ROH 254 – The Big Bang – 3rd April 2010
The tagline for this show is ‘Pro Wrestling Explodes Into The 21st Century’, and in many ways this show represents ROH exploding into the next step in the evolution of a company which is now entirely unrecognisable from the little indy fed in a rec center in Philadelphia. Wrestlemania weekend, traditionally one of the centrepieces of Ring Of Honor’s calendar year was sidelined in favour of promoting this show – ROH’s second iPPV presentation on GoFightLive. Now a nationally televised promotion, Ring Of Honor has heavily hyped this event on it’s weekly HDNet broadcast and it features four huge, hotly anticipated grudge matches. It’s also the debut in a new market, and to celebrate such an auspicious occasion ROH has gone to the additional expense of bringing in five lucha libre stars and hired a recognisable new commentator too. The expensive lucha guys (including the returning Blue Demon Jr. and Magno) headlined the iPPV but have been clipped to a bonus match on the DVD release, meaning our main event for this one is the big ROH World Title Triple Threat Match – with Tyler Black defending his belt against former champion Austin Aries and rival Roderick Strong. The Briscoes defend the Tag Titles against the Kings Of Wrestling, and that’s not the only big tag encounter on tap. Colt Cabana has got El Generico back into fighting shape, and they are coming for revenge on the evil duo of Steve Corino and Kevin Steen. Elsewhere Necro Butcher is out for Erick Stevens’ blood and Davey Richards begins his quest to become ROH Champion as he looks to get into the Pick 6 Standings. We’re in Charlotte, NC for the very first time. And Dave Prazak is joined on commentary by Kevin Kelly – who’s most noteworthy contribution to the wrestling business thus far has been getting called a hermaphrodite by The Rock for months. He’s been getting strong reviews for his work in Ring Of Honor though, and this is his first appearance in the booth.
Kevin Kelly and Dave Prazak are in the ring as the iPPV goes live. They run through the card, with Kelly looking confident and assured in his knowledge of ROH, despite this being his first show. Embracing the strong Hispanic community in the area (not that it shows, the attendance for this show looks small), we’ve got a Spanish ring announcer alongside Bobby Cruise tonight too. VQ is really horrible…audio isn’t much better either.
Zack Salvation vs Phil Shatter
The show starts with a match featuring two local indy guys. As such I have no real introduction to this one, other than to wonder why ROH doesn’t have enough talent to put its own guys in the first match on a huge show like this.
Shatter is an overwhelming favourite for the live crowd here. They play it safe in the opening minutes, trading the basics and working the mat to get over the initial nerves. Salvation lands the first significant strike with a nifty little leapfrog axehandle smash which knocks Phil down. He gets the first nearfall as well by tilta-whirling into an inverted DDT for 2. Shatter hits back with a lifting backbreaker and a slingshot suplex. Salvation goes for that leapfrog axehandle again but this time gets caught (in messy fashion – the fans don’t like it) and powered into the turnbuckles. Shatter gets with a fisherman buster, and nearly picks up the win with a big powerbomb. Another leapfrog from Zack forces Shatter into the turnbuckles, before they bungle through another ugly exchange…which ends with Salvation locks in a triangle choke. Shatter powers out, so Zack turns it into a guillotine choke instead. Shatter counters that with a spinebuster for the win at 07:26
Rating – * – The crowd were hot for this, so I guess this was a decent choice to open the show. Personally I thought it was painfully mundane, and there are average joe indy workers all across America and all around the world who could work exactly the same, slightly underwhelming match that we just saw. After seeing The Big Bang hyped for weeks on HDNet, if I’m a new ROH fan buying this ppv I would not be enthralled with my first impressions here. Horrible sound/picture quality and two jobbers I’ve never heard of. When you can hear commentary, Kelly seems pretty good though.
Kenny King (5) vs Davey Richards – Pick 6 Series Match
After his victory over Kenny Omega at Epic Encounter 3, Davey announced his intention to go after the ROH World Title. Consecutive defeats teaming with Eddie Edwards over Mania weekend may well have convinced him it’s time to go solo for a while and concentrate on his personal ambitions. The first step on the road to a potential World Title shot is getting into the Pick 6 – with #5 ranked Kenny King in his sights. King had a mixed weekend in Phoenix, losing his grudge match with Jerry Lynn but successfully retaining his Pick 6 Spot by beating Scorpio Sky.
Richards gets such a big ovation Kelly and Prazak have to literally shout into the microphones to be heard above it. That’s an area where live commentary really adds to the viewing experience. King has an edge in size here, and tries to use it to his advantage but takes his eye off the ball and foolishly allows Davey to kick him. More kicks from Richards, and as Kenny tries to leapfrog out of his way he has to absorb another boot to the sternum. MAFIA KICK against the rails and Davey has the fans eating out of the palm of his hand here. Hammerlock Cloverleaf nearly has King tapping out in the first five minutes. Finally Rhett Titus, at ringside in support of his tag partner, gets involved and distracts Richards, which enables Kenny to hurdle the top rope into a guillotine. Richards blocks that suplex/mounted forearms combo King does a lot, but takes too long playing to the fans and takes a BRUTAL Shotgun Knee strike. A big lariat follows that and despite the vocal backing of the Charlotte fans, it’s Richards very much on the back foot now. Defensively, he headbutts King out of the corner and follows with a diving headbutt to the shoulder. ELBOW SMASH from Kenny, but Richards hits back with the Alarm Clock and the Handsprig Enzi for 2. He goes to the top rope for a missile dropkick but still can’t win a spot in the Pick 6. King gets desperate, grabbing at the referee then raking Davey’s eyes – which buys him enough time to nail a spinebuster. Shotgun Knees miss second time around, injuring his knee to the extent that Richards immediately wants to capitalise with a dragon screw in the ropes. ROPE RUN GERMAN SUPERPLEX SCORES! CAPO KICK BY KING! NO SOLD! LARIAT BY RICHARDS! He gets a super-close nearfall with a bridging German suplex before clamping on the Texas Cloverleaf. Titus looks to get involved again, but this time gets booted off the apron by Davey. He topples King out to the floor on top of his partner…but Kenny blocks his attempted dive and hits back with a springboard blockbuster for 2. King’s leg is bothering him now, and it’s made worse as Richards COUNTERS the Royal Flush into an Anklelock. King escapes…nearfall flurry at breakneck speed. Strikes traded…corkscrew enzi by King. Coronation attempt…BUZZSAW KICK TO COUNTER! ANKLELOCK AGAIN! Kenny tries to kick free…CLOVERLEAF INSTEAD! Kenny taps at 17:17, moving him down to #6 and putting Richards back into World Title contention.
Rating – **** – They should have opened the show with this. At one point Prazak emphatically said ‘this is Ring Of Honor’, and he was absolutely right. This is exactly what ROH is all about, and what it was built to do all the way back in 2002. Hard-hitting, exciting, fast-paced and super-athletic cutting edge wrestling…and not just at main event level but all through the card. This is a promotion who want to showcase their great athletes, not tie their hands and restrict what they can do. To new fans checking ROH out for the first time, this was a near-perfect match to hold up and say ‘THIS is what you’ve been missing, welcome to ROH’…
King refuses to shake hands with Davey on his way out of the ring as Prazak comes in to grab an interview. He reiterates that he’ll fight whomever he has to, and has his sight firmly set on the ROH World Title…as ‘Disposable Teens’ starts to play. CHRISTOPHER DANIELS IS BACK! Fresh from his TNA release, a guy who was an integral part of ROH’s early years makes a shock return. I forgot how good a promo guy Daniels is – he says he’s back to prove that he’s the best in the world. It’s pretty clear these guys will have a match somewhere down the line…
Erick Stevens vs Necro Butcher – Butcher’s Rules Match
The Embassy and their money recruited Stevens specifically to end their war with Necro. His allegiance to Prince Nana was announced when he dramatically turned on Necro on HDNet. Episodes later, a brawl between the two men got so violent that Butcher ended up striking an official and getting suspended from TV – missing out on valuable paychecks for his family. He is desperate for revenge…
As you can imagine, Butcher’s Rules basically means there are none. Stevens takes advantage of that to attack Necro before the bell rings. Butcher floors him with a cannonball senton then starts choking him with a plastic bag. Kevin Kelly seems appalled by that, and it doesn’t get much better as Necro rattles Erick’s skull with the bell. The assault subsides as Prince Nana and Ernesto Osiris attack him. Even with his own rules, the odds are stacked against Necro when it becomes 3-on-1. Section B sign to Ernie’s face puts him down though. Necro tries a DVD off the apron but once again Stevens’ cohorts put a stop to that. PRESS SLAM OFF THE APRON by Erick sends his opponent flying into the hard floor. If that didn’t do enough damage, he scoops Necro up and powerslams him into the guardrails. Necro is so beaten up now he doesn’t even stay up long enough for Stevens to line up the Choo Choo. He has to get Nana in the ring to hold him up. You can see it coming a mile off…he nails Nana instead! A hurt Necro rolls Stevens up for the 3-count in 09:04
Rating – ** – This was actually better than I was expecting. The hot crowd helped, but the actual match was good too. They kept it simple and short, with Necro dominating, Stevens using his Embassy friends to get an advantage before the inevitable babyface comeback. Had this had a better finish I’d have probably gone high on my rating.
Rhett Titus vs Cassandro El Exotico
British viewers may recognise Cassandro as the likeable lucha wrestler who trained comedian/TV star/chat show host Justin Lee Collins to be a luchador as part of a television show a few years ago. He works an androgynous comedy character and tends to be hugely popular wherever he goes. And his antics will certainly be unlike anything Titus has ever come up against before.
Cassandro is dressed like Mae Young tonight, possibly looking to make Kevin Kelly feel at home. ‘What is that’ – Rhett’s first impression of Cassandro. Say what you want about him, Cassandro is getting such loud reactions from the crowd you can’t actually hear the commentary at all anymore. He enjoys getting to touch the ‘chiselled six pack’ of Rhett Titus in the early going. Despite his size disadvantage, El Exotico manages to use his quickness to make a mockery of Titus here. Rhett breaks out an AWESOME back roll into a headscissors on the floor though turning the tide of the match in his favour. Knowing exactly how to wind his adversary up, Titus goes for the hair and flings him across the ring with it. The feisty Cassandro tries to fight back, but he’s so short that Rhett’s impressive dropkick nearly takes his head off. Titus sent to the floor…TOPE CON HILO BY CASSANDRO! He hits that with such force that he legit breaks his own leg there. Crying in pain he drags himself to the top rope to land a MISSILE DROPKICK! Jesus, that’s crazy if his leg is messed up. Thankfully the end comes quickly after that as he catches Rhett in a roll-up to win at 08:52
Rating – ** – A little long for a comedy match, but it was great to see Cassandro get to do his thing in ROH. His gimmick is certainly a niche act, and Rhett was the perfect guy for him to work with in this promotion. And you have to give the guy such props for working the last minute of that match after seriously injuring his leg. Totally courageous effort from that guy who, having seen him as part of the Justin Lee Collins show, seemed to be a thoroughly genuine and passionate individual.
Kevin Steen/Steve Corino vs Colt Cabana/El Generico
This one has been brewing for a while. Under the tutelage of Corino, Steen violently snapped and turned on former partner and friend El Generico on the last iPPV – Final Battle 2009. Since then we’ve seen Steen and Corino make countless verbal and physical assaults on the Generic Luchador, who at each turn has seemed unwilling and/or unable to attack his friend. The shock of what happened in December has seen his ROH career enter an alarming tailspin, which Colt Cabana has been aiming to stem. Finally we saw some positive signs last week in Houston as Generico finally seemed ready to fight Kevin Steen. He didn’t manage to land a shot there, but Colt laid down the challenge for this match…and at last we’ll get to see these four men air their grievances in a very public setting.
This crowd is absolutely phenomenal, and go nuts for El Generico as the four men stare down. Steen boots him in the balls before the bell though, immediately deflating everyone who was hoping for a big collision between those former partners. That leaves Cabana trying to take it to both opponents, which he actually does a competent job of. Generico returns for a SOMERSAULT PLANCHA on Corino! Colt encourages him to hit Steen…but again he hesitates and gets jerked out of the ring and into the rails by Corino. Steen and Corino double team Cabana until Generico saves again with a flying crossbody. Cabana misses a double quebrada press and Mr Wrestling capitalises instantly with a somersault leg drop to the back of the head. The heels dominate Colt, who is really suffering as a result of his partner’s apparent unwillingness to strike Kevin Steen. Both commentators point out that with Steen in the ring, Generico is barely even reaching in to get a tag for his partner. Corino gets 2 with the Colby Shock (apparently that’s what he calls that hammerlock flatliner spot) then positions Cabana in the corner for the cannonball from Kevin. But at last Cabana buys himself some time and does make a hot tag to Generico. The luchador runs the ropes straight into a tornado DDT on Corino then makes a beeline for Kevin Steen…and is so preoccupied he doesn’t see Steve get up to blast him in the back of the head. POWERBOMB INTO THE APRON BY STEEN! ASAI MOONSAULT FROM COLT! He puts the Billy Goat’s Curse on Corino…so Steen waffles him with a chair. That’s a DQ at 10:02
Rating – *** – I really liked this, and thought there was enough cleverly worked, sensible story telling here to justify the rating. The actual wrestling content was perhaps a little bland, but this match was all about emotion, and the way these four brilliantly crafted the Steen/Generico exchanges was a thing of beauty. For the third show in a row, just when you thought El Generico was finally going to strike Kevin Steen, something got in his way and he was thwarted once again. It’s simple but so effective.
Not content with the chair shot, Steen DDT’s Colt onto the chair, busting him open. A badly injured Generico crawls into the ring…then UNLOADS on Corino! Steen covers his hand in Cabana’s blood and slaps Generico across the face…YAKUZA KICK ON STEEN! The locker room empties to pull them apart, and Corino manages to get Steen out of the ring. SOMERSAULT PLANCHA OFF THE TURNBUCKLES! Generico drags Steen back…HALF NELSON SUPLEX! YAKUZA KICK! Once again Steve Corino saves his man, just as Generico looked to deliver the Turnbuckle Brainbuster. Generico has snapped…BRAINBUSTERS ON THE JOBBERS! TURNBUCKLE BRAINBUSTER ON GRIZZLY REDWOOD! Kevin Steen watches on from the ramp in stunned silence as Generico leaves a pile of bodies in his wake. Colt wants a Street Fight at the next Chicago show later this month
Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Kings Of Wrestling – ROH Tag Title Match
The ROH world was shocked at Final Battle 2009 when, seconds after the Briscoes had claimed an astounding 6th ROH Tag Championship by defeating the American Wolves, the reunited KOW team of Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli invaded to conduct a violent beatdown. After a string of impressive victories, they were granted this massive iPPV title shot, and have been so dominant in their second tenure that many people consider them the favourites for this one. The Briscoes have managed to pin both Kings in multi-man tags recently – beating Hero in a 6-Man at Gold Rush, then beating Claudio in an 8-Man at Phoenix Rising last weekend…but that wasn’t a 2vs2 format, and on both occasions only one half of the KOW unit was present.
There’s a definite big match feel to this as the two teams cautiously shake hands in front of a raucous crowd. The Kings use their striking power to control the opening two minutes with Mark. Jay comes in to help his brother, and it’s the fluid team work of the champions that evens things up. They hit a double flapjack on Hero, but as they look for the Briscoe Biel Claudio is on hand to haul his partner away. Briscoe Biel on Castagnoli instead! Football tackle on Hero as the champions clean house using all their signature combo moves. They are quick to isolate Hero who, as Prazak and Kelly point out, is still suffering with a back injury that he suffered last weekend in Phoenix. He gets a tag to Claudio and quickly rolls to the floor making himself unavailable for a tag and desperately trying to recover. Back he comes on the blindside and hits a swift sliding kick to the side of Jay’s face to hand the advantage back to the KOW. At the end of an evenly contested opening 10 minutes it’s the Kings who are on top. Jay manages to drop Claudio with a flatliner and brings in Mark for the Hillbilly Karate on both opponents. SOMERSAULT PLANCHA ON HERO! Jay wipes out That Young Knock Out Kid, but as Mark looks to do the same he is grabbed Claudio. ELEVATED ELBOW COMBO GETS 2! Once again it’s the striking and power advantage that gives the challengers an edge – getting a close nearfall with a double Bicycle Kick. Even after incredible work from Mark to fight both challengers off he can’t tag as Castagnoli drags Jay off the apron at the last split second. Finally the younger Briscoe does get that hot tag, with Jay getting 2 on Hero after a second rope blockbuster.
Isolated and alone, Jay fights valiantly but falls to a BIG BOOT COMBO! POP-UP EUROPEAN FOR 2! Impressive strength from the Swiss, but the pace is quickening and that works in the favour of the champions. Mark dumps Claudio on his neck with a urinage, only for Castagnoli to springboard off the ropes into another uppercut. ROLLING ELBOW gets Hero a 2. He goes for a rebound elbow but gets smacked in the corner with a Shotei. Iconoclasm from Mark…FLASH KICK BY HERO! Ligerbomb nailed and that’s upwards of five times now that the Kings have scored a legit close nearfall. Big Swing by Claudio, with Jay battling past Chris Hero to save his brother. Splash Mountain Neckbreaker gets another close 2 before Double C assists Hero. UFO on Mark, followed by the Big Swing/Flash Kick combo. Mark fights out of the ring as they look for KRS-1 leaving Hero and Jay to battle on the turnbuckles. CLAUDIO SAVES HERO WITH A GUTWRENCH SUPERPLEX ON JAY! MARK WITH A SPRINGBOARD ACE CRUSHER ON HERO! DEADLIFT GERMAN ON MARK FOR 2! Riccola Bomb blocked…Jay Driller blocked so Briscoe hits a DVD instead. He knocks Hero clean out of the ring with a superkick then lifts Claudio…DOOMSDAY DEVICE COUNTERED WITH A MID-AIR POWERSLAM! KRS-1 NAILED! MARK KICKS OUT! Hero accidentally floors his own partner with a Roaring Elbow…JAY DRILLER ON CLAUDIO! HERO SAVES! Shane Hagadorn interjects to crotch Mark as they line up the Doomsday Device again. Jay beats Shane down, but in comes Hero with the LOADED ELBOW! IT’S OVER! Claudio wins the belts for his team at 30:21.
Rating – **** – Fantastic match, fought in front of a superb crowd who, although possibly misguided in loudly chanting ‘Match Of The Year’ during this should be commended for their enthusiasm and support. 30 minutes, in the modern age, is a LONG time for a Tag Title match. For the audience to be that into everything these four guys did is very much to their credit. It was a simple story, with the impressive and dominating challengers controlling the match with their power and strikes, broken up with occasional flurries of Briscoe offence when the defending champions were able to use their speed and double teams to good use. To my personal taste, I’d rather have seen a clean finish, although I understand the reasons for going with the Hagadorn invervention/Loaded Elbow. It also gives us an excuse to see a rematch of this – and as this was one of ROH’s best tag matches this year, I very much support that.
Jay starts puking after the match, presumably suffering from heat exhaustion after going over 30 minutes in a red hot building.
We go to the main event, with Jim Cornette joining Dave and Kevin for commentary, and Tommy Young on hand as a ringside enforcer should there be any shenanigans.
SIDENOTE – Tyler has a new World Title belt tonight. First impressions are that it looks really nice. Personally I loved the old belt and would have loved to see it stick around forever, but it’s been looking really beaten up for the last 2+ years (I remember first noticing how tarnished and worn it looked when Homicide beat Danielson for it back in 2006)…
Tyler Black vs Austin Aries vs Roderick Strong – ROH World Title Match
This is the match we’ve been building toward for weeks now. Black and Aries have history going back to 2008, were at loggerheads throughout 2009 and culminated their storyline at the 8th Anniversary Show when Black finally pinned A-Double to become World Champion for the first time. Tyler’s history with Roderick is complex too. There appeared to be respect between the two men after a series of fiercely competitive matches at the tail end of 2009, where they shared wins and time limit draws. That respect all changed at the 8YA event, when Strong, at ringside to be Tyler Black’s judge, took a superkick from Black as he tried to help stop Aries’ judge Kenny King interjecting himself. Things between them got even more personal when Tyler failed to deliver on his promise to give Strong the first title shot (with Executive Producer Jim Cornette deciding it should be this Triple Threat). And don’t forget the history between former Generation Next members Strong and Aries. They formed that legendary faction back in 2004, had one of ROH’s most memorable Tag Title runs together with the belts through 2006, then spent most of 2007 feuding with each other with respective factions The Resilience and the No Remorse Corps. This is the same format as the Manhattan Mayhem 3 ROH Title match which saw Aries win the belt for a second time – meaning elimination rules.
Ever the schemer, Aries gets on the microphone and stirs the pot to create added tension between Tyler and Roderick. He offers to sit it out so they can fight to a winner between themselves before he actually competes for the title. True to his word, he doesn’t take his jacket off and hops to the floor as a spectator as his two opponents go at it. Of course, he can’t resist trying to take a cheap shot, and gets blasted off the apron with a big chop from Strong. Smarter second time, he grabs Black’s leg and holds him in the corner so this time it’s him that is left absorbing the shock of a big Roderick Strong chop. Tyler manages to land a Springboard Lariat on A-Double before the former champion flees the ring once again. Having basically watched Strong and Black take it to each other for 5 minutes, Austin voluntarily comes into the match looking to beat on both of them. An amazing flurry of action between the three men results in both Aries and Strong tumbling out of the ring. RUNNING MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR by Black. Not finished, he hits a SPRINGBOARD variant of a moonsault from the guardrails. Meanwhile Strong is struggling on the outside having taken a nasty spill against the barriers. He bravely fights his way back with a SLINGSHOT SUPLEX off the barricade! APRON BACKBREAKER NEXT! DEATH BY GUARDRAIL ON TYLER!
It’s the former Tag Champions now free to tear strips off each whilst Black struggles to recover from that rough landing. Aries cheekily puts the Stronghold on his former partner. Roddy escapes and puts the Stronghold on for himself…until Tyler returns and opportunistically puts Strong into a sleeper hold. We spill out of the ring again with Strong grabbing Black for a BACK SUPLEX ON THE APRON! Aries grabs him – DVD ON THE APRON! Aries has both opponents in his sight…HEAT SEEKING MISSILE MISSES! Horrific landing for the 2-time World Champion there. That leaves rivals Tyler and Roderick free to beat the snot out of each other. Gibson Driver blocked and an F-5 gets the champion a nearfall. Aries is back and they all fight in the corner. IED ON STRONG! Tyler springboards but is CAUGHT with a urinage backbreaker. Strong tries to beat up both his opponents at the same time with backbreakers from all angles. BUCKLE BOMB from Black, who then misses a Phoenix Splash and turns into a big lariat from Austin. 450 SPLASH INTO TYLER’S KNEES! DEATH BY RODERICK! SICK KICK! FOR 2! Aries tries to counter the Gibson Driver, so Roddy turns it to the STRONGHOLD! Peroxism attempt stops that so Strong puts the champion on the mat with a torture rack backbreaker.
KICK OF DEATH! BRAINBUSTER! RODDY KICKS OUT! LAST CHANCERY! BLACK PICKS HIM UP FOR A BUCKLE BOMB! BUCKLE BOMB ON STRONG! SUPERKICK! RODDY F*CKING NO SELLS! SUPERKICK AGAIN! RODERICK WILL NOT DIE! Aries shoves Tyler out and hits ROLLING BRAINBUSTERS! At 26:29 Strong is eliminated. A-Double is on fire, rocking Black with the Heat Seeking Missile as the champ tries to recover after being tossed to the floor. Tyler goes for a desperate Pele Kick and misses, allowing Aries to nail the shinbreak back suplex. IED blocked, Pele in the corner this time. SUPERPLEX…ROLLED INTO GOD’S LAST GIFT! ARIES KICKS AT 2! BUCKLE BOMB! SUPERKICK! But Aries is in the ropes! Kenny King is at ringside distracting Tyler, so Black kicks Aries into his own partner. NORTHERN SUPERKICK! GOD’S LAST GIFT! Black retains at 31:20
Rating – **** – Tremendously exciting main event, filled with action and with an absolutely thrilling conclusion where, at different points, you could conceivably see any one of the three guys going on to win the match. I could criticise the match for having too many ‘throw one guy out, two guys fight’ segments whilst the finish, exciting as it was, was basically the same three moves over and over again. BUT, you can’t put a price on emotion and this match had it in abundance. These three men have been central to ROH’s resurgence in the aftermath of Danielson and McGuinness leaving, so seeing all three of them get the chance to tear it up on iPPV was a great spectacle.
Kenny King launches a bitter attack on Tyler Black as he wearily gets to his feet. He and Aries look to do a number on Tyler…until Roderick Strong runs out to make the save. Black offers a handshake which Strong declines. It’s clear it’s not over between these two.
Rating – *** – What a mixed bag this show was. There were some amazing moments and three incredible matches – but it was also a show dogged with VQ and audio problems, and one that packed in plenty of average, filler-level matches amongst the good stuff. Focusing on the positives, firstly the crowd were absolutely superb. Kevin Kelly made a professional and competent debut on commentary. There were three legit 4* matches (I’ve seen many people go higher than that on the main event), and ROH have pulled off a massive coup in bringing Christopher Daniels back to the promotion. He is a recognisable star thanks to his TNA time, and having him on their shows for the foreseeable future adds much-needed depth to that main event scene. Crucially, this show felt very fresh. It wasn’t quite pro-wresting ‘exploding into the 21st century’ what with the awful cameras that made this event look like it took place 20 years ago, a jobber match to open the show, washed up luchas main eventing etc…however there’s no doubt that when ROH turns it on, as they did with Richards/King, Briscoes/Kings and Black/Aries/Strong, that their in-ring action is as good amongst the very best you’ll see anywhere in the world. Those three matches are the selling point of the show, the reason the hardcore fans love the product and hopefully why the new fans, having dropped their $15 tonight, will stick around and start investing more time and money in Ring Of Honor. All in all, a hugely successful night…
Top 3 Matches
3) Davey Richards vs Kenny King (****)
2) Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Kings Of Wrestling (****)
1) Tyler Black vs Austin Aries vs Roderick Strong (****)