ROH 235 – Death Before Dishonor 7: Night 2 – 25th July 2009
This is event marks the last ROH DVD before they switch to their own internal production. Basically ever since the split from RF Video (if not right away then pretty soon afterwards) Ring Of Honor hooked up with Sal H’s Floridian production company to edit, produce and release their product. It’s an arrangement that’s seen ROH’s DVD’s look very polished, generally with decent covers, good sound levels etc. Sure there were complaints about the time it took to get a release printed and ready to order (when the likes of Chikara and CZW with SMV, and PWG with Highspots getting their shows out much quicker), however it was impossible to deny they were quality products, which for an independent company, is certainly something that separates them from many others. But, clearly there were costs involved in outsourcing such a huge part of Ring Of Honor’s business, and they’ve finally sunk some money into bringing the whole operation in-house. The next DVD tapings are in September and they’ll be the first total releases from ROH. And that means tonight is the ROH farewell to Florida resident Lenny Leonard – an exceptional commentator who, along with Dave Prazak, became synonymous with ROH for a while. He’d already been pushed into the background by being ditched for HDNet in favour of Mike Hogewood, but it’s still sad to see him go. He’d land on his feet though, becoming the voice of Gabe’s post-ROH promotions DGUSA and EVOLVE. After a strong night yesterday, DBD7 concludes it’s two night Toronto stand with another decent card. Chris Hero and Lance Storm resolve their dispute in the main event. Cabana and Albright get their hands on Embassy members, Tyler Black’s scheduled match with Nigel McGuinness is cancelled, and Steen-erico take on the Super Smash Bros. who many people have referred to as budget Kevin Steen and El Generico. Lets get to Toronto, ONT with commentary from Dave Prazak and, for one last time, Lenny Leonard.
Hey, a backstage segment! D-Lo Brown talks about his participation in tonight’s Toronto Gauntlet Match – with the winner getting an ROH Title shot.
Super Smash Bros. vs Kevin Steen/El Generico
Lots of Canadian interest for the Toronto fans in this one. Uno and Dos are a lot like the team of Kevin Steen and El Generico with a deceptively quick and agile heavy guy teaming with the smaller, athletic high-flyer.
Dos starts with Steen, tries to kick him in the head and gets tossed into the lights as a consequence. Generico sends Uno to the floor with a series of armdrags, but doesn’t see Dos coming as he sprints into a hurricanrana. With a little help from the referee, Uno manages to drop El Generico with a neckbreaker to give the Smash Bros. an advantage. That’s ended when Mr Wrestling actually uses Player Dos as a weapon to attack his partner with. Body slam flurry from Generico to Dos whilst Prazak and Leonard make some bizarre references to Hogan/Andre. DOUBLE backflip kick floors both Steen and Generico though, allowing him to make the hot tag to Player Uno. ELECTRIC CHAIR CRADLEBREAKER on Generico gets 2. SPINEBUSTER/LUNGBLOWER COMBO gets 2. Generico evens things up with the Michinoku Driver on Dos. STEEN-TON BOMB TO THE KNEES! DOUBLE STOMP BY UNO! YAKUZA BY GENERICO! HALF NELSON SUPLEX NAILED! FROG SPLASH BY DOS! SHARPSHOOTER ON HIM! Uno makes the save in the nick of time. Steen misses his moonsault on him, only for Generico to boot Uno in the mouth. STEEN-TON SCORES! Uno kicked at 2 though, and is saved by flying knee strike from Dos. Bridging roll-up by Uno. SHOCK VICTORY! The Smash Bros. score a huge win at 14:01. ‘You beat Bowser’ – Toronto.
Rating – *** – Not all of this was to my taste, but the crowd was absolutely loving it so it has to go down as a great opening match. Definitely the Smash Bros. best in ROH thus far. Not sure it’s right to be putting them over Steen and Generico but they’re a fun team who’ve proven this weekend that they don’t look out of place in the ring with ROH’s premier teams like Steen-erico or the Briscoes.
Frankie The Mobster vs Bison Smith
So who has this one down as a potential showstealer? Yeah, me neither…but it is a vaguely interesting prospect. Frankie isn’t exactly a small dude, and his gimmick is pretty out there so it should provide an interesting contrast to the no-nonsense, dominant approach of Bison.
Poor Frankie gets ‘kill the jobber’ treatment from his fellow Canadians in the crowd. Impressively he manages to take Smith of his feet, and really impresses people with his strength when he lifts him into an exploder suplex for 2. Vertical suplex next and the crowd who wanted him dead 2 minutes ago are really starting to get behind him. Unfortunately the Mobster’s momentum is killed dead seconds later with a big lariat from Bison. THE CLAW! Wait…he’s a Bison. THE HOOF! And from there he throws Frankie over the top rope to carry on his attack on the outside. TOPE SUICIDA from the Mobster, taking some risks to take Smith down again. Sadly for him Bison absorbs that move, gets up and floors him again with a shoulder tackle. What the f*ck is Bison doing…GUARDRAIL JUMP FOOTBALL TACKLE INTO THE FRONT ROW! Having seen enough, Frankie starts hiding behind referee Todd Sinclair to avoid further punishment. Bison dishes out a chop to the ref and gets DQ’d at 08:09
Rating – ** – After the shocking goodness that was Stevens/Rasche at End Of An Age I should have known better than to write this one off. But again, I have no idea where this came from – it was a really absorbing big man battle. Had we had an actual finish on here rather than a joke conclusion I’d be talking a comfortable 3*. I have no idea why Pearce was booking a finish to protect an enhancement talent at the expense of one of the most dominant members of the roster. That said, I’m not sure Bison’s been brought back too much since this weekend so maybe something else was already in play here. Had Bison performed as well during his initial stint with ROH as he has done this weekend then I definitely think Cary and Pearce would have been much more persistent in their desire to book him for future dates.
Prince Nana has to intervene and stop Smith hitting the Bison-tennial on Sinclair too. That would have been really brutal…
Claudio Castagnoli cuts a promo from what I assume (and hope) is a garbage dump. It’s to further his metaphor of Brent Albright being ‘trash’, and his desire to ‘take out the trash’ in his European Rules Match with Albright tonight. Oh snap…
D-Lo Brown vs Jerry Lynn – Toronto Gauntlet Match
The Toronto Gauntlet Match is no different from any other variety of Gauntlet Match you’ve ever seen, except it takes place in Toronto and the winner will get a World Title shot. It’s well known that I’ve never been the biggest fan of this format so we’ll see how it plays out. At least the field is pretty decent, with these two guys starting and Sonjay Dutt, Necro Butcher, Jimmy Rave and Davey Richards in the back waiting to enter as the match progresses.
Opportunistic as ever, Brown attacks Lynn as he enters the ring, dropping him with an immediate DDT. After being a babyface last night, apparently D-Lo is heel again tonight. If I didn’t make it clear enough with my Night 1 review…I hate that. Having ragged on the Toronto fans for the whole match, he then draws a big pop by doing his head bob gimmick. Sliding Lariat gets him a 2-count. Lo Down misses though. Jerry hits a crucifix pin to eliminate D-Lo at 03:20
Rating – DUD – Whilst I’m ok with him on HDNet, I’m pretty much sick of D-Lo on the main roster. He’s simply not good enough to hang with the style of wrestling the majority of the ROH roster work meaning he’s never had a truly great match, I refuse to believe he draws that many fans, his constant switching between whether he wants the fans to cheer him or not is driving me insane, and he can’t be cheap to book. Was it really worth the money to book him for a 5 minute squash against Frankie The Mobster yesterday and kicking him out of a Gauntlet Match in less than 4 minutes tonight? Short and pointless, as most instalments of a Gauntlet Match are…
Jerry Lynn vs Sonjay Dutt – Toronto Gauntlet Match
Former TNA X-Division stars collide here. Lynn defeated D-Lo but took a real beating, and having entered in the first match, his chances of winning the Gauntlet and securing a World Title shot are looking bleak right now. For Dutt, winning the series here would not only get him a title match, but a main event opportunity to truly cement his roster spot.
Springboard press from Dutt, then a Red Star Press nearly get him the win inside the first few seconds. I’ve kept the clock running from match Lynn/D-Lo by the way. Tilta-whirl backbreaker by Jerry shuts the hyperactive, high-flying antics of Sonjay down in a hurry. Slingshot guillotine leg drop then a springboard frog splash get Dutt another 2 as he takes to the skies again. Lynn hits the TKO but is already looking battle-weary and can’t get the elimination from it. Cradle Piledriver does eliminate Dutt at 07:12 total Gauntlet time.
Rating – ** – Nice basic story of Sonjay trying to use his speed and athleticism to best the tiring Jerry Lynn. It’s clear that Jerry is over with the crowd tonight, so playing him up as a resilient survivor, able to withstand multiple beatings and steal snatch victory is a nice story to run with
Jerry Lynn vs Jimmy Rave – Toronto Gauntlet Match
Long time viewers of ROH will know that, as much of a comedic act as The Embassy can be, when it comes to the ROH Title Jimmy Rave is always deadly serious. He famously pushed Bryan Danielson to the limit at the Fourth Anniversary Show, and gave Homicide a real run for his money during the 5th Year Festival too. He’s also no stranger to a few shortcuts. Will the dastardly ways of Rave and Prince Nana be too much for Lynn to overcome?
CRAPPY WIZARD RIGHT OFF THE BAT! As toilet paper showers the ring Jimmy nearly succeeds in eliminating Lynn in five seconds. Desperation inverted DDT from Jerry, but Rave is actually back up from that quicker than he is. Cradle Piledriver blocked and turned into Ghana-rea. Rave eliminates the former World Champion at 10:20 total Gauntlet time.
Rating – * – Just a formality with Lynn out on his feet having survived two opponents. Rave was picking the bones, and this was obviously just set up for Jimmy’s inevitable showdown with Necro Butcher…who is so predictably going to be next out.
Jimmy Rave vs Necro Butcher – Toronto Gauntlet Match
These guys have been feuding recently, with The Embassy not taking kindly to Necro’s act of kindness when he saved Grizzly Redwood from a beard-shearing. Can they put their grudge to one side and stick to the rules in pursuit of a championship match?
Why does Jimmy Rave look surprised when Necro comes out? Surely he knew he was booked in the same match. There were only two guys it could have been! Butcher takes it straight to the outside to an environment where he’s more comfortable, and delivers a body slam on the exposed floor. Prince Nana grabs Necro’s leg to distract him…and apparently since not the whole of his leg was back inside the ring that’s somehow a count-out. Atrocious finish…Necro is out at 13:10 Gauntlet time…
Rating – DUD – Whole lot of nothing (since this is a grudge destined to be settled elsewhere), with a horrific finish which looked like garbage. Unless Davey Richards can salvage something this entire match has been a bust…
Jimmy Rave vs Davey Richards – Toronto Gauntlet Match
These are the final two, battling for the chance to challenge Austin Aries for the World Title. Richards has been booked as a heel all year but may now become the de facto babyface as he looks to get the better of an Embassy duo who have already combined to eliminate the most violent man in the match.
Necro is still at ringside and waffles the timekeeper with a chair. Davey makes his way to ringside and floors Rave with the Handspring Enzi. These two had a great trilogy of matches back in 2006 which debuted Davey in ROH. Texas Cloverleaf locked in but Jimmy (with the help of Nana pushing it closer) makes the bottom rope. Jimmy no sells some kicks and shows great resilience to drop Richards with a running STO for 2. Rave evades a missile dropkick and lands the CRAPPY WIZARD! HEEL HOOK! Richards kicks free, rams the shoulder into the ringpost and slaps on an armbar. Countered back to the Heel Hook by Rave. No real intent to sell the leg from Richards, who fights free again and nails a missile dropkick. DR Driver blocked so he hits the Alarm Clock instead. DR DRIVER! RAVE KICKS OUT! KIMURA! Jimmy taps to hand Richards the title shot at a total time of 21:04
Rating – ** – That last contest was cheap and psychologically so bad it was almost laughable, but at least it was entertaining and made the last five minutes pretty fun to watch after a really drab first 15. I hate Gauntlet Matches as they always end up being a giant waste of talent, with good guys wrestling brief, meaningless matches with little to no attempt to really tie them all together. The Lynn defying the odds story was fun but went nowhere, the Necro elimination looked awful, and was it really worth spending the money to bring the likes of Necro, D-Lo and Sonjay to Canada for this? I suppose the ends justify the means and putting Richards over starts his elevation to a main event talent in ROH and proves fans will accept him as a babyface down the line. I credit Adam Pearce with trying something different with the midcards this weekend. The Survivor Series match yesterday really worked. Tonight, this bombed but one out of two isn’t bad. Worryingly, ROH saw enough in this to make it an ‘annual’ thing and bring the Toronto Gauntlet back for 2010.
Ric Flair comes out next to make his final Ring Of Honor appearance. He sounds drunk. The highlight of it is ‘Canadian women can go’. Classy touch Naitch…
Claudio Castagnoli vs Brent Albright – European Rules Match
After Albright defeated him in a Flag Match on HDNet, tonight Claudio ups the ante and goes back to his ‘Very European’ roots in an attempt to end the feud once and for all. Given that he’s from Europe and received much of his early training there, he obviously has an advantage…although don’t discount Brent who is no slouch on the technical side of things as well. The rules are fairly simple, with 3 minute rounds, no closed fists, a football (soccer) style yellow/red card warning system etc.
ROUND ONE – Albright hits an early exploder suplex, and follows with a German suplex moments later. He continues to be a step ahead of the European in the early going and gets a nearfall with a big clothesline at the 2-minute mark. Monkey flip against the ropes scores before we go to the outside where Albright lands a pescado. Round 1 over…
ROUND TWO – Uppercuts exchanged, until Claudio hits an unseen, illegal closed fist strike to give him the advantage for the first time. He continues to deliver illicit closed fist punches until Brent drops him on his neck with a back suplex. Crowbar locked in briefly, and Castagnoli emerges clutching his arm. ‘These Rules Suck’ – Toronto. Once again Castagnoli punches Brent out of sight of the ref, but this time Albright responds with a punch of his own. Sinclair sees that and issues Albright with a yellow card. Round 2 over…but Claudio attacks Brent during the rest period and gets a yellow too.
ROUND THREE – The third round starts with Castagnoli beating on Albright on the floor, so he’s at an obvious advantage that was probably worth taking a yellow card for. Brent is bleeding now and is in danger of losing via Knock Out. Gutwrench suplex nailed by the European, and h goes straight into an old fashioned Sleeper Hold. Rock Bottom to escape by Brent. Round 3 over…
ROUND FOUR – Claudio seems intimidated by Albright’s resurgence at the start of Round 4, falling victim to an overhead belly to belly, then a swinging backbreaker. KOBASHI-PLEX SCORES! CROWBAR! But Jimmy Rave runs in to distract him. Tights-grab roll-up wins it for Claudio at 10:16
Rating – * – I liked that they tried something different, and this definitely progressed the feud somewhat. But the Albright/Claudio feud has always struggled to get over with crowds, and this format of match was always going to get a rough ride from the Toronto house. Fair play to both men, they told a story and stuck to it, but the convoluted rounds system seemed to cut off their momentum every time they looked to be building it, and the cheap finish (AGAIN) didn’t help. I’m begging for this feud to be ended now. It’s been going on for all of ’09 thus far and isn’t getting any better.
Jimmy Rave, Joey Ryan and Bison Smith hit the ring to do a number on Albright. Luckily for him, Grizzly Redwood, Colt Cabana and Necro Butcher were apparently hanging around by the curtain with nothing better to do as they run out about three seconds later to save.
In a kayfabe shattering moment Brent storms to the back, then walks STRAIGHT PAST JOEY RYAN and to the locker room. He challenges Claudio to a Steel Cage Match at the next HDNet tapings to keep the rest of The Embassy out of his business.
Tyler Black vs Tyson Dux
This was originally scheduled to be Black taking on Nigel McGuinness. However, Nigel injured himself again in last night’s main event so was hastily pulled off the show. Dux is a local Canadian talent who’s been given a major opportunity at short notice.
Hey Canadian readers, why is Tyson’s surname pronounced ‘dooks’, not ‘ducks’? I noticed that when I caught him on a DGUSA show a few months ago and thought it sounded pretty weird. Black comes out wearing a Harry Potter t-shirt which is hella-lame. To be fair, me recognising it as a Harry Potter shirt is hardly cutting edge cool. Dux scores with an early armdrag to make the point that he isn’t just here to make the numbers up. More offence follows from Tyson, until Black rallies to hit a dropkick. But Dux is right on him again as he blocks Tyler’s springboard clothesline attempt and sends him flying off the apron, ribs-first to the guardrails. Suplex on the floor nailed next – the Canadian talent clearly desperate to make the most of his opportunity here. Black drops him out of nowhere with a nip-up into a Pele kick and mounts what, for him, is a pretty bland babyface comeback. Springboard Lariat nailed second time of asking and gets 2. He steals Kenny King’s rope-jump guillotine spot and hits a MACHO ELBOW for 2. Out of nowhere Tyson lands a snap German suplex which shocks the crowd with it’s ferocity. Neck drop DVD gets Dux a close nearfall. He thinks about a superplex only for Black to block it. Nearfall sequence ends when Tyler boots him in the head again…and Tyler finishes things with God’s Last Gift at 09:15.
Rating – ** – Solid match which, given the thrown together nature of it, is a credit to the professionalism and versatility of both performers. Being harsh I’d say that Dux, whilst looking like a decent, serviceable talent, never really blew your socks off as a guy who NEEDS to be booked on more ROH shows. I’ll concede that in this situation it was always going to be difficult for him, but he seemed to lack the charisma, excitement or incredible technical crispness that takes you from local guy getting the occasional booking to a regular roster spot.
Joey Ryan vs Colt Cabana – No DQ Match
Is this Ryan’s first singles match since coming to ROH? If it’s not, he can’t have had many. He’s the ‘Hired Magnum’ of The Embassy, which makes him a target for Cabana who does not like the group after they ruined his HDNet debut. Joey actually pinned Colt to win the big tag bout the previous night.
Colt comes out wearing Prince Nana’s African headdress that he stole from him last night in the fallout of the 8-man tag bout. Prazak rips on Cabana’s singlet for looking like an old lady’s swimsuit. Ryan tries to bring a chair into the match, only for Colt to keep passing it back to the timekeepers. He wants to wrestle Joey rather than use weapons…although he does end up inadvertently using the chair when he lands a Raven Drop Toehold and forces Joey to run back to Nana on the floor. The Prince tries to introduce a hockey stick, and the distraction enables Ryan to hit a spear. But he gets preoccupied trying to set a table up at ringside and takes a baseball slide to the face. Ridiculously, Colt helps Bobby Cruise put the timekeeping table back together before trying to continue his assault on Ryan. Joey tries to use the bell…and when it accidentally gets rung both guys stop in confusion and await instruction from the ref to keep wrestling. Nana trips Colt just like last night, but this time Cabana is prepared and allows Joey to floor his manager in error. CABANA RIPS OUT THE CHEST HAIR! FLYING ASSHOLE BY TODD SINCLAIR! Cabana then brings out some (full) garbage bags to beat Joey around the head with. Some of the Toronto fans actually start CHANTING for the garbage strike they were enduring at the time. He tries to nail Ryan with Nana’s crown, but instead opts to dress him in the crown and headdress. Big chair shot wins it for Colt at 12:33
Rating – *** – Best comedy match in ROH since the two Cabana/Delirious matches in 2007. The No DQ format in ROH is pretty played out with a standard formula of heated brawl, fight through the crowd, big spots, finish. Seeing them throw that out the window, and use the No DQ format as an excuse to do slightly more elaborate comedy spots instead was really enjoyable. It had me laughing out loud in my living room several times, so that has to make it a success.
Austin Aries gets some in-ring promo time next, and uses it to call out Kenny Omega. He confirms that he will give Kenny Omega a title shot in Toronto…but not tonight. Kenny King and Rhett Titus jump him from behind and look set for a beatdown until the Briscoes come out for a save. Since he won’t get a title shot tonight, Omega demands a trios match…
Austin Aries/Kenny King/Rhett Titus vs Kenny Omega/Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe
Although this is an impromptu match, there’s plenty at stake. Surely Aries will have no choice but to grant Omega a title shot if Kenny can pick up a win tonight. There’s also heat between Omega and King following the series of losses the Pretty Boy Pitbull has suffered against the Canadian recently. The reunited Briscoes will want a victory too as they look to build some momentum towards a title shot at the men responsible for putting Mark on the shelf for over six months – the American Wolves.
Big brawl around ringside gets us going. Aries gets his back sliced open against the railings, but returns to the ring to save Titus from a series of trademark Briscoe double teams. Mark thinks about a crazy dive to the floor but Rhett knocks him off the top. A-Double’s henchmen then start working Jay’s knee with real aggression. The attack to the leg continues for several minutes, with Jay’s partners unable to do anything other than watch on helplessly from the apron. Finally Omega gets tagged in for the first time and unloads on Titus and King. DOUBLE LEAPFROG BULLDOG SCORES! Austin stops him getting ready for his own crazy dive, distracting him for long enough for Rhett to floor him with a dropkick. Prazak is on comedy fire tonight as he tries to frame King’s loss last night as a ‘controversial’ decision. Kenny blocks the Aries Brainbuster, evades the Power Drive Elbow but still can’t tag a Briscoe as Titus is on hand to deliver the Sexy Suplex for 2. Omega is taken into the heel corner, getting choked and cheap-shotted behind the referee’s back as the time approaches 10 minutes. But he blocks the IED with a boot to the face and finally gets a hot tag to Mark. He Redneck Karate’s the f*ck out of the ANX, before dropping King on his neck with a urinage for 2. Aries saves him from the Doomsday Device by raking Jay’s back. The heels take advantage again with a running chest rake by Aries, then the Shotgun Knees from King for 2. Now Mark saves his brother as ANX think about the Doomsday Blockbuster. HEAT SEEKING MISSILE on him! Omega then flattens A-Double with the frog crossbody. Low Blow to block the Electric Chair Suplex…DOOMSDAY BLOCKBUSTER ON OMEGA! DOOMSDAY DEVICE ON ARIES! But neither teams are legal so it’s time for a big ANX vs Briscoes brawl. Blindside clothesline floors Mark, so Jay takes Titus out with a superkick! Ace Crusher from Mark to King…all six men are down! SOMERSAULT PLANCHA TO THE FLOOR! CRAZY MARK IS BACK! Aries rakes the eyes to block the Electric Chair again. HEAD DROP SUPLEX! IED NAILED! BRAINBUSTER! But he’s so cocky that he pulls Omega up to berate him some more. SMALL PACKAGE! OMEGA PINS THE WORLD CHAMP! It’s over at 16:08
Rating – **** – Pretty formulaic stuff, but everyone pulled off their roles with great precision. For over 15 minutes there wasn’t a single dull moment, providing another demonstration of HDNet’s importance to the ROH product, and helping guys work top notch, SHORTER bouts. The Briscoes vs ANX stuff was really exciting so I’ll look forward to future matches between those guys when they happen, and I’m thrilled to see ROH pulling the trigger on pushing Kenny Omega – particularly in Canada where he’s super over. He’s undoubtedly one of the most exciting talents to debut in ROH for years and with the main event scene looking pretty sparse, he’s a good guy to fill the void. This was probably more ***1\2 than 4*, but I was feeling generous and it was SO much better than most of the card so far that I really wanted to reward it.
Chris Hero vs Lance Storm
The culmination of over a years worth of tension, with Lance being so offended by the attacks he suffered at the hands of Sweet’n’Sour Inc. in 2008 that he went away, trained hard and got back into ring shape for this weekend. He gained a measure of revenge last night when he pinned Hero in the climax of a terrific tag team encounter, and he’ll want to complete the double over that Young Knock Out Kid with a singles victory tonight. If Hero can win this it will be one of the biggest wins of his ROH career, so he’ll be looking to throw everything he’s got at the veteran performer.
The opening is extremely tense, with Hero appearing calm but coming off second best in the majority of their initial exchanges. He tries to mat wrestle with Storm and gets comprehensively schooled, forcing him to leave the ring to collect himself. With every clash that he comes out on the losing end of, he gets more and more irritated and has to work harder and harder to contain his temper. In the end it’s his striking ability, rather than his wrestling, that establishes him in the match for the first time. Great moment to play off that – as Hero tries to trap Lance in a grounded headscissors, nearly ends up getting pinned when Storm counters out, so totally HAMMERS him with another elbow smash instead. Flash Kick through the ropes misses, but despite his ECW experience, the floor isn’t an area Lance wants to wrestle Hero. He eats guardrail, then the Floor Mat Senton in quick succession. But he shows amazing resilience once they re-enter the ring, absorbing another volley of strikes from Hero before returning fire, then flooring him with a springboard clothesline for 2. ROLLING ELBOW! DOWN GOES STORM! The quickness that he hit that with was amazing. Flash Kick floors him again for another nearfall. He tries the Rolling Elbow again, but Lance uses his experience and nails the Superkick for 2. ROLLING SINGLE LEG GRAB! Crowd all jump to their feet for that, but slump back into their seats in disappointment as Hero makes the ropes. Second rope powerslam by Storm, but still Chris finds a way to escape defeat. FROG SPLASH MISSES! ROLLING DEATH ELBOW! GETS 2! The Loaded Elbow Pad is in play now. LOADED ELBOW! STORM WON’T GO DOWN! RUNNING LOADED ELBOW SMASH! HERO WINS! It’s over at 16:45
Rating – **** – Perhaps not the most exciting match you’ll ever see, but psychologically this was almost flawless, and this was my favourite match of the weekend by some distance. I loved the story they told, with Lance rolling back the years and able to outmatch Hero when it came to wrestling, and indeed speed exchanges. Ultimately it was Hero’s striking (and ability to manipulate the rules) which scored him a huge win. The single biggest thing I took from this match is Chris Hero’s ability to be a main event talent. ROH have never really spent too much time pushing him as a top tier guy. But with Nigel’s health in decline, Danielson on the way out, Tyler Black’s career needing to be rebuilt and Lynn getting boo’d, there aren’t that many guys able to challenge Austin Aries for top spot. Here Chris looked superb. He has always been a talented guy but the way he’s stepped up his game in the last year, adding multiple NOAH tours to his mass of international and domestic wrestling experience, has been a remarkable thing to behold. He has undoubted charisma and, as proven here, the ability to deliver in main event matches. ROH is in a huge transitional period right now, and one which will become far more stark by the end of next month when Dragon and McGuinness are removed from the roster too. Hero is a potential franchise player which Ring Of Honor need to utilise – hopefully his display here, and the sensational job Lance did in putting him over, is the first step.
Hero leaves in victory, and leaves Lance to cut an emotional, heartfelt and slightly rambling promo.
Tape Rating – *** – I’m conscious that I may sound a little negative here. This was by no means a bad show, and I absolutely LOVED the incredible main event. However, for one of ROH’s signature ‘big events’, this was really average. The undercard was approaching terrible, with a mediocre Gauntlet, a European gimmick match that tanked, Nigel pulling out injured etc. The three matches at the top of the card, combined with the exciting opening tag bout were enough to salvage the show, but in a near 3-hour DVD, there’s maybe 75 minutes which really stood out. On one of the ‘big shows’ of the year that’s not good enough. In truth, the thing I’ve taken away from this event the most is the noticeable intent on ROH’s part to start building the next generation of main event talent. Having already had to go back to Austin Aries to carry the belt, the reality is that there is very little main event scene left right now. Tonight we saw Davey Richards, Kenny Omega and Chris Hero all pick up major victories to position themselves right at the front of the queue for future title shots and future opportunities to carry the promotion. Although it’s scary, ROH has felt VERY burnt out and stale this year, so I think it’s time we all embraced some change. I’ll end on the positive note that, even with the lacklustre undercard we saw tonight, this has comfortably been the best back to back weekend of shows ROH has run in some time. More of the same please…
Top 3 Matches
3) Colt Cabana vs Joey Ryan (***)
2) Kenny Omega/Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Austin Aries/Kenny King/Rhett Titus (****)
1) Chris Hero vs Lance Storm (****)
Top 5 Death Before Dishonor 7 Weekend Matches
5) Kenny Omega/Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Austin Aries/Kenny King/Rhett Titus (****)
4) Austin Aries vs Nigel McGuinness vs Tyler Black vs Jerry Lynn (**** – Night 1)
3) The Embassy vs Colt Cabana/Brent Albright/Necro Butcher/Grizzly Redwood (**** – Night 1)
2) Lance Storm/Kevin Steen vs Chris Hero/Davey Richards (**** – Night 1)
1) Chris Hero vs Lance Storm (**** – Night 2)