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ROH Honor Takes Center Stage: Chapter 1 4/1/2011

ROH 281 – Honor Takes Center Stage: Chapter 1 – 1st April 2011

So my extended commentary on why I felt giving Eddie Edwards the World Championship at Manhattan Mayhem 4 was the wrong decision certainly got people talking. I can honestly say I’ve never got so many emails after posting a review. For the record, I stand by my comments and I strongly feel like giving Eddie the belt now was the wrong move. Of course it’s easy to armchair book retrospectively but I really feel like there were few (if any) long-term advantages to him becoming ROH Champion at that stage. However, whilst I question the longer term benefits, the short term is that Ring Of Honor comes into this huge weekend of iPPV’s with a lot of buzz surrounding them. Once again they make the journey to piggyback on WWE’s WrestleMania weekend, and present a weekend of shows from the absolutely beautiful Center Stage Theater. They now have to share Mania weekend with DGUSA of course, and last year in Phoenix Gabe’s promotion got a FAR better venue and their DVD’s looked much better as a result.

This year the building is stunning and these are some of the most striking, unique and intimate shows ROH have ever produced – selling out both nights to boot. Eddie Edwards defends his newly won World Championship against Christopher Daniels in the third match in their recent trilogy, and elsewhere another trilogy is completed as we also have Kings/WGTT III – this time with the Tag Titles on the line. Davey Richards faces Roderick Strong and El Generico faces Michael Elgin in big grudge matches, the Briscoes face Future Shock and there’s an added bonus with Joshi talent being brought to ROH for the first time ever too. We’re in Atlanta, GA with Kevin Kelly and Dave Prazak on commentary. Since these are live iPPV’s I imagine the sound quality will deviate multiple times throughout, and VQ is average at best.

Michael Elgin vs El Generico
This is a rematch from the 9th Anniversary Show which saw El Generico win, but only after taking a real ass-kicking from the House Of Truth’s resident powerhouse. Generico still has major problems with Roderick Strong and the HOT, as we saw when he was screwed out of victory in the main event of Defy Or Deny. Can he gain an element of retribution for Elgin’s interference in that or will the enforcer deliver another beating and further punishment?

Apparently the rest of the House Of Truth are banned from ringside for this. Generico tries to pick up the pace from the outset, getting a 2-count from an early flying crossbody. He goes for the rope run tornado DDT but it’s COUNTERED to the tilta-whirl backbreaker from Elgin. He follows that by driving a flurry of knee strikes right to the spine, drawing the ire of the live crowd who are vocally pro-Generico it seems. Or maybe they just don’t like Elgin’s hideous mullet? Generico narrowly evades a buttsplash then scrambles back to the top rope for a flying headscissors. Half Nelson Suplex blocked, but the TURNBUCKLE EXPLODER ISN’T! Elgin barely kicks out at 2! Yakuza Kick blocked, Oklahoma Stampede blocked…lariat from Elgin for a nearfall. El Generico sprints at Michael, but the HOT man simply CATCHES him into a Bossman Slam. Another lariat misses though, prompting Elgin to fall to the floor. Crossbody off the apron blocked…but when Elgin goes for that guardrail powerslam he hit at the 9th Anni Show Generico COUNTERS to shove him into the guardrail! THROUGH THE TURNBUCKLES SWINGING DDT ON THE FLOOR! A masked man comes out to distract him though…and he walks into the Spiral Bomb. Elgin wins at 09:13

Rating – *** – Sensational opening match where Generico’s athleticism and enduring popularity meshed with Elgin’s incredible power moves to create a ravenous atmosphere within which to kick off a big weekend. The finish was lousy (although it makes sense since HOT were banned from ringside) but some of the stuff they were doing before it was awesome. The amount of psychology and familiarity countering they were doing, playing off their first match in Chicago, was a joy to watch and an unexpected level of depth in a match where they only needed to run through their usual spots to pop the crowd. The fact they went the extra mile to produce something good bodes well for the show…

Caleb Konley vs Tommaso Ciampa vs Homicide vs Colt Cabana
There’s a lot going on here. Konley comes out accompanied by Truth Martini since this match serves as his trial before being accepted into the House Of Truth. Tommaso is new on the roster himself so is still looking to pick up the victories. He’s flanked by the entire Embassy, meaning Nana, Ernesto, Princess Mia and RD Evans have all made it to Atlanta. And the two newcomers face veterans of ROH competition – not to mention huge rivals from years past. Cabana has history with The Embassy going back to 2009 and faces representatives of that group on both shows this weekend, whilst Homicide’s Ring Of Honor career is flatlining after suffering multiple losses recently.

Konley starts out looking to impress, hitting a couple of armdrags on Homicide only to be rewarded by an amusing ‘lets go Spanky’ chant. Cabana tags and nearly knocks Caleb out with a jumping ass attack. Homicide goes to the floor chasing Nana…so Princess Mia KNOCKS HIM OUT! Did that just happen? The entire Embassy entourage starts beating on the Notorious 187, then feed him back to the ring so the heels of the piece (Ciampa & Konley) can start working him over. A couple of minutes pass before Homicide finally makes the inevitable hot tag to Cabana…who hits everyone at ringside with elbows then lays a big kiss on Mia for good measure. Flying Asshole on Konley…but in comes Tommaso to shut him down with a swinging neckbreaker. PROJECT CIAMPA ON KONLEY! But Homicide had blind-tagged in so he can’t pin him! Homicide and Tommaso trade shots…TOPE CON HILO WIPES OUT CABANA! Ciampa misses a pescado…ANOTHER TOPE CON HILO TAKES HIM DOWN! Konley is thrown out too! THREE AMIGOS TOPE CON HILO NAILED! COP KILLA ON CALEB! Homicide gets the win at 09:23

Rating – *** – I’ve been slightly generous with my rating here considering this was a pretty basic filler fourway match. BUT, there were some big personalities involved here meaning the likes of Nana, Colt, Homicide, Mia, Martini and even Caleb Konley (who looks decent) all did enough to illicit some huge responses from the live crowd. Credit to Homicide too, since he looked as good in this match as he has done in his entire second ROH tenure thus far.

Truth Martini’s verdict on Caleb Konley is in. It’s a positive one…but it’s April Fools Day! Elgin gives him the 3-Minute Warning treatment.

Sara Del Rey/Serena Deeb vs Hiroyo Matsumoto/Ayumi Kurihara
ROH has brought in multiple Women Of Honor for the weekend. We have three Joshi stars in Matsumoto, Kurihara and Nakagawa (who is only on tomorrow’s show for some reason), alongside Del Rey, Daizee Haze and Serena Deeb, making only her second post-WWE appearance. Del Rey and Deeb defeated the team of Haze and Amazing Kong at Final Battle 2010 and will be looking to keep that streak going here tonight.

Serena’s boobs are massive and really can’t be that helpful to her wrestling career now she’s back on the indies. She starts by trading armdrags with Matsumoto – the Japanese athlete getting the better of the exchange and roundly applauded as a result. Del Rey tags and she is clearly the star of the show as far as the crowd are concerned. The Joshi stars use a series of double teams to put her down though, Ayumi getting a 2-count from a bridging snap suplex. Then she tries a submission on Deeb only to get her face STOMPED by Sara! Matsumoto lures both opponents to the floor…TOP ROPE SUICIDE DIVE BY KURIHARA! Deeb tries a forearm in the corner…so Kurihara traps her in a hanging armbar! Awesome move, but one that leaves her exposed to a vicious running kick from Sara. Deeb and Del Rey start isolating Ayumi now, as the camera pans to Haze and Nakagawa (the SHIMMER Tag Champions) in the crowd scouting Matsumoto and Kurihara ahead of their title defence tomorrow. Kurihara gets the hot tag and Hiroyo runs in to take out both opponents with a double crossbody. Torture rack gutbuster on Sara for 2! Body avalanche on Deeb…CAPO KICK BY SARA! Missile dropkick from Kurihara! HEAD DROP URINAGE ON SERENA! MATSUMOTO KILLS HER DEAD WITH A BACK DROP DRIVER! The Japanese ladies win it at 09:01

Rating – *** – This was as enjoyable as the Kong/Haze vs Del Rey/Deeb tag at Final Battle which in itself is a huge success considering this one didn’t have the guaranteed draw that Amazing Kong provides. I was very impressed with Kurihara and Matsumoto here. Admittedly I’ve been exposed to them before through the odd SHIMMER match, but I thought their ability to adapt and play to an ROH crowd was great. They clearly weren’t over at the start, but their energy and enthusiasm really won the fans over meaning that by the end they were popular winners. I said the Women Of Honor division was killed at the 9th Anniversary Show with that Del Rey/MsChif squash…so I’m glad to see the six women who have come to Atlanta this weekend are at least getting the opportunity to give the division a proper send-off – and a fair chance to showcase their considerable skills.

Nakagawa spits water in the face of Kurihara then sprints to the locker room before they can grab her – clearly looking to send a message ahead of the Tag Title match tomorrow.

Adam Cole/Kyle O’Reilly vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe
Future Shock have a huge weekend ahead of them. They have ROH legends the Briscoes tonight, then tomorrow move on to facing the Kings Of Wrestling. The Bravados took great pleasure in pointing out that Cole and O’Reilly don’t have a great won/loss record as a team, so by this point they’ll be looking to deliver not only good performances but actual victories against the big fish of the tag division.

There’s a significant portion of fans who are right up to date with their ROH as the Briscoes get a decidedly mixed reaction during their entrance. Mark and Cole kick off with an exchange that is hugely reminiscent of the RVD/Lynn near-miss duels they used to do so well. O’Reilly and Jay tag next, picking up where they left off at World’s Greatest in Dayton with some really physical stuff. Future Shock hit a flapjack/facecrusher combo on Mark…so the Briscoes retaliate with an assisted lariat combo which shows they are the bosses of tag team tandem offence tonight. Briscoe Biel rockets Kyle across the ring for 2. But O’Reilly actually fights off both Briscoes with his kicks, making a tag to Cole who quickly lands a tope suicida on Jay! Jay didn’t like that at all, and nearly breaks the canvas such is the force he delivers a spinebuster on Cole with. The Briscoes cut the ring in half, trapping Adam in the ring for several minutes to deliver some significant damage. Finally Cole hits a flying heel kick on ark and does get the critical tag to O’Reilly. DOUBLE DRAGON SCREW on the Briscoes, then the double missile dropkick as the crowd starts to really get behind Future Shock and jeer the Briscoes. Rolling butterfly suplexes…ELEVATED DOUBLE ARM DDT/OCEAN CYCLONE SUPLEX COMBO GETS 2! Jay drags Cole out of the ring…O’REILLY JUMPS OVER COLE INTO THE RUNNING MISSILE DROPKICK TO THE FLOOR! Stereo knockout kicks on Mark get 2. The Briscoes fight back – Jay with a falcon arrow and Mark with Redneck Kung Fu. O’Reilly blocks the urinage…and walks into a superkick from Jay. HEAD DROP URINAGE NAILED! SPRINGBOARD DOOMSDAY DEVICE ON COLE! The Briscoes win in 13:23

Rating – **** – Again, I’m going generous on this rating but I feel like they did enough to earn that fourth star. The structure of this one was really strong, with Cole and O’Reilly getting in with periods of really exciting, athletic offence before getting beaten down by the hard-hitting, experienced double team moves of the Briscoes. It went back and forth following that pattern, with each swing of the pendulum getting Future Shock more and more over as babyfaces and the Briscoes’ heel heat just growing and growing. It also helps that the last five minutes with both teams throwing spots all over the ringside area was absolutely scintillating. If I can give ANX vs Cole/O’Reilly 4* at Final Battle I can do the same for this one.

Rhett Titus and Kenny King appear behind the announce desk. Apparently they were banned from the building after fighting with the Briscoes during the day, and march through the crowd into the ring for a fight. The ring quickly fills with security and officials trying to separate the four men – but for the second show running things degenerate into a mass brawl. ANX try to give Mark the Jerry Lynn Driver on the floor…only for Jay to save by military pressing a jobber straight at them.

Roderick Strong vs Davey Richards
Considering we already have two huge championship matches to headline the show, this is an amazing third main event to throw onto ppv tonight. Everyone thought Davey would be crowned the new World Champion at Final Battle 2010. But a combination of Truth Martini’s interference and a concussion saw Roderick escape with the title that night, successfully beating the man he handpicked to co-found the No Remorse Corps with back in 2007. Richards was devastated by the loss, and swore to train harder than he ever had, improve his skills and declined all offers of another title shot until he felt he’d earned one. He is undefeated in 2011 thus far, scoring some huge wins along the way, but his hesitance to accept the offer of a title shot has seen his tag partner Eddie Edwards sneak in and take the belt from Strong instead. Tonight Davey wants to prove he can beat his former friend…but the bigger question as to the status of the American Wolves and whether Davey would ever challenge his tag partner for the ROH Championship very much remains.

These two know each other extremely well, which makes for a cagey opening few minutes where both men throw a lot of mud at the wall but not a lot of it sticks. Finally Strong tries a chop and Davey ducks it to launch into a volley of kicks and slaps which drops him to his knees. That gives Richards the window of opportunity to lock in a succession of submission holds. Truth Martini distracts him, allowing Roderick to kick him off the turnbuckles. The former World Champion looks to be favouring his arm, but it doesn’t stop him hitting Davey with such force that his mouth starts bleeding. Strong attacks that like a prick, fish-hooking the mouth, then going for the Danielson MMA Elbows to the jaw. Even when Davey traps him in a hold, now he’s opened up a weakness he’s able to free himself by kicking his opponent in the bloody mouth. The fight spills to the floor where Strong first drops Richards face-first on the rails, then picks him up again for a body slam into the apron. Roddy has successfully used that mouth injury as the launch pad to begin his customary assault on the back now. Davey goes on the defensive and kicks Strong to the floor. Running kick from the apron scores…AS DOES THE TOPE SUICIDA INTO THE RAILS! He follows that with a missile dropkick then the Handspring Enzi then gets 2 with a bridging German suplex. Anklelock applied only for Strong to counter to the LeBell Lock. Roderick attacks the face again with a elbow smash trifecta, then dumps him straight south with a gourdbuster. TURNBUCKLE BACKBREAKER NAILED!

Only falling out of the ring saved Davey from defeat there, and he gets precious moments of recovery time on the floor before Roderick retrieves him to apply the Stronghold briefly. DUELLING STRIKES IN THE CORNER! Strong starts chopping him with such force that they both collapse in exhaustion! ALARM CLOCK TO THE SHOULDER! ELBOWS FROM STRONG! KICKS FROM DAVEY! JUMPING KNEE BY STRONG! BOTH MEN DOWN! They wearily get back to their feet and pick up where they left off, this time trading blows on the apron. BACK SUPLEX ON THE APRON BY STRONG! Davey tries to get back into the ring…so Strong PUNTS him back down again! That means twice we see Richards just barely beat the 20-count. Strong hammers him with more strikes…DAVEY NO SELLS! SICK KICK INSTEAD! FOR 2! DEATH BY RODERICK…2 AGAIN! He tries the Gibson Driver but somehow Davey blocks it to hit a Saito suplex for 2. BUZZSAW KICK…RODDY NO SELLS AND SPITS IN HIS FACE! BLACK SUPERKICK ON STRONG! ANKLELOCK! Martini gets involved again with a distraction…leading to the SUPLEX FLIP BACKBREAKER FOR 2! GIBSON DRIVER! STRONGHOLD! COUNTERED TO THE ANKLELOCK! BIG BOOT ON MARTINI! SICK KICK…COUNTERED TO THE ANKLELOCK AGAIN! Strong gets to the ropes and starts climbing, such is his desperation to escape! SUPERPLEX…ROLLED INTO THE FALCON ARROW…ROLLED INTO THE ANKLELOCK! STRONG TAPS! Davey wins in 27:08

Rating – ****1/2 – Maybe it’s because Final Battle was a more historically significant show, or maybe it was because the ROH Title was on the line in December, but for some reason people seem to remember that match a lot better than they do this one. Which is odd because, to me anyway, this one was far better. And much of the credit has to go to Roderick Strong for how good this was. Davey Richards is fantastic for explosive offensive sequences, big moves, false finishes and fun submission counters. But where he sometimes lacks is building up the core substance of a match – if you were to criticise him for something you’d say that he doesn’t always get you to the point where you CARE about the crazy things he does towards the end of matches. Certainly not the case here folks, thanks in no small part to the brilliant job Strong did in beating the piss out of him throughout the match. From attacking the bloody mouth, to pulverising the back to beating Richards to within an inch of his life with strikes, Roderick was out for Davey’s blood tonight. He was visibly kicking the sh*t out of him, which in turn meant that when Richards mounted those explosive comebacks, you were positively desperate for him to do the same right back. There was one strike exchange at around the 20-minute mark which had the whole building going crazy as a direct result. Absolutely outstanding match, and if there’s anything better on any of the shows from any of the promotions running Atlanta this weekend then wrestling fans were genuinely spoilt!

Kings Of Wrestling vs Charlie Haas/Shelton Benjamin – ROH Tag Title Match
We’ve been building to this one since September 2010 and Glory By Honor 9. That night WGTT came to ROH as a special attraction, but stole the show and surpassed all expectations with an outstanding effort against dominant Tag Champions Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli. It took the notorious ‘lucky’ elbow pad to beat them that night, but they vowed to return and fulfilled that promise on HDNet taped in Louisville – episodes which aired at the start of 2011. They went to Los Angeles and defeated the Kings in another non-title bout there, and finally earned #1 contendership to the Tag Titles when they bested the Briscoes in the main event of the 9th Anniversary Show. Will they complete a remarkable comeback story and be crowned Tag Team Champions again, years after they last held such championships, or will the Kings defeat them again and make it through the weekend and past the 1-year anniversary of their title win over the Briscoes at The Big Bang?

The crowd is so pumped for this match there are duelling chants for each team during the entrances. Amusingly, you can spot Jim Cornette sitting in the crowd watching the show as the Kings arrive. Kevin Kelly shares a nice story about talking to Charlie Haas before WrestleMania 17 about his goals in pro-wrestling, and now he’s here a decade later challenging for the most prestigious tag team titles in the world. Hero is clearly feeling confident, and foolishly engages Benjamin in a mat-wrestling exchange – an area Shelton will obviously have the edge on him. He bests Chris then delivers a cocky slap to the face. Haas tags and gets 2 with an overhead belly to belly. Hero gouges the eyes but Charlie quickly gathers his composure to deliver a flurry of armdrags. Claudio tags, stomps across the ring and is grounded just as quickly with Haas and Benjamin both looking to attack his legs. They get him limping and struggling to utilise his power moves, which eventually brings Hero in the ring looking to help his partner. STEREO GERMANS get 2 for WGTT! The Kings leave the ring having been dominated for most of the opening 10 minutes, and stand in the entrance talking strategy with Hagadorn and Del Rey. The break works to their advantage as Castagnoli sneaks up on Haas and guillotines him on the top rope. Sara then distracts Benjamin to allow Hero to boot him in the mouth. The champions isolate Shelton for several minutes, working over the arm to negate his power moves much as the challengers did to Claudio’s leg. And speaking of Double C’s leg injury, it seems to have improved as he showcases his phenomenal power in hoisting Benjamin up for a press slam. He still feels the effects enough to limp as he and Hero hit a leapfrog big boot combo for 2. Hero BACK FLIPS off the top rope…but sails straight into the Dragon Whip. Shelton lunges into the hot tag from there, bringing Haas in for the usual babyface comeback spots. FLYING HEADSCISSORS on Claudio…as Hero misses an elbow and EATS superkick from Shelton. LEAPFROG HILO ON BOTH KINGS! Chris retaliates with a Roaring Elbow…ROLLING FLASH KICK/LIMPING BICYCLE KICK COMBO! BIG SWING FLASH KICK GETS 2! But the Suplex Elbow combo is ducked, allowing Shelton to drop Hero with a facebuster. POP-UP EUROPEAN ON HAAS! Riccola Bomb is COUNTERED TO THE OLYMPIC SLAM! HAAS OF PAIN! Hero tries to save with the Loaded Elbow…SHELTON SAVES WITH THE ROPE RUN BELLY TO BELLY SUPERPLEX! CLAUDIO TAPS! NEW CHAMPIONS AT 22:58! Haas and Benjamin take home the gold!

Rating – **** – Each of the three matches have been wonderful in different ways. The New York match had a big match aura that they’ve never come close to replicating since. Los Angeles, whilst not giving that same vibe, was an outstanding and thrilling tag team display which in many ways trumped the original. But here the story-telling here was off the hook. WGTT dominated from the outset and injured Claudio’s leg, the Kings, following some assistance from their entourage, fought their way back, but in the end it was that injury to Castagnoli that proved too much to overcome and WGTT made it out as new champions. The fact that the crowd were so amped for this (the whole match was set against a backdrop of duelling chants of support for both teams) really helped. I’m not sure this quite topped Glory By Honor 9 but it was on that level in my opinion.

Anybody that thinks Haas and Benjamin are only in ROH for a paycheck and an easy ride should check out their reaction to winning the match. Shelton jumps around like a little kid and Charlie is in tears…

Eddie Edwards vs Christopher Daniels – ROH World Title Match
The Fallen Angel has every reason to feel supremely confident in this one. Three times these two have met in ROH previously, and not once has Eddie walked away victorious. He beat him at Supercard Of Honor 5 last year, and did so again on HDNet earlier in 2011 (after an initial time limit draw) to capture Eddie’s Television Championship. Then in a 2/3 Falls rematch in Chicago they went to a 30-minute draw, meaning Daniels walked away having retained the belt. Edwards shocked everyone by becoming World Champion at Manhattan Mayhem 4. He is catapulted straight into his first title defence and straight up against a rival who has always had his number it seems. With an hour time limit, a draw seems unlikely tonight – so we will finally see once and for all who the better man is.

New music for Eddie tonight – it sort of kills the ovation for his entrance. It’s advantage Daniels in  the early minutes as he continually outwrestles the champion and pins his shoulders down for nearfalls. Edwards doesn’t like that one bit and eventually snaps and pops off a few fierce chops. Wisely Eddie tries to pick up the pace, and quickly reaps the rewards by hitting a rana and an armdrag in quick succession. But he tries for another hurricanrana only for Daniels to counter to the ACHILLES LOCK! Eddie hates that so much he walks out, and when the Fallen Angel gives chase he flings him into the guardrails with a hiptoss. He follows up with a couple of chops – making the point that Daniels has the edge in wrestling skill but when it comes to striking and violence Edwards looks to have the measure of the challenger. Tree of woe dropkick from the floor nailed for 2. The wrestling skills of the Fallen Angel resurface as he counters a suplex to a cravat rush to the buckles, then a Blue Thunder Driver. But such is the damage Edwards has been able to inflict that he manages to recover from that to score with the flying Codebreaker and a Doi 555.

Urinage slam blocked and Edwards rocks Daniels with a jumping enzi in the corner. He actually tries the Backpack Stunner on the apron…COUNTERED TO A URINAGE SLAM THROUGH THE TIMEKEEPING TABLE! Daniels looks like he has the match won, but of course, he won’t get the title with a count-out win, so he angrily stomps back outside to hit a body slam THROUGH SOME CHAIRS! Those two bumps have done massive damage to Eddie’s back and, as we approach 15 minutes, he can’t even stand let alone fight. He clings to the ropes in the foetal position only for the challenger to relentlessly stomp on that injured back some more. The next few minutes are all Daniels, with every move focused on doing more damage to the wounded body part. However, if Edwards’ ROH career has taught us anything it’s that he can fight through most injuries, and the Fallen Angel starts looking more and more frustrated that he can’t put him away. Edwards FLIES out of the corner with a missile dropkick, getting Masato Yoshino-esque hangtime on it. Rapid-fire pinfalls come next, all failing to win it. Eddie hiptosses Daniels over the ropes for an ELBOW SUICIDA!

Next he tries a crossbody, and gets 2 before coming up clutching at his back. MACHINE GUN CHOPS, then a tiger suplex for 2! Double stomp misses and Daniels slaps on the STANDING KOJI CLUTCH! Edwards goes for the ropes…only for the challenger to capture the other arm, allowing him to keep the hold on for precious additional seconds as he adjusts his feet towards the rope instead. Achilles Lock by Edwards…COUNTERED TO THE KOJI CLUTCH…COUNTERED TO A ROLL-UP FOR 2! Back Drop Driver from Daniels…only for Eddie to shake it off to hit a couple of lariats. 2k1 Bomb scores but still it’s just 2. Edwards climbs the ropes with Daniels, possibly thinking about the frankensteiner that KO’d Daniels in Chicago. Avalanche Angel’s Wings blocked into a flying double stomp. ANGEL’S WINGS ANYWAY! EDDIE KICKS OUT! BEST MOONSAULT EVER! HE KICKS OUT AGAIN! Daniels snaps and just starts punching him repeatedly. ANOTHER BME…GETS KNEES! ACHILLES LOCK! WITH STOMPS TO THE HEAD! DANIELS SLAPS HIM IN THE FACE! Daniels wants to urinage slam Edwards out of the ring, but it’s COUNTERED TO AN AVALANCHE 2K1 BOMB! 2K1 BOMB AGAIN! Edwards retains at 30:07

Rating – ****1/2 – This might not have been as marketable and easy to consume as the HDNet match, or as gripping and emotional as the 9th Anniversary classic, but I absolutely loved this one for story-telling and drama. The last ten minutes were just awesome, but for once I actually enjoyed everything that came before it even more than the climactic sequence. The first 10 minutes featured Edwards beating the crap out of Daniels. Having failed to beat him three times previously, he came out of the blocks aggressive, and after a couple of early Daniels successes on the mat, he just went for strikes, suplexes and throws all over the ringside area to make sure he was in charge. And that aggression directly led to those two big bumps in the middle. Daniels HAD to get aggressive too, and he used that experience to send the overly enthusiastic champion through the table, and set about the second brilliant portion – Daniels f*cking up the back. Of course, this all built to a couple of age-old ROH storylines coming into play: Eddie doesn’t quit no matter how injured he is, and Daniels is absolutely DESPERATE to become ROH World Champion. Much like Strong/Richards from this show, the previous two matches in the Daniels/Edwards series get way more love and attention. For me this was truly excellent. Maybe not quite *better* than the 2/3 Falls Match…but very much comparable to it.

Daniels leaves without shaking Eddie’s hand as the show fades out – continuing his gradual descent into full-on heel mode.

Tape Rating – ****1/2 – I’m not sure how many people have noticed (lots of people love bashing ROH no matter what), but Ring Of Honor has been on an incredible roll with it’s live events, and has been for sometime. Sure the HDNet show has sort off tailed into an unsatisfactory, forgettable conclusion, but the DVD shows have been excellent. Final Battle was phenomenal, 9th Anniversary and Manhattan Mayhem 4 were tremendous, and this is one of the best top-to-bottom cards the promotion has produced. Two MOTYC’s, two other 4* matches and lots of other entertaining little bouts too, a major title change, continuation of significant storylines like Briscoes/ANX or Davey’s road to the World Title, all the way through to high quality women’s wrestling – this show really does have something for everyone.

Top 3 Matches
3) Kings Of Wrestling vs Charlie Haas/Shelton Benjamin (****)
2) Eddie Edwards vs Christopher Daniels (****1/2)
1) Davey Richards vs Roderick Strong (****1/2)

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