ROH Civil Warfare 5/7/2010

ROH 257 – Civil Warfare – 7th May 2010

This is another one of those Ring Of Honor shows with a less than stellar reputation. In fact, when I asked people on the ROH forum about what to expect from Ring Of Honor in 2010, this was frequently spotlighted as one of the worst shows. I’ll admit the card isn’t spectacular, but after a sweeping glance at the line-up – it doesn’t look that bad. Every match has something on it – from the Kings/Briscoes singles matches, a grudge tag team main event of Aries and Titus taking on Delirious and World Champion Tyler Black to three Pick 6 Series matches, to the debut of Eddie Edwards’ ‘Ten Minute Hunt’ concept. On first inspection, a card with something on every match and no filler is a winner in my book. Dave Prazak and Joe Dumbrowski are in Manassas, VA.

SIDENOTE – Check out the bonus matches on this DVD. Some of the HDNet matches are decent (Edwards/Steen and Steen/Briscoe vs Hero/Edwards in particular) – but there’s also a really entertaining little dark match from this show featuring the Kings Of Wrestling against The Set.

Bobby Dempsey is confident he can last the ten minutes with Eddie Edwards and earn himself a TV Title shot. Not the best promo, although I liked how he referenced their S’n’S Inc. history

Eddie Edwards vs Bobby Dempsey – Ten Minute Hunt
The concept here is a simple one. Eddie has announced that in these ‘hunts’, if his opponent can beat him or last ten minutes in the ring with him, he’ll reward them with a TV Title shot. Tonight Bobby Dempsey wants the opportunity, and some revenge for Edwards’ part in his mistreatment in Sweet’n’Sour Inc.

Dempsey actually NIPS UP working an arm wrench with Edwards and rightly gets a lot applause for it. He continues to hold his own in chain wrestling exchanges with the TV Champion and, now frustrated, Eddie furiously kicks and punches him to the mat. Back comes Dempsey with a snapmare flurry which is always popular in this building. Belly to belly suplex gets Bobby a nearfall – and he’s cruised past three minutes. Edwards hammers him with a knee strike to the jaw which keeps him down for a significant period of time. SATELLITE HEADSCISSORS BY DEMPSEY! Are you kidding me? Fatty avalanche in the corner, then another big suplex. He flattens Edwards with a cannonball senton for 2, but he’s survived more than half of the 10 minute time limit now. Edwards desperately goes for the Achilles Lock but can’t get it on the big man. Bossman Slam into an Anaconda Vice by Bobby, shades of his trainer CM Punk I believe. He sets up for the Fatty DVD but it’s blocked and Edward drops him again with the flying Codebreaker. Achilles Lock applied and Bobby taps at 07:18

Rating – *** – Perhaps Dempsey’s best singles match ever in ROH. I’ll admit he was helped by a hot crowd, but he carried the offensive side of this match for the majority of it and did a hell of a job. I’m not quite sure why Edwards is in there putting Dempsey over to be honest (and I said a very similar thing after Bitter Friends Stiffer Enemies 2 when he spent ten minutes getting beaten up by Chad Collyer), but to his credit, Eddie did a great job making Bobby look good and producing a really entertaining little match.

Edwards gets on the mic with some words for Christopher Daniels. He plans to make the Fallen Angel tap tomorrow night in New York.

The Kings Of Wrestling say they’re going to prove why the Briscoes are at the back of the line for a Tag Title shot by beating them in singles matches tonight…and that’s just a warm up for their match with the Motor City Machine Guns tomorrow night.

Claudio Castagnoli vs Jay Briscoe
The KOW have said on a number of occasions that if the Briscoes want a rematch for the ROH Tag Titles then they have to start at the back of the queue and earn one. These singles matches give them a real opportunity to jump a few spots in that queue as victories against the champions in singles matches will surely give Jim Cornette little choice but to consider them as top contenders once again.

Jay has always been a great chain wrestler and demonstrates his skills there by working the mat with Claudio. He then drives Castagnoli to the floor for a second time after delivering a huge chop. Double C tries to use his size to control things, but is quickly knocked back again by the speed and athleticism of Briscoe. Claudio flees the ring again as Jay lines up a bootscrape, this time luring his opponent out of the ring where Sara Del Rey is waiting to deliver a cheap shot. Shane Hagadorn gets involved as well, leading to Castagnoli belting Jay off the apron and into the barricade. He attacks Briscoe’s back and midsection – first with shots against the rails on the floor then with submission stretches once they re-enter the ring. Briscoe mounts a comeback and quickens the pace before taking both men to the floor with a Cactus clothesline. Coming back in he gets 2 with a flying crossbody before being sent crashing to the canvas again by a HUGE clothesline from Castagnoli. Torture rack into the UFO, but Briscoe counters to a schoolboy pin…and snatches victory at 10:11

Rating – *** – Nothing spectacular, but this was a perfectly solid back and forth match in front of a lively crowd. For my taste I could have done with Jay selling the back a little more, but that’s just my personal opinion and didn’t impact my enjoyment too much. For it’s spot on the card this was fine.

Castagnoli bitterly attacks Jay after the match, quickly joined by Chris Hero to help. Of course, Mark Briscoe is soon out here as well, leading to our next match…

Chris Hero vs Mark Briscoe
This is the second half of the KOW/Briscoes mini-series this evening. At the moment the Briscoes are 1-0 over the Kings. If Mark can complete the sweep it puts them in a strong position to petition for a future title shot.

Before the bell even rings Mark mows down Hero with a somersault plancha, as Jay and Claudio fight to the back. Tumbleweed senton scores for a nearfall in the first minute of the match as well. Hero tries to knock him back with chops only for Briscoe to retaliate with equally fierce strikes of his own. But once again the seconds get involved – with Hagadorn distracting Mark and allowing Hero to blast him with a sliding kick through the ropes. With Briscoe felled on the outside he hits the floormat senton to press home the advantage. The most aggressive eye-rake ever puts Briscoe flat on his back again, and now sufficiently softened up for Hero to methodically stalk him around the ring delivering a succession of violent elbows, boots and chops. Mark finally ducks a Rolling Elbow, countering it to a northern lights suplex. Iconoclasm COUNTERED to the Rolling Elbow this time, then a big mafia kick which gets the Tag Champion a 2. Back suplex rattles Briscoe’s skull again but he still fires back with an enzi kick and an urinage for 2. Second rope Ace Crusher NAILED but still not enough to make it a 2-0 sweep. Redneck Kung Fu…is bested by a Roaring Elbow. Onto the apron hops Del Rey and the distraction allows Hero to find the ‘lucky’ elbow pad. LOADED ELBOW  SHOT! Hero wins at 09:02

Rating – *** – I mildly preferred Jay/Claudio, but this was a lot more physical and hard-hitting so if that’s your thing, this may take your preference. Mark’s toughness was really emphasised here as he more than held his own in several strike exchanges with Hero, who is now established as the premier ‘hard-hitter’ in Ring Of Honor. Neither of these matches has been particularly spectacular but they’ve both been effective little feud-advancers

Outside the building Colt Cabana promises to put the issues with Steen and Corino aside for the evening and earning himself a Pick 6 spot by beating Kenny King.

Roderick Strong (1) vs Erick Stevens – Pick 6 Series Match
These two have a lot of history together. After several hard-hitting, violent wars in both ROH and former sister promotion FIP (Gabe got FIP in the divorce), Roderick Strong finally took a decisive victory in Philadelphia at Respect Is Earned 2 in a Fight Without Honor. But Stevens has changed a lot since then. He’s now part of The Embassy and used the Video Wire to announce that he’s stronger and faster than he’s ever been, and after months of being overlooked, wants to go straight to the top of the Pick 6 rankings and finally fulfil his potential by capturing the World Championship.

Understandably given the history between them, both are tentative and cautious in the opening minutes. Stevens is the first to break that pattern by laying in a big chop. Of course, Roderick fires one right back. Since Erick is a heel, he chooses not to get into a chop war and tries to work a headlock instead, only to end up getting booted in the face. Roddy goes for a Sick Kick but it’s too early and Stevens blocks it with a boot to the chest. Nana’s man starts working the ribs and back, and after a distraction from the Prince himself, Stevens is able to catch Strong and deliver a big powerslam for 2. Roddy falls out of the ring and immediately Nana and Ernesto Osiris are on hand to lay in some cheap shots. Stevens continues to dominate, until he gets too confident and takes an age on the ropes setting up for a flying football tackle. When he eventually does launch himself into the air, Strong is able to counter it with a big dropkick to the face. Gibson Driver blocked and Stevens flips Strong into a Samoan drop for 2. He then blocks that enzi kick in the corner Roderick always tries and catches him for the lifting lariat. German suplex right on the bad ribs again…but Roddy evades the Choo Choo. ELEVATED CUTTER ANYWAY! LARIAT…Stevens gets 2. Choo Choo misses again and Strong runs through Stevens with the Sick Kick to seal the win at 14:10

Rating – *** – Of course the matches they had during their 2007/8 feud were better. Those were supposed to be main event, focal point level matches. This was a midcard addendum to that series of a couple of years ago – and personally I really enjoyed it. They always bring such a brutal, hard-hitting style to their matches together, and by this point they know each other so well that everything is just so fluid and smooth. Had they put a more absorbing finish onto this match (when it happened it was very sudden) it could have been pushing for a higher rating.

Christopher Daniels admits that his reputation means that there are a lot of guys in the locker room will want to be the guy to beat him and stop his charge towards being the ‘best in the world’ and the Ring Of Honor champion. He wants to make Kevin Steen his first step tonight…

Elsewhere Mr Wrestling recounts the first time he wrestled Chris Daniels in his home territory of Quebec. He won that night and tonight (on his birthday no less), he’s in a ‘victory road’ again, and is ‘bound for glory’. Funny stuff…

Kenny King (5) vs Colt Cabana – Pick 6 Series Match
Having impressed so many people with his performance challenging Tyler Black for the World Title at the last Dayton show, King is looking to get on the road for a rematch – and therefore needs to start amassing some wins. Here he looks to do so at the expense of Colt Cabana, a guy who is still desperate to become ROH World Champion in his own right.

Cabana comes out looking to use his European skills to deliver a snapmare to King – who in turn gets crazy heat for continually countering out of the snapmare attempts. Such is Manassas’ irrational love of snapmares, they even boo Colt when HE starts countering them too. Finally Colt lands one on King and gets the biggest pop of the night. Is anyone else sick of this Manassas/snapmare thing? King tries to recover only to be thrown out of the ring with a fallaway slam. Colt starts taking requests from the crowd for which moves they want to see – the winner being a headlock which he quickly applies for more cheap pops. Having had enough of the games, Kenny topples Cabana out of the ring and to the floor where he isn’t able to use all his European skills and mindgames to gain an advantage. Gorgeous spinning heel kick from King puts his opponent down…with the stupid crowd now chanting for a ‘dragon sleeper’.  Sorry Manassas, I enjoy how energetic you are, but this ‘snapmare’ thing is even more annoying than Chicago loving Sugarfoot. Cabana goes for his Artful Dodger roll up sequence but finds it countered to a spinebuster for 2. He tries to follow it with a springboard move but misses and takes a baseball slide into the guardrails. He eats more metal as Colt throws him into the rails at speed, taking him around ringside to once again draw cheap pops from the live crowd. ‘People’s Elbow’ – Manassas. ‘Shut these fans up please’ – Prazak. Colt tries to compromise with a Flying Asshole but King counters with the Shotgun Knees. Pointless celebratory backflip from King, before he walks into the jumping ass attack mid-ring instead. Billy Goat’s Curse escaped before King hits a SOMERSAULT SENTON off the apron at incredible speed. Before anything else can happen Kevin Steen comes out and attacks Cabana, causing a no contest at 15:14

Rating – *** – For the live crowd this was probably one of the highlights of the evening. Watching on DVD it was nowhere near as fun – however, even if I personally didn’t like the ‘pick a move and I’ll do it’ antics, I did appreciate the strong babyface/heel dynamic they created (something you don’t always get in ROH). I’m disappointed they didn’t let King win here though…

Steen and Cabana have to be pulled apart – then Steen vows to ‘rape’ Paul Turner if he lets Cabana come back out during his match.

Kevin Steen (2) vs Christopher Daniels – Pick 6 Series Match
This is the first time Fallen Angel has wrestled in ROH for three years. His last match was a draw with Erick Stevens at Good Times Great Memories in 2007 when he stomped off sick of working undercards and multi-man matches, launched into a stinging verbal attack on Ring Of Honor then vowed never to return. Times have changed (well, technically he got sick of working the undercards and multi-man matches in TNA instead) and he’s now back in ROH looking to prove himself as the ‘best in the world’ and to finally fulfil his destiny going back to 2002 by winning the ROH Title.

How come Daniels still gets Marilyn Manson as his entrance theme? Steen jumps him during his entrance to get us underway. He delivers a number of stinging chops as the crowd chant ‘welcome back’ – perhaps ironically. After three minutes of non-stop punishment Daniels fires back with dropkicks. Clearly not keen on the ‘f*ck TNA’ chants, Chris wins Manassas over with a flurry of snapmares and puts himself on offence for the first time. In case he forgot how physical it is in this promotion, Steen hoists him wildly over the top rope to the floor and starts shoving him shoulder-first into the ringposts. Given that he’s taken to using the Crippler Crossface as a finisher recently, attacking the shoulder is all set up for that. Hammerlock Russian legsweep gets 2 before another violent heave into the ringpost which leaves Daniels in the foetal position on the outside. He tries to battle up the turnbuckles only to be hauled down into an arm wrench over the top rope. Finally Steen makes a mistake, going for the Steen-ton Bomb and flipping himself into Daniels’ knees instead. The two men trade strikes, until Daniels runs through Mr Wrestling with an STO. Arabian press to the floor scores, then a flying clothesline from the top for 2. Angel’s Wings attempted but with the bad shoulder that’s not realistic…and Steen squashes him in the corner with the cannonball senton. BME blocked…into the CRIPPLER CROSSFACE! Too close to the ropes though. Package Piledriver blocked this time, and the ref gets bumped in the ensuing melee. Steen brings a chair in…only for Colt Cabana to run back and take it from him. Is Paul Turner going to be raped now? Daniels counters with the urinage slam into the BEST MOONSAULT EVER! Daniels wins at 15:48 and goes straight to #2 in the Pick 6

Rating – *** – MOTN thus far, with both guys working a smart match and getting the vocal crowd to pop for what they were doing in the ring rather than for silly jokes and snapmares. Having Daniels back in ROH is a major coup as, along with the added star power and drawing potential he brings, he’s such an experienced pro. This wasn’t supposed to be a huge MOTYC or a marquee match, but he and Steen still put on an absorbing back and forth match, his selling was superb and he managed to pick up the win without making his comeback match nothing but a procession of all his trademark spots. Truth be told I’ve always preferred him wrestling as a heel rather than a babyface, and hopefully that will come as this latest stint in ROH progresses, but as far as comeback matches go this was decent. I certainly preferred this one to his LAST comeback match – at Sign Of Dishonor in 2005 with Colt Cabana.

Kevin Steen throws an EPIC temper tantrum as he leaves the ring, with ‘Ole’ chants ringing in his ears.

Austin Aries/Rhett Titus vs Tyler Black/Delirious
This is a grudge match on a number of levels. Firstly we have Tyler Black and Austin Aries renewing hostilities in a rivalry which now spans well over a year. Secondly we’ll see Delirious coming for revenge on Aries for the brutal assault we saw on HDNet this week where he did serious damage to Delirious’ throat (an injury which, in HDNet terms, will keep Delirious out of action for some time). Don’t forget there’s no love lost between Delirious and Rhett Titus either, with those guys having history going all the way back to 2008 and the love triangle with Daizee Haze.

Aries takes the microphone to call Delirious’ throat injury on HDNet this week an ‘unfortunate’ accident, and to announce that he’s looking to get a managerial license so he doesn’t ever have to wrestle in ROH again. There are absolutely zero crazy antics from Delirious, as he stands motionless in the ring demanding to start with Austin. Of course, it’s Titus he ends up starting with, and he’s so focused on his nemesis at Rhett lands some free shots with ease. Such is his obsession that he allows his throat to be targeted – with Titus choking him in the ropes as he desperately reaches for Aries. Tyler does manage to lay in some shots on Aries, but Delirious and Titus are still the legal men and they are brawling on the floor. Delirious goes for the guardrail Panic Attack only for Rhett to counter which sends the lizard man flying through several rows of chairs. Tag to Black after that, with the ROH Champion finding a unique way to propel Rhett into his own partner. with Austin down Delirious is let back in to the match, only for Aries to lure him across the ring into a waiting cheapshot from Rhett. After his protégé has done a number on him Austin is perfectly willing to get in there it seems. Sexy Suplex blocked though, allowing the lizard man to tag Tyler back in. Showing resilience (and knowledge of his opponent after their HDNet match this week), Titus blocks the Buckle Bomb, but brings in Aries who finds his IED attempt blocked with a boot to the face. Somersault dive by Tyler wipes the ex-champion out again at the 10 minute mark. He even tries to TRAP Aries in the ring to allow Delirious to get his hands on him, but once again Titus is on hand to cheat his team’s way out of that predicament. Team Aries now have the upper hand, isolating Tyler for a sustained period of attack. That is until Black counters the Sexy Suplex to Peroxism. He then Pele Kicks his way past Aries to tag Delirious…and once again A-Double bails to evade him. Delirious settles for a sliding flatliner and a German suplex on Titus – as Dumbrowski points out that he has been completely silent tonight rather than screaming and talking jibberish as he usually does. Austin drags him out of the ring for the Randy Savage Axehandle before Titus hits a FLYING KNEE DROP ACROSS THE THROAT! Tyler in to deliver a superplex to Austin and the F-5 on Rhett. Buckle Bomb COUNTERED WITH A F*CKING NECK DROP SHINBREAK BACK SUPLEX! LAST CHANCERY ON THAT NECK TOO! Delirious saves then eats Titus’ boot. Black has had enough time to recover now and hits the Buckle Bomb on Aries. PANIC ATTACK by Delirious, then SHADOWS OVER HELL…NO! Titus blocks it with a Super Sex Factor attempt. DELIRIOUS HITS SHADOWS OVER HELL ON HIM INSTEAD! SUPERKICK BY TYLER! BIZARRO DRIVER! Delirious pins Titus at 19:02

Rating – **** – Completely underrated little main event here. For a house show match this had unexpected levels of depth and walked a fine line between great psychology, fun storyline development, some aspects of comedy and some amazing brutality and spot exchanges at the end. I’m quite sure there are loads of people who will think I’m over-rating this but I had a blast watching it. The Aries/Delirious feud is the very definition of finding something for two guys who have basically done EVERYTHING they could possibly do in ROH just for the sake of it, but both are good enough at what they do that even if it’s a pointless feud, they’ll make it watchable. Good stuff…

Tape Rating – *** – This could well be one of the most underrated/surprisingly good shows I’ve seen by ROH in some time. It’s got a HORRIBLE reputation…and I genuinely don’t understand why. Considering ROH now has TV, iPPV’s AND house shows for their ‘A-markets’, that really does make these live events and the B-markets complete house shows. People need to amend their expectations for these events accordingly. If you’re a selective purchaser, I think you’ll be looking at buying less and less shows from the likes of Dayton, Manassas, Collinsville, Dearborn etc. That’s just a reality. ROH used to be founded on the principles of putting on a ‘ppv’ level show every time…but times have changed and that’s just not the way it is anymore. They have ACTUAL ppv now, and an actual TV show to promote it. And major shows to produce in the major markets like New York, Chicago and Toronto which won’t make iPPV. On the eve of Supercard Of Honor, this was never going to be a Show of the Year Candidate. What it was a solid, top to bottom show. No guest talent, no local guys filling spots, just the ROH core roster. Nothing meaningless – every match had significance, advanced a storyline or furthered an angle. At just over 2 hours it absolutely flies by, with lots of decent wrestling with no time for any match to outstay it’s welcome. The crowd, though annoying at times, is vocal and lively throughout making every match seem heated and competitive. Honestly, if you adjust your expectations accordingly, and you’ll be surprised by how much fun this was to watch. I’ll admit most matches only scratch the low 3* territory, and the main event is a very generous 4*. BUT nothing is bad, nothing is pointless, it moves quickly and seamlessly from match to match. I think I could comfortably list 10+ ROH shows worse than this one.

Top 3 Matches
3) Roderick Strong vs Erick Stevens (***)
2) Kevin Steen vs Christopher Daniels (***)
1) Tyler Black/Delirious vs Austin Aries/Rhett Titus (****)

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