorted match types thus far this year, it’s only fitting we see more stipulations attached to this one. Tonight it’s 2/3 Falls – a match type Jay Briscoe excelled in during his 2007 run as part of Ring Of Honor’s Tag Team Champions.
Those dastardly Wolves come out through the crowd to try to get the jump on their opponents, only to wind up taking a wicked beating all around ringside by the challengers. They beat Edwards down sufficiently for Steen to hit the cannonball senton in the corner. Turning their attention to Davey next, they storm through him with a double shoulder block into a standing leg drop/senton combo for 2. Briscoe and Steen show their experience as tag team wrestlers, with Jay distracting the official whilst Mr Wrestling chokes Edwards in the corner. 5 minutes in and it’s all Steen/Briscoe. Eddie rakes Steen’s eyes…so Kevin rakes his right back which is pretty cool. Finally Richards is able to make a blind tag and he throws Steen to the floor where Shane Hagadorn assists Edwards in beating him down. Jay storms in and clotheslines Eddie out…as Steen locks in the Sharpshooter on Richards. Edwards tries to save…SHARPSHOOTER ON HIM INSTEAD! He taps at 10:56, even though I’m not totally sure if he was legal or not. The Wolves spent much of the first fall on the back foot, so they kick off the second by going straight on the offensive and targeting Steen’s bad knee.
Dragon screw in the ropes is followed by a half crab from Edwards. He takes a slap to the face so runs THROUGH Steen with a big boot in return then tags in Davey to apply a kneebar. Hot tag to Briscoe but he can’t get Richards up for the Jay Driller. STANDING SHINING WIZARD from Edwards gets 2 and absolutely kills Jay’s momentum. 2k1 Bomb (apparently called the ‘Die Hard’) is blocked. GERMAN SUPLEX instead, but it’s NO SOLD! Mafia kick from Jay and we get tags all round. Richards slaps on the Texas Cloverleaf on Steen and forces him to tap and even the score at 19:13. Steen tries a Package Piledriver but falls to the ground holding his knee. CLOVERLEAF AGAIN! Briscoe spinebusters Edwards on the apron and flies in to make the save. Both Wolves to the outside where Steen LIMPS into a somersault plancha. STEEN-TON FROG SPLASH COMBO GETS 2! SHARPSHOOTER ON EDDIE! RICHARDS WITH THE CLOVERLEAF ON JAY! SPIT DUEL! PACKAGE PILEDRIVER ON DAVEY! EDDIE SAVES! Jay and Eddie are up first to trade big boots…Steen inadvertently low blows Jay…into the SUPERKICK GERMAN SUPLEX! IT GETS 2! DOOMSDAY ACE CRUSHER! Wolves win in 24:22
Rating – **** – Considering everyone knew Steen and Briscoe didn’t have a hope in hell of winning this, it was a surprisingly dramatic match. I think they sensibly crafted the first fall making the challengers seem like genuine threats, having them defy the Wolves sneak attack and use their tag team experience to dominate. Obviously the second fall then became about the Wolves hitting back by doing what they do best – attacking a knee…with the third fall featuring the pay-off with lots of big moments and nearfalls. Obviously Edwards is a little newer to ROH, but between the other three there was a lot of Ring Of Honor tag team experience on display here and it really shone through. Not a classic at all, but simply by working hard and telling a sound story in the generous time allowance they’d been given, they turned a painfully predictable outcome into a match that was well worth seeing.
Old tensions between Steen and Jay immediately rise to the surface, with Briscoe angry that Steen kicking him in the balls effectively cost them the match. He slaps Kevin and walks out…
Jerry Lynn vs Colt Cabana – ROH World Title Match
Unlike the Strong defence last night, Cabana’s title shot at least makes sense in that he’s chalked up a few recent victories, and is making his big return to Chicago with ROH tonight. At Good Times, Great Memories, during his leaving speech he promised he’d be back to win the World Title. Now he returns to his hometown to deliver
Lynn snaps off an early armdrag, laying down an early marker that working at a faster pace and staying away from Cabana’s British style will probably work to his advantage. Credit where it’s due, moments later he more than holds his own going hold for hold with Colt. The challenger sends Jerry to the floor to escape a hammerlock but sportingly holds them open so he can re-enter. Seconds later Lynn flings Cabana outside, leading to a surreal pole dancing spot around the ringpost as Colt declines Jerry’s reciprocal holding the ropes offer. Flying Asshole nailed and this time there’s no clean break as Cabana pulls Jerry out of the corner to go for a series of pinning combinations. Lynn dials up the aggression too, hitting an inverted DDT then going after the neck with a headscissors. SKULLF*CK from Lynn out of that before he sails off the second rope into a leg drop for 2. Colt lands the quebrada press but sees his Colt 45 attempt blocked. Air Raid Crash from Jerry switched to an Air Raid NECKBREAKER from Cabana but he goes for some high risk offence and crashes and burns on a pescado attempt. That knocks him so loopy that Jerry is able to hit the trademark guillotine leg drop in the ropes, then a DDT on the apron for 2. Cradle Piledriver blocked…so Lynn hits a regular piledriver instead and that’s only good enough for another 2-count. Billy Goat’s Curse locked in for a few moments before Jerry makes the ropes. COLT 45 NAILED! First time we’ve seen that since he returned to ROH, but it’s still only good enough for 2. PEPSI PLUNGE FROM THE SECOND ROPE! LYNN KICKS OUT! HE HITS A REVERSE RANA! CRADLE PILEDRIVER! It’s over at 17:21, Lynn retains.
Rating – *** – For a main event, World Title calibre match, this was pretty underwhelming. Had this been the opening match, or even loitering around in the midcard it would actually have been fairly enjoyable, but this was arguably the most promoted match of the whole weekend. Cabana’s big ‘homecoming’, the title shot we’ve been waiting for since he left in 2007. Seeing him out there goofing around and making jokes in what should be a huge match for him didn’t sit right with me. Once they did get serious, they traded a few nice spots (the CM Punk reference was a particularly pleasant surprise), but by that point there were only a few minutes of the match left. Colt never seems to get it right as a challenger for the World Title (outside of one random James Gibson title defence which I REALLY liked at the time). He had a so-so title shot with Samoa Joe, and got THREE bites of the cherry with Bryan Danielson and didn’t manage anything overly memorable, aside from helping Dragon work 60 minutes with one arm.
Colt cuts a fun little promo to put Lynn and the rest of the ROH roster over. He even makes a closet reference to the change of booker and how he still loves competing in Ring Of Honor (although that’s not too surprising since Adam Pearce is one of his best friends). Lynn pays some lip service to the Chicago fans so everyone can go home happy
Tape Rating – ** – Although this was, top to bottom, a more consistent show than Dayton last night, I’ve decided to be harsh with my rating. This is mainly because absolutely NOTHING of significance happened here. Outside of Tyler Black and Jimmy Jacobs finally adding a little spice to their meandering feud, there is no need to see this at all. The American Wolves had a great title defence, but the result was never in doubt and it was really there to put them over after failing to win their first title defence. From there you’ve got Danielson/Rave and Hero/Black which were both good, but felt like they finished just as they were getting interesting, and a ‘good considering the amount of ROH students in it’ tag match. Throw in some filler, some squashes, a disappointing main event, and it adds up to a show which, whilst pretty solid, isn’t necessarily worth going out of your way to check out. Compare that to last night when you had Danielson/Edwards and Tyler/Richards in singles rematches coming out of the Tag Title Classic, and Strong’s crazy bleeding in the main event. Those are SIGNIFICANT events. People still talk about the Strong/Lynn match today, nearly 2 years later. So yeah, if you’re buying selectively from this weekend, it’s really your call. For a better all round show it’s this one. But Dayton, for me, is where the historically significant stuff took place
Top 3 Matches
3) Tyler Black vs Chris Hero (***)
2) Bryan Danielson vs Jimmy Rave (***)
1) American Wolves vs Kevin Steen/Jay Briscoe (****)
Top 5 A Cut Above/The Homecoming 2 Weekend Matches
5) Bryan Danielson vs Jimmy Rave (*** – The Homecoming 2)
4) Bryan Danielson vs Eddie Edwards (*** – A Cut Above)
3) Davey Richards vs Tyler Black (**** – A Cut Above)
2) American Wolves vs Kevin Steen/Jay Briscoe (**** – The Homecoming 2)
1) Jerry Lynn vs Roderick Strong (**** – A Cut Above)