094 ROH Fourth Anniversary Show 2/25/2006
ROH 94 – Fourth Anniversary Show – 25th February 2006
It’s the big fourth birthday bash for ROH. It’s also the start of their ‘Milestone Series’ which spans the next seven shows from now – Fourth Anniversary, the ECW Arena debut, a Manhattan show with KENTA and Marufuji, the Wrestlemania tripleshot weekend and closing with the 100th show at the end of April in Philadelphia. Incredibly, considering this is the fourth anniversary and the start of a landmark series of shows, this is perhaps the weakest card of the seven – and it’s stacked. Danielson/Rave for the World Title. Aries and Strong put the Tag belts up against GeNext stablemate Matt Sydal and his partner AJ Styles. A whole series of grudge matches (Homicide/Cabana, Joe/Lethal, Daniels/Whitmer) and the return of the Briscoes. ROH should be on a tear this spring. Lets head on over to Edison, NJ with Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard.
Jim Cornette opens with a video message since he can’t be there in person tonight. He’s on the other end of a telephone and will be getting updates throughout the night.
And he’ll be interested in the first match of the night. It’s scheduled to be Mamaluke and Rinauro taking on Blade and Mikaze…but Jay and Mark Briscoe waste no time in making their big comeback. Jay calls for a three-way dance and that’s what we’re gonna get.
Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Tony Mamaluke/Sal Rinauro vs Jason Blade/Kid Mikaze
Talk about talent representing the whole spectrum of the Ring Of Honor tag team division. The young upstart team of Blade and Mikaze looking for a big win, former champions Mamaluke and Rinauro looking to get their careers back on track after stuttering since losing the belts to Generation Next, and the returning Briscoes, probably the best team in the history of the promotion. Their classic series’ against AJ and Red or the Second City Saints are legendary. They took a long hiatus after being “suspended” for their part in a Rottweiler riot in August 2004. Now they’re back, re-dedicated to wrestling (again – they already did the whole leaving and re-dedicating thing once) and ready to commit. They’ll be looking to hit the ground running for sure.
The two teams try to beat down Mark and Jay from the get-go but the Briscoes are pumped. Rinauro gets dropped on his head with a German suplex. Mark slingshot double stomps Blade. Briscoe double boot scrap on Kid Mikaze and they’ve successfully cleared the ring. SHOOTING STAR TO THE FLOOR FROM MARK! PRESS SLAM DVD ON MIKAZE BY JAY! In the end it is Blade and Mikaze that manage to halt the momentum of the returning Briscoes with some nifty double teams on Jay. The Italians are next to take over on Kid M, with Mamaluke armbar DDTing him then dropping into a bridging hammerlock. Stalling vertical suplex by Sal for 2. Tags all round for Mark to hit a wild springboard dropkick on Blade. HEAD DROP URINAGE ON MAMALUKE! Blade with rolling suplexes on Jay but that’s the wrong Briscoe to get a pin. CUTTHROAT DRIVER/LEG DROP COMBO! The Briscoes win in 06:42.
Rating – ** – Nice spotfest to open, and a hell of a way to showcase Mark and Jay’s tremendous arsenal of single and double team moves. They looked awesome there, nailing everything perfectly, and in good shape too. Rumours surrounding their return ahead of time said they’d been phoning in their performances in other promotions – unsurprisingly that didn’t look to be the case here. It’s great to see them back, and the resurgent tag team scene just got another boost. Good showing by Blade and Mikaze as well. I admit all they really did was get pummelled by the Briscoes but they took their beatings well and looked a hell of a lot better tonight than they did in singles matches at Unscripted 2.
Chris Daniels (with Allison Danger who looks absolutely sensational) explains to Whitmer that the reason he didn’t comeback and reform The Prophecy with BJ Whitmer because of the way he and Dan Maff beat the sh*t out of Allison last year at the Third Anniversary. Lacey is pissed that Whitmer walked out on her Angels and offers to help Daniels prepare for his match against him. He agrees…
FEBRUARY TOP 5 RANKINGS
1. Roderick Strong (retained his spot in a match with BJ Whitmer at Unscripted 2)
2. Christopher Daniels (didn’t compete last show so needs to win tonight)
3. Alex Shelley (has a re-scheduled title shot next show in the ECW Arena)
4. Jimmy Rave (cashes in on Trios Tournament success with title shot tonight)
5. Low Ki (Gabe says he’s officially done with the company)
Adam Pearce vs Jay Fury vs Azrieal vs Claudio Castagnoli
Standard fit as many people on the card as possible fourway. Fury is a newcomer who looked semi-decent at the last Ohio weekend, although I’d rather see his tag partner Jerrelle Clark more. Azrieal continues to do nothing but be a semi-capable jobber to everyone else. Claudio’s career has stalled a little in 2006. It’s nothing major, he just hasn’t really been booked in any significant matches yet. Pearce, meanwhile, has been on a good streak. He’s all about taking opportunities to work his way up the card. He impressed Jim Cornette by fighting Necro Butcher at Dissension and last show was in the main event after he attacked CM Punk.
Pearce throws Azrieal around and mocks Claudio’s ‘EEEYYYY’. Azrieal comes back with some business-exposing armdrags and Scrap Iron immediately tags out. Claudio comes in with Az and stops him running the ropes to ‘EYYY’ some more. Fury springboard dropkicks him as fans chant ‘D-Lo Brown’ at him. Spinning senton by Fury, who makes the D-Lo chants worse with a needless pointing leg drop just like D-Lo used to do. Pearce and Claudio get heat with each other deciding which one gets to work Jay over. A stalling vertical by Double C gets 2 before Adam breaks the fall. Pearce gets a nearfall on Fury from a spinebuster. Jay comes off the top rope with a double stomp to the chest and manages to tag out. He unloads on Pearce but can’t quite put him away and eventually Adam lays him out with a clothesline. Azrieal almost messes up his own kick flurry he’s so bad. Fury drops him on his head with a spinning brainbuster. Pearce goes upstairs for the Superfly Splash but Castagnoli cuts him off. JAY-TRIX ENZIGURI ON AZRIEAL! Claudio crashes to the floor missing a high knee on Fury who immediately goes after him with a SPRINGBOARD CORKSCREW PLANCHA! SUPERFLY SPLASH ON AZRIEAL! Pearce wins at 11:04…and Prazak says Az’s spot is in jeopardy. Please let that be true…
Rating – * – Pearce and Castagnoli pretty much salvaged this match from DUDsville with their charisma and a few nice exchanges, aside from that it was pretty poor. There was no real flow to it, and no heat to the heat segment because the hot tag was to Azrieal who was worse than usual today. Telegraphing moves, mis-timing moves, you name it he did it. It was a step back to 2002 when he was simply appalling as Angeldust in Special K. Apparently he is now dropped from the roster by the way. I felt bad for Fury getting the D-Lo chants from the crowd. He’s decent (better than Az at least) and deserves his chance. He did impress them when he got the chance with his two big spots.
Jay Lethal vs Samoa Joe
This would be our first grudge match of the evening. Jay Lethal used to be Joe’s protégé, until he decided he wanted more of the spotlight and used a chair to beat the crap out of Joe during their match at Steel Cage Warfare. He’s also managed to evade beatings from the Samoan at Final Battle 2005 and Hell Freezes Over, and went so far as to steal moves from him at Tag Wars 2006, when he tried to do what Joe has never been able to do – win the Tag Titles. Joe is back for revenge tonight after a three show absence due to injury and TNA (his longest absence since he came onto the roster in 2002).
Joe unleashes MACHINE GUN CHOPS from the bell as Lethal tries to sneak up on him. Jay manages to knock Joe to the floor and connect with a tope suicida to even things up. He presses home his advantage using the guardrails, and brings Joe back into the ring for a neckbreaker. Joe looks to get something going and walks into a jumping heel kick. Disrespectful kicks to the head wind Joe up, but Lethal blocks a suplex attempt with a knee to the head and Joe’s neck has been weakened so far in the match. Jay goes after it and grounds his opponent using a headscissors but Joe finally powers free and STIFFS him with kicks. Lethal swiftly rolls to the floor and drags Joe out by the leg to use the railings again. The crowd is literally begging Joe to murder him now. He obliges by planting Lethal on his face and landing a running knee strike. He drags Jay around by his disgusting hair and uses a stalling vertical (we’ve seen one in every match so far) to drop him again. Lethal attempts a crossbody only to be caught with a fallaway slam for 2. He blocks the STJoe and runs out of the corner with a running neckbreaker. He calls for the Dragon Suplex, but when that doesn’t work he lifts Joe’s trademark powerslam! Atomic drop/big boot/senton sequence by Joe for 2. An STF applied, then Joe starts to rake at the face instead. Lethal goes to the eyes to evade the Musclebuster and nails the running suplex. DIVING HEADBUTT…for 2. To the running suplex again but Joe lifts him to the top rope. MUSCLEBUSTAAA! That’s it for you, Jay Lethal. He’s done in 14:19.
Rating – *** – I know a lot of people don’t think this is as good, but I’d probably put it on a par with Steel Cage Warfare. That match went absolutely nowhere for 10 minutes, then got really good once Lethal turned with the chair and worked the leg. This one started well, with the crowd begging for Joe to decimate Jay, only to have the former-student wind them up by evading the beating and using some questionable tactics to work the leg. The problem was, I felt that Joe’s comeback should’ve been the end of the match. He should’ve hit one ginormous flurry of big moves and won. They tried to stretch this out for too long, although the crowd didn’t lose total touch with it at least – there was a genuine sense from them that Lethal was going to win again when he hit the diving headbutt.
SIDENOTE – Lethal is done with ROH after this match by the way. He’s paying the price for TNA yanking all the talent last minute before Unscripted 2. ROH has clearly decided it wants to focus more on non-contracted talents. Homicide, Aries and Strong are all irreplaceable right now, AJ, Daniels and Joe are three of the best workers in the States not employed by Vince and Alex Shelley is an integral part of the biggest heel faction in the promotion. Lethal has nothing tying him down, and this match ends the only feud he had going for him. It’s a shame because his new heel character had given him a new lease of life on the roster…but he wasn’t so good I’ll miss him particularly. He’s given us some great moments, and at one point he was all set to be the next Paul London-esque golden boy. It’s time for him to begin a new phase in his career. Good luck in TNA…
Up next they show a video package of highlights from ROH’s fourth year. Rather than mention all the same clips they show I’ve made my own countdown of the Top 10 moments from the last year. Not necessarily matches but, awe-inspiring MOMENTS…continued later.
10) Mick Foley/Samoa Joe confrontation (It All Begins)
9) Bryan Danielson wins the World Title (Glory By Honor 4)
8) “Smackdown Sucks” – James Gibson vs Spanky (Third Anniversary Celebration Part 2)
7) The Rottweilers at Manhattan Mayhem (Manhattan Mayhem)
6) Matt Hardy says ‘ROH’ on RAW then debuts against Daniels (Fate Of An Angel)
BJ Whitmer vs Christopher Daniels
Daniels has had problems with BJ Whitmer since the end of last year. BJ is pissed off that Daniels walked out on The Prophecy and chose TNA over staying with him and Dan Maff in ROH as they struggled alone against the Second City Saints. But, as Daniels pointed out earlier, he has beef with Whitmer too, as it’s one year ago that he beat the sh*t out of Allison Danger. The Fallen Angel is also accompanied by Lacey, who is pissed off that BJ walked out on her group at Dissension.
They begin with lock-ups but Whitmer gets distracted by Lacey on the floor. ‘Lacey said she’s going to teach Daniels everything she knows about BJ’ – Jimmy Bower. That’s worth buying this DVD for alone. Whitmer gains an early advantage on Daniels but he fights back with a number of forearm strikes. BJ kicks at the knee Daniels injured against Matt Sydal at Dissension and he snaps, spearing Whitmer and clubbing away at him on the mat. They spill to the floor where Daniels nails him with a chair shot to the back. Whitmer goes into the crowd and throws one into Daniels’ face. They brawl off into the crowd…AS CZW INVADES THE RING! That essentially calls time on this match at around the 05:30 mark.
Rating – DUD – Chris Daniels wasn’t really fit to compete at this show, having just had minor surgery on the knee injury he sustained against Sydal at the end of January. Instead they used it as the lead-in for the CZW angle which you’re about to see. Forget about the match and enjoy…
Chris Hero has led a Combat Zone occupation of the ring as he mockingly sings happy birthday to ROH. Adam Pearce comes from the back and runs into the ring by himself…THEN THE ROH RE-INFORCEMENTS ARRIVE! RIIIIIOOOOOOOOOOOOT! There are absolutely ridiculous scenes as like 50 wrestlers brawl all over the place. Chris Hero is left standing in the ring UNTIL SAMOA JOE COMES TO KICK HIS ASS! Confetti literally rains down as Joe puts him in the Choke! The Ring Of Honor guys clear the ring to a thunderous ovation from the fans. As they’re about to leave the Briscoes attack Aries and Strong! They’re wasting no time getting in the hunt to win their Tag belts back it seems. THEN Homicide and Cabana brawl from the back…now their match is underway it seems!
Homicide vs Colt Cabana – Ghetto Fight
Essentially this is an ‘I Quit’ Match if you’re confused as to what a Ghetto Fight is. This feud started off sucking with a bad match at Glory By Honor 4, the corny raps at the Kobashi weekend and underwhelming performances in marquee matches at Enter The Dragon and Buffalo Stampede. But since then it has gotten very VERY good and produced a metamorphosis in Cabana’s character which has been a joy to behold. So enjoyable in fact that it even gave purpose to a terrible match with Grim Reefer at Unscripted 2. Can they settle their differences here tonight?
Since they came from the locker room this obviously starts on the floor with Cabana ramming Cide into the railings then taking it to the crowd. The bell eventually rings as they get into the ring. Colt is taking the fight to his hated rival, choking him in the corner. Outside again, but this time Homicide uses the barricade to his advantage. He sends Cabana into the ringpost which has him bleeding, and in classic Homicide fashion, he goes right after it. He lashes a chair so hard into Cabana’s face it bounces several feet away. Cabana shows no signs of quitting…SO HOMICIDE STARTS CUTTING UP HIS HEAD WITH A F*CKING RAZOR BLADE! That’s really quite unpleasant. Incredibly Cabana still rallies back…until he gets poked in the eyes. His face is a mess but he musters up something to score with a butt-butt in the corner. Homicide off the second rope with a swinging DDT then he tries to force Colt to quit…with the Devil Lock. I dunno if that was intentional or not, but CM Punk used to use that! No quitting there though, and Homicide misses a diving headbutt. He avoids the Colt 45 but runs headlong into Cabana’s lariat. BRIDGING STRANGLEHOLD using Homicide’s still injured shoulder. CABANA MISSES A MOONSAULT! LARIATOOOOOOO! Homicide camel clutches Cabana THEN GOES NIGHT OF TRIBUTE ON HIM WITH A COAT HANGER!
He doesn’t quit but the referee calls for the bell at 11:15 for his own good. He prepares to leave but Cabana recovers enough to point out that he didn’t quit. He restarts the match, even ringing the bell himself. Homicide promptly lays him out with the Ace crusher. Cop Killa blocked with an armbar DDT – again on the bad shoulder. Cabana has lost it, biting on the shoulder for all he’s worth. He has a chair but Julius Smokes distracts him long enough for Homicide to steal in with his own chair shot. Ricky Reyes is there as well and he helps tie Colt to the turnbuckle. CHAIR SHOT TO THE UNPROTECTED FACE! Colt is helpless and the referee stops it again after a further 04:08 of action. ‘He’s not dead’ – crowd. The Rottweilers start walking out for a second time…but Colt calls Homicide back for some more (using his real name). So we’re on again and Cabana takes it to all three Rotts. He goes to the apron with Homicide but Smokes pours RUBBING ALCOHOL onto his cut up face. PILEDRIVER THROUGH THE RINGSIDE TABLE…WHICH DOESN’T BREAK! Cabana actually might be dead now. 01:08 is all that elapsed there before it’s stopped for a third time, taking your total match-time to something like 16:31.
Rating – **** – That wasn’t exactly comfortable to watch, and is criticised for being a tad too one-sided, but it was quite the spectacle. The story was the perfect embodiment of the feud so far. Cabana doesn’t really realise how much he’s bitten off, Homicide beats the ever-loving sh*t out of him but Colt (and his big mouth) still keeps coming back for more. I enjoyed the references to two previous muggings on Cabana with the coat-hanger from Night Of Tribute and the taping him in the corner from Vendetta, mixed in with Colt’s sheer determination, and a touch of psychology as he attacked the bad shoulder. If you liked the Homicide/Corino feud a few years ago, you’ll like this. This feud has been going on since August and was supposed to end in December. To give it the legs to keep going (now until the end of March) it needed a big performance – and these two delivered.
Homicide is pissed at Cabana’s disrespect and challenges him to a Fight Without Honor in Chicago.
INTERMISSION – Jim Cornette is less than happy himself due to the latest CZW invasion. He introduces “Thelma-Lou” – his baseball bat that he’ll use to take a swing at any Combat Zone guy he sees during the Wrestlemania triple shot (the next shows he’ll be at). Another great promo, but all his anti-garbage wrestling jibes would’ve been a lot more impactful had they not just come after the Homicide/Cabana bloodfest.
Bryan Danielson vs Jimmy Rave – ROH World Title Match
The Embassy have set their sights on the ROH Title and have shown no signs of stopping till they get it. They attacked Dragon at Hell Freezes Over, won the Trios Tournament, brought back Xavier at Unscripted 2 and main evented that show with Jimmy Rave knocking Danielson out for a decent amount of time with the Greetings From Ghana. For Jimmy Rave, this is the shot he’s been waiting for. It’s also a big chance as well. IN the feud with CM Punk he proved he can handle big grudge matches. He’s demonstrated himself as a great leader and tag wrestler during the Embassy/GeNext feud. Now with Danielson he can step up again and deliver the one thing he still hasn’t really produced – a top notch straight-up wrestling match. Will the Crown Jewel go home with the gold or can Dragon get revenge and successfully negotiate another leg of The Embassy challenge for his belt? Will they be able to clear the ring of the all the toilet paper in order to wrestle the match at all?
Rave surprises Danielson from the bell by successfully wrestling his way through every attempt Dragon makes to take the advantage. Danielson grows increasingly frustrated and starts pie-facing Jimmy, who does the exact same in return. In the end Rave scurries for advice from Nana after Dragon kicks him in the back. He looks for a headscissors only for Danielson to impressively nip out and tear his legs up with a deathlock. Rave tries to stomp in the champions chest, and when Dragon tries to get him in the Mexican surfboard Jimmy impressively counters out of that too. Rave looks to make it more of a fight by clubbing and chopping Danielson to the mat. Mexican surfboard ON Danielson! The champion does his best to use a wrestling hold to escape but in the end resorts to dropping a knee to the face. He applies a Japanese stranglehold, probably figuring that it’ll stop all Rave’s countering since his arms are tied, but Rave manages to roll out and reverse the hold. Dragon gets choked in the corner, and Jimmy even steals his ‘I have till 5’ gimmick. A diving European uppercut has Rave on his back once more, and Danielson follows it up with a slingshot suplex for 2. He full nelson’s Rave, again neutralising the arms but still Rave escapes. He spears AmDrag and hits a swinging neckbreaker but it’s only good for 2. Danielson dodges a leapfrog and educates his opponent in the art of properly executing the Mexican surfboard. He moves to superplex position but Rave is able to drop him throat-first over the top rope. Draping him prone on the buckles Jimmy nails an APRON DROPKICK and both tumble outside. There Rave chops up Dragon’s chest (still a mess from his wars with Rod Strong) and utilises the railings to his advantage to. In the ring again…CRAPPY MUTILATION!
Dragon has applied that hold enough over the years to know how to escape it though. It’s Jimmy’s turn to attempt a superplex and unlike earlier, he scores. CRAPPY MUTILATION AGAIN! His poor execution of the hold means Danielson finds a way out though. Sayama flip into a corkscrew enzi by the champion and both need a few moments to recuperate. FOREARMS…CHOPS…E HONDA SLAPS BY DRAGON! He nails the Judo DDT and soars from the top rope with a diving headbutt for 2. Rave tries to use the same counter to a full nelson he used earlier and gets kicked in the back. Crossface Chickenwing…but Rave escapes that as well! PIN USING THE ROPES gets Jimmy a 2. HEAD DROP SUPLEX…but Danielson COUNTERS the Crappy Wizard into a half crab. He beat Rocky Romero using that in December, but Jimmy works his way free. MAIN EVENT SLEEPER! Triple H really is Jimmy Rave’s role model! Danielson’s arm drops twice but he rallies back before it does for a third time. CATTLE MUTILATION! That’s how you do it Rave…but he gets to the ropes! Danielson hasn’t been able to keep Rave in a hold ALL match. His mouth is busted up pretty bad though, and now his head will be spinning after Dragon drops him into a back superplex. Back to Cattle Mutilation…TIGER SUPLEX but Prince Nana pulls the referee out of the ring. DRAGON WITH A TOPE SUICIDA ON NANA! He looks to re-enter the ring from the top rope and Rave nails him with a spear in mid-air. GHANAREA…CRAPPY WIZARD! TWO COUNT ONLY! RAVE CLUTCH too close to the ropes. Danielson dodges Greetings From Ghana…REGALPLEX FOR 2! MMA ELBOWS! Just like with Strong at Vendetta, the ref has to stop it at 32:01…what a match. Danielson survives one challenge and now has Alex Shelley in the ECW Arena.
Rating – ****1/2 – Chalk another MOTYC up for American Dragon – he probably is the best wrestler in the world right now. Granted he’s repeatedly getting the chance to wrestle the exact type of matches he’s best at, but the way he continually drags performers to career best matches is phenomenal. With Aries, with Strong, with Gibson, with Sabin, with Corino, with Rave…all very different opponents but he got awesome matches out of them all. Lets be clear though, this was not a one-man effort. Jimmy Rave delivered the best gimmick-free performance of his career. At moments the crowd were audibly impressed with his ability to counter Dragon’s stuff, indeed, that formed the basis of the awesome plot of the match. Danielson was never able to trap Rave in any kind of hold and wear him down – the Crown Jewel countered everything. Rave then worked the neck all match, with enough force to make the GFG mean more, but not so much that the Cattle Mutilation would look like a no-sell, and in the end Danielson was so frustrated that he had to blow Rave out of the water with the MMA elbows – making Rave look like a credible challenger. Awesome stuff…ROH anniversary shows always have great World Title Matches (Xavier/London, the 2YA fourway, Aries/Cabana, Aries/Joe 2).
The second fourth year highlights package airs so lets conclude our countdown…
5) CM Punk’s farewell (Punk The Final Chapter)
4) Punk’s victory over Jimmy Rave (Nowhere To Run)
3) James Gibson wins the World Title (Redemption)
2) Samoa Joe vs Kenta Kobashi – the crowd, the match, the chops (Joe vs Kobashi)
1) CM Punk beats Austin Aries, leading to the Summer of Punk (Death Before Dishonor 3)
Ricky Reyes vs Jack Evans
More from the Rottweilers/GeNext feud, which looks dead in the water before it’s even started thanks to Ki’s absence. It needs to be redirected around Homicide/Reyes or the Havana Pitbulls going for the Tag belts fairly promptly. Ricky Reyes chokes Austin Aries out in a losing effort at Hell Freezes Over, whilst Evans will be coming for some payback after taking a beating from Low Ki at Dissension. Don’t expect anything spectacular here. Evans’ flight back from Japan (he’s a regular in Dragon Gate these days) was delayed and he’s literally just arrived from the airport and gone straight to the ring.
Jack wants to follow the Code Of Honor, Reyes wants to tear his head off. Guess who gets what they want. Evans dropkicks Ricky out for a SPRINGBOARD SOMERSAULT SPLASH! But back in the ring Reyes drops him on his head with a back drop driver. The Rottweiler dominates and smacks Evans all over the ring. Evans goes for a flying headscissors and messes it up – that’s jet lag for you. Spinning powerbomb by Reyes for 2. He attempts it a second time only for Jack to take him over with a hurricanrana. He hits his handspring elbow and doesn’t manage to roll over the ropes on impact like he normally does – then still gets 2 from a springboard knee strike. Reyes to the floor, Evan to the apron. SPRINGBOARD ULTRA FLIPPY LAND ON HIS F*CKING NECK ON THE CONCRETE BOTCH OF TOTAL DOOM! How the f*ck is Evans not dead? Why the hell was he attempting that when he’s in no real wrestling shape tonight? Ricky takes him inside for ROLLING POWERBOMBS on the bad neck! Amazingly Evans manages to floor Reyes again with the fishermans buster. He sets up for the 630 but Ricky grabs him for A SLINGSHOT DDT! DRAGON SLEEPER! Reyes wins at 07:58 and refuses to break the hold to boot.
Rating – ** – You can’t be too critical of this match for Jack’s sheer guts, if nothing else. From the time the bell rang you could see he wasn’t his usual self out there. His timing was off and you have to take your hat off for even trying some of the things he usually does. That botched dive to the floor was one of the scariest things you’ll see though. I don’t know if he messed it up or if Reyes didn’t catch him right but man. He’s lucky to be alive. I did like how Reyes responded to that by dragging him into the ring and dropping him on his neck and head over and over again. That’s right in keeping with his character. Not a fantastic match, but a good way to separate the two main events. The crowd could’ve been worn out after Danielson/Rave, and were quiet for most of this. But Evans’ intestinal fortitude has woken them up again, and now we have the big tag main event.
Austin Aries/Roderick Strong vs AJ Styles/Matt Sydal – ROH Tag Title Match
AJ and Sydal have always been pretty tight, that’s no secret, but after their exciting bout at Hell Freezes Over, AJ extended the offer to Matt – replace Amazing Red as his partner and go after the Tag belts. Sydal accepted the proposal, despite the fact his stablemates in GeNext currently hold the straps. Aries, as the leader of Generation Next, told him to show some respect for what they did for his career and step down. At the end of Dissension Sydal revealed his decision – he still wants the shot. Now Aries and Strong are out to teach him a lesson. They’d also like a win over Styles too, since he beat both of them in singles matches in 2005.
Sydal is brave enough to start the match and goes at it with Roderick Strong. Roddy tries to belittle Matt, taunting him as he looks for a MutaLock, but Sydal hangs every step of the way. Styles and Aries tag and run through another feeling out process amidst duelling crowd chants. Everything is even until Austin drops into a headlock on Styles as he looks for the trademark dropkick. AJ headscissors Aries and rolls away when Aries goes for HIS traditional dropkick. Sydal gets 2 with a sit-out hiptoss then plasters Austin with the climbing wizard. Styles hits like the 5th delayed vertical suplex of the show. Strong tags in to dish out his first backbreaker of the match. Aries tries to wear Styles down but has to tag out when AJ lands his nip-up rana. Styles prepares for a dive to the floor only to be cut off by an Aries clothesline. Guess what move Roderick Strong uses next – DELAYED VERTICAL SUPLEX! He taunts Matt by chinlocking Styles facing his partner and moments later Aries gets 2 with a sidewalk slam. PELE KICK! Hit tag to Sydal who hits a flurry of offence on the champions. STANDING MOONSAULT on Strong for 2. He dropkicks the Messiah outside but only ends up with Aries hauling him off the top rope.
PESCADO BY AJ! HEAT SEEKING MISSILE BY ARIES! TOP ROPE MOONSAULT BY SYDAL! Inside the ring he almost pins Roddy with the enzicanrana. The challengers have got Strong isolated now – DOUBLE delayed vertical suplex! Sydal repeatedly stomps and kicks on him as he struggles in the ropes, and that’s probably as aggressive as Sydal has got in his ROH career. He and AJ are working over the back but Strong chops his way free and gets the tag to Aries. Power drive elbow on Sydal for 2. He blocks Aries’ brainbuster, but Aries powerbombs him as he goes for his snapping hurricanrana. Styles looks for a wrack bomb but Strong makes the save. DOUBLE QUEBRADA DDT! DOUBLE ENZIS ON ARIES! AJ looks for his springboard forearm but Strong dropkicks the ropes. TORTURE WRACK BACKBREAKER FOR SYDAL! Styles goes for the springboard again AND SAILS INTO THE HART ATTACK! Strong winds Sydal with a press slam gutbuster. BRAINBUSTER…but Styles saves with a HEAD DROP DRIVER! SHOOTING STAR PRESS BY SYDAL…FOR 2! AJ wants the Styles Clash…STRONG BREAKS WITH A YAKUZA KICK! HALF NELSON BACKBREAKER ON SYDAL! 450 SPLASH NAILED! GENERATION NEXT RETAIN! My timing was a little screwed but I think that clocked in at 23:11 if you care.
Rating – **** – That’s the third or fourth really great tag match ROH has produced in just five shows so far this year. It’s difficult to do a face/face tag match because it makes the standard formula of tag team matches that much harder to work. As such I thought these teams did pretty well. They kept some isolation spots in here, but the primary focus was on what people were expecting to see – high-flying, high-impact high-spot exchanges. After a slow first five minutes they went at a hell of a pace throughout and the last few minutes were incredibly exciting. My only criticism would be that I would’ve preferred GeNext to isolate Sydal rather than AJ. Not that Styles didn’t do the job fine, it’s just, Matt doesn’t have the irrational TNA-hate to contend with, and is just more sympathetic, and would’ve made the segment work better. By the same token, I’d have preferred to see Styles doing the more aggressive isolation on Roddy than Matt, since he’s hard to buy as a bad ass. Hell, PWG market him as ‘the Nicest man in wrestling’ after all. Still – thrilling match, and another timely boost to the Tag Titles.
The Briscoes hit the ring…SPIKE JAY DRILLER on Strong! I think it’s fair to say Jay and Mark want their belts back.
The show ends with Christopher Daniels standing outside the…Murphy Rec Center? Wow, there’s a blast from the past. To Be Continued anyway…
Tape Rating – *** – I’d suggest that was a nifty way to kick off the Milestone Series. However, it didn’t really feel like a “big show” in itself. This is ROH’s fourth anniversary, I’m not sure it should really be used as a building show to future events in the Milestone Series. To clarify, it’s not bad at all – just maybe lacking a little in big-time feel. It’s still worth checking out though. The return of the Briscoes, the CZW riot and Jack Evans nearly dying are fairly memorable moments. It’s Jay Lethal’s last show and he puts on a decent match with Joe, and in Homicide/Cabana, GeNext vs Styles/Sydal and Danielson/Rave you’ve got three outstanding matches. Next stop – ECW Arena!
Top 3 Matches
3) Homicide vs Colt Cabana (****)
2) Austin Aries/Roderick Strong vs AJ Styles/Matt Sydal (****)
1) Bryan Danielson vs Jimmy Rave (****1/2)