116 ROH Epic Encounter II 8/25/2006
ROH 116 – Epic Encounter 2 – 25th August 2006
It’s been a few months since I last reviewed a 2006 ROH show. I’ve moved house and been pretty busy with that, and the reviews I’ve squeezed in have been 2003 events. Oddly I just finished Epic Encounter earlier (London/Danielson is STILL so good) and now I’m back to the present day with this. This event is the return to Minnesota, over two years since we were last here for Reborn Stage 1. It’s the same building too. This weekend sees Bryan Danielson put in back to back 2/3 Falls Matches against two of his bigger rivals of the year. Tonight it’s Nigel McGuinness getting one last shot at the World Title, tomorrow it’s Colt Cabana. Other big matches include Aries and Strong defending the Tag gold against Samoa Joe and BJ Whitmer, Delirious/Sydal in a rematch from Reborn Stage 1, and Daniels/Castagnoli in a rematch from The 100th Show. We’re in St Paul, MN with Dave Prazak and Jared David. NEW DVD menu music debuts here. It sounds like a rock version of the old trance theme.
ROH VIDEO RECAP (18/08/06) – Nigel McGuinness delivers a promo right after the brutal Unified match. He is a total mess but warns Danielson to be ready in St Paul.
– They air the messy scenes that took place after Dragon/Cabana at Chi-Town Struggle. This was cut from the DVD. Cabana gives Dragon grief for winning with a roll up (despite pushing himself as the King of the Roll-Up when he was challenging Joe for the title a couple of years ago). He challenges Danielson to a 2/3 falls rematch at the next Chicago show – which is this weekend.
Jimmy Jacobs asks Lacey about the Cabana rumours. She avoids the question, and tells him to impress her by beating Homicide tonight and ending BJ Whitmer’s career tomorrow.
Irish Airborne vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe
The Briscoes may be out of the running for belts in the tag division now, but there’s still a lot on their plate with Homicide, KENTA, Davey Richards, Matt Sydal and more to deal with. It’s their own fault for picking so many fights up and down the roster. You see where man-ning up gets you? Anyway, this is a rematch from Death Before Dishonor 4 where the Briscoes got the win. The Crists did eliminate Jay and Mark from Ultimate Endurance at Fight Of The Century though.
Dave Crist is still wrestling with a giant cast on his hand. He lets his brother start with Mark, and Jake draws a decent ovation with his springboard headlock. Dave/Jay next with Crist hitting a springboard armdrag. They trade hurricanranas before some Irish Airborne double teaming gets them the advantage. Mark tags in to help his brother and together they work on isolating Jake. Gutwrench suplex/knee drop combo gets Mark a 2. Crist comes back with a few forearms then a slingshot DDT. Dave hits a gorgeous quebrada press for 2. Jay knees him in the head as he sets up for a tope suicida and now it’s him getting his ass kicked. The Briscoes have a power advantage that they’re utilising well throughout this match. Dave lands a jumping heel kick on Mark but Jay clubs his partner off the apron to prevent a hot tag. Dave ends up leapfrogging one Briscoe then ducking through the legs of the other to get that escape. Jay and Mark bail so Jake goes to the top for a SHOOTING STAR PRESS TO THE FLOOR! The crowd goes mental for that of course. Irish Air Raid blocked and Jake eats a SPRINGBOARD DOOMSDAY DEVICE! Jay gives Dave the Military Press DVD then puts him in the STRETCH PLUM! Dave Crist taps at 10:46.
Rating – ** – Solid opener but no more. The basic story was good with the Briscoes power offence going up against the aerial skills of the Crists. It worked pretty well but in truth nothing really stood-out. Irish Airborne need to up their game a little bit. They’re impressive but all of a sudden they’ve got a little stale. There’s no gimmick, no reason to care about them and they’re starting to repeat a lot of the same stuff in every match.
The Briscoes get the stick to tell all the guys who are gunning for them to MAN UP!
SIDENOTE – Once again the sound is shoddy. How can it take so long to sort this problem out? People have been complaining about it for months. Anyway…we have to wait till the most recent shows I’ve seen (basically anything after Survival Of The Fittest 2006) for an improvement.
Matt Sydal is like the Kermit the Frog of wrestling. He’s not a muppet, but he’s just so goofy and cheesy all the damn time. It’s hard to take him seriously. The point of this promo is that he’s going to beat Delirious tonight.
Jimmy Jacobs vs Homicide
I don’t have a great deal to type here. Homicide is locked in this feud with Jim Cornette, and looking to win the World Title before the end of 2006. Jimmy Jacobs…loves Lacey. I think she actually booked him against Homicide because beating a main event guy like that will get him in the running for a title.
The power goes out to all the lighting rigs so Jimmy stalls while the house lights come on by singing ‘The Ballad of Lacey’ again. He then gets upset when Homicide’s entrance interrupts him before the chorus. As you’d expect Homicide wastes little time in beating up poor little Jacobs, suplexing him onto the timekeeping table for kicks. Jimmy is forced to take more whacky headers into the railings as well. He’s crazy bumping on them like that. Homicide starts singing whilst hammering on Jacobs in the corner. ‘Ohhhhhh Homicide…that’s a crazy motherf*cker’ – Homicide. That’s not so catchy. He misses a shoulder charge and his perennially injured shoulder collides with the ringpost. Jimmy takes advantage by ramming the arm/shoulder into the railings. Cide tries to chop Jimmy but it hurts the shoulder to do so. But Jacobs’ attack on the arm can only last so long, and Homicide press slams him from the top. Cide isn’t bothering selling the shoulder anymore. Torpedo headbutt by Jimmy. The no-sell job continues with a double underhook suplex, but Jacobs returns to get 2 from a spear. Jimmy blocks a second rope Ace crusher and nails his big senton bomb for 2. But he inexplicably goes straight back to the top rope and Homicide comes up with a superplex ROLLED into a falcon arrow. He thinks about the Cop Killa but Lacey distracts him. Jimmy almost hits her in the face but manages to avoid that, then block the Lariat. Golden Gate Swing gets him another count of 2. Contra Code is blocked. LARIAT nailed and this is over with a Homicide win in 11:56.
Rating – * – For what was essentially a squash match this one seemed to drag on almost interminably. Jimmy Jacobs isn’t in Homicide’s league right now, and Homicide didn’t exactly help by no-selling all his offence. But lets face it, this should’ve been a flat-out, five minute squash. The fans went NUTS for Cide’s entrance and wanted to see him kill someone. Spending 12 very dull minutes in there did nothing for his over-ness, and did nothing for Jacobs either. Maybe the lighting issues threw them off.
‘I could’ve beaten Homicide’ – Lacey. The Briscoes hit the ring to educate Cide in the ways of Man-ning Up.
Claudio Castagnoli vs Christopher Daniels
Daniels demanded a rematch with Claudio after The 100th Show, when he bestowed the honour of his symbolic first ever ROH handshake on Double C…only for Castagnoli to ruin it by joining CZW in the main event. He even said he was willing to wait until guys like Samoa Joe, BJ Whitmer and so on had got their chance to kick his ass…now he wants some revenge too.
Claudio attacks Daniels while he’s still taking his robe off and uses the ropes to choke him. Daniels rolls a back drop and brings the GRUDGE MATCH HIPTOSSES! He ends up using a bodyscissors to send Castagnoli over the ropes for an ARABIAN PRESS! Double C press slams Daniels over the apron, and does the same thing in the ring with the top rope. He stays in control with hard Irish whips into the buckles, then he hits a release front suplex rather than the trademark stalling vertical that the fans love. Double axehandle scores from the apron, then he chokes the Fallen Angel on the guardrail and ring apron too. The ring lights are back so the house lights are turned off again now. Daniels tries to fight back so Claudio throws him chest-first into the apron. Back inside again where Castagnoli gets 2 with a lifting European uppercut. All his offence has concentrated on making it hard for Daniels to breathe, and that continues with a grounded chinlock. Daniels is eventually able to escape and score with a running STO. He rocks Claudio with a stepping enziguri then a quebrada for 2. Castagnoli knees him in the stomach and gets his own 2 count with the Match Killer. The Match Killer NEVER kills matches. Claudio goes to the top rope for a butt ugly flying elbow drop. Alfa Mari Water Slide blocked with a urinage slam. BME MISSES…Riccola Bomb blocked. Koji Clutch applied but CC gets the ropes. He tries to use his briefcase to cheat but Daniels rolls him up for 3 at 12:33.
Rating – ** – There were still evident problems, but it was an improvement on the first match between the two. What I liked about this was Claudio’s offence. He limited the amount of pointless European sh*t he did and focused on some solid heel wrestling. He worked the crowd well, and used a very basic offensive arsenal to attack his opponent. I’d much rather see him wrestle this style than things like his match with Colt Cabana at Time To Man Up. My problems? Daniels was supposed to be pissed off and want revenge. What part of hiptossing and winning with a roll-up portrayed that? I felt they no-sold the back story in an attempt to have a “good” match…and I didn’t like it.
Delirious lizard-talks about his history with Matt Sydal. They’ve been up and down the roads and all over the world together. Now they’re back in St Paul where their ROH careers began. Tonight he’s going to get his win back from that first match.
Jimmy Rave/Sal Rinauro vs Colt Cabana/Davey Richards
The Embassy are getting a little stuck in the midcard. Jimmy Rave has repeatedly lost to Davey Richards, and dropped matches to both him and Doug Williams on the England shows. Whilst he and Sal have picked up a few wins as a team, they’re not really on the verge of breaking through the glass ceiling and as such are becoming stagnant. There is some heat with their opponents though. The Rave/Richards story is well documented, but they’ve also had a few run-ins with Colt Cabana (Death Before Dishonor 4 and Generation Now). They desperately need a win here…but so does Colt with an ROH World Title shot looming for him tomorrow night in Chicago. No Prince Nana tonight…
Rather than do any wrestling Cabana and Richards have fun by throwing toilet rolls at their opponents. Sal demands they be disqualified. When they do wrestle Cabana comprehensively out-wrestles Jimmy. Davey bridges up and kicks Rinauro so hard it has Colt writhing in pain on the apron. What a goddamn kick! I enjoy Richards kicking the crap out of Sal until Rave pulls him to the floor. Davey recovers to boot Jimmy too, but Rinauro capitalises on the distraction by hitting a pescado. Of course, now Sal has done the damage Rave is much more willing to step into the ring with Davey. Together the Embassy tandem are able to effectively cut Richards off from his corner. Sal does get too cocky at one point and eats a SAVAGE slap to the face. I bet he was still feeling that the next day. Richards blocks a suplex with a knee strike to the head then plants Rave with a BACK DROP DRIVER! Hot tag to Cabana, who wipes out both opponents with a quebrada (that’s three times someone’s done that on this show). Rave gets 2 with a spear. Richards and Rave tee off on each other with some hard hitting strikes. HANDSPRING ENZIGURI NAILED! Richards follows that with a picture perfect German suplex for 2. Rinauro knocks Colt out of the ring with a swinging Stunner, then drops Davey with a superkick. Jimmy gets a 2 with the Craptastic Wizardo. Tag to Cabana who almost squashes Sal with a crossbody, then demolishes Rave with the Kryptonite neckbreaker. Inverted crab (Billy Goat’s Curse) gives Cabana/Richards a big win at 14:50.
Rating – *** – A little generous on the rating but it was a well-wrestled match with some good comedy at the start, a really enjoyable heat segment on Davey and some aggressive striking. I wanted to show that this match was the best on the show thus far and 3* seemed fair. Rave/Rinauro have produced a strikingly underrated series of tag bouts this year.
The Briscoe show continues as Jay and Mark come out to tell Davey Richards that he’s on their hitlist. Davey hits a corkscrew dive through several students as he starts a brawl with them.
INTERMISSION – Colt Cabana says he’s going to study the main event tonight in preparation for his match with Danielson. Jimmy Jacobs comes in to ask him about Lacey. Colt just laughs…
Matt Sydal vs Delirious
Two and a half years later and these guys are still in the exact same spot on the card. Literally…as in, they were the first match after intermission at Reborn Stage 1 as well. Those two were booked for ROH after TNA pulled out all their talent in the wake of the Feinstein fiasco. They impressed officials so much in their little 5 minute match that they were booked for Reborn Stage 2 as soon as they walked back through the curtain, and have had bookings with the company ever since. These guys have been travel partners, friends, enemies…and so on. Basically they know each other well, and are now returning to St Paul where their Ring Of Honor journeys began and wrestling each other again. As an additional note, if you can track it down, check out the Delirious/Sydal match from Do Or Die 3. It’s the best match on the DOD2/3 release…
Sydal is so scared by Delirious’ post-ring bell antics that he jumps out of the ring. You’d think he’d know better considering he’s got such experience with the lizard man. Indeed, it’s Delirious’ antics that continue to throw Matt from his early game. They go back and forth with armdrags and snapmares which emphasises the familiarity between the two. Sydal clotheslines Delirious in the corner then hits a slingshot basement dropkick. Cannonball leg drop scores for 2. The crowd has gone alarmingly silent. Delirious breaks out a lungblower then a back suplex to get a 2. Sydal blocks the Cobra Stretch but he gets swung around by his neck instead. Panic Attack nailed but still not enough for a win. Delirious tries to hit the ropes but Sydal just jumps at him with a crossbody block which sends him to the floor. He knows Matt likes to try dives, so he rolls under the ring to protect himself. Back in with Sydal hitting the Climbing Wizard and a couple of enzis. HERE IT IS DRIVER for 2. ‘That’s my finisher!!’ – Sydal. Delirious tries a press slam to block the Sydal Press but Matt counters it with a headscissors. Delirious out – Sydal goes after him with the RUNNING MOONSAULT PRESS! In the ring again where Delirious hangs Matt’s legs over the ropes for an ELEVATED neckbreaker. COBRA CLUTCH BACKBREAKER…COBRA STRETCH! Delirious has worked the neck all match but he’s applied the hold too close to the ropes. A second Panic Attack is blocked and Sydal goes for the standing moonsault…INTO DELIRIOUS’ BOOTS! STANDING MOONSAULT second time gets 2! Delirious comes back with a REVERSE SATELLITE HEADSCISSORS! Sydal landed on his head, and he gets put in the COBRA STRETCH again. Still not good enough, so Delirious just boots him in the head. BIZARRO DRIVER gets 2. Sydal catches Delirious on the top rope. MOONSAULT BELLY TO BELLY! Sydal wins with the same move he used at Reborn Stage 1. 16:22 is your time.
Rating – *** – If I was in the business of giving out ½ stars you’d see this getting an extra ½ because it was a great effort. It took a while to get going with a really rambling opening few minutes, but once it did they just kept coming at you with a procession of violent spots. Delirious held it together psychologically by working Sydal’s neck for the Cobra Stretch as well. They’ve got better matches in them though. Maybe they just weren’t really inspired to go balls to the wall in front of a lifeless crowd.
Austin Aries/Roderick Strong vs Samoa Joe/BJ Whitmer – ROH Tag Title Match
This match reeks of having a Tag Title match for the sake of it, rather than there actually being any reason for Aries and Strong to defend the belts here. However, we all know that Joe would love to win the tag team belts so he can be the only triple crown champion in ROH history. He’s teaming with BJ Whitmer, a multiple time former champion, and somebody he gained a lot of respect for when they were both fighting the invaders from CZW. Austin Aries wrestles for the first time tonight since injuring his ribs in Liverpool. He’s nowhere near 100% healthy…
Joe and Aries get some serious pre-match love from the fans…leaving Strong and BJ standing around like dorks. Prazak and David play up the history Joe and Aries have with each other in ROH. They’re also doing a great job of playing up how everything must affect Austin’s ribs. Joe avoids the headscissors escape dropkick but Aries is quick to evade both parts of the chop/kick combo too. Whitmer gets the tag and knees Aries in the gut, meaning he’s in trouble immediately. Joe is equally merciless as he peppers the torso with strikes, then lifting him into the air before dropping him on the chest. BJ suplexes him on the ropes then dropkicks him off the apron into the guardrails. Finally AA is able to score with an STO and the Power Drive elbow and get the vital tag out. Roderick starts to work Whitmer over but there’s a wonderful moment as he taunts Joe then gets the taste slapped out of his mouth for it. Thus far Aries is noticeably changing up his offence to protect his injury. BJ nails an exploder suplex out of nowhere on Roddy to get the tag to Joe. He rocks Strong with the overhead enziguri in the corner. All of a sudden it’s the challengers working over Roddy. Check out Joe pulling on the right arm to negate Strong’s chopping capabilities. They work some chinlocks and camel clutches to draw the crowd into the match but by and large they’ve gone silent once again. Finally Rod is able to score with a BACK DROP DRIVER on Joe. Hot tag to Aries who gets back dropped over the top by Joe straight into a plancha on BJ! He follows that up with a HEAT SEEKING MISSILE! Back in the ring for the running dropkick on Joe. Double backbreaker then the CHOP BRAINBUSTER on Whitmer. They try the same sequence on Joe but he ends up blocking it with a couple of massive kicks. LARIAT/BACK DROP DRIVER COMBO on Strong for 2. Roddy takes a couple of suplexes from BJ but recovers for a urinage backbreaker then lifts Whitmer into the sky for Aries and the MISSILE DROPKICK BOMB! Joe makes the save and tries the Musclebuster on Strong…but Double A saves. Aries tries the brainbuster on Whitmer, only for both man to crash over the ropes. Joe and Strong are left. Half nelson backbreaker gets Roddy a 2. Joe hits a rolling leg sweep then applies the Choke. Strong lifts Joe into the DEATH BY RODERICK! GIBSON DRIVER! Strong wins at 20:01.
Rating – *** – Lots of big head-droppy spots at the end couldn’t hide the fact that the rest of this match was disappointingly dour. It wasn’t bad per se…but they just never seemed to be trying that hard to make this one as good as it could, and by all rights SHOULD be. I mean, the bulk of the match was random heat segments on everyone but Joe, with no transition between them…and no selling of the effects of them either. Case in point – BJ gets worked over for five minutes by Aries and Strong. A minute later he’s fine and helping Joe work over Roderick. I’ll put it in perspective. The Embassy tag from earlier had far less exciting spots at the death, but was a much better and more coherent match in my opinion. On the positive side – it’s nice to see Roderick Strong win a match with the Gibson Driver. If people are to buy that as a legit near fall he needs to win more matches with it – and beating Joe is a good way to get it over.
Chris Daniels promo time. Remember when he used to cut a promo on every show? I miss that. He talks about the fans’ feelings that he’s lost his direction in ROH. It’d a valid point IMO. Anyway, he says his goal is to be Tag Champion with Matt Sydal tomorrow night. Jimmy Jacobs invades another promo to ask Daniels where Lacey is. Daniels doesn’t tell him…but he walks into the shower and sees Cabana and Lacey getting jiggy anyway. Poor Jimmy…
Bryan Danielson vs Nigel McGuinness – ROH World Title 2/3 Falls Match
Has there been a better series of matches anywhere than the Danielson/McGuinness series in 2006? They’ve had great bouts at Weekend Of Champions Night 2, Generation Now and Unified, but this is Nigel’s last shot. He lost his Pure Title in the unification match in Liverpool…but after that match Dragon got on the mic and proclaimed Nigel to be his toughest opponent and offered him one more shot at the World Title. For some reason Dragon has agreed to defend his title in 2/3 Falls Matches this weekend – despite the fact that he’s lost BOTH his previous 2/3 falls matches in ROH (vs Paul London at Epic Encounter and vs Austin Aries at Testing The Limit).
McGuinness comes straight out trying to land blows on Danielson which is an interesting strategy. He lands such a hard slap that Danielson has to roll under the ropes. Dragon grabs a headlock purely to stifle the early aggression of the challenger. Two minutes later…and he’s still got hold of the same headlock. Not that it’s boring, Nigel is doing a great job of portraying a struggle to escape. A couple of fans in the sh*tty St Paul crowd do yell ‘boring’ though. Danielson does change it though…cravat instead. Back to the headlock. ‘I’m not leaving this headlock for 60 minutes’ – Dragon. In the space of five minutes Danielson is drawing mass applause and a smattering of ‘this is awesome’ chants for a simple headlock. He works a ground headscissors instead, and that gives him the chance to mini-piledrive Nigel’s head as he tries to escape it. ‘We love headlocks’ – St Paul. McGuinness tries one counter too many and takes a back suplex. Now Danielson has got the headlock so over that he can tease it then not do it Mexican surfboard-style. He applies a chinlock instead of a headlock but most of the crowd are too stupid to know the difference. ‘Come on…know your wrestling’ – Nigel. He looks for the Crossface Chickenwing but Nigel blocks it and hits a hammerlock DDT. Danielson tries to bail again but Nigel chases. They tease the ringpost spot from Unified but it ends with Nigel wrapping Dragon’s arm around the steel. Danielson tries the headlock again but this time his arm is injured and McGuinness is able to escape with a wristlock takedown. Outside again where Nigel throws Danielson shoulder first into the guardrail. Dragon is struggling to mount offence now, because Nigel is just non-stop on his arm. He uses an Anaconda Vice which is something I’ve not seen him use before, then wrenches the arm so hard that Dragon flips into the turnbuckles as a result. Wristlock suplex scores as we hit 20 minutes. Danielson gets a little desperate as he dropkicks McGuinness to the floor then takes flight with a TOPE SUICIDA! Missile dropkick nailed too, followed by a judo DDT. Diving headbutt (with arm-selling) gets 2. He does the Tiger Mask flip then changes up the offence with a Thesz Press! A crossface takes its toll on Nigel’s headlock-worn neck and the following superplex makes it that much worse. Crossface Chickenwing again…but still no submission. Nigel pops up to nail a big lariat for 2. Headstand mule kick connects but it’s not enough to get a pinfall. SMALL PACKAGE! Danielson goes 1-0 up at 25:29.
In comedy dick fashion Danielson walks around the ring for an eternity to stall for time. If the match goes to the time limit now he wins it 1-0. He starts chinlocking again, this time to run down the clock, protect his arm and work McGuinness’ neck. He also palm strikes Nigel’s nose so much that it starts bleeding. The final cut out of the corner gets 2 for the challenger. Dragon actually makes the mistake of getting too cocky and tries to trade strikes with McGuinness. That was what he started the match trying to avoid remember. Just like then he uses a headlock to end that. He’s gone into full on cocky prick mode now at 35 minutes. Example of that? He fakes on the Mexican surfboard to piss everyone off. Figure 4 Leglock by the World Champion, complete with more classic heel rope-grabbing antics. McGuinness is able to escape a back superplex attempt and counter with a SECOND ROPE ELECTRIC CHAIR DROP! Amazingly that only gets 2, but goes to a keylock in a flash, going back to that arm injury. Danielson crawls under the ring and tries to do his trick from Generation Now. He sneaks back in the other side for a missile dropkick. BUT NIGEL RIDES IT AND HITS THE REBOUND LARIAT! KEYLOCK AGAIN! Danielson taps at 38:55 and we’re all square at 1-1.
Rest period over and Nigel tries the same submission hold, but Danielson grabs a leg. Regal Stretch by Dragon, then he has the referee try to help him put his shoulder back in place. Nigel tries Cattle Mutilation but way too close to the edge of the ring. Headstand attempted but Danielson launches himself into a headbutt. Back superplex gets 2, then it’s Dragon who tries the Cattle Mutilation in the proximity of the ropes. 45 minutes in and they trade sleepers. This is the first time in the match where I’ve felt they’ve been killing time to make it to 60 minutes, rather than because it’s the story they’re telling. Danielson keeps going back to the legs, and he busts out the bridging deathlock which I always mark for. Forget the technical wrestling, they decide they’d rather slap the sh*t out of each other…until Danielson dropkicks McGuinness off the apron, then sends him into the front row. SPRINGBOARD PLANCHA INTO THE CROWD BUT NIGEL HAD A CHAIR! Shades of Weekend Of Champions. Nigel has Dragon on the ropes for the SUPER LARIAT! Dragon kicks at 2. Dragon no-sells the arm to get 2 with a straight-jacket German. He tries a superplex but that’s blocked. TOWER OF LONDON ON NIGEL…gets 2. He tries the diving headbutt, but you should never try the same move twice. McGuinness gets a knee up into the face then goes straight to Cattle Mutilation. Tower Of London countered…but Nigel blocks Cattle Mutilation to back into the TOWER OF LONDON! Danielson kicks out. Top rope lariat INTO CATTLE MUTILATION! That counter f’n ruled! Talk about no-selling the arm though. Nigel finds the ropes. Five minutes left in the time limit. McGuinness connects with another b*tch of a lariat then goes to the keylock again. Except Danielson hasn’t been selling the arm for ages and I’m not buying it as a believable finish now. They’re both totally gassed but reel off a flurry of slaps and strikes. ROARING ELBOW…REBOUND LARIAT! That couldn’t give us a new champion, so McGuinness goes to Cattle Mutilation AGAIN. No dice…so he goes to another Tower of London. No dice…so he goes to the keylock. McGuiness is desperate, but Danielson escapes MMA ELBOW STRIKES! 30 seconds left…Nigel counters. BRITISH MMA ELBOWS! TIME LIMIT EXPIRES! It’s a 60 minute 1-1 draw.
Rating – **** – Hats off for a tremendous effort. Nothing even close to MOTY, and it’s probably their worst match together, but anyone wrestling sixty minutes deserves respect just for having the sheer stamina to wrestle that long. However, it seemed like they were doing a 60 minute draw for the sake of it – which really hurt the match. And the final fall was particularly weak in places. There was 5 minutes when they were very obviously doing nothing but killing time. An advantage of the first two falls had been that whilst you always KNEW they were going 60, they told a fun story that made it worth watching anyway (with Danielson stalling, Nigel’s arm work etc). That just wasn’t there in the final fall. Oh, and Bryan “best wrestler in the world” Danielson just stopped selling the arm that we’d just spent the past 50 f*cking minutes watching Nigel attack. It killed large segments of the closing stretch for me. What’s the point in building something for almost an hour only to forget about it just to hit your spots and pop a crowd at the end? Did I love Danielson/Nigel IV? Hell no, I didn’t. But I liked it FAR more than I expected to. Should they have gone an hour…probably not. Since there was really no booking alternative but to do a draw here (since Dragon going over AGAIN would’ve killed Nigel’s credibility, and McGuinness obviously isn’t going to be champion yet) there wasn’t really any reason to have this match at all. But credit where credit is due. They made the best of bad booking (sorry Gabe) and proved that they’re good enough to have a great match no matter what the circumstance.
Danielson sells the MMA elbows like he was legitimately knocked out. Nigel and the referee help bring him round. Danielson then gets the microphone and declares that the Pure Title has been retired. He then hands the Pure Title belt to Nigel out of respect…
Tape Rating – ** – Unless you get every show, save yourself some money and don’t get this one. Not that it’s a “bad” show. If the WWE did anything like this I’d be really happy. But for ROH this is a bad show. The crowd isn’t that great and gets progressively quieter as the show progresses. There’s lighting problems, and even the best matches on the show aren’t that great. Sure the Embassy tag match is fun…but there are better Rave/Rinauro tags. Sure Delirious/Sydal is pretty good – but stay tuned, they’ve got better matches against each other in the coming months *cough* Survival of the Fittest *cough*. The Tag Title match is one of Aries and Strong’s worst defences…and whilst the main event is worth a watch if you like your matches long and mat-based, Danielson and Nigel have put on much better matches already this year. It’s hard to recommend this show to anyone BUT completists simply because there are better ones out there, and it’s got no real unique features to help it stand out. Even other “bad shows” this year like How We Roll or Unscripted 2 had something going for them that made them stand out (Christian Cage and CM Punk’s guest appearances).
Top 3 Matches
3) Colt Cabana/Davey Richards vs Jimmy Rave/Sal Rinauro (***)
2) Matt Sydal vs Delirious (***)
1) Bryan Danielson vs Nigel McGuinness (****)