ROH 233 – End Of An Age – 27th June 2009
The Chicago market used to be absolutely massive to Ring Of Honor, and when the promotion rolled through Chicago, much as like whenever they go to Manhattan, you knew you were going to see something special. But over the last year or so something has changed. It’s still a major market, but the show quality just doesn’t seem to be what it used to. Already this year The Homecoming 2 and Caged Collision have been disappointing efforts. And last year we had Night Of The Butcher 2 and Vendetta 2 which I was pretty disappointed with as well. Even Rising Above 2008 was a fairly average show saved by the epic McGuinness/Danielson World Title main event. However, the card tonight, on paper, has the potential to be particularly strong and may well be an attempt to stop the rot in the Chicago Ridge building. There are four potential show-stealing, main event quality bouts that I’m particularly looking forward to, with KENTA taking on Tyler Black, Cabana and Albright facing The Embassy in a Street Fight, Steen and Generico fighting for their Tag Title futures against the American Wolves, whilst the main event sees Nigel McGuinness get a World Title rematch in Austin Aries’ first defence of his second reign. Chicago Ridge, IL is the familiar setting. Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard call it.
ROH VIDEO WIRE – See Violent Tendencies (ROH 232) review for details
The show opens with a third 10-bell salute to Misawa. The fact that this guy has gotten three of these should show you the level of respect he has in the industry, the strength of ROH relationship with NOAH and the affection ROH fans have for a guy many of them will never have even seen compete.
Silas Young vs Egotistico Fantastico vs Sami Callihan vs Alex Payne vs Rhett Titus vs Delirious
As this is basically a bunch of enhancement talent thrown into a match, with Titus and Delirious thrown in, there’s not a whole lot to introduce it with. Young and Sugarfoot have heat going back to when Silas attacked Payne after a tag team match, whilst there’s obviously history between Rhett and Delirious going back to the Daizee Haze love triangle of 2008.
Sami steals a home-made foam ‘Sugarfoot’ and puts it over his own boot. Lenny Leonard’s wicked and sarcastic sense of humour is making fun of Ric Flair on commentary. Delirious and Titus chase each other under the ring…and Titus comes out the other side with his trunks down and toilet paper in his butt. Sami and Ego go for some actual wrestling which isn’t executed with much precision. Fantastico sends Callihan to the floor, so Young comes in – piefacing Payne on his way. Ego hits a sweet reverse DVD then tries to go upstairs only for Silas to score with a rope run German superplex. Sugarfoot in, so Young leaves rather than face him. Instead Payne blocks the Sexy Suplex from Titus before going into some sloppy exchange with him. Delirious saves Payne from the Muff Driver and they score with a double Sexy Suplex on Rhettski. STEREO PLANCHAS to the floor from the Sugar-lirious duo. Not to be outdone, Egotistico lines up a running somersault plancha…and basically overshoots everyone. To the corners where everyone except Titus converges to hit a five-way stack bomb/superplex car crash. Comically Rhett sneaks in and tries to pin everyone in turn. ROPE RUN FACECRUSHER FROM TITUS TO PAYNE! Where did that come from? Delirious breaks the fall and nearly pins Rhett after the Here It Is Driver. Big lariat from Callihan to block the Panic Attack. He then eats Taco Pizza and Certain Doom from Ego for 2. Sugarfoot aims at Silas with a crossbody but gets crotched. Blockbuster instead, but Sami takes Payne out of the ring. Delirious swoops to snatch victory with the Shadows Over Hell on Young at 11:33.
Rating – ** – Entertaining opening match, combining some fun wrestling with some really good comedic moments. I’d have gone 3* on it where it not for several moments of real sloppiness. Ego had a really bad night, with nearly everything he did looking amateur, barely connecting or looking business-exposingly bad. Payne and Callihan didn’t do much better in that respect, although kudos to Sugarfoot for showing some real intensity in his exchanges with Silas. Luckily Delirious and Silas, highly experienced pros at this level, were involved and they held things together well enough. And Rhett needs to start using that amazing vertical leap X-Factor from now on. It was an incredible move, easily the highlight of the match for me.
Rasche Brown vs Erick Stevens
Slobberknocker time in Chicago. These are two big guys, and with Rasche’s debut on HDNet imminent, I’m surprised they didn’t save this one for a TV taping. I feel like this match will be much more suited to a TV-style audience rather than the ROH DVD releases where the standard needs to be a little higher. That said, Skullkrusher has looked really dominant in his few ROH appearances thus far, so it’ll be interesting to see how he copes with Erick – a guy who is big enough to cause him some problems.
Has Erick Stevens put plants in the crowd? He comes to the ring with guys bowing to him, streamers and all sorts etc. That’s almost unbelievable given how his ROH career has stalled in recent months. Lenny Leonard bitterly comments that at least Brown is ‘HD ready’. ‘You don’t like slapping porpoises Lenny?’ – Prazak. They start with some basic mat wrestling, which looks impressive purely because of the size of the two individuals. Stevens tries a couple of shoulder tackles, but in an unfamiliar experience to him, they have no impact on Rasche, who hits the ropes and storms through him with a football tackle of his own. These two are really laying into each other with strikes, and Stevens manages to clothesline Brown all the way to the floor. FOOTBALL TACKLE TOPE SUICIDA SCORES! But even that has minimal effect, with Brown effortlessly lifting him into a big powerslam as they re-enter the ring. Spinning suplex gets 2 as Skullkrusher continues totally dominate. Camel clutch applied, but Stevens AMAZINGLY powers Brown onto his shoulders into a SQUAT SAMOAN DROP! Second rope football tackle nailed…but Brown NO SELLS and runs into a spear for another 2. GERMAN SUPLEX BY STEVENS! CHOO CHOO NAILED! But Rasche no sells again to hit a SIT OUT CHOKESLAM for 2. Skullkrusher thinks about an avalanche of his own but gets decapitated with a massive lariat from Stevens. DOCTOR BOMB! Erick wins at 09:10
Rating – *** – Yeah, I don’t know where that came from either. This felt like something I’d should be watching on something booked by Vince McMahon, but for some reason it really worked in an ROH setting. Stevens has never been very good at playing a physically imposing power house, which I think is part of the reason he’s never really done that much in ROH. He has the potential to be a Morishima-type force, but instead comes off like a big goof. But here, playing the ‘little guy’ for once, he was absolutely superb. What is normally goofiness came off as fiery underdog determination in the face of the oddly watchable presence that is Rasche. And between them these two moved with decent speed, hit everything with incredible force, and put on something you just don’t get in ROH very often – a really good big man match. Not saying I’d want this on every show, but in an era when ROH feels a little tired, stale and predictable, this came out of nowhere to really impress me. It’s a match which keeps Stevens relevant thanks to a huge win, and has to be the match that convinced Pearce, Cary and co. that Rasche was a talent worth investing in.
Ric Flair comes out for his usual irrelevant, ROH paid way too much for this, appearance. I got an email accusing me of disrespecting Ric Flair in my reviews, and whilst I’m never going to agree with how Flair treated Ring Of Honor, I should point out what a legendary and influential figure he is a little more. Tonight he puts over Chicago as the best wrestling city in the world and drops some catchphrases which naturally send the fans pretty crazy.
Kenny King vs Petey Williams
I’d imagine this is the match where Petey needs to prove his worth as more of a permanent member of the ROH roster. Last night he proved he was over, and that the Canadian Destroyer will get the same reaction in this company that it did in TNA. But at this stage of his career he should be able to make guys look good whilst getting all those pops himself. Kenny has clearly been earmarked as a major part of ROH’s future – so Petey being able to continue his development and put on a good match with him here will clearly go a long way towards securing future bookings.
Armdrags from King in the first minute, then he retreats to the floor to do a celebratory lap of honour. Back in for another armdrag, and some Michael Jackson dancing, but he gets too into that and takes a boot to the head from Williams, who busts out some MJ moves of his own. Petey gets 2 with a jawbreaker into a spinning heel kick. He sends King to the floor with a flying headscissors, and tops that with the SLINGSHOT HEADSCISSORS ON THE OUTSIDE! Inside Kenny showcases his impressive power by hanging Williams in the ropes then running at him with a big lariat for 2. Spinebuster, followed by a camel clutch as King starts to work on the back of ‘Maple Leaf Muscle’. And when he escapes that Rhett Titus is on hand to choke him in the ropes. Canadian Destroyer attempted out of desperation, only for King to counter with another spinebuster, this time into the turnbuckles. But Kenny gets too cocky, attempting a springboard move and getting met by a mid-air dropkick from Petey. Slingshot gutbuster, then a backbreaker bring Petey back into things, allowing him to hit a big dropkick to the back of the head. Canadian Legsweep nailed too, and Williams starts thinking about the Destroyer. Capo Kick from Kenny to block it, but he misses the Shotgun Knees and gets taken down again with a bulldog. Coronation evaded into an enziguri from Williams for 2. Nearfall right back in Kenny’s favour as he hits a swinging backbreaker. Powerbomb from Williams, but King still counters the Destoyer. Cradle DDT instead, then a tornado DDT, both moves dropping King on his head. Sharpshooter locked in, but the ref doesn’t see Kenny tapping as he gets distracted by Titus. SHOTGUN KNEES! CORONATION! Big victory for Kenny King at 14:38
Rating – *** – Not all of it was perfect, but that was 15 minutes of (sorry Petey) total non-stop action which I felt was enjoyable. I feel like Williams, who works more of a grounded junior heavyweight style, is a much more comfortable fit in ROH than Sonjay, however, he won’t be able to cruise along for as long as he did in TNA by building ALL his matches around the Canadian Destroyer. Yes, it’s an awesome move, but it sort of became the only identifiable thing about his wrestling in TNA, and he’ll need to break out of that to be a success in ROH. What I liked here is that, whilst the Destroyer was a central theme to the match, it never felt like the two men were just killing time until Petey hit it. Exhibition-style match for sure, but at least it was packed with a sense of purpose.
King and Titus try to beat up Petey, which is clearly a big mistake. Williams knocks Rhett aside and hits the Canadian Destroyer on King…getting the inevitable pop from the fans.
Tyler Black vs KENTA
After ending his feud with Jimmy Jacobs in Detroit yesterday, Tyler now needs to get his ROH career back on track, and get back in the hunt for the World Title. To that end, he now faces an international star talent in pursuit of a second big singles victory of the weekend to put him right at the top of the list of contenders to the belt. KENTA can be considered a measuring stick for up and coming talents in ROH to measure themselves against, with only Bryan Danielson, Nigel McGuinness and the late Mitsuharu Misawa able to beat him a singles match in a Ring Of Honor ring. He’s beaten the likes of Roderick Strong, Austin Aries, Rocky Romero, Davey Richards, Delirious and Matt ‘Evan Bourne’ Sydal in the past so that should give you a measure of just how big an accomplishment it would be if Tyler can pull a win out of the bag here tonight.
KENTA backs Tyler straight to the ropes, only to miss with a wild kick attempt. Crowd is split 50/50 at this stage. First knockdown goes to Black who hits a dropkick, followed by that face stomp spot he always does. Big kick flurry from KENTA absolutely flattens Tyler in the corner though, bringing the crowd to it’s feet. Black tries a snapmare/back kick spot, but KENTA is all ‘hell no’ and slaps him straight in the mouth before taking him down and showing him how it’s done. Top rope flying knee strike to the exposed back scores for KENTA’s first significant nearfall. There’s a nice touch as fans start to chant ‘Misawa’ so KENTA pushes Tyler to the ropes and belts him with a couple of big elbow smashes. Black, having been on the defensive for sometime, puts together a series of clotheslines, then the Lionsault feint Black Star Press for 2. But it’s temporary as KENTA powerslams him, then escorts him back up for another brutal kick combo. He lines up that fisherman buster he’s known for only for Black to counter it with a neckbreaker. But Tyler takes too long going upstairs and gets mown down again with a mafia kick. Springboard dropkick…YAKUZA KICKS…BASEMENT DROPKICK! TOP ROPE DOUBLE STOMP! Borderline psychotic and absolutely vicious punishment inflicted by KENTA there. Tyler fires back with superkicks…so KENTA floors him again with a lariat. As both guys recover Chicago chants for both ROH and NOAH respectively. Tyler tries a KENTA-esque big boot, only for KENTA to catch it and trap him in an STF. He nears the ropes…tiger suplex attempt BLOCKED. ACE CRUSHER INSTEAD! But Tyler is finally starting to wear KENTA down, finally catching him for a super rana, then hoisting him up for a body slam TO THE FLOOR! RUNNING SOMERSAULT PLANCHA SCORES! Back in the ring Black hits the F-5 for 2. Phoenix Splash misses, so Black kicks him in the head and nails Peroxism instead. He thinks Buckle Bomb, only for KENTA to counter with a hurricanrana into the second turnbuckle. GO 2 SLEEP…BLOCKED! GOD’S LAST GIFT…BLOCKED! GO 2 SLEEP…COUNTERED TO A DDT! GO 2 SLEEEEEEP! BLACK KICKS OUT! Busaiku Knee blocked with a superkick. BUCKLE BOMB! SUPERKICK BLOCKED. GO 2 SLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!! In 17:50 KENTA wins it!
Rating – **** – I’ve read some mixed reviews of this one, so wasn’t sure what to expect going in, but personally I absolutely loved this. Tyler Black is heralded by many as the future golden boy of ROH, so pitting him with KENTA is almost like a trial match for him if he is to be a main event talent in the future. And KENTA, who himself went through a Trial Series in Pro Wrestling NOAH, really delivered in the role of established superior looking to make the up and comer humble. He was totally vicious throughout here. Anytime Tyler tried anything, KENTA would get right back up and smack him down again. It happened time and time again, which of course, made Black look like a star for absorbing the punishment, then for taking KENTA’s best shots and coming close to victory himself. My biggest criticism comes from the fact that, as a match designed to push Black, I didn’t feel it presented Tyler as quite enough of a legitimate threat to KENTA. He certainly gets the rub in that he took a hell of a beating AND kicked out of the G2S, however, it was just lacking a couple of serious, believable Black nearfalls to really push this one to the next level. I genuinely enjoyed this match enough that, with the added element of believability that Tyler could win, this would be a comfortable MOTYC. As is, it wasn’t quite as dramatic and psychologically sound as Nigel/KENTA, and lacked the intensity of Richards/KENTA, so it doesn’t quite reach the level of those two. Great match though.
Both men embrace as they take their deserved appause, but as KENTA leaves, the familiar Age Of The Fall screams start to echo through the building. Once again hoards of masked followers, flanked by Jimmy Jacobs, storm the ring and beat down Tyler. Jimmy wants to hang Black from the rafters in the same way that they did to Jay Briscoe in the same building in September 2007. But, unlike back then, Kevin Steen and El Generico come out and save Black. Tyler drops Jacobs with God’s Last Gift, then proceeds to hang HIM from the ceiling. The camera pans around to show that it’s Delirious controlling the mechanism lifting Jimmy to the ceiling. Black officially announces the ‘death’ of Age Of The Fall. Even the masked guys walk out on Jimmy now, meaning Jacobs literally leaves the ring and walks straight out of the building. And that’s his last appearance in Ring Of Honor to date. Somewhat strange and sad end to a great ROH career that nobody thought the little guy with the ‘HUSS’ gimmick would ever be capable of.
Claudio Castagnoli/Joey Ryan vs Colt Cabana/Brent Albright – Street Fight
Cabana and Albright have been feuding with The Embassy for most of the year. Well, Brent has basically been feuding with Claudio all year, whilst Colt entered proceedings as Bryan Danielson’s mystery partner at the 7th Anniversary Show to oppose Prince Nana’s troops, subsequently had his HDNet debut ruined by Nana, and has had beef with the Ghanaian group ever since. Tonight Colt and Brent face the two paid associates of The Embassy in Double C and the ‘hired Magnum’ Joey Ryan.
Fisticuffs then stereo elbows from the babyfaces send Ryan and Castagnoli running for the hills inside thirty seconds. They bring a table in the ring and start using it to beat The Embassy around with before Albright scatters fans in the crowd by back body dropping Joey Ryan straight into their laps. The commentators do the whole ‘they’re coming this way’ no commentary gimmick as all four mow down fans and storm through various sections of crowd. Cabana scales the guardrails to hit a MOONSAULT PRESS INTO THE CROWD! The lack of distance and wild angle at which he nearly landed at is what made that such a nasty spot. Back in the ring Albright slaps the Crowbar on Claudio as Cabana sweeps Joey into the Billy Goat’s Curse…but of course Nana and Ernie Osiris are on hand to break those holds. Just like that the Street Fight becomes a four-on-two handicap match, and the numbers quickly succumb Cabana and Albright. Brent manages to floor Claudio with a tope suicida though, then plays D-Von in the Dudley Boyz ‘get the table’ skit we saw on every episode of RAW and Smackdown for about 3 years. It’s Ryan that ends up laid out on it, only for Osiris to crotch Cabana before he can send Joey through it. Brent goes for an exploder through it instead, only for Claudio to move the table at the last second. Riccola Bomb through the table is blocked, as is Ryan’s attempt at a German. The Embassy start stacking chairs. MOUSTACHE RIDE ONTO A PILE OF CHAIRS! Colt is dead, and Albright is flattened as well, taken down by a chair-assisted Bicycle Kick from Castagnoli. All four men down, until Claudio gets to his feet only to be hiptossed over the ropes and straight into Ernie. SPRINGBOARD PLANCHA INTO THE CROWD BY ALBRIGHT! In the melee Nana tries to attack Colt, and only Joey Ryan saves him from being put through the table by Cabana. FLYING ASSHOLE THROUGH THE TABLE ON RYAN! Cabana wins at 15:44
Rating – *** – Some of it was a little goofy, some of it was dull, but there was enough craziness tucked in too, so overall I’d deem it a mild success. The last couple of minutes, with Albright’s lunatic crowd dive and the pretty unique table spot were certainly very good. I can’t help but feel that both Claudio and Ryan are wasted in The Embassy (this would have been far more heated had Jimmy Rave been in there), and neither of them seem a comfortable fit with Prince Nana, and that lack of chemistry definitely impacted the sort of heat they were able to get.
D-Lo Brown vs Roderick Strong
Ahead of the four corner survival at the most recent New York show, Brown said he had his eye on Strong, and had been particularly impressed by the hype surrounding him. The result of that is that we now get a singles match. Given that Roddy has victories over the likes of Matt Hardy, James Gibson and Jimmy Yang, he clearly has a penchant for going over former WWE cast-off. D-Lo beware…
Brown, with plenty of AJPW experience behind him, has no hesitation in marching into a chop battle with Roderick. He then gets kicked to the floor, and nearly wipes out a camera man as Strong knocks him down with a tackle off the apron. Back inside D-Lo hits a couple of absolutely MASSIVE chops which resound through the whole building and cause Strong’s chest to flare up big time. Such is the impact of the beating D-Lo inflicts that Roddy just doesn’t have the ‘freaky retard strength’ to lift him into Death By Roderick. Sliding lariat gets Brown a nearfall. I hear a smattering of ‘break his back’ chants, which I REALLY hope are chants of support to Roderick and not Droz references. SHINING WIZARDOOOOOOO! Just 2 again though, and the frustration causes D-Lo to miss a second rope senton splash. He teases the needless pointing leg drop (which gets a massive pop) but instead goes to the top again thinking about the Lo Down. Roderick blocks with an enzi kick then a ring-shaking superplex for 2. He just doesn’t have the power to even come close to getting Brown up for the Gibson Driver though, and D-Lo effortlessly lifts him into a TKO instead. DEATH BY RODERICK! SICK KICK! But Brown is in the ropes! And speaking of ropes, D-Lo grabs them to roll Strong up for a cheap win at 09:15. Crappy ending to a surprisingly decent match.
Rating – ** – I was totally going 3* on this until that lousy finish. I don’t even mind the cheap victory as a concept, it’s just that it looked CRAP! Strong was basically under the ropes, to the extent that the referee almost had to turn his head away to act like he COULDN’T see D-Lo holding them. Total amateur stuff from two guys who are experienced enough to know better. Before that it was way better than I’d been expecting though. D-Lo ditched a lot of the sh*tty kick/punch stuff, and worked more of a heavyweight AJPW style with lots of chops, lariats and kicks, and that’s a style which is far more in keeping with what we’re used to seeing in ROH. To be frank, his strikes looked more painful than Strong’s on occasion. Really not sure why Pearce is booking D-Lo to go over someone like Roddy, but I suppose the reality is D-Lo needs some credibility, whilst Strong has lost so many times in ROH since he debuted that he’s become one of those guys that stays over even in defeat.
Kevin Steen/El Generico vs American Wolves
Since the Wolves have beaten Steen and Generico on so many occasions (most recently Manhattan Mayhem 3), and even beat Steen when he’s teamed with the likes of Jay Briscoe and Bryan Danielson, they’ve decided that the former champions aren’t worthy of anymore title shots. To that end, this is non-title, with stipulations in place that if Steen and Generico can win, then they get one more shot at the belts in any stipulation of match they like. If they lose, they don’t get any more opportunities whilst Richards and Edwards hold the gold.
Hot start from Steen and Generico, with Mr Wrestling hitting two somersault leg drops on Davey. Edwards tags and puts the boots to Steen in the corner, giving his team the advantage at 2 minutes. Generico/Richards next, Generico pinning Davey in the corner for mounted punches. Once again Eddie helps his partner, allowing Richards to lock in the Texas Cloverleaf, inflicting severe pain on Generico’s damaged knee. Edwards then escorts the masked man to the outside where he drills that same knee into the guardrails. Achilles Tendon Lock blocked but El Generico is really struggling to put any kind of weight on his injured leg now. But finally he manages to dump both Wolves to the floor and make a tag to Kevin. TOP ROPE SOMERSAULT PLANCHA TO THE FLOOR! APRON POWERBOMB ON EDWARDS! STEEN-TON BOMB ON RICHARDS! FOR 2! Still clutching his back, Edwards hobbles in to save his partner once, so Steen picks him up and powerbombs him ONTO Richards instead. Edwards thinks about the Backpack Stunner but Steen blocks with a missile dropkick. Tag to a limping Generico and Edwards immediately kicks the knee out from under him. Michinoku Driver scores, but it does almost as much damage to his own leg as it does to Eddie. Folding powerbomb gets Edwards a 2-count. DOUBLE ALARM CLOCK! POWERBOMB LUNGBLOWER! ACHILLES TENDON LOCK! Kevin Steen has to throw Richards at his partner to break the hold. Richards kicks at a struggling El Generico and gets B*TCH SLAPPED! Superkick German is blocked…EXPLOIDA TO THE TURNBUCKLES! Hot tag to Steen who wipes both Wolves out with cannonball sentons. ONE LEGGED SOMERSAULT VAN TERMINATOR BY GENERICO! But the ref gets bumped, allowing Davey to level Steen with a title belt. Only good for 2 though, and Mr Wrestling recovers enough to block the Doomsday Ace Crusher. Shooting Star Press from Davey…MISSES! YAKUZA KICK! TURNBUCKLE BRAINBUSTAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!! SHARPSHOOTER ON EDWARDS! Steen-erico get one more title shot, winning the match at 14:06
Rating – **** – Not their best match together, but the shorter time allowance meant this one was balls to the wall, bell to bell action. Nice story with the Wolves working the injured leg, and I thought El Generico did a terrific job selling it in all his usual spots – which made the emotional pay-off of the big Brainbustah finish even more rewarding.
Austin Aries vs Nigel McGuinness – ROH World Title Match
After spending a couple of months rehabbing his assorted biceps injuries, Nigel has returned to action this weekend, and gets an immediate championship rematch (which, in fairness, Aries did promise him on HDNet). These two had a couple of absolute classics during Nigel’s reign, with McGuinness overcoming the challenge of Aries at Rising Above and Supercard Of Honor 3. He also defeated Aries in defence of his ROH Pure Title way back at Unscripted 2. Now cast in the role of challenger, will that, coupled with the new attitude we’ve seen from A-Double in ‘09, finally ensure a different result?
I hate this ring announcer. Thankfully Aries takes the microphone from him to kick off an amusing verbal back and forth. Nigel winds up irritating Aries to the extent that he starts full of frustration, and charges straight into an armwrench takedown. Aries then grabs the microphone again to taunt him for being too injured to throw McLariats anymore. To further his point, he clotheslines McGuinness down and gleefully flexes his fully operational biceps. The taunting works, as Nigel now appears frustrated himself, going for a Cobra Clutch McLariat. Perhaps luckily for him, Aries ducks it. To the floor where McGuinness teases a lariat and pokes A-Double in the eyes instead. He starts working the arm in the fashion we’ve become used to. That Arm Submission briefly locked in, only for Austin to rake his eyes and crawl away. Dropkick through the ropes knocks Nigel out of the ring again, into position for the tomahawk chop to the neck. McGuinness is left writhing in pain after Aries spears him against the rails. McLariat ducked again, into an STO and a Power Drive…bootscrape? Nigel drives him into the corner, but interestingly, he stalls when hitting the kick/chest lariat combo move he does in every match. Finally he does hit the lariat portion, and immediately crumples to the mat muttering that it was a mistake. Tower Of London blocked…so McGuinness switches to the London Dungeon instead. Austin scurries to the ropes, so since he’s there Nigel sets up for the Super McLariat. Aries ducks and scores with a neckbreaker in the ropes for 2. Big boot blocks the IED, and Nigel drops him with the Tower Of London this time around. Clothesline blocks the Jawbreaker Lariat, straight into the Aries Brainbuster for another nearfall. Last Chancery applied but McGuinness grabs a rope. He goes for the Heat Seeking Missile, but remembering the damage that did at Rising Above in 2007, Nigel clobbers him in the mouth, then drags him off the apron into a TOWER OF LONDON TO THE FLOOR! Apron Tower Of London blocked…SUPER MCLARIAT INSTEAD! But it’s just 2 as Nigel has to pause to shake out his own arm first. Jawbreaker Lariat countered. Brainbuster blocked. Aries tries a Jawbreaker Lariat of his own and nearly loses on a backslide. Kick of Death/Brainbuster combo wins it for Aries at 20:17
Rating – *** – Certainly not a bad match, but miles below the quality of their previous encounters. Nigel has looked rusty this weekend, working both his matches at a slow pace and looking really awkward at times. He also seems to be struggling with his wrestling style now he has to phase out the lariats. I really dug the story they were going for here in that Nigel can’t do them anymore because it hurts. But given that the only real moves he tried were his trademark lariat spots, it either comes off like it’s BS and his arms are fine, or makes him look like a moron for injuring himself. And Aries was little better. He didn’t work the arm, or the head, or the neck. Any offence he contributed was just there. Filler offence, crowd-play and a few finishing moves were basically all we got from him. I’m sounding really bitter, but I promise, I’m not and this match was ok. I loved the moment where Nigel, remembering their ppv match, blocked the Heat Seeking Missile. Some of the McLariat near-miss sequences were a lot of fun…as was their mic work at the beginning. I’m just disappointed because those first two matches were SO good, and I was really looking forward to them repeating that here. They fell way short of that standard unfortunately.
Tape Rating – *** – Top to bottom, this is one of the most consistent shows of the year. The two matches that didn’t make 3* weren’t that far off that standard, and everything else was perfectly watchable stuff. Sure I was a little disappointed by the main event, but that was decent, and with Wolves/Steen-erico and KENTA/Tyler on the undercard, I definitely don’t feel short changed. But perhaps my favourite part of this show was the amount of surprising performances from sources I didn’t expect. Rasche/Stevens was better than it had any right to be. Petey Williams proved he could hang in ROH with a solid little match against Kenny King. Even D-Lo Brown put in one of his best ROH outings (only to be let down by a piss-poor finish). I think the two main events on yesterdays Violent Tendencies DVD were memorable, but as an overall show this was streets ahead.
Top 3 Matches
3) Erick Stevens vs Rasche Brown (***)
2) Kevin Steen/El Generico vs American Wolves (****)
1) KENTA vs Tyler Black (****)
Top 5 Violent Tendencies/End Of An Age Weekend Matches
5) Erick Stevens vs Rasche Brown (*** – End Of An Age)
4) Kevin Steen/El Generico vs American Wolves (**** – End Of An Age)
3) Tyler Black vs Jimmy Jacobs (**** – Violent Tendencies)
2) KENTA vs Tyler Black (**** – End Of An Age)
1) American Wolves vs KENTA/Roderick Strong (**** – Violent Tendencies)