ROH 8th Anniversary Show 2/13/2010

ROH 249 – 8th Anniversary Show – 13th February 2010

We’re finally here at the 8th Anniversary of Ring Of Honor. The promotion has come a long way since that first card in the Murphy Rec Center some eight years ago – a fact so tellingly illustrated by almost all of the build for the event taking place on ROH’s TV show on HDNet. The main event is a big one – a rematch from Final Battle 2009 which sees Austin Aries and Tyler Black once again clash over the World Title, but this time with three judges in play to ensure we don’t get a repeat of December’s stalling tactics and shenanigans. Also on the card: the Briscoes defend the Tag Titles against a very angry Dark City Fight Club, Necro Butcher and Eddie Kingston are looking for revenge on The Embassy, Davey Richards faces El Generico in singles action and we’ve got a one-night-only return from a guy was on the very first ROH show – Brian Kendrick. As is almost customary for the bigger shows now, we’re in Manhattan, NY. Dave Prazak and Joe Dumbrowski are on commentary duty.

Tyler Black has been in the position of ‘challenger cutting a big pre-match promo’ so many times he admits to having nothing else to say. Apparently he’s as focused as he’s ever been, in the best shape he’s ever been and he’s not planning on relying on the judges to give him the title tonight. His destiny remains the ROH World Championship and he’ll take it tonight.

Brian Kendrick vs Roderick Strong
ROH booked Spanky for this show, and before they could get him for anything else TNA wisely signed him up. Of course I’m disappointed he won’t be returning long term to ROH, but he’s a super-talented performer with great ring skills to match his top notch charisma and promo skills so it’s good to see he’ll remain in one of the ‘big two’ where he deserves. His ‘THE’ Brian Kendrick gimmick he broke out on his way out of WWE was a lot of fun…

Lots of streamers and a deafening round of ‘welcome back’ chants for Spanky…and either the crowd are mic’d better tonight or they are RED hot. They start with a nice exchange of holds before Strong gets the upper hand and drives Kendrick into the ropes for some respite. No clean break from Brian, and he comes away from the corner aggressively kicking Roderick’s legs. HUGE CHOPS shut that down and leave the returning TWA graduate in a heap in the corner. Argentine backbreaker gets Strong a nearfall as he starts his assault on the spine of his opponent. Kendrick leaves the ring and defensively sits on the floor, such is his desperation to evade Roddy. That turns out to be a smart move as he lures Strong in for a big drop toehold against the guardrails. Spanky with a camel clutch, then a neckbreaker when Strong starts to counter it and gets a nearfall. Crowd is split 50/50 here, but react in unison as Strong lands another horrific chop. The camera zooms in on Brian’s chest and it’s an absolute mess. Kendrick tries to climb the turnbuckles but gets CHOPPED TO THE FLOOR! Poor Spanky is a state now – his chest is f*cked, his back is bleeding from a guardrail bump and Strong makes everything worse when he sweeps him into a cradle backbreaker for 2. He manages to get a foot into Roddy’s jaw with a jumping heel kick from the second rope but is painfully slow to capitalise. Sliced Bread #2 blocked, but so is Death By Roderick. MULTI-REVOLUTION TORNADO DDT by Spanky, then the FROG SPLASH for another nearfall. Sliced Bread COUNTERED TO THE TORTURE RACK BACKBREAKER! SICK KICK! GIBSON DRIVER! Strong wins at 10:24

Rating – **** – A near faultless opening match here. I’m not going to argue it was the best match ever – in it’s spot on the card it really shouldn’t be. However, it was a ton of fun, the crowd were amazing and the action was so crisp and well-executed I really can’t see a flaw in it. Kendrick is an amazing talent and one of the most underrated guys in ROH history. The problem with him has been whenever ROH started to get behind him, he’s always been picked up by someone else. In 2002/3 Gabe had him positioned for big things, and even put him in the first ROH Title Match…but then he started getting bookings in Japan before getting signed by WWE. Then he returned during a fantastic 2005 (incidentally still my favourite ever ROH year) but did such a good job he was soon signed by the WWE again. Sadly this time ROH don’t even get him for a series of shows – just this one match. TNA have a hell of a worker if they can find a way to get the best out of him. I bet he took one look at his chest and back and thanked his lucky stars he’s in TNA and won’t have to work like this every week.

The Bravado Brothers say it’s a dream come true to work an ROH New York show with the Kings Of Wrestling. They’re going to make an impact and have no intention of letting the KOW do what they did to the Briscoes last time we were here. Very generic

Kings Of Wrestling vs Bravado Brothers
Of course, they did team together at SoCal Showdown, but this is the first time Hero and Claudio have teamed up in a regular tag team match in some time. I believe it was Domination back in 2007 when we last saw them as a team in ROH – and Final Battle 2006 when they last competed under the Kings Of Wrestling moniker as part of the active roster. Lance and Harlem Bravado are products of the ROH Academy and will look to make a huge impact on their DVD debut with a performance here.

The KOW Elbow/Uppercut pose is uber-cool. They are SO over in New York by the way. Credit to the Bravados, they hit a jumping heel kick/sunset flip combo…but it only gets a depressing 1-count before Castagnoli powers out for the Big Swing Dropkick combo. Sara Del Rey takes a cheap shot from the apron before Hero slides in with a kick of his own to do more damage still. Lance gets excited about going under a Hero leapfrog but hilariously runs into a European uppercut from Claudio. Harlem tagged and gets 2 on Chris with La Magistral. He then hits a split-legged moonsault…before being picked up by Castagnoli for a DEAD-LIFT GERMAN! LEAP FROG ELBOW SMASH! Harlem is dead…KRS-1! Kings win at 05:20

Rating – ** – It went on for a little long, but the Kings Of Wrestling are SO good that seeing an exhibition of their offence for five minutes isn’t the worst thing ever. Credit where it’s due, the Bravados actually don’t look atrocious either. They’ve got decent size and, considering it’s so early in their career, they didn’t look hopelessly lost out there. Certainly a step up from the midgets that normally come out of the ROH Academy.

The Embassy know they can out-wrestle Necro and Eddie Kingston…but tonight they’re going to beat them at their own game and out-fight them

Joey Ryan/Erick Stevens vs Necro Butcher/Eddie Kingston – No DQ Match
A recent Prince Nana interview on HDNet confirmed that guys like Jimmy Rave have left The Embassy. It looks like Claudio won’t have time to be a paid associate either now he’s got KOW business to attend to…which means Joey and Erick are the current frontline members of the group (with Bison Smith potentially to be brought back in here and there). They’ve been at war for Necro for an interminable amount of time. But after they assaulted Eddie Kingston on the first HDNet show of the year, Necro does at last have some back-up to stand beside him. He’s also scheduled to have Gypsy Joe in his corner tonight.

Necro is wearing shoes! Everyone is wearing street clothes so I guess he’s wearing shoes to differentiate. He quickly takes one of them off to start battering his opponents with. Joe, despite being 76, gleefully slaps Ernesto in the face. Ryan and Necro are bleeding, with Kingston using Joey’s blood as war paint. Joey Ryan’s street clothes are also hilarious. Stevens goes for the Choo Choo but Necro counters it with a MANDIBLE CLAW! SUPER KICK BY JOEY! SPINNING BACK FIST BY EDDIE! LARIAT BY STEVENS! King looks for another Back Fist on Erick but it’s blocked. SAITO SUPLEX INSTEAD! Ryan spears Eddie through the ropes to the floor then goes to work on Necro using the buckle from his belt. Kingston and Stevens trade shots on the apron…DOCTOR BOMB THROUGH THE TIMEKEEPERS TABLE! Ryan is still choking Necro with his belt, so Gypsy Joe gets on the apron. PLASTIC BAG SLEEPER BY NECRO! Ryan is unconscious at 08:04

Rating – *** – This is right up there with the best matches The Embassy have had since they returned. It didn’t go on too long, didn’t out-stay it’s welcome and brought a great mix of comedy and brutality that entertained both me and the New York crowd.

SIDENOTE – Not that you were wondering, my other favourite Embassy second coming matches include the 7th Anniversary Match with Rave and Cabana making comebacks. The two 8-Man tags (at Death Before Dishonor 7 and HDNet), Cabana/Joey from Night 2 of Death Before Dishonor 7, Necro/Rave from Final Countdown Tour Chicago and Rave/Danielson from The Homecoming 2.

Davey Richards vs El Generico
Of course this is a big match, and it should be awesome. But after being pushed to main event level at the end of 2009, you can’t help but notice Davey being sidelined at the start of the year as the confrontation over his commitments to Gabe’s companies continues to grow. The American Wolves were removed from the Tag Title picture…anytime the Wolves win it’s Eddie doing it, and anytime they lose it’s Davey taking the fall. So whilst this is a big match, it’s also Davey being put in a midcard battle, being given an opportunity to put on another great match but without being involved in any major storyline. We know the history between these two men, with the 2009 Wolves/Steen-erico feud being amongst ROH’s best (in terms of in-ring content). Of course, Generico will once again come into this with a question mark hanging over his mental state and whether he’s actually able to perform.

I know the crowd have been hot all night thus far, but Davey gets a massive ovation. Whether Pearce and Cary like it or not, he is one of the major stars in the promotion now. Colt Cabana accompanies Generico to ringside, probably to make sure his head stays in the game. Mounted forearms to the back of the head from Davey, proving he’s at the top of his game and has no plans to go easy on his forlorn opponent tonight. Good work from Generico to block a signature Richards kick, only for Davey to counter and roll him into a cross armbreaker. Generico leaves the ring and has to be convinced to get back in there by Cabana. Fired up by Colt’s pep talk, El Generico steams back into the ring and quickly pulls off a flurry of armdrags and mounted Hispanic Punches in the corner. ALARM CLOCK out of the corner flattens Generico again though. Buoyed by his success, Davey starts antagonising people in the crowd, turning into a big elbow from Generico. They fight on the apron, before Richards wrenches the arm and plants him shoulder-first against the edge of the ring. YAKUZA KICK sends the masked man into the front row, but only after shoving the injured shoulder into the ringpost. Back inside he applies a variant of the Rings Of Saturn to do yet more damage. Generico fights free, picks Davey up and BACK SUPLEXES HIM TO THE FLOOR! SOMERSAULT PLANCHA SCORES! Both men are really struggling now, but it’s Generico with the upper hand and he drops Richards ON HIS NECK with the Michinoku Driver for 2. Yakuza Kick blocked…ROPE RUN TORNADO DDT IS COUNTERED TO A FUJIWARA ARMBAR! No submission there, so Davey takes him to the corner for machine gun kicks. YAKUZA KICK…COUNTERED WITH A CAPTURE SUPLEX INTO THE TURNBUCKLES! DISCUS LARIAT GETS 2! KAWADA KICKS! GENERICO NO SELLS! ALARM CLOCK BLOCKED! YAKUZA KICK! HALF NELSON SUPLEX! RICHARDS NO SELLS AND HITS A BRAINBUSTER! BOTH MEN DOWN! Richards looks for the Shooting Star Press to put his plucky opponent down, but El Generico is up in time to block it. DAVEY ATTACKS THE ARM! SHOOTING STAR PRESS MISSES! YAKUZA KICK! But Davey still fights the Brainbustah…SOMERSAULT VAN TERMINATOR! FOR 2! ROPE RUN GERMAN SUPERPLEX BY DAVEY! BRIDGING GERMAN SUPLEX FOR 2! BUZZSAW KICK! KIMURA! GENERICO COUNTERS TO A PIN AND NEARLY WINS! CROSS ARMBREAKER! Davey wins at 21:09

Rating – ****1/2 – I admit that I’ve not seen many people go as high as MOTYC territory on this match, so I’m almost positive I’m over-rating this a little. In a way it reminded me of AJ/London from Night Of The Grudges in that it was two guys sent out there in the midcard and told to tear the house down. And that’s exactly what they did. I loved the multi-layered story here with El Generico emerging from his post-Final Battle funk with a courageous and valiant performance, standing up to everything Davey had to throw at him for 20+ minutes before finally succumbing to the vicious assault he’d endured to his arm. ROH should be pulling out all the stops to ensure they don’t lose Davey to DGUSA/Evolve…and on getting the most out of El Generico for that matter. He’s consistently been one of ROH’s best performers for going on three years now.

Standing ovation for that match…and such is the level of Davey’s respect for Generico’s performance that he actually wants to shake his hand. GENERICO SLAPS HIM IN THE FACE! Davey smiles and applauds (not like he’s never slapped anyone in the face is it??) and leaves…and this slow-build storyline between Steen and Generico continues to get better and better.

Earlier in the evening the Briscoes cut their usual promo, telling the DCFC that they need to Man Up…

Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Dark City Fight Club – ROH Tag Title Match
We’ve seen these two teams involved in some heated confrontations on HDNet, and they’ve shared a couple of physical tag team encounters too. DCFC are yet to get the better of the Briscoes however, and as we saw on HDNet this week, they’ve publicly said they’re through playing nice, paying their dues and waiting for opportunities in ROH. They want to make an impact now, and won’t get a better chance than facing the 6-time Tag Team Champions in New York.

Jay forces Davis back into his corner and is joined by Mark to do some initial damage…but bringing Mark into the ring exposes him to Davis’ sizeable power advantage. He gets the tag to Chavis, but once again Jay is on hand to join his brother, flattening Rainman with the double football tackle. Sit-out powerslam from Kory to Jay gives DCFC the advantage. Mark tagged, only to walk into a spinebuster from Davis for 2. The challengers continue to use their aggressive, brawling style to dominate Mark and keep him well away from his partner. At last Jay gets the tag and takes Davis out of the ring with a Cactus clothesline. Cannonball senton off the apron from Mark to Chavis – the pace quickening which favours the Briscoes. However, as the fight stays outside the ring it quickly swings back into the favour of DCFC with Davis KILLING Mark against the guardrails. Back in the ring with Jon muscling Jay up into a big powerslam. TOTAL ELIMINATION gets 2. They line up the Dark City Street Cutter only for Mark to break it up with a flying karate kick. SPIKE JAY DRILLER ON DAVIS! It’s over at 09:57

Rating – ** – Another disappointing match between these two teams. I think I’m in a minority that likes DCFC (particularly Jon Davis) as I think they’re SO different from every other team ROH has. However, something about them just isn’t meshing with the rest of the ROH tag division. At the moment they’re in danger of becoming the Erick Stevens of the division as they’re being pushed hard (New York REALLY didn’t want them in a title match) but aren’t over enough to justify it. When you see them you want them to storm into matches like Vader – mean as sh*t and determined to totally DESTROY their opponents. So when their matches start and it’s nothing more than slow-paced, uninteresting kick/punch brawling people naturally get disappointed. Adam Pearce clearly likes them so I don’t think they’re going anywhere yet – but he needs to find a creative direction for them that the fans will get on board with.

Sara Del Rey and Shane Hagadorn come down the aisle to distract the Briscoes, before the Kings Of Wrestling jump the guardrails and attack the champs again – a repeat scene from Final Battle. Soon it’s the Briscoes, the KOW and the DCFC all kicking lumps out of each other

Since we haven’t had it broken down for a while, a graphic appears with the current Pick 6 standings:

1) Claudio Castagnoli
2) Kevin Steen
3) Chris Hero
4) Kenny King
5) Tyler Black
6) Roderick Strong

Kenny King (4) vs Rasche Brown vs Steve Corino vs Delirious – Pick 6 Series Match
This is Corino’s first DVD appearance for ROH since The Bitter End in 2006, when he lost an awful match to Homicide then had his head shaved in a weird and pretty pointless scene. I think this is the first time Skullkrusher has been booked for a New York show too – their appearances exemplify attempts to match up the HDNet and DVD products and storylines, meaning a similar roster for both products. Kenny is putting his Pick 6 spot up for grabs tonight, and he’ll be looking to keep it to ensure none of his opponents get the opportunity to challenge his mentor Austin Aries.

Do you think Corino specifically goes out to buy granny pants to wrestle in or has hired help to do so for him? He immediately parks himself on the apron, refusing to wrestle Rasche Brown and looking pissed off at the deafening ‘King Of Old School’ chant aimed in his direction. Delirious scares him sh*tless with his crazy ways as King and Brown start. Skullkrusher quickly mows him down with a shoulder tackle. HANDSPRING SPLASH gets Brown a nearfall. Delirious and King of Bridget Jones pants in next…with Corino quickly evading the Panic Attack and joining King for a double team attack on the masked man. Corino and King continue that strategy for the next few minutes, working Delirious over whilst continually knocking Brown to the floor and keeping him sidelined. Of course, Rasche does eventually get back into the match and fights off both the heels. Delirious tries to sleeper hold him…but he STILL keeps swinging punches. Tope suicida from Delirious to Corino and King on the floor. RUNNING SUICIDE DIVE OVER THE ROPES BY SKULLKRUSHER! Corino rakes the eyes to block the Burning Hammer, blinding Brown and leaving him exposed to a corkscrew enzi from King. SOMERSAULT SPEAR in response floors Kenny again. SHADOWS OVER HELL! An opportunistic Delirious pins Kenny and takes the Pick 6 spot at 09:09

Rating – ** – The last couple of minutes were good, and the theme of Steve Corino being a jerk to everyone was a lot of fun…but other than that it felt very much like a filler match. I’m guessing this was the popcorn match right after intermission though, so in that spot it was fine.

Kevin Steen vs Colt Cabana
Colt has been friends with both Steen and Generico, and has been caught in the middle of their split over the past two months. He tried to mediate between them, and is now teaming with Generico and trying to get him focused on wrestling again. Steen, meanwhile, wants Cabana, Human Tornado, El Generico and everyone else to leave him and Steve Corino alone so he can concentrate on his own goals in Ring Of Honor. The fact that Cabana hasn’t has put him in the firing line here…

Colt takes a microphone and says that this was only supposed to be a verbal confrontation, but Steen demanded they have a match. He apologises if he wasn’t a good friend to Kevin in the past…only for Mr Wrestling to punch him in the mouth. They chase each other around ringside trading punches. On commentary Dumbrowski and Prazak are accrediting Human Tornado’s surprise retirement from wrestling to Steen’s attack on him at SoCal Showdown. This is nothing more than a fight (although they keep stealing each other’s chewing gum which is pretty gross), both men just keep tearing into each other with punches, closed fists and chokes. Cabana misses the Flying Asshole and consequently eats cannonball senton seconds later. Steen-ton attempted but it gets Colt’s knees. Kevin rolls to the floor clutching his own knee but Cabana accuses him of faking it. Steve Corino is out too, joining Cabana in telling Steen to get back in the ring. Cabana starts fighting with Corino too, angry at him brainwashing Steen. EL GENERICO IS HERE! He stares down with Steen and now it’s a Good vs Evil battle for Steen’s soul with Colt and Generico on one side, Steve Corino on the other. Corino attacks Cabana meaning the match ends as a DQ at 09:13 – but to be honest that’s not really relevant. Generico looks to hit Corino with a chair…BUT STEEN STEPS IN FRONT OF HIM! Will Generico hit his former best friend like Steen did at Final Battle? El Generico drops the chair…SO STEEN HITS HIM WITH IT! CRIPPLER CROSSFACE ON GENERICO!

Rating – N/A – I can’t rate it as a match…but as a segment this was absolutely sensational. This Corino/Steen/Cabana/Generico storyline is already one of the best and most intricate storylines ROH has put together in years. I thought the match portion with Steen and Cabana was done well, with neither man working in too many spots to emphasise the emotional levity of the situation…and as soon as Steve Corino came out business just picked up. And, whilst it’s a little corny, I think the acting skills of Cabana and Steen need to be praised here. They were both AMAZING in playing their roles, which was so key to the dramatic success of the whole thing.

After snapping out of his funk and looking like the El Generico of old earlier in the show when he fought Davey Richards…once again Generico will walk out of the Manhattan Center feeling dejected and stabbed in the heart by his former best friend and partner.

And with that it’s main event time. We get a video package featuring clips from all of the Aries/Black matches from the past couple of years. As such it makes me notice that the ROH on HDNet, predominantly red canvas, is now being used for DVD tapings too. I guess that’s another step to ensure the entire ROH product has a similar look. Not Bobby Cruise ring announcer introduces Kenny King, Roderick Strong and Jim Cornette as the ringside judges…

Austin Aries vs Tyler Black – ROH World Title Match
These two have been feuding for a long time. During his long feud with Jimmy Jacobs, then Tyler Black’s fellow member of Age Of The Fall, Aries and Black did battle a number of times, which made Aries joining forces with Jacobs to assault Tyler at Final Battle 2008 even more surprising. That night he was furious at how the New York fans shunned him and gave their fervent support to Tyler – to such an extent that he was willing to drop his differences with Jimmy to join the attack on Tyler (before going away over the New Year break to create the A-Double persona we now have). Over the past year multiple title opportunities have passed Black by. He was screwed out of the belt in the world’s dodgiest ‘60-minute’ draw after going 47 minutes with Nigel McGuinness in Edison, NJ. He couldn’t get the job done in fourway matches on HDNet or at Death Before Dishonor 7, whilst at Manhattan Mayhem 3, he actually did beat the World Champion in a World Title match when he eliminated Jerry Lynn…only for Aries to subsequently beat him to win the match and the belt. He kept losing, and the man the fans once heralded as their intended chosen one, the ‘next world champ’ lost face in the eyes of the fans.Things between champion and challenger continued to escalate – with Aries’ stooges Kenny King and Rhett Titus eliminating Black’s mentor and friend Jerry Lynn on HDNet. Weeks later, Aries himself would put Tyler out of ROH for a time after setting fire to a piece of paper in his face. This all built to Final Battle, which was to be the big climactic showdown between the two. Except Aries had other plans. In front of an irate crowd (who couldn’t work out if they hated Aries for his tactics, or hated Tyler for not being able to stop them) Aries stalled, delayed, ran, kicked, begged, pleaded and cheated his way to a controversial time limit draw…once again retaining his title. Executive Producer Jim Cornette was so furious with both men, he booked a rematch almost by way of an apology to the New York crowd. And tonight, if we go to a draw we’ve got the three ringside judges who will determine a winner…

The crowd is noticeably more pro-Tyler than it was in December. We’re at 50/50 split so both men get duelling chants during the introductions. Aries ensures Black will be the babyface by running down the crowd a little, before Cornette grabs the stick to reiterate the rules – anything other than a pinfall or submission will go to the judges panel to determine a winner. Austin then takes Jim’s advice of ‘start early and fight hard’ by blindsiding Black to get things started. He then leaves the ring to stall…but this time Roderick Strong stops him, sends him back into the ring where Tyler is on hand to deliver a big dropkick. Springboard Lariat by Black has Austin once again clinging to the ropes, hiding behind the referee and stalling for time. He tries that rolling back elbow from the second rope spot he always used to do…but Black has it scouted and counters with a back suplex. Tyler then goes for one of his signature spots – the Stomp – only for Aries to evade it and hang him over the ropes. Black rolls away from the Aries frog elbow and hits the Stomp second time of asking. F-5 countered…Kick Of Death countered. A-Double kicks out of a pin attempt and catapults Black’s shoulder into the ringpost. To the floor where Aries hits the Savage Axehandle across the surgically repaired neck, and follows it up with multiple shots to that body part. STRONGHOLD on Black next, with Aries positioning himself right in front of Roderick before applying it.

Stump Puller, followed by the Vulcan Nerve Pinch, all doing damage to Tyler’s neck. He sets up for an apron Brainbuster and when Tyler blocks it he reacts quickly for an ELEVATED swinging neckbreaker for 2. He thinks about a 450…only for Tyler to catch him for a superplex. ROLLED STRAIGHT INTO AN F-5 FOR 2! Aries is knocked out of the ring and into the crowd. Black scouts the distance…SPRINGBOARD DANIELSON DIVE INTO THE THIRD ROW! They crawl back to the ring both looking exhausted – to such an extent that Black can’t get Aries up for the Buckle Bomb. ARIES WITH A DVD ON THE APRON INSTEAD! He wants to win by count-out but Tyler gets up. HEAT SEEKING MISSILE…MISSES! ARIES EATS GUARDRAIL! But still Black’s too injured to pull off the Buckle Bomb. RUBIX CUBE! PHOENIX SPLASH MISSES! IED! ROLLING BRAINBUSTERS! TYLER KICKS OUT! The champ is desperate and goes to his old finisher the 450 Splash…but flips into Black’s knees. ROARING ELBOW! PELE KICK! KICK OF DEATH…TYLER COUNTERS THE BRAINBUSTER WITH GOD’S LAST GIFT! ARIES KICKS OUT! Kenny King gets on the apron…STRONG TAKES HIM OUT BUT KNOCKS TYLER OFF THE APRON! BLACK SUPERKICKS STRONG! Jim Cornette is angry now! SUPERKICK ON CORNETTE! SUPERKICK ON ARIES! BUCKLE BOMB! SUPERKICK AGAIN! F*CKING PHOENIX SPLASH! NEW CHAMPION! TYLER WINS! NEW CHAMPION! 22:24 is your time.

Rating – ****1/2 – As a match this is probably only 4*. But as a spectacle, an event and a feat of storytelling you have to consider this a MOTYC. The start of the match was genius with Aries trying to stall like he did last time, except Roddy chucked him back in to make a physical example of the fact that he can’t do that this time around. Then they wrestled, and after 2 years of going at it, they basically countered EVERY spot they do in all their matches. Then Aries attacked the neck – a great strategy considering Black had surgery on it late in 2009. How did Tyler combat that? He used a move taken from Aries’ greatest ROH rival, and the man against whom Tyler himself scored his biggest ROH win to date on HDNet Episode 18 – Bryan Danielson. The American Dragon crowd dive immeasurably changed the course of the match and from there we entered the electrifying finishing stretch which needs to be seen to be believed. Basically everyone has criticised ROH for not giving Black the belt sooner. I’m sure in hindsight Pearce wishes he’d booked Tyler to take the belt from Nigel McGuinness – but he didn’t. The last couple of minutes, where two years of frustration and disappointment exploded out of Black, who beat the sh*t out of four people on his way to FINALLY winning the World Title were just amazing. The place just went nuts as soon as he superkicked Jim Cornette – a jaw-dropping moment that evoked an overwhelming crowd response that you just can’t plan for. This was the climax in all the hard work ROH has done to rebuild since The Final Countdown Tour.

Cary Silkin dives into the ring and hugs Tyler almost as the bell rings (In subsequent interviews Cary frequently references this as one of his favourite ROH moments ever). The babyfaces in the locker room come out soon afterwards to congratulate the new champion. Roderick Strong is pissed off though, and demands he get the World Title shot he was promised…what a buzzkill.

Tape Rating – **** – This isn’t the strongest of the Anniversary Shows ROH has ever run but two MOTYC’s, a historic title change and a solid undercard still make this another top notch show. Spanky’s one-night-only return provided a hot start, the Steen/Generico storyline throughout the show was awesome, and the Davey/Generico and Aries/Tyler matches are must see. If this DVD is still available from the ROH store it’s well worth picking up. The revival, resurgence and fighting spirit ROH has shown since losing it’s star men in September of last year has been incredible. After feeling so down on the promotion during the first half of 2009, by and large I’ve loved every minute since the Violent Tendencies show last year…and as we tick past EIGHT years of ROH, I can honestly say that I’ve not been as enthusiastic about this company, and the FRESH roster we now have…in a long time.

Top 3 Matches
3) Roderick Strong vs Brian Kendrick (****)
2) Davey Richards vs El Generico (****1/2)
1) Austin Aries vs Tyler Black (****1/2)

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