177 ROH 6th Anniversary Show 2/23/2008
ROH 177 – Sixth Anniversary Show – 23rd February 2008
Another year passes for ROH, so it’s time for another big anniversary show celebration. In some respects it’s been a fantastic year for the promotion with the break into the ppv market, and having present several very well received shows through that outlet. The Briscoes and Steen-erico gave us arguably feud of the year and Takeshi Morishima’s ROH Title run was a blast. But away from that, it hasn’t been such smooth sailing. The move to ppv meant that all the TNA guys had to go as roster members, which obviously meant a goodbye to stalwarts of ROH all the way back to the Murphy Rec days like Christopher Daniels, Homicide and Samoa Joe. With a reduced roster and lessened star power, the divide between the ‘A’ shows and lesser events became much more apparent. Elevation of new stars to replace those departed was only moderately successful. The “Faction Warfare” angle was a spectacular failure and for the first time, it feels like ROH has begun to stagnate and started struggling to justify having 35-40 ppv-level events per calendar year. So there’s plenty to celebrate, and plenty to ponder as ROH moves into it’s seventh year. And after perhaps the most skippable show ROH has ever put on with Eye Of The Storm last night (note I said most skippable, not worst) they’ll be looking to celebrate in style tonight. Four championship matches, including Nigel McGuinness defending the World Title against American Dragon. Austin Aries looks to break his losing streak in an appetising match with new NOAH import Go Shiozaki plus lots more. Obviously we’re in ROH’s most prominent designated ‘A’ market, Manhattan NY for this one. Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard call it.
ROH VIDEO WIRE – See Eye Of The Storm (ROH176) for details. One of the better video wire’s in a long while with lots of new (and homo-erotic) content.
Rebecca Bayless enters the Vulture Squad locker room where Julius Smokes and Mercedes Martinez are psyching their charges up for their Tag Title shot tonight.
We’re all set to kick off with Delirious vs Human Tornado to open the show. But they barely get through 90 seconds of match (and by match I mean Tornado trying to entice Delirious into a dance-off) before Age Of The Fall (Jacobs, Black, Lacey and Zach Gowen) come out to attack Tornado for his comments aimed at Lacey last night. Daizee Haze runs in to attack Lacey, catching Delirious’ attention in the process. In the end Delirious, Tornado and Haze fight the AOTF off. And since referees apparently now have the authority to book matches, the referee orders the bell to be rung
Age Of The Fall vs Delirious/Human Tornado
I’ve written a blanket ‘Age Of The Fall’ above because it’s not actually specified who’s representing them. You’d assume it’d be Jacobs and Black, but since Gowen and Lacey are still out there, along with Daizee, you can’t actually be too sure. This is a nice little pay off from the angle they ran with Tornado and Lacey last night and has made a molten hot start to the show.
Ah, Bobby Cruise announces that it is Tyler and Jimmy wrestling. Standing moonsault from HT to Black gets 2. But soon Black catches Delirious and slams him over the top to the floor to give his team the advantage. You know how it works. Babyface in peril, heels taking some liberties with the rules etc. Gowen taunts Delirious from the outside then chokes him with his cane when the lizard man gets close. But Tyler goes for a moonsault press from the second rope and launches himself right into a headbutt by Delirious. Hot tag to Human Tornado who takes Black over the ropes with a headscissors. OVER THE TURNBUCKLES SOMERSAULT PLANCHA! Panic Attack by Delirious, into a kick to the nuts from Tornado. Tyler blocks the Cobra Stretch then dropkicks Delirious OFF THE TOP as he lines up the Shadows Over Hell. End Time on Tornado and he’s out at 09:53.
Rating – ** – Hold the phone, Age Of The Fall actually won a match. This one served it’s purpose well and was very entertaining in parts. It maybe went a bit long and became a tad formulaic during the heat segment on Delirious, but the last couple of minutes were really explosive. Fans loved Tornado (which is a shame as he blew his knee out shortly afterwards and I don’t think has been back since) and hated AOTF – a testament to how strong they still are as heels even with their complete burial of the last few shows. I guess it’s because those weren’t out on DVD at this point and the last time NYC saw Jacobs and crew they were dethroning the Briscoes to win the Tag Titles.
ROH World Champion Nigel McGuinness is out straight after the match, to a decidedly mixed reaction from the fans. He says he’s fighting fit for the main event tonight, but he’s still worried and feels vulnerable to concussions after the mangling his face took at Rising Above in this building against Austin Aries. He calls Bryan Danielson reckless and dangerous, and says he has an unfair advantage as he can attack Nigel’s head whilst it’s still susceptible to injury. He tries to back out of the match, saying ROH has a ppv taping in Philadelphia next month and it’d be a crisis if he got injured tonight. That just ROYALLY pisses the fans off. I guess Nigel’s heel turn is now in full effect. Enter the Dragon, and he comes out absolutely furious at the disrespect of the World Title. He says the prestige of the belt is part of the reason he’s never sold out and taken a big money contract elsewhere (which, obviously as I type this in January 2010 with Dragon in WWE developmental preparing for his TV debut doesn’t seem quite such a bold statement). The fans deserve their title match tonight, and to give it to them, Danielson offers to wrestle the match without going after Nigel’s head – meaning no MMA Elbows, no face stomping, no head striking of any kind. Since he’s the best wrestler in the world, he doesn’t need to hit him in the head to win. Nigel agrees so the main event is saved. Fine mic work from both guys there. They both did their part to whip the crowd up into a frenzy, hype up the main event and add a unique twist to the Danielson/McGuinness series.
Brent Albright vs El Generico
The Hangm3n feud with Kevin Steen and El Generico continues with this match tonight. Last time we saw these two in a ring together it was during a chaotic No DQ Tag match in Dayton which Albright and BJ Whitmer came through as victors.
Dave Prazak calls this a ‘loose end’ in the Hangm3n/Steen-erico feud. Did this angle end without anyone noticing? Generico thinks about hitting the ropes for a dive but Albright drags him out of the ring and swings him into the barricade. He shows some intent to work on the back but Generico blocks him off with a sweet mid-air counter into a dropkick. Albright out again and this time Generico SCORES with a crazy running moonsault to the floor. Split-legged moonsault nailed for 2. Albright fights back with a vicious ocean cyclone suplex. The fans have decided Albright looks like Jim Belushi which gives everyone a good chuckle. He does more damage to Generico’s back with a suplex to the exposed floor. Brent tries to come off the second rope but a YAKUZA KICK sends him clear out of the ring. Generico takes flight again…SPRINGBOARD MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR! With back selling afterwards! He hits the flying body splash but Albright kicks out at 2. Brent pummels him to the ground with savage forearm smashes but Generico incredibly powers back to hit a Blue Thunder Driver. He looks for a springboard crossbody but Albright catches him and swings him into a backbreaker. Generico blocks a superplex and dives out of the corner into a sunset flip powerbomb for 2. Brainbuster blocked…NECK DROP GERMAN FROM ALBRIGHT! YAKUZA KICK BY GENERICO! Brainbuster blocked again…HALF NELSON SUPLEX! DOUBLE UNDERHOOK KNEES TO THE FACE! The ref stops it and awards the match to Albright at 13:06.
Rating – *** – That was a really enjoyable little match. Maybe not technically perfect or anything, but both guys let it all hang out and, considering it’s place on the card, that was an outstanding effort. Albright has quietly put together a sequence of good performances thus far in 2008. I’m not sure it’s getting noticed as he’s saddled with carrying three of the least popular guys in ROH at the moment (Whitmer, Pearce and Hagadorn) but his singles matches with Danielson, Steen and now Generico, as well as a number of good tag team outings have been impressive.
The Larry Sweeney Show…Starring Larry Sweeney
This segment caused a lot of controversy at the time. It’s Bobby Dempsey’s birthday apparently. Tonight’s guest is Allison Danger, who’s history with ROH goes all the way back to Era Of Honor Begins six years ago. He asks her if she is ‘a slut of monumental proportions’. His tirade against how slutty Allison is makes me laugh on several occasions.
‘You’re not wrestling tonight but I hope you brought your kneepads’ – BURN!
‘I am the reason why ROH has a women’s division’ – Danger. Given that the women’s division is just Daizee Haze, Sara Del Rey and Lacey fighting over and over again, that may well be the worst comeback ever. Larry knocks her out as she tries to leave…then encourages Bobby to take advantage whilst she’s unconscious. Dempsey refuses to Sweeney knocks him out too, ensuring he lands in a somewhat compromising position on top of Allison. That’s just weird. Not quite worthy of the MASSIVE amount of outrage and criticism it provoked. But strange, and ultimately pointless. Sweeney announces that Sweet’n’Sour Inc. is going to start a hostile takeover of ROH whatever that means. I really hope that, if this show is going to be a regular feature, that they actually start doing something with it. Last night and tonight have essentially been five minutes of wasted DVD time.
Joey Matthews vs Kevin Steen
This match features two of the most charismatic wrestlers on the ROH roster now. Steen earned himself a future ROH World Title shot at Eye Of The Storm so needs to start scoring some wins and gaining some momentum before cashing in that opportunity. And as he also wants an opportunity to challenge for the Tag Titles (currently held by the No Remorse Corps) he needs to be winning every time out. I liked Joey’s performances on his return weekend (Breakout & Without Remorse) and I think his ability to work a crowd and control a match is up there with the likes of Bryan Danielson.
Matthews takes a cheap shot at Steen right out of the handshake, to the surprise of absolutely no-one. Steen goes right for the Sharpshooter forcing Joey to retreat to the ropes. He then hides behind the referee before shoving Kevin off the turnbuckles to the floor. Matthews dominates the match for the next few, controlling proceedings by coupling methodical precision with somewhat liberal interpretations of the rules. Neckbreaker in the ropes nailed for 2. He works the chinlock too wearing down his opponent and winding up the NYC fans in the process. Double Underhook DDT blocked and Steen hits a powerbomb. Pumphandle cradlebreaker gets 2 but Steen is having real problems with his neck. Matthews blocks the Package Piledriver and the Sharpshooter and once again leaves Mr Wrestling struggling with his neck. Steen kicks Matthews’ leg out from under him and lines up the Steen-ton Bomb…but gets Joey’s knees. Double Arm DDT nailed but Kevin kicks out at 2. Mr Wrestling pops up with a superkick then takes too long climbing to the top rope and gets crotched. He still tries to lift Joey into a top rope Package Piledriver. No dice on that…but he ties Matthews up in the Sharpshooter dead centre of the ring. Joey taps at 11:06.
Rating – ** – I was disappointed by that. Maybe I was desensitised by all the head dropping during Albright/Generico, but this one felt slow and was tough to sit through. The work and story-telling was solid. But somewhere during the heat section things started to become a little mundane. I appreciate the finish though. Steen has now beaten Danielson and Matthews in successive evenings with the Sharpshooter which sets that up perfectly as a believable secondary finisher for him.
Daizee Haze calls tonight the biggest night of her career and wants to replicate what she did at Undeniable by pinning Sara Del Rey.
Go Shiozaki vs Austin Aries
I’m looking forward to this one. Compared to the amount of hype we had before KENTA or Morishima came in for their extended tours of the US from NOAH, Shiozaki’s arrival has been relatively low key. Which means he’s quietly amassing a decent body of work in ROH. Two solid outings in the UK back in 2006, one of the best matches of 2007 in Japan against Bryan Danielson, and three battling performances at Eye Of The Storm yesterday have made me notice him. Sometimes he’s quite middle of the road. But there are occasional real flashes of Kobashi-esque intensity and drive to his wrestling and I think he could be fun to watch whilst he’s here. And this should be a great match. Aries is stuck in a real slump, getting progressively more angry about it…and there are questions to be answered regarding the Age Of The Fall. They want to recruit him – is he interested?
Aries seems to be wearing guy-liner and looks incredibly emo. Not unlike the leader of a faction interested in bringing him into their fold. Lots of chain and counter wrestling for the opening minutes. Aries shows he’s done he’s research by quickly ducking under a big chop attempt from Shiozaki. He tries to hit and run with some overhand chops of his own…but finally gets caught and sent flying through the air by one massive Go chop. Austin puts together some flurries of strikes but Shiozaki shakes them off with ease and delivers another chop that echoes through the Manhattan Centre. That tactic isn’t working so Aries takes it to the outside where uses the guardrail and ringpost to his advantage. After a period of Aries dominance Go turns the tide with a drop toehold into the ropes then a shoulder tackle from the top rope. Sleeper hold applied to the former ROH Champion who fights it but eventually falls to the mat and starts to go limp. I love how instead of going for the submission from there, Go uses Aries’ weakened state to deliver a series of big chops to the chest then go for a pin. Sticking to his strengths to try to win in essence. A jumping knee strike sends Aries to the apron. They battle out there until Aries scoops Shiozaki up for a suplex and DROPS HIM TO THE FLOOR! Absolutely brutal landing on that one. And no mercy from Aries as he follows it up with the Heat Seeking Missile. Back in the ring he goes for the Kick of Death but Shiozaki sweeps his foot away and hits the BRIDGING GERMAN for 2. Superkick…chops…LARIATOOOOOO! 2 again! Running dropkick in the corner from Aries (apparently that’s called the Impact Explosion Dropkick which is a rather cheap shot at TNA). He goes for a Brainbuster from the top but Go refuses to be taken over and hits a swinging front slam from the second rope instead. SHIOZAKI MOONSAULT MISSES! HORNS OF ARIES! Go refuses to tap and then cuts Austin off on the ropes as he thinks about the 450. ORANGE CRUSH FOR 2! He thinks about a Go Flasher only for Aries to fight him away with a back suplex. BRAINBUSTER! GO KICKS OUT! HORNS OF ARIES AGAIN! KNEE STRIKES! BUT GO GETS UP! Go Flasher? ARIES FIGHTS IT WITH KNEES! FISHERMAN BUSTER INSTEAD!! ARIES KICKS OUT AT 2! THAT WAS F*CKING AWESOME! CHOPS TO THE FACE! He looks for a lariat but Aries counters to the CRUCIFIX BOMB! KICK OF DEATH! BRAINBUSTER! 450 SPLASH! THE SAMOE JOE COMBO! Aries wins at 20:02
Rating – **** – I’d heard a great deal of hype around this one, and at about 10 minutes in I was wondering what all the fuss was about. It was a well-wrestled and entertaining enough match for sure, but hardly anything special. But the way these two gradually cranked up the pace and violence was an absolute spectacle and joy to behold. The last few minutes were a real rollercoaster ride and it felt like either man could win at any point. Not a perfect match by any stretch of the imagination, but a brilliant example of how to hold a crowd in the palm of your hands and just work them into a frenzy. I liked that Aries busted out the Joe Killer combo to win it. He hasn’t needed to string all four moves together like that as he did at Final Battle 2004 to win the World Title for some time. Breaking that out now puts over how desperate he was to end his losing streak, and gives Shiozaki lots of credit as it needed a combo the likes of which has put away ROH’s very finest.
Aries offers the most insincere of handshakes to Shiozaki before Go leaves…and the lights go out. It’s Jimmy Jacobs on the balcony. Tyler Black is up there too. And so is Lacey. They all shill Age Of The Fall and implore Aries to join them. The lights come back on as ‘Back In Black’ hits and Tammy Sytch hits the ring. I love her enthusiasm for the business, especially after all it’s put her through…but she REALLY needs to dress a little differently. She looks awful. Seriously. Car wreck awful. Which makes her proposal to Aries of not joining AOTF and offering him “sunny days” with her instead seem absolutely ludicrous. So with offers from Age Of The Fall on one side and Tammy on the other, Austin leaves the ring to think over his options. Which leaves Lacey to shriek at Sunny again. Is it really worth paying Tammy for that?
INTERMISSION – Rebecca Bayless catches up with Roderick Strong and Rocky Romero. Davey Richards is late because he’s been downtown getting his title belt shined. And upon his arrival he realises he’s left it at the hotel room. Romero informs him that he can’t come party with them tonight as he wants his title belt shone too. Surprising amounts of personality from Strong in that one.
Sara Del Rey vs Daizee Haze – SHIMMER Title Match
It was at Without Remorse that Daizee berated Sweet’n’Sour Inc. for disrespecting the World Title and Tag Titles in their creation of the meaningless Intergender Tag Championship for Hero and Del Rey. But she did say she respected Sara as SHIMMER Champion. They have a “competitive rivalry” going back some time in ROH…so it’s time they fought again. If ROH wants a women’s division they desperately need more women. I’m sorry, but it’s true.
Headlock into a super-sloppy drop toehold from Daizee. She tries to control the champion with headlocks then comes off the second rope with a flying headscissors. But she tries one adventurous move too many and Del Rey just flings her to the canvas. Now it’s Sara’s turn to control her opponent as she grounds Haze with a headscissors. Daizee avoids a mafia kick in the corner and lifts Del Rey over the top rope. Plancha from the top to the floor from the challenger. Daizee slips on the ropes but still kicks Sara away to nail a missile dropkick leaving both women down. Del Rey goes for a German suplex but Daize rolls through. Heart Punch/Yakuza kick combo into a German suplex for 2. Mind Trip blocked…SARA STOMPS DAIZEE IN THE F*CKING HEAD! Royal Butterfly into the Butterfly Slam and Sara wins at 08:29. That kick to the head was obscene
Rating – ** – You know what, this was ok. Both women did a great job of putting over Sara as this dominating champion and Daizee as the plucky underdog. As ever with Daizee Haze though, sloppiness and execution issues really hurt this one. I really don’t want to go out of my way to criticise her. I honestly do praise her highly when she deserves it both in ROH and, more frequently, in SHIMMER. But sometimes she makes errors which make wrestling look so fake it’s awkward to watch. I know she busts her ass and works extremely hard and I have all the respect in the world for her. But she is up there as arguably my least favourite member of the ROH roster.
Davey Richards/Rocky Romero vs Ruckus/Jigsaw – ROH Tag Title Match
This is a first defence of the belts for the No Remorse Corps. The Vultures moved into pole position for a Tag Title shot with their memorable performance in the wild main event at Transform (which Ruckus was not a part of), and for a group which Jack Evans initially founded with the intention of fighting the NRC – taking the belts from them in their first title defence would be a major achievement.
Jigsaw and Richards start…but apparently we’re going to go by Scramble rules as people are in and out very quickly. Ruckus hangs Romero in the ropes then dropkicks him in the chest. Outside Richards drops Jig over the guardrail to give his team the advantage. Romero goes after the mask as Prazak and Leonard bust their asses trying to put the Vultures over as credible contenders. Springboard knee drop from Romero as Jigsaw lies stretched over Davey’s knees. The masked Vulture finally gets a tag by suplexing Richards over the top rope. Tag to Ruckus who springs across the ring to hit a somersault plancha to the floor. Somersault into a Rocker Dropper gets 2. The rolling fisherman buster powerbomb into Ruckus’ Red Star Press gets 2 as well. Romero steam rollers through Ruckus with a running knee strike so Jigsaw attacks him with a super rana. All four men in now and the champions take turns kicking Jigsaw in the head. He manages to hang Davey in a tree of woe though…and Ruckus capitalises with the SOMERSAULT VAN TERMINATOR! Swinging neckbreaker on Rocky scores too, but Ruckus is now basically dead and needs a tag as much as either of his opponents. Davey goes all Dynamite Kid on Jigsaw in the corner…but Jigsaw FIGHTS BACK with big superkicks. JIG’N’TONIC! Romero saves at the last possible second. Ruckus tries to climb the ropes again but gets shoved off. Jigsaw goes for a tope suicida but only succeeds in lunging into a kick to the face from Richards. Alarm Clock scores for Davey. LIGERBOMB! Richards wins it at 11:15.
Rating – *** – I was all set to dislike this. The way they started off working a Tag Title match like a meaningless Scramble really irritated me. But credit where credit is due, this got progressively better as it went along. I’m not sure the respect for the legal man rule improved, but still, it was an engaging little sprint. I enjoyed the intensity of the champions and Jigsaw did his best to show some fire and fighting spirit as the babyface. Ruckus just did what he always does which was flip around, not really sell anything, not really use more than his default facial expression…generally look completely uninterested etc. Still, for a match where you knew the result from the start, they packed a lot of action in and at least made the journey to what was an inevitable and routine successful maiden title defence a fun ride.
The NRC have their celebrations interrupted by Kevin Steen and El Generico in the crowd. Steen points out that he stands on the exact spot where, during ROH’s first ppv (Respect Is Earned) he challenged the Briscoes to a fight which they gladly accepted. They want a title shot…and the champions leave the ring.
Roderick Strong vs Necro Butcher vs Erick Stevens – FIP Heavyweight Title No DQ Match
It’s No Disqualification due to the heat between Strong and Stevens…and lets face it, Necro would rather it that way too. Erick Stevens busted his ass through January in Ring Of Honor, successfully defending the FIP Title on three occasions, all so he could make it to the first FIP shows of 2008 in February and return to his home state as champion. He did so…and promptly lost the belt back to Roderick Strong via count out (which can happen under FIP rules). That had to be a devastating loss to him which he’ll be keen to avenge and regain his belt tonight.
Necro comes to the ring hitting himself in the head with a chair. NYC fans pop loudly for him then boo Stevens which can’t make Gabe too happy. The side of Erick’s head is still all bandaged from his FIP match with Roddy. He trades blows with Strong in the aisle, and they pause only to back drop Necro on the metal ramp. Necro comes back with a plastic bag around Stevens’ face. That’s followed up with a sidewalk slam onto a chair for 2. Strong in to suplex Butcher onto the very same chair. On the floor again Stevens hits a version of the Choo Choo to Strong against the guardrail, but then turns into a somersault senton from the apron by Necro. He’s crazy, and tears off a piece of guardrail to SUPLEX IT down onto Stevens. SICK chair shot by Roderick takes Butcher out again. Naturally that doesn’t keep him down for too long though, and he’s soon stalking around ringside ringing the bell like a lunatic. Machine gun chops by Roddy leave Stevens reeling. Necro starts throwing chairs at both his opponents then bulldogs Erick down into a pile of then. Strong then scoops Butcher up for a backbreaker through an open chair for 2. The bandage has come off Steven’s head, and the cut in his head from the FIP show is grotesque. Roderick DESTROYS Necro with another chair shot, but it doesn’t even drop him. Stevens drops Roddy on his head with a German suplex then turns into a KNOCK OUT PUNCH from Butcher…and all three are down. THREE WAY CHOP WAR! Necro hits the chair slam on Erick who, to his credit, gets right back up and dishes out some more chops. He takes his bearded opponent out of the ring with a big clothesline. MENTAL CORKSCREW PESCADO BY STRONG! He really f*cked his legs up against the guardrail there. He still goes for a Sick Kick on Stevens…who scoops him up into a mid-air lariat onto the floor. And Stevens’ reward for that is Necro hitting him right in his injured head with a chair, causing blood to pour from the side of his head. Choo Choo anyway, but that’s not enough. He whips Necro across the ring for a CHOO CHOO CHAIR SHOT! But Butcher still doesn’t stay down. DEATH VALLEY DRIVER THROUGH A F*CKING CHAIR! Necro is a psycho…but he isn’t FIP Champion as Roddy breaks the fall. HALF NELSON BACKBREAKER THROUGH A CHAIR! CRAZY GIBSON DRIVER THROUGH A TABLE! NECRO LANDED ON HIS HEAD! Strong drags Necro back into the ring. HEAD DROP GIBSON DRIVER! TIGER DRIVER ’91!! Roderick retains at 17:34
Rating – **** – That was as vicious and brutal a match as ROH has had in a while. It was such a thrown together match – giving Stevens and Strong a way to continue their feud (which is raging across two different promotions) without having to wrestle each other directly again, and giving Necro something to do – but the chemistry was awesome. The No DQ rules and events from the recent FIP taping meant this was like a big grudge match to the two Floridians…but to Necro this was just how he rolls. Stevens and Strong were dropping bombs on each other, but were constantly having to beat the hell out of Necro. A chair shot would leave one of Stevens or Strong down for minutes at a time…but not even take Necro off his feet. And the two bumps Necro took at the end were genuinely two of the sickest bumps in ROH history. Literally, unprotected ‘I’m dropping you straight on your f*cking neck’ insane. What a war…
We get a nifty video package of highlights from the past twelve months.
Nigel McGuinness vs Bryan Danielson – ROH World Title Match
The history between these two is well documented. They’ve had numerous classic matches, from their very first clash in Cleveland, Ohio at the Weekend Of Champions, to their bloody epic which main evented ROH’s debut overseas show Unified, their 60-minute draw at Epic Encounter 2, to one of 2007’s best pay-per-view matches at Driven. Whenever these two get into the ring together good things happen. And much to Nigel’s annoyance, it’s normally American Dragon who comes out on top. This time, though, it’s him coming in as champion. And after all his problems with concussion following his MOTYC with Austin Aries at Rising Above, he also has assurances that #1 Contender Danielson will not attack the head to get the victory. Are we about to see another instalment in perhaps the greatest rivalry in Ring Of Honor history?
Nigel goes all-out heel on the New York fans. Which is kind of understandable after their reactions to him since Glory By Honor 6. The heat before the match starts is immense as a result of it. Lenny Leonard points out that McGuinness has never beaten Dragon clean in the middle of the ring. No hint of attacking his head in the opening minutes as both men take it to the mat and trade holds back and forth. Danielson ducks an early lariat attempt as the fans continue to get on Nigel’s back. The challenger starts to demonstrate why he felt he could win tonight even without being able to attack the head, as he shows off his wrestling prowess and stretches McGuinness from a number of situations. He goes for the headstand in the corner but Dragon counters with a running dropkick (to the chest). Nigel tumbles out and Danielson pursues with an elbow suicida. Missile dropkick (to the chest) nailed, followed by a back suplex. Nigel rolls out of the ring holding his head and accuses Dragon of going back on his word. He shoves the referee down and gets himself disqualified at 08:44. He tries to walk out, but finds his path blocked by a group of wrestlers – led by former World Champion Austin Aries who tells him to stop disrespecting the belt and get back to the ring and fight. ROH President Cary Silkin apparently demands the match is restarted…so much to Nigel’s annoyance, he has to get back in the ring. This isn’t just Nigel heeling on the New York fans now, this is a full on heel turn for the ROH Champion. But despite all the heel antics, he’s still a great wrestler and he starts to pick apart Danielson’s arm and shoulder. Danielson ducks another lariat attempt and runs into an enziguri to the throat. He drives the champion out of the ring with a series of big kicks to the spine.
Nigel rallies though…and suplexes Dragon TO THE FLOOR! And he knocks Danielson clean through the guardrail with a running European uppercut. Rebound McLariat ducked though and Dragon drops Nigel into the front row. SPRINGBOARD SOMERSAULT PLANCHA EIGHT ROWS DEEP! Back in the ring and Danielson locks in the Triangle Choke. Nigel escapes…LARIAT! ‘Same old sh*t’ – NYC. Dragon blocks the Tower Of London and tips McGuinness out of the ring with a bodyscissors. He thinks about an elbow suicida but gets cut off with an uppercut. TOWER OF LONDON TO THE FLOOR! Nigel is bleeding from the head as a result of that. He takes Dragon back in an puts him in the CATTLE MUTILATION! Danielson manages to roll over into a pinning situation to break that. Jawbreaker Lariat ducked but McGuinnes evades an enziguri and leaves Danielson straddled on the top rope. SUPER MCLARIAT! TOWER OF LONDON! Still just 2 though. London Dungeon locked in by a bloody World Champion. Danielson makes the ropes, then counters into a roll-up for 2. CHAOS THEORY BY DANIELSON! But he’s too worn down and injured to capitalise. Danielson gets to his feet and is STILL sticking to his word by firing shots to the body. Back superplex from the challenger, only good for 2. Cattle Mutilation locked in…but Nigel doesn’t tap. Danielson rolls him into MMA Elbow position…BUT DOESN’T HIT THEM! TIGER SUPLEX! MMA ELBOWS TO THE BODY! FUJIWARA ARMBAR! TRIANGLE CHOKE! And he still refuses to throw elbows at Nigel’s head. He peppers McGuiness with body shots and beats him back to such an extent he almost scores a TKO victory. HEADBUTTS BY NIGEL! He targets the eye Danielson injured during his battles with Morishima. LARIATOOOO! MMA ELBOWS TO DRAGON! LONDON DUNGEON! Danielson is unconscious, and the referee has to stop it at 29:59
Rating – ****1/2 – Could they deliver another classic match that lived up to previous efforts in this epic rivalry? Of course they could. That was another absolutely fantastic match. At this stage I’m struggling to think of any series of matches/rivalry which can compete with this one in ROH history. And the good part about this one was that it felt so fresh. It had so many elements that the other matches before it hadn’t had. Danielson working under a gentleman’s agreement to not attack the head, Nigel turning heel, the sports entertainment style non-finish. A superb match that not only adds to the magnificent legacy these two have built together in Ring Of Honor, but actively reignites it thanks to the enormously controversial way Nigel took the victory. And the wonderful thing about the big McGuinness heel turn is how organic it was. This wasn’t just down to terrific wrestling or excellent booking. This was the culmination of a growing anti-Nigel sentiment that has been growing amongst ROH fans (particularly in New York) since last October when he won the belt. To see it explode into the full blown heel turn we all wanted to see, and at last get to legitimately boo Nigel as many have wanted to do for a long time, created a memorable atmosphere inside the Manhattan Centre. Anyone who had any doubts about McGuinness as champion needs only to look at the Aries match from Rising Above, and now this one tonight to see what he’s all about. This is where he finally arrived and became THE man in Ring Of Honor. Terrific match, a definite MOTYC and a fitting main event for ROH’s sixth anniversary celebration.
Tape Rating – *** – To some that may seem a harsh rating, but I think it’s justified. Firstly, lets be positive though and say this is a good show. There aren’t any bad matches, and with a multitude of in-ring talking segments, four title matches and an absolutely epic main event, this certainly had a big show feel. However, if I’m being honest, this is a very long show, and outside of the three big matches that really did deliver in a major way, very little else has any rewatch value. This show clocks in at 3 hours and 30+ minutes. As good as Aries/Shiozaki and the two title matches at the top of the card were, you’ve got a lot else to sit through. Matthews/Steen was disappointing. The opening tag and SHIMMER Title match were nothing other than forgettable stuff we’ve seen multiple times before whilst Generico/Albright and the Tag Title match provided nothing more than meaningless, spot-packed fun. There’s also the Larry Sweeney segment which, whilst I didn’t find it as distasteful as many did, is certainly weird and completely unnecessary. The Aries/AOTF stuff is intriguing, but I’m just not sure adding Tammy Sytch to the equation contributes anything. She certainly isn’t what I want to see in Ring Of Honor. So yes, this is a very good show. The top matches are all excellent, and the DVD certainly represents value for money. But for the selective ROH buyer, there are much better shows out there. That said, but with another Danielson/McGuinness classic, another superb Go Shiozaki match, and for arguably Necro Butcher’s finest individual performance in a Ring Of Honor ring, this is still a worthwhile purchase if you can spare the cash.
Top 3 Matches
3) Austin Aries vs Go Shiozaki (****)
2) Roderick Strong vs Necro Butcher vs Erick Stevens (****)
1) Nigel McGuinness vs Bryan Danielson (****1/2)
Top 5 Eye Of The Storm/Sixth Anniversary Weekend Matches
5) Go Shiozaki vs Necro Butcher (*** – Eye Of The Storm)
4) Kevin Steen vs Go Shiozaki (*** – Eye Of The Storm)
3) Austin Aries vs Go Shiozaki (**** – 6th Anniversary Show)
2) Roderick Strong vs Necro Butcher vs Erick Stevens (**** – 6th Anniversary Show)
1) Nigel McGuinness vs Bryan Danielson (****1/2 – 6th Anniversary Show)