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228 ROH Never Say Die 5/8/2009

ROH 228 – Never Say Die – 8th May 2009

It’s hard to believe that, in over seven years of Ring Of Honor shows, they haven’t used ‘Never Say Die’, one of the oldest wrestling cliché’s in the book, as a show title before now. I’ve got to say I’m totally unaware of what to expect from this particular DVD. I’ve heard nothing about it, the card is all over the place, and the headline bout is another ridiculous World Title match featuring a guy who has done nothing to earn one in Lynn defending against Chris Hero. There are more new talent debuts tonight, with the Super Smash Brothers debuting as a team (although Player Dos was at Tag Title Classic) and Joey Ryan making his eagerly anticipated first ROH appearance. There are also some really random returns, with Ricky Reyes and Sonjay Dutt brought back for their first ROH shows in years..quite a mix. We’re in Boston, MA with Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard.

ROH VIDEO WIRE (29/04/2009-06/05/2009) – We start with some backstage footage from after the A Cut Above main event. Strong has a huge hole in the side of his head. Jerry Lynn comes in to check on him and convey his level of respect for the beaten challenger.

– Jay Briscoe has a shot at Jerry Lynn in Edison and says the Lynn vs RVD series in ECW is what got him into wrestling.

– Bryan Danielson and Tyler Black hype their rematch with the American Wolves for the Edison show. Sadly extenuating circumstances mean we don’t get that match…

– Commercial for Ric Flair in ROH on HDNet.

– Kevin Steen desperately tries to sell his match with Sonjay Dutt for the Edison show. He also tries to sell some ‘Mr Wrestling’ shirts. The match was changed thanks to Tyler’s absence anyway.

– Joey Ryan says he’ll be bringing a personality to ROH and will immediately spike the ratings…

– Kevin Steen is coming to Boston to get some revenge for El Generico

– Ernie Osiris burns Grizzly Redwood’s boots and lumber. Elsewhere Grizzly downs shots of maple syrup, such is his sorrow.

The American Wolves get some promo time. Eddie Edwards wants to spoil Sonjay Dutt’s return to ROH, whilst Davey Richards compares Steen and Generico to the fat/skinny ROH fans, and all the people just like that he used to bully in high school.

Ricky Reyes vs Delirious

Remember when Delirious defeated Reyes to retain his spot on the ROH roster. Can Ricky do the same now and get back onto the roster himself with a big win here?

Reyes hasn’t invested in some new tights since his last appearance. He’s still wearing the same Havana Pitbulls trunks he always has. He slaps Delirious in the face which pisses both the crowd and the lizard man off. Armdrag into a top wristlock from the former Tag Champion, then he grabs the mask and uses it to hold Delirious in position for a big knee drop to the back of the head. Swinging neckbreaker from Reyes gets 2 and a sleeper hold is locked in moments later. Leaping Lariat and a neckbreaker over the knee draw a nearfall in Delirious’ favour now. Shadows Over Hell misses though and Ricky comes up to boot him in the head. BRIDGING SAITO SUPLEX gets 2. Delirious sends him into the corner for th Panic Attack/Shadows Over Hell combo. He wins at 10:11

Rating – ** –
At least Reyes has got more personality than he had back in 2006 or whenever it was he was last here. He was much more visibly accessible and made a decent dickhead heel wrestler. Unfortunately his actual moves, skillset and look don’t appear to have drastically changed since he was canned a couple of years ago. There was no clamouring for his return and, based on this showing, there’s nothing to suggest it’d be any different if he were to be brought back.

Super Smash Bros. vs Kenny King/Rhett Titus

It’s a main show debut for the Smash Brothers as a team although, as I said earlier, Player Dos did technically appear as Generico Dos in Canada last month. Kenny missed the last shows so it’s been a while since the ANX have teamed for the DVD market. After losing their Tag Title shot to Steen and Generico a few months ago they’ll need to start racking up some victories to get another one.

Uno gets bashed from behind by King, but Dos hits the ring to join his partner to hit a double dropkick to both of Kenny’s legs. Drop toehold into a standing leg drop from the Smash Bros. as they show off their fluent double team ability. Uno catches Dos as the ANX try to hiptoss him…and they send their opponents to the floor for CRISS-CROSS STEREO TOPE’S! Standing moonsault/fist drop combo on Titus gets 2. But Rhett leaves the ring to tempt Dos into another dive…only this time King is waiting to drill him with a knee to the side of the face. Titus starts using the tag rope to choke him whilst Kenny leads the referee across the ring for a conversation, then returns for the suplex to mounted forearm smashes. Thrusting Clothesline combo gets 2, but eventually Dos manages to drop Rhett with an inverted DDT. Not to worry, King dances across the ring to wipe Uno off the apron. DOUBLE backflip kick from Dos…and this time does get the hot tag to Player Uno. ASSISTED SHIRANUI/DDT COMBO on both opponents gets 2. King wipes out Dos with a corkscrew enzi then runs into Uno with the Shotgun Knee. SPRINGBOARD BLOCKBUSTER BOMB wins it for the ANX at 08:43

Rating – *** –
Like I said coming into this show, I really have no idea what to expect from this DVD. And I had no idea what to expect from this match either, as I’ve seen next to nothing from the Super Smash Bros. before. I liked what I saw here – as they packed in some neat little double teams, a lot of physical charisma to make them engaging to watch, and an interesting mixture of Player Dos’ highly athletic approach coupled with Player Uno’s more powerful style. They were like a slightly smaller, less funny version of Kevin Steen and El Generico, and they’ve done alright for themselves in ROH. I’ve given this a decent rating because, although it’s not the most memorable of spotty undercard filler bouts, I found something to enjoy in every single portion. The opening few minutes, with a blitzkrieg of unique offensive blasts from the Smash Bros. were fun, as was the heat segment on Dos. Uno played the hot tag well, before Kenny King got to look like a total star (and lets face it, of these four, he’s clearly the outstanding talent) by totally shutting both his opponents down to win the match.

Uno and Dos get ‘Please Come Back’ chants from the Boston crowd which is great for them, and very deserved based on this showing.

In a grotty hallway Chris Hero says he’s only here today because the Swine Flu outbreak meant a planned tour of Mexico was cancelled. That cancellation opened a door of opportunity for him, as he’s in Boston to claim the title shot he feels he deserves since he beat Jerry Lynn at the last Boston show – all the way back at Driven 2008. Fantastic little promo…

Jay Briscoe vs Necro Butcher

These two have had some unbelievably violent battles in the past when Necro was a member of Age Of The Fall. Even with that behind them, both men still love to fight so this one should be pretty uncompromising in it’s intensity. Briscoe gets a World Title shot tomorrow night so needs to build some momentum and steer clear of injury.

Boxing stances adopted by both as they come out of the corner, with Briscoe landing the first jab. Body shot by Necro in return and they break to regroup before going at it again. Necro looks like he might just have the edge in fisticuffs, so Briscoe sweeps him to the mat with a schoolboy before floating into a front chinlock, using wrestling holds to even it up. Butcher leaves the ring but is suplexed back inside for the first nearfall of the match. Chops and punches in the corner from Butcher…then a bulldog and Magistral cradle to prove that he can use wrestling holds every bit as well as Jay can. Chokeslam nailed, but he tries to roll it into the Tiger Driver and gets shunted into the corner. Briscoe to the top rope only to be crotched by a resurgent Necro. He still has enough about him to block the Necro-canrana and nail the second rope Rocker Dropper for 2. DVD blocked and Necro goes for the same roll-up that defeated Brodie Lee on HDNet last week for 2. Jay Driller countered to the Tiger Driver, and it’s 2 again. Butcher thinks about putting Jay through a table, but he gets attacked from behind by The Embassy, giving Necro a technical DQ victory in 10:17

Rating – * –
The ‘anything you can do, I can do better’ gamesmanship between the two was commendable, but the majority of this was pretty gash. I loathed the ‘boxing’ approach since it really has no place in wrestling, particularly in the completely heatless, gimmicky way it was pulled off here. The rest of the match was just a little slow and clumsy, much as with most Necro matches. Ever since he left Age Of The Fall he’s been getting progressively less enjoyable to watch (and less and less over with live audiences too). I’m not saying there’s not a place for him on the roster…but they need to give him something asap because his ROH career is totally dying now he’s left exposed in crappy little matches like this.

And maybe that purpose is a feud with The Embassy. Jimmy Rave, Claudio Castagnoli, Ernie Osiris and Prince Nana attack Necro as retribution for an incident on the pre-show where Necro saved Grizzly Redwood from a similar attack. Rave spits in his face and tries to bail…only for Jay Briscoe to toss him back in. Eventually The Embassy leave Ernie Osiris to take a Stone Cold Stunner.

Davey Richards vs Kevin Steen – Anything Goes Match

The Steen-erico vs American Wolves feud continues with this one. After their terrific straight up tag match with a shady finish at Motor City Madness, after Richards lost to Steen in Florida but ended that weekend by injuring El Generico, a violent No DQ Match at the 7th Anniversary, a (supposedly) thrilling Tables Match on HDNet which saw the Wolves win the gold, 6-man tags in Canada which saw Generico finally succumb to the knee injury that plagued him since that Davey attack in Florida and Kevin Steen’s unsuccessful attempt to challenge for the belts with stand-in partner Jay Briscoe, things have got extremely personal. Both of these men just want to hurt each other here, and that’s why we’ve got ‘Anything Goes’ stipulations.

Richards’ bullish entrance, consisting of assaulting ringside security and spitting on fans, is interrupted by the stampeding Kevin Steen jumping him for a BACK SUPLEX THROUGH A TABLE! Richards retorts with a back body drop over the barricade and into the front row. Off into the crowd they fight, exchanging some absolutely SAVAGE forearms and chops. Some kid falls over a they fight all the way to the very back row of this deceptively large arena which is just plain funny. Davey goes for the eyes and starts choking him on some stair railings…so Kevin frees himself to deliver to drop him crotch-first onto it. More fan comedy as Steen hilariously blanks the same fan for a ‘high five’ twice. CROWD BARRICADE CANNONBALL SENTON! That buys Steen enough time to set up a huge ladder and table on the floor. He starts pitching chairs into the ring too, and even some guys crutch (as Prazak and Leonard have the BEST commentary argument ever about whether it’s El Generico’s crutch or not). Kevin thinks about a Steen-ton to Richards underneath a pile of chairs, but he gets distracted by Hagadorn. SUPERPLEX IN THE CHAIRS BY RICHARDS! Davey pulls out a chain…CHAIN-ENFORCED KAWADA KICKS! F*CKING AWESOME! And it busts Mr Wrestling open too. Now he’s bleeding and disorientated, Richards is free to go after Steen’s bum knee. He batters it with a chair then goes to the Texas Cloverleaf. Steen rolls out…AND POWERBOMBS HIM THROUGH A TABLE IN THE CORNER! Really ugly landing for Richards on that one as he only clipped the very side of the table there. In the meantime Kevin Steen makes a pile of tables on the outside, next to the giant ladder. But once again the time it takes him to set that up allows Davey to recover and boot him in the face again. Hagadorn sets up a table between ring apron and guardrail…as both competitors start climbing the ladder. RICHARDS THROWS STEEN OFF THE LADDER AND THROUGH THE TABLE STACK! Incredibly, by the time Davey and Hagadorn get Steen back into the ring he’s recovered enough to kick out. To the apron…PACKAGE PILEDRIVER OFF THE APRON AND THROUGH A TABLE! STEEN WINS! It’s over at 16:36

Rating – **** –
I can’t believe Adam Pearce gave the go ahead for these guys to go out and go full throttle with tables, ladders, chairs, chains and all sorts of carnage this far down the card. I’m not complaining, but considering the conservative approach he’s had to his booking tenure thus far, it was certainly a pleasant surprise. The lusty and heated garbage brawl from both men here was a wild departure from the fairly middle of the road norm that has populated ROH cards recently. I don’t think it quite had the level of story telling and psychology that Steen-erico/Wolves had at the 7th Anni Show, but it was still pretty awesome. It had a lot more ‘guy waiting round whilst the other sets some sh*t up for the next spot’, but by and large they worked around that well with Steen, the guy with more motive to do greater degrees of damage, tended to most of the going for tables and ladders. They also very sensibly ALWAYS had the guy who stopped the match to start playing with hardware return to the ring to get attacked by a rejuvenated opponent. There were a few too many borderline ridiculous non-finishes, and a couple of dead moments which stopped me pulling my rating higher, but it was a great instalment to what is quickly becoming one of the hottest feuds over the ROH Tag Titles ever.

Eddie Edwards flies into the ring to do a number on Kevin Steen. With Richards incapacitated, Steen and Edwards send members of the ROH Wrestling Academy flying in all directions as they brawl all the way to the locker room.

SIDENOTE – The trailer for the ‘Caged Collision’ DVD makes the Steel Cage Warfare main event look miles better than it actually was…so I guess kudos on the fine editing work there. There’s also a far better commercial for the ROH Wrestling School.

Eddie Edwards vs Sonjay Dutt vs Bryan Danielson

An odd assortment of fellows lined up for this one, although at least they all have an agenda. Edwards wants revenge for dropping a singles match to Danielson in Dayton. Dragon is still pissed at failing to win the Tag Titles (the only ROH Title to have eluded him) in Markham at Tag Title Classic, and will want to soften Edwards up ahead of his rematch (teaming with Kevin Steen) in Edison tomorrow. Sonjay gets his first ROH appearance since 2006 when he unsuccessfully challenged Danielson for the ROH World Title. I believe he’d recently been released from TNA so a good performance here may well earn him multiple future bookings in Ring Of Honor to fill his schedule.

Nice to see that Sonjay’s bacne cleared up so well. Since sarcasm doesn’t carry over so well in written form…that was sarcasm. Eddie comically smacks him in the mouth to get the party started though. Three-way leapfrog spot pulled off perfectly before Danielson boots Edwards out of the ring. Dragon and Dutt go at it whilst Prazak and Leonard take somewhat childish potshots at TNA. Sonjay traps Bryan in a camel clutch, and that’s the moment Edwards chooses to re-enter and punt him in the mush. Running kick to Danielson moments later leaves Eddie stands tall over both opponents. Running rana from Sonjay, into a Jeff Jarrett strut. SECOND ROPE LUNGBLOWER by Edwards stops him dead though. The Tag Champ hits a backbreaker for a nearfall whilst Dragon is still incapacitated on the floor. Danielson finally does try to come back in, only to get his eyes raked and booted back to the flor by Edwards. He does get back in with a top rope knee strike on Eddie, and Dutt follows that with a top rope splash. Mexican Surfboard by Danielson, holding him in position for a big running dropkick from Dutt. That alliance is short lived though as Dragon and Sonjay come to blows mid-ring. Edwards is back and he dragon screws Bryan in the middle rope. Kevin Steen appears out of nowhere to stop Eddie using a chair on Danielson’s knees…and whilst everyone is on the floor Dutt hits the ropes for a SOMERSAULT PLANCHA! He brings Danielson in to get a nearfall off a standing Shiranui. Edwards hits the Backpack Stunner…THEN MMA ELBOWS! COUNTERED TO THE TRIANGLE CHOKE! Edwards is done for and submits at 10:48

Rating – *** –
I’ll start by saying I like Sonjay Dutt. I like him a lot more than lots of “critics” seem to. He often gets quite a bashing whenever he pops up on ROH shows which I think is quite unfair. He’s not the world’s greatest but he is very crisp in his execution, he always looks the part, he’s got a great grasp of character and can deliver some cool high spots. Compare that to guys like Jack Evans or Matt Cross who can do some amazing things, but can also wrestle like absolute crap on any given night, I think Dutt’s consistency is something to be admired – to the extent that I’m surprised TNA let him go. Even if they had no real plans for him he’s always going to be a solid, reliable hand in the mess that is the X-Division. BUT, for all my pro-Sonjay in ROH sentiment, what the hell was he doing in this match. This time last year Bryan Danielson was MAKING Tyler Black with a series of phenomenal clashes. Hell, he’s even doing that again this year on HDNet. Eddie Edwards is a guy who would hugely benefit from a series of matches with American Dragon. I understand that ROH are looking to downplay Bryan’s importance to their roster after he didn’t sign a new contract and started to shop around looking to progress his career beyond the indies. However, giving him an undercard series of matches would inexorably increase Eddie’s stock and still keep Bryan out of the main event scene. Danielson is on his way out of ROH, fair enough. But why is he going out the back door under a sheet in pissy little matches like this? As much fun as this spotty, mindless, pretty lazily laid out little match was, I’d much rather have seen a rematch between Danielson and Edwards. Without putting Dragon NEAR a main event you could have him build something special for the future after he’s left the company. Instead it feels like they’re giving him easy money (he has to be one of, if not THE highest paid members of the roster) to show up and work low key little affairs like this. Even if he’s leaving, ROH should be using the time they have with him to its utmost, not trying to fade him into the background like he’s not one of the finest pro wrestlers of his generation.

Jimmy Rave/Joey Ryan/Claudio Castagnoli vs Colt Cabana/Brent Albright/Erick Stevens

Obviously Cabana has raised the ire of the new Embassy by defeating Rave in what was a comeback match for both of them. Albright is back after a couple of shows out, and we all know that he has an intense feud going with The Embassy’s ‘paid associate’ Double C. And of course, after the fun hype videos, Joey Ryan has now debuted…randomly in the background as the newest member of The Embassy. PWG have enjoyed his talents for many years, whilst ROH fans have been clamouring to get him in. They have their wish now, lets see if ROH gets behind him like the guys in SoCal.

Match starts with a New Jack vibe as the face team storm the ring and batter the heels whilst Cabana’s music just won’t stop playing. PESCADO TRILOGY from Cabana, Albright and Stevens, and Prince Nana freaks out at the treatment of his charges. ‘I think raping makes an impact’ – Prazak. Did Joey bring PWG commentary with him? Cabana uses goofy wrestling and multiple pinning combinations to frustrate first Ryan, then Castagnoli. Stevens thinks about the Choo Choo but gets crotched against the turnbuckles by Rave and Ryan – a move which finally halts the five minute period of total babyface dominance. Jimmy tags in and zones in on Stevens’ leg, probably with the Heel Hook in mind. It continues until Erick lands an enziguri strike on Rave…but finds nobody in his corner as Claudio and Joey appear in the opposite corner to take out his partners. Double C tags in to work a sleeper hold but gets dropped right on his neck with a Samoan drop. Hot tag to Cabana who nails the quebrada press on Rave and Ryan. He winds up outnumbered though, allowing Jimmy to hit the Crappy Wizard for 2. Air Raid Crash from Albright to Joey for another nearfall. Ryan escapes the Doctor Bomb and leave the ring as Stevens and Cabana score with DUELLING Flying Assholes/Choo Choo’s. HALF NELSON BY ALBRIGHT! BICYCLE KICK BY CLAUDIO! Castagnoli pins Stevens after a low blow at 14:54

Rating – *** –
Lousy finish (and one which would made far more sense had Claudio been kicking Albright in the nuts instead of Stevens) but before that it was a fairly solid 6-man. I don’t like how they hyped Joey Ryan’s debut and made a big deal out of him coming to ROH, then debuted him in a meaningless little undercard match like this where he goes totally unnoticed. Pearce’s booking is all over the place right now – and little things like that just demonstrate it. He’ll get a couple of things really right (like Steen/Richards here, booking a Danielson/Tyler series on HDNet etc) but then get a mind blowing sequence of really basic things wrong. Ring Of Honor is doing some terrific stuff right now, particularly the Wolves/Steen-erico feud, but it’s getting lost in the shuffle thanks to the baffling inconsistency that is afflicting every show.

Albright and Castagnoli have another pretty intense face off before The Embassy leave…

Jerry Lynn vs Chris Hero – ROH World Title Match

Apparently this was originally scheduled to be Lynn defending against Tyler Black, which would have made perfect sense as Tyler earned a title shot in January by winning a fourway at Caged Collision, and also wants a rematch after they had a time limit draw in Detroit. However, Black is out injured for this weekend, which I imagine was a huge pain in the ass to book since he was main eventing both nights – with a Tag Title Classic rematch in the pipeline for tomorrow. On the flipside, Chris Hero wasn’t scheduled for this weekend but picked up some additional ROH dates when a planned Mexican tour didn’t happen. Unlike Black, Hero getting a title shot makes absolutely zero sense, but credit where it’s due. Hero was given some promo time earlier to explain that he feels he’s owed this shot for beating Jerry Lynn at the last Boston show.

The ROH Title belt is looking very battered these days. I still hate Hero’s trunks and tanktop wrestling gear. Either stick to his tried and trusted pants/sleeveless shirt combo, wear trunks, or get a singlet. Lynn frustrates Hero in the early going by being able to match him hold for hold and staying well clear of the dangerous elbow strikes. Pace quickens briefly, allowing Jerry to hit a satellite headscissors to put himself in charge. A crossbody and an armdrag come next, and the champion even absorbs an elbow strike before landing a succession of elbows of his own. Unfortunately he gets into some handbags with Shane Hagadorn on the floor, takes his eye off the ball and eats a baseball slide dropkick from Hero. The challenger hits the buried by mats senton for 2. And now it’s Hero well in control as we approach 12 minutes, shutting down a Lynn comeback with a swift elbow smash between the eyes. The slow pace and desire to work a long match is totally in Chris’ favour, so it’s Lynn that has to force the issue and increase the pace, dropping him with an inverted DDT for 2. He tries a cannonball off the apron but gets CAUGHT! RIBS-FIRST INTO THE GUARDRAILS HE GOES! On the floor it’s Hero that has stepped out of his comfort zone, and tries a ridiculous springboard move off the barricade only to he shoved approximately 3 rows deep into the crowd. Back in the ring he does manage to score with a rebound blockbuster for 2. Jerry tries his tornado DDT but gets swung into the ROLLING ELBOW for 2. He tries to steal the Cradle Piledriver only to have Lynn block it and hit a TKO. Rolling Elbow into a Ligerbomb score Hero a close nearfall. Lynn rolls to the apron to evade anymore elbow strikes but Hero gives chase. JERRY WITH A SUPER RANA TO THE FLOOR! Cradle Piledriver blocked, so it’s a regular piledriver instead, and that allows Chris to get a shoulder up. CODE RED powerbomb counter by Lynn, but still it’s only 2. Hagadorn distracts Jerry again…DEATH ELBOW TO THE BACK OF THE HEAD! TWO COUNT! Loaded Elbow pad is tossed in…but Lynn ducks the Emerald Elbow strike. He tears the pad away…ROLLING ELBOW INSTEAD! Last flood of energy from Jerry…CRADLE PILEDRIVER! Lynn retains at 24:31

Rating – **** – Surprisingly great match that I’ve heard no hype about. I came in half expecting another Lynn/Cabana disappointment so the high quality of this was particularly rewarding. They told a really nice, simple, basic story which was easy to relate to, made their match easy to follow, and since they were both very effective at playing their part in it, the whole thing flew by. Lynn needed a fast pace, to finish the match quickly, whilst Hero, a younger man who’s wrestled for over 90 minutes in the past, was content to work slowly, grind the champion down before picking him off with the big strikes. For excitement and drama Steen/Richards was probably better but this was such a well done, understated main event. So different from the match Lynn and Tyler Black would have had, but a pleasant viewing experience nonetheless.

Jerry Lynn cuts a pretty ranty promo about the significance of the ROH World Title, how proud he is to hold it, and how he doesn’t care if there are a few fans booing him. He’ll happily give 150% to make them believers.

Tape Rating – *** – This is an easy B-level show to recommend. It lives and dies on the strength of the two main event level matches of Richards/Steen and Lynn/Hero…and both of those were really good. Everything else (excluding Briscoe/Necro which was hugely mediocre) was brisk, spotty and served a purpose, ensuring the time flew by. It isn’t a show which has too much re-watch value, and it’s blighted by holes in Adam Pearce’s scratchy booking formulas, but for non-essential purchase ROH shows, getting TWO matches of the quality of those two main event matches is nothing to sneeze at.

Top 3 Matches

3) Kenny King/Rhett Titus vs Super Smash Bros. (***)

2) Jerry Lynn vs Chris Hero (***)

1) Kevin Steen vs Davey Richards (****)

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