ROH 229 – Validation – 9th May 2009
Just like Never Say Die from the previous evening, I’ve really not got much idea what to expect from this evening. I haven’t heard anything about a card which, on paper, looks REALLY average. The main event combo of Lynn vs Briscoe for the World Title and Wolves vs Steen and Danielson for the Tag Titles could be decent but below that it’s slim pickings. Maybe something like Hero/Dutt or Colt/Ryan will surprise me. Show was taped in Edison, NJ with Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard calling it
ROH VIDEO WIRE – See Never Say Die (ROH228) review for details
Jimmy Rave tells Necro Butcher to stay out of The Embassy’s business or they’ll treat him like they did CM Punk, AJ Styles and Generation Next before him (didn’t he emphatically and violently lose all of those feuds?). Castagnoli has some words for Brent Albright, and Joey Ryan just has some words…sleazy ones of course.
Eddie Kingston is full on ‘give me a job’ suck up duty (‘this is Ring Of Honor, a different league to everywhere else’). Apparently he has beef with Chris Hero, and is going to have to take that anger out on Ricky Reyes tonight.
Ricky Reyes vs Eddie Kingston
I actually thought Reyes looked quite good in his match with Delirious last night. But then again, I didn’t particularly dislike him during his first run. I definitely don’t think the Havana Pitbulls should have been shelved as a regular duo. But, he was hounded out of ROH by fans who weren’t into his stuff, and that’s fair enough. If you’re not a guy who can shift some DVD’s, ROH is probably better off without you. Which is why I can’t see why he’s back since he hasn’t noticeably changed (or improved) in any way, is surely more expensive than the hoard of jobbers they already have thanks to the ROH Academy…and there was absolutely zero clamour for him to be brought back in, OTHER then as part of a potential Havana Pitbulls reunion. Hopefully he’s just here to stare at the ceiling for Kingston, who seems primed for a bit of a run with ROH now, particularly on HDNet.
Reyes makes a mean-spirited jump start on Kingston and enjoys some striking success before taking a couple of overhead suplexes. Ricky kicks Eddie to the ground again before scraping at the ears and face. He rattles off a suplex sequence of his own, then misses an elbow drop like a goon to even things up. King gets 2 with a urinage. BACK DROP DRIVER! SPINNING BACK FIST DUCKED! Reyes gets 2 with a sliding DDT. They trade some huge strikes (with some of the most blatant and obvious spot calling I’ve ever seen). Kingston wins with the Spinning Back Fist at 07:13
Rating – ** – Pretty similar to the Kingston/Callihan match from TV recently in that there wasn’t a whole lot of wrestling, but working with more of a crisp, physical, brawling style which was quite fun. Reyes looked very comfortable with that and the fans gradually grew into the match as these two dropped bombs on each other. There have been some pretty terrible opening matches on ROH DVD’s this year, but this definitely wasn’t one of them. I’ve never been a huge fan but I’m starting to think maybe more of Eddie Kingston in ROH would be a good thing.
Chris Hero comes out to remind Kingston that he’s not in the same league as him. Their issue stems from a match at the most recent HDNet tapings. Great to see they’re giving Hero something to do, and giving him an opponent they KNOW he’ll have chemistry with
Super Smash Bros. vs Brent Albright/Erick Stevens
Tag team enhancement match here. I suppose Albright and Stevens are the established ROH names, so it’s up to Uno and Dos to prove themselves at the expense of those two tonight.
Stevens powers through Dos in the opening minutes so he brings in Uno to help him out. They deliver a double suplex, but pretty soon it’s Uno trapped in the corner getting battered by Albright. Dos tags in again and gets similarly rough treatment from Brent. Double press slam on Uno gets 2. The whole thing becomes entirely one-sided with the Smash Bros. getting a real beating. Dos lands a quebrada into a swinging DDT after about 8 minutes, then a spear/standing Shiranui combo for 2. That’s it though as Albright flings Uno into a lifting lariat from Stevens. Dos tries a dive to the floor but gets caught and slammed into the ringpost by Erick. He throws Dos back to the apron…HALF NELSON SUPLEX OVER THE ROPES INTO THE RING! Albright pins Dos at 08:50
Rating – * – Boring, long, completely systematic squash win for Albright and Stevens. I thought the Smash Bros. looked quite entertaining as a Steen-erico Lite team yesterday, but they were little more than cannon fodder tonight. Unfortunately Stevens and Albright weren’t anywhere near dynamic or interesting enough to make nearly 10 minutes of this worth watching.
Jay Briscoe is in a swamp, hoping the best man wins in his World Title Match tonight.
Chris Hero vs Sonjay Dutt
Originally Kevin Steen was scheduled to wrestle Sonjay tonight, but with Mr Wrestling drafted into the Tag Title match by Bryan Danielson thanks to Tyler Black’s injury, Tyler’s replacement for the weekend (Hero) steps into the contest. Dutt wants more ROH bookings in the future whilst Hero looks to rebuild after another failed World Title shot.
Immediate wristlock by Hero, grounding the high-flying opponent he faces this evening. He works the mat well, but Dutt shows some skill in that area too by countering him into a nice surfboard. He goes for a mid-air dropkick but finds that blocked by Hero…only to twist free of his Boston Crab attempt to leave us all even again. Now the pace quickens with a series of swift spots by Dutt, leading to a dropkick to the floor then a CRAZY plancha over the top to the outside. Sadly his success is short lived as he gets distracted by Shane Hagadorn, then ambushed by Hero. Floor Mat Senton nailed moments later. Satellite Small Package by Dutt gets 2 but Hero rattles his jaw with a big elbow strike to kill his momentum. Hero shows an aptitude for hitting standing sentons from any angle and has really injured Sonjay’s midsection. That doesn’t stop him hitting a leg drop in the ropes then an ULTRA RANA for 2. Springboard splash nailed for another nearfall. Ligerbomb gets a 2 for Hero as Dutt gets preoccupied doing Randy Orton impressions. Rolling Elbow draws another nearfall, only for Dutt to fire back with a standing Contra Code. TOP ROPE PLANCHA TO HAGADORN ON THE FLOOR! Hero uses the subsequent melee to sneak the loaded elbow pad onto his boot. LOADED FLASH KICK! Just like that Sonjay Dutt is unconscious, giving Hero the win in 12:40
Rating – *** – They started slow but ticked up through the gears at a nice pace as the match progressed. As I said during my Never Say Die review, Sonjay is never going to win any wrestler of the year awards, but he’s got a fluid, crisp, easy on the eye style which is a fun watch and I’d happily see him get a few dates with ROH. This was decent midcard entertainment and, since he’s looked good on both shows, I figure Sonjay will get another look on subsequent shows.
Jimmy Rave/Claudio Castagnoli vs Necro Butcher/Delirious
Nobody likes the reformed Embassy is the theme here. Necro has already pissed them off by helping Grizzly Redwood in Boston so has found himself a partner to face them tonight. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but wouldn’t putting Redwood in this match have made more sense? Hell, Delirious could even have teamed with Sugarfoot in his match instead.
Rave spits at Necro then high tails it to avoid retribution…what an ass. Lots of stalling gives Prazak and Leonard all the time they need to make Swine Flu jokes. Claudio in instead, but he finds the wrestling skills of Necro too much to overcome. Butcher basically makes Castagnoli tag Jimmy in. Rave avoids Necro again and tags Double C back in. Of course, as soon as Delirious is tagged in Jimmy flies in to blindside him and give The Embassy an advantage. Necro tagged, Rave bails, so he climbs for the Necro-canrana on Castagnoli instead. Having had enough Necro chases Rave all the way around the arena…until Rave cunningly leads him into a sneak attack from Claudio. Nana and Osiris take some pot shots at him too. The endless ‘HEY’s from the crowd get the better of Double C, allowing Butcher to score with a flying crossbody. Hot tag to Delirious who nails both Embassy members with the Panic Attack. Rave drops him with a running STO…so Delirious comes up with the HERE IT IS DRIVER for 2. SUICIDE FLIP ON CLAUDIO! Meanwhile Jimmy Rave has a steel chair and waffles Necro with it. No sold though…and Delirious sneaks in to pin Jimmy at 14:25
Rating – ** – It certainly wasn’t actively bad, but it was essentially the same midcard tag team match we’ve seen countless times since Adam Pearce took the book. Sorry to all the Necro fans but I’m so bored of him now. He can’t wrestle (well, he can, but it looks f*cking hideous) and is hard to watch when he’s removed from the lawless match types he favours. I’m sure he will, but right now it’s tough to see him having a good match between now and his dropping from the roster in late 2010. The ‘look Necro can do ugly armdrags and monkey flips’ joke is something else I’m sick to the back teeth of too.
Colt Cabana stops talking to his internet girlfriend to talk about his jealousy of Joey Ryan’s chest hair. Yep…
Elsewhere Bryan Danielson admits neither he or Steen are particularly keen to team with each other, rather than Tyler Black or El Generico. However, Dragon wants to win the Tag Titles for the first time in his ROH career whilst Steen wants to hurt the Wolves because he hates them, so they have a united sense of purpose going into their shot at Richards and Edwards.
Grizzly Redwood/Alex Payne vs Kenny King/Rhett Titus
Three ROH Academy graduates in one match…even if it’s only really Titus who has ever truly shaken off the tag of ‘ROH student’, this represents a pretty decent victory for the school.
I like that Redwood is wrestling barefoot as The Embassy burnt his boots – that’s a nice level of detail. Duelling chants of ‘You’re a Virgin’ at Rhett and ‘King Gets Pussy’ are pretty amusing too. Payne controls Kenny in the early going, which is already pushing the realms of believability. The commentary is far better than the match for the first couple of minutes by the way, with Prazak and Lenny busting out some funny stuff. Grizzly chops Titus down into the path of a sugary boot from Payne for 2. King illegally crotches Sugarfoot on the turnbuckles to give the ANX an advantage for the first time. Rhett sees the Sexy Suplex botched and Payne scores with an ugly gourdbuster before getting the hot tag to Grizzly. He comes in to absolutely zero crowd reaction, and his fiery momentum doesn’t last too long. Titus boots him in the face…but Sugarfoot makes the save as they go for the Doomsday Blockbuster. Coronation on Payne, only for King to accidentally Capoeira kick his own partner. SPRINGBOARD DOOMSDAY BLOCKBUSTER! ANX win at 07:35
Rating – * – Much like Albright/Stevens vs Smash Bros. earlier, this was a squash that went on miles too long. King and Titus are starting to get over on merit, and should be dusting off crappy little teams like this in a far quicker time if ROH want to increase their stock as a viable tag team force. I really don’t care for either Payne or Redwood so seeing them get so much offence was fairly irritating to watch. In particular I don’t see the upside in Sugarfoot. I’ve read all over the place that he loves the business and works really hard. Which is brilliant and I’m happy for him, but he’s boring as hell, totally bland, hasn’t done anything memorable other than interfere in a ppv World Title match and, but for the Chicago market, isn’t over in the slightest. Even Grizzly has a supposedly amusing persona to work with.
Joey Ryan vs Colt Cabana
Singles debut for the man promising to bring ‘sleazy’ to ROH – Joey Ryan. He debuted as a member of The Embassy last night and wants to make a major impression tonight by defeating ROH veteran Colt Cabana. As we heard from Cabana at intermission, he’s up for the challenge.
Ryan fondles himself then licks his hands, which is kind of weird. Cabana feels totally uncomfortable locking up with him after that. He rings his bell and snaps the neck instead, sending Joey diving out of the ring for a pep talk from Prince Nana. Ryan tries to work his arm, but is no match for Cabana’s chicanery and funky wrestling skills. AWESOME comedy as Colt accidentally sends Todd Sinclair flying, then tries to revive him using Joey Ryan’s nutsack towel. ‘I don’t encourage blatant cheating – I encourage cheating behind the ref’s back’ – Prazak. Ryan’s thong gets exposed, and his bare ass takes a chop as the humiliation of the newest Embassy member continues. Joey fleeing to the floor actually works out to his advantage though as Colt goes for a pescado and lands on his face after missing everyone. After landing flat on his front on the hard floor, Ryan immediately attacks Cabana’s ribs. Joey really goes old school with that – using bodyscissors and bearhugs to impose himself over a period of several minutes. Cabana then totally no sells that to hit a quebrada press for 2. The Flying Asshole is nailed too, only for Joey to come out of the corner into a spear. He gets 2 with a wrist clutch suplex. Colt pulls the chest hair to keep him at bay, allowing him to deliver the tornado snap suplex. The referee catches Joey trying to cheat using the ropes, and his vigorous protestations lead to him getting put into the Billy Goat’s Curse. Joey submits at 14:16
Rating – ** – Some of the comedy was pretty good, but other than that there wasn’t much else going on. It was fought at a painfully slow pace, in front of a crowd who really didn’t seem to care about Joey Ryan making his singles debut at all. Indeed Ryan, who is one of the stars of PWG was made to look like a total jabroni out there. Very possibly the most underwhelming debut weekend any major indie wrestler has ever had in Ring Of Honor.
American Wolves vs Bryan Danielson/Kevin Steen – ROH World Title Match
This was originally scheduled to be Dragon and Tyler Black’s big rematch for the belts after their epic 45 minute draw in Markham. But with Black on the shelf with a neck injury, Danielson was quick to recruit Kevin Steen, a hated rival of the Wolves, as a replacement partner on short notice. By their own admission, they’d rather win the belts with different people, but Danielson’s desire to win the ROH Tag Titles for the first time, combined with Mr Wrestling’s desire to extract revenge on Richards and Edwards for the last few months make them a threat to the gold this evening.
Steen jumps both champions as they come to the ring, and Danielson is happy to join him so it’s a wild fight around ringside that ensues before the bell even rings. Kevin superkicks through both Wolves as they sit slumped in a chair at ringside, then ushers Dragon in for an Ole Ole Dropkick. Steen goes for a Package Piledriver on the apron on Richards, but Edwards makes the save…and drops Kevin through the timekeeping table. Danielson tries to help out with a Mexican surfboard on Eddie but this time it’s Richards’ turn to make the save and back suplex the former World Champion. Such is the ferocity of his kicks that he draws blood from Bryan’s pale chest. He goes for a tag but Edwards pulls Steen off the apron so the weary Danielson has to turn back into battle with Davey. The Wolf applies a Figure 4, made worse by a top rope knee drop by Edwards. It’s a cue for the champions to go to work on Bryan’s leg, now tagging in and out at a rapid pace as they hone in on the increasingly injured body part. But he ducks the Superkick German combo and makes the hot tag to Kevin Steen. Backpack Senton on both the Wolves gets 2. But the numbers aren’t in his favour and he soon falls victim to Eddie’s rear gourdbuster into a missile dropkick from Richards evens it up. Pumphandle Cradlebreaker from Steen, into Danielson’s TRIANGLE CHOKE on Davey. SHARPSHOOTER ON EDWARDS! Richards finds a crazy counter to the choke into a pin, which means Steen has to break his hold to free him. DOOMSDAY BULLDOG gets the defending champions a 2, then Eddie tries to go back to the leg with a half crab. LEBELL LOCK ON EDDIE! INTO THE STEEN-TON BOMB! Richards and Steen then wipe each other out with a series of heavy duty strikes. Steen clotheslines him over the to and into the replacement time keeping table, whilst in the ring Danielson COUNTERS the Backpack Stunner to MMA ELBOWS! EDDIE KICKS OUT! CATTLE MUTILATION! TIGER SUPLEX! He lines up the back superplex on Eddie. DAVEY SAVES WITH A ROPE RUN GERMAN SUPERPLEX! TOPE CON HILO ON STEEN! Edwards nearly wins it with the Backpack Stunner as Danielson really starts to struggle with his bad leg. TRIANGLE CHOKE WITH ELBOWS! EDWARDS DRAGON SCREWS THE LEG TO ESCAPE! ACHILLES TENDON LOCK! DRAGON TAPS! 17:34 is the time
Rating – **** – Woah, that is a massive rub for Eddie Edwards there. Last night I had a mini-rant about not giving him the opportunity to breakout via his feud with Danielson in the same way that Tyler Black did with singles matches. This match makes me take that all back because, you know what, for all the great clashes, Tyler NEVER made Danielson submit. The American Wolves are starting to fill Bryan Danielson’s traditional ‘good match on every show’ role now, as this was another exciting clash. The first half of 2009 has been poor by ROH’s own high standards, but the explosion of the Wolves has been a massive positive. I love how different their matches are to the Briscoe style. Nothing wrong with either one, but we’ve seen a lot of the Briscoes in recent years…so watching dominant champions with such an aggressive, methodical and deeply technical approach is a welcome change of pace. The show has most definitely been stolen here tonight…
Jerry Lynn vs Jay Briscoe – ROH World Title Match
I don’t have much of an intro for this, which is a shame since it’s the main event and sees the ROH World Championship up for grabs. Lynn has proven to be a fighting champion by giving everyone he comes across title shots, regardless of how worthy they actually are. Jay will hope this marks the pinnacle of his run as a singles wrestler in ROH with his brother on the shelf.
Mark Briscoe seconds his brother tonight which does give this some added ‘big match’ flavour. Edison, traditionally the douchiest of the current ROH markets, seems particularly anti-Jerry here, greeting his introduction with ‘We Want Nigel’ chants. Jay starts impressively, able to overpower Jerry with a tackle, outwork him with a grounded headscissors, then come up better in a speed exchange with an armdrag. Five minutes in and Jerry clearly has his work cut out for him as he’s barely had a look in. He evades the guillotine leg drop in the ropes (as Nigel amusing ducks questions about his shady time limit draw at the last Edison show) and heads to the floor. BIG BOOT INTO THE CROWD! You’d think brawling on the floor would be another area where Briscoe would show his superiority, but the plucky World Champion fights back with a DDT ON A CHAIR! But that gives Jay a chance to show he recovers quickly too, rallying to land a big superplex on the champion. He goes for the DVD only for Lynn to counter into an inverted DDT. Regular DDT nailed a few moments later, as Jerry has regressed to absolute basics as he looks to soften Jay up for the Cradle Piledriver. Super rana scores, but as they get to their feet it looks like the move took as much out of Lynn as it did from Jay. The champion uses all his experience to counter the Jay Driller to a TKO. Briscoe with a spinebuster then a Delaware Jam for 2. CRADLE PILEDRIVER FROM NOWHERE! JAY KICKS OUT! JAY DRILLER! LYNN KICKS OUT! He pulls Jerry up for another one, but Lynn counters and turns him into a CRADLE TOMBSTONE PILEDRIVER! Absolute desperation from Jerry to break that out – he retains at 16:02
Rating – **** – I’m sure I’ll get some flak for this rating, particularly from the Lynn haters, and I’m well aware that I’ve scored this match way higher than many of my contemporaries. I do have my reasons though – mostly that the layout of this match was totally different to what I was expecting. Briscoe has challenged for the World Title a number of times now, and never really recaptured the magic of those first two shots at Samoa Joe (Tradition Continues and At Our Best). The ‘experienced tag team wrestler but vulnerable singles competitor’ underdog storyline with him in singles matches has been done to death. With Jerry in there, I thought that would be the obvious route they’d take and I wasn’t overly interested in seeing it. But, credit to both workers, they went in a totally different and overwhelmingly better direction. The bout played up Jay as the powerful young lion, with an opening segment proving him to be more powerful, faster and equally as skilled as the weary, in-decline Lynn. He had Jerry’s trademark spots scouted, and even when Lynn did manage to hit a spot, the younger man’s ability to absorb those and get up was far greater than the ageing champion. In the end it was Jerry’s experience, and the desperation finisher of the Cradle Tombstone that managed to put Jay down. So yeah, let the accusations of overrating the main event come flying in – I liked it. Much like Lynn/Hero and Lynn/Strong, I thought it was a well laid out, psychologically sound and well executed main event. Just because it didn’t connect with the live audience didn’t stop me enjoying it. Jerry really doesn’t deserve the heat he’s getting as World Champion in my opinion.
Jerry gets on the stick and references the tag match way back at The Last Stand, and says he’s proud of the Briscoes and how much they’ve improved since then. There’s also lots of grumpy swearing at the amount of haters in the crowd. It sort of seems like the criticism is getting to him now.
We go to the American Wolves locker room. Richards appears to have bird poop on his arm. Edwards puts over his Achilles Tendon Lock finisher since it made Bryan Danielson tap…
Rating – ** – The two main events were good, but they were dragged down by LOTS of crap in the middle. Poorly executed squashes and mind-numbing filler absolutely litter this DVD and leave you requiring liberal use of your skip button just to get to the good stuff. Unless it’s marked WAY down in price there’s no way you could really justify spending your money on this one when there are so many better shows out there. Hero/Dutt is ok, the World Title match might surprise you if you don’t hate Jerry Lynn for not being Tyler Black, and the Tag Title match is Eddie Edwards’ coming out party…but not enough to salvage a lacklustre release I’m afraid.
Top 3 Matches
3) Chris Hero vs Sonjay Dutt (***)
2) Jerry Lynn vs Jay Briscoe (****)
1) American Wolves vs Bryan Danielson/Kevin Steen (****)
Top 5 Never Say Die/Validation Weekend Matches
5) Kenny King/Rhett Titus vs Super Smash Bros. (*** – Never Say Die)
4) Jerry Lynn vs Jay Briscoe (**** – Validation)
3) Jerry Lynn vs Chris Hero (**** – Never Say Die)
2) American Wolves vs Bryan Danielson/Kevin Steen (**** – Validation)
1) Kevin Steen vs Davey Richards (**** – Never Say Die)