ROH 9th Anniversary Show 2/26/2011

ROH 278 – 9th Anniversary Show – 26th February 2011

This particular Ring Of Honor pay-per-view has quite a strange reputation. On the one hand, several of the matches on here received a high degree of praise – in particular the Tag and TV Title Matches. But on the other hand, you’ve got people calling it the worst ROH iPPV, people slating the Strong vs Homicide encounter as the ‘worst ROH Title Match ever’, Del Rey/MsChif is considered the death of the Women Of Honor division and the Briscoes/WGTT main event has been called a disappointment in many people’s eyes as well. I’ve been a major defender of the build to this ppv through the TV show and, considering the whole promotion is in post-Final Battle mode and still reeling from the loss of the HDNet series, it is a pretty strong card as well. I’m also looking forward to the fact that, for once, a major show WON’T be taking place in New York. Tonight we’re live from Chicago Ridge, IL. Dave Prazak and Kevin Kelly will commentate.

Immediately it’s apparent that ROH have changed their typical ring/set/bleacher lay-out for this building. I’m not entirely sure why as it makes the building look a) smaller and b) less full than usual – even though this was reportedly a record attendance for this building.

Colt Cabana vs Davey Richards
We saw this match set up on HDNet recently. Jim Cornette tried to give Davey Richards a rematch for the World Title after he came so close at Final Battle, but Davey refused. He wants to go back to the bottom of the cards and earn his rematch, and went so far as to say that he won’t challenge for the belt again until he knows he can win – and will NEVER challenge again if he loses that one. So here he works the opening match and tests his skills against the unique moveset of Colt Cabana in Cabana’s hometown. Apparently his road to the World Title begins here…

Colt looks sad at the amount of love Chicago shows his opponent tonight. He uses his innovative skills to outwit Davey, and always makes sure to avoid the much-feared Richards strikes. But Davey is good on the mat as well and fights free…before BLASTING Cabana with a dropkick through the ropes. TOPE SUICIDA SCORES! Richards takes a horrific landing on that too. He seems ok, bringing Colt back into the ring and going after his arm with an assortment of submission holds. ‘This place is packed beyond belief here’ – Kevin Kelly as the camera unfortunately pans past a noticeably half-empty section of bleachers. Cabana tries to kick Richards away from his arm…so Davey gets up and boots him flush in the jaw. Hammerlock back suplex scores, but as he goes for the diving headbutt Cabana gets his boots up to land a defensive blow. Colt lands a series of jabs with the good arm, only for Richards to hit back with a kick right at the injured limb. Flying Asshole blocked…quebrada nailed instead! He sets up for the turnbuckle gutbuster AND DROPS DAVEY ON HIS FACE! MOONSAULT NAILED FOR 2! Davey’s ribs are hurting now so it’s vital he escapes the Colt 45. Colt is sent shoulder-first into the ringpost then MISSILE DROPKICKED IN THE ARM! DIVING HEADBUTT TO THE SHOULDER! Cross Armbreaker locked in but immediately countered to the Billy Goat’s Curse! Davey escapes and hits a bridging German suplex for 2. Tornado DDT into the FALCON ARROW ARMBREAKER! Cabana taps at 12:11

Rating – *** – A tremendous choice to open the show. These two popular guys worked a fun little match but didn’t pack in so many spots and false finishes that you feel like the next few matches may suffer as a result (like Final Battle after the ANX/Future Shock barnburner). Although neither man sold it with any great effort, I liked that both tried to inflict injuries on their opponent that would directly allow them to lock in a submission finisher – Davey on the arm for the Armbreaker, and Cabana on the ribs as preparation for the Curse.

Grizzly Redwood vs Kyle O’Reilly vs Steve Corino vs Mike Bennett
There are different motivations for each competitor in this one. Corino is the veteran, supposedly trying to make amends for the evil deeds he’s perpetrated throughout his career by giving back to the young talent. He’s called Grizzly an ‘inspiration’ to him recently, and came across both Bennett and O’Reilly during the Top Prospect Tournament. It was actually Kyle and The Prodigy who met in the finals of that tournament on HDNet, so they meet again here.

Corino wants to start with Bennett who, of course, declines and forces him to begin with Redwood instead. Steve looks sad when Grizzly tries and miserably fails with shoulder tackles. O’Reilly tags and engages the veteran in an exchange of strikes. Obviously that favours Kyle so Corino quickly drops him with a powerslam. O’Reilly boots Bennett off the apron…RUNNING MISSILE DROPKICK TO THE FLOOR! That spot is so crazy you can’t help but mark out for it. Redwood hits a tope suicida to take Kyle out…and the crowd badly want a dive from Steve too. Naturally The Prodigy is ready to get some cheap heat by cutting him off. Bob Evans distracts Corino and Bennett capitalises to bundle the former ECW Champion into the crowd barrier. Tags all round so the pace quickens as O’Reilly and Grizzly tear into each other. German suplex from Grizz, into the rolling butterfly suplexes and double arm DDT combo from Kyle. Bennett doesn’t like O’Reilly’s popularity so shoves him OFF THE TOP ROPE! That doubles as a tag and once again we get Corino and Bennett squaring off. He gets rid of The Prodigy then floors the other two with the Colby Shock DDT. Eternal Dream on Redwood! Spinebuster from Bennett to O’Reilly and suddenly all four are on the deck. Round the circle forearm strikes…until O’Reilly tries to fight everyone at once! Double missile dropkick to Redwood and Corino scores. Redwood inadvertently floors Brutal Bob…then puts Kyle in an abdominal stretch. Corino struggles with the urge to put the Thumb In The Bum and gets so preoccupied he doesn’t see Bennett and the Side Effect coming. The Prodigy gets the win in 10:44

Rating – *** – This was one of those matches that got slated live, but I had no problems with it. For it’s spot on the card it was fine, so I’m thinking a lot of the hate for it comes from people not liking Bennett. Some of the hatred Mike gets is a little harsh in my opinion, but at this point in his career as long as people are booing him (no matter what the reason) he’s doing all ROH want and need him to do. He rightly got the win here as Corino, Kyle and Grizzly will all stay over regardless.

Michael Elgin vs El Generico
The House Of Truth’s new enforcer Michael Elgin continues his campaign against known enemies of Roderick Strong on ppv this evening. Last night he dished out a brutal beating to Christopher Daniels and, even in defeat, certainly made an impression on the TV Champion and the wider ROH audience. That night only the intervention of El Generico stopped the man known as ‘Unbreakable’ from doing some serious damage to the Fallen Angel…so tonight he turns his attentions to the Generic Luchador.

Elgin flattens Generico with a body avalanche right away. El Generico is clearly aware he needs to hit and move if he’s to stand a chance against the powerhouse, so continually tries to chop and strike at Elgin before moving away and avoiding his grasp. Dropkick knocks him out of the ring but Truth Martini stops Generico going for that tope atomico…and Elgin swoops to deliver a crushing stomp to the chest. ROLLING backbreakers get ‘Unbreakable’ a nearfall. He takes it out of the ring, but Generico splats his head against the ringpost. LUCHA ARMDRAG OFF THE RAILS! BUT ELGIN CATCHES HIM! RUNNING F*CKING POWERSLAM INTO THE BARRICADE! I bet the idiots that were chanting ‘you can’t wrestle’ at Elgin at the start of this match aren’t saying it now! Somehow that didn’t cripple Generico and he is soon sprinting across the ring for the SOMERSAULT DIVE! Back in the ring he does land the rope run tornado DDT (as opposed to that brutal Elgin counter on the floor) and gets a close nearfall. Half Nelson Suplex countered to a wrist clutch powerbomb and Elgin gets a 2-count in return. Oklahoma Stampede Slam scores too. Generico tries a Yakuza Kick but Michael simply catches his foot and starts elbowing him in the back of the head. LARIATOOOO for 2 again! He tries the lariat again only to see it countered to the Half Nelson Suplex. The referee gets an inadvertent thumb in the eye…bringing Truth Martini in. He attempts a crossbody…and when Generico ducks Elgin simply catches his manager. POWERBOMB ON GENERICO WITH TRUTH STILL ON HIS BACK! But for the second night running, Elgin allows himself to get distracted and Generico pounces for an inside cradle and sneaks away with victory at 10:27

Rating – *** – Is it heaping too much pressure on Elgin to say that, on first impressions, he looks like he could be the next ‘Samoa Joe’ in ROH? Certainly he has a lot of similar qualities. Lots of great power moves, a natural ‘heavyweight look’ as opposed to a typical steroid/muscle physique. A lack of mobility and speed in the ring which is compensated for by an impressive amount of lower body strength. And unlike say Erick Stevens who NEVER looked comfortable working as a ‘big man’ wrestler, he looks very much at home as a dominant power athlete. Of course Generico was the ideal foil to get him over here. Personally, if I was booking I’d have gone the whole hog and actually put Elgin over Generico here. The luchador looks to be headed into a feud with House Of Truth anyway. He’s red hot after winning at Final Battle, so using his first iPPV match since that big win New York to put Elgin over would be a massive rub for the newcomer. I really like Elgin…

Just as last night, Elgin doesn’t react well to being beaten and launches into an assault on Generico. Roderick Strong is out too and orders his associate to finish him with a powerbomb. He thanks Elgin and sends him to the back, then gets on the mic to run down Homicide…who doesn’t like that one bit so duly runs out to demand their title match happen right now.

Roderick Strong vs Homicide – ROH World Title Street Fight
Technically this is billed as a ‘No DQ Barrio Street Fight’ but I don’t really know what that means and I’m entirely convinced it means the same thing as simply saying ‘Street Fight’. Homicide returned to ROH at Glory By Honor 9, pissing all over Roderick Strong’s World Title victory celebrations in the process. They haven’t liked each other since then…and after Homicide went on a 3-month winning streak and finally convinced Executive Producer Jim Cornette to grant him his title shot, this was booked and these two were right back at each other’s throats on HDNet. After a heated exchange between them which actually forced a scheduled televised main event to be cancelled officials hastily rebooked this under anything goes rules – which may well favour a world-renowned brawler and street fighter like Homicide.

TOPE CON HILO FROM HOMICIDE! Just as Strong and Martini thought about leaving, that move from Homicide ensures the World Title Match happens in the middle of the show. They brawl into the crowd – which naturally presents a problem for Kevin Kelly and Dave Prazak as they have no monitors and can’t see what’s happening at ringside. They start stalling for time talking about Twitter as the two men engage in an ugly brawl through swarms of people. Homicide is clearly psyched for this, and is extremely aggressive throughout the opening minutes – planting the champ with a bulldog through an open chair. But his unhinged persona counts against him as he takes so long threatening the ref with a chair for no reason that it affords Strong some time to recover. TORTURE RACK BACKBREAKER ON THE APRON! That does obvious and immediate damage to the challenger’s back, and Roddy looks to take immediate advantage by stretching him over the guardrails. He returns the match to the ring where Martini is conveniently able to pass weaponry through the ropes to him. Chairs are strung up in three of the four corners of the ring…then Strong starts pissing on Homicide’s parade as he hits the Three Amigos on him. Cide didn’t like that one bit and lifts Roddy into a belly to belly suplex, then side-steps him to send him flying into a chair in the corner! Briding t-bone suplex gets 2…before the champ lands a jumping knee to the side of the head. He thinks about a Gibson Driver through a table, but Homicide blocks it. SWINGING DDT THROUGH THE TABLE! Truth is in the ring now, so is Michael Elgin. Both are dispatched…then Strong eats a second rope Ace Crusher. Lariat nailed and Martini has to dive in at the last to save the belt. Ace Crusher on him…but Strong has recovered and he floors Cide with the Sick Kick. Suplex Flip Backbreaker gets the win at 14:51

Rating – *** – ‘The worst ROH Title Match ever’??? Not even close in my opinion. I could list off a comfortable list of at least ten that I thought were far worse than this from any angle you want to look at it be it booking, workrate, crowd response etc. Is this a great match? Of course not. Was it a very low key World Title affair – absolutely. But this wasn’t bad at all, in fact it was probably Homicide’s best match since returning to ROH outside of that suicidal spot parade he worked with Necro on HDNet. The interference at the end was a little WWE-esque too, but the thing is, this was only supposed to be a fun little match. And it delivered on that level. Roderick and Truth were awesome as the cheeseball villains. Homicide worked as hard as he’s done since he’s comeback and genuinely looked motivated out there. And the crowd reacted well to it. Homicide was raucously cheered as the babyface, whilst the House Of Truth act was roundly boo’d. There were ‘this is awesome’ chants, and enough audible groans of disappointment at the end to let you know that this wasn’t anything like the car crash of a match many people have made it out to be. Just because it didn’t live up to someone’s expectations, it doesn’t mean that’s a reason to ignore the obvious qualities this match did possess.

Sara Del Rey vs MsChif
We saw the build for this on the HDNet episodes taped in Louisville. MsChif made her return to ROH, defeating Daizee Haze in a competitive match then blinding her with the notorious green mist. The next week she went on TV and announced she was fed up of Del Rey and Haze whining about not having enough competition in the Women Of Honor division – and having disposed of Daizee now wanted a piece of the Queen Of Wrestling.

MsChif is aware that Sara likes to charge at her opponents to punt them in the face at the bell, so she grapples Del Rey literally as the bell rings and drives a few knees to the kidneys. Sara hits back with a heel kick and now strings together a trio of running boots to the chest. She works a Gory Special on MsChif, except rather than the arms she uses her hair to drag her deeper into the hold. Credit to Chif, she escapes into a northern lights suplex for 2. JACK-KNIFE POWERBOMB! Del Rey just folded her over like a piece of paper there! Capo Kick scores, into the wrist clutch Olympic slam (Del Razor) to win at 03:54…

Rating – DUD – Based solely on the match I could maybe go as high as 1* on this as I like Sara, but for sheer booking stupidity this has to be a DUD. MsChif beat Daizee clean, then injured her a few weeks ago. Having Del Rey completely squash her tonight kills MsChif’s heat and harms Daizee’s reputation by association. I’m guessing they needed to keep the card at a decent length, considering this was on ppv – although why Davey/Colt, Bennett/O’Reilly/Corino/Grizzly and Generico/Elgin all couldn’t have been a couple of minutes shorter each to give this one 8-10 minutes is anyone’s guess. I know ROH have booked Joshi talent for WrestleMania weekend but this is considered the death of the Women Of Honor division by many – and it’s hard to disagree.

Sara angrily spits on the fallen MsChif…who gets up and sprays the mist in Del Rey’s face, leaving her screaming in pain just as the Haze was on HDNet.

Kings Of Wrestling vs All Night Express – ROH Tag Title Match
Tonight is a huge night for Kenny King and Rhett Titus. It’s their first opportunity to challenge for the Tag Titles (in a 2 vs 2 environment) since 2009, and a genuine chance to prove they deserve to be considered amongst the ‘elite’ tag teams in the deep Ring Of Honor tag division. They’ve not had a lot of success coming into this – losing to WGTT on HDNet, and taking a beating from the Kings in singles matches the week before this event…and the Kings are taking their challenge so lightly that Hero even dubbed them the ‘five minute express’. Will this be a comprehensive victory for the longest reigning Tag Champions in ROH history or can the ANX pull off a huge upset?

Titus starts with Hero, looking determined to make a statement and shaking off a succession of tackles and elbows from That Young Knockout Kid. King tags in next and he flies in with a volley of punches on Claudio. Armdrags come next, and in comes Rhett as well for an atomic drop/shoulder block combo. Castagnoli tags out in a sulk, leaving Hero in the ring to take the springboard leg drop/running splash sequence. Treble kick series on Claudio, then Titus drops Hero with the Thrust Buster and ANX are rampant. HIPTOSS PLANCHA BY RHETT! Kenny joins the party with a corkscrew senton off the apron, leaving the ‘five minute express’ well on top as the clock ticks past that marker. The fans are really starting to get behind them as well which is nice. POP UP EUROPEAN ON THE APRON! Titus just got majorly f’d up and Castagnoli looks happy to accept a rest as he struggles to get back into the ring. Hero pounces as soon as he return, delivering a big boot right across the arm. The Kings go straight to work on that body part – although Claudio is having his choice of move restricted by the fact that he doesn’t like the fans shouting ‘HEY’ anytime he delivers anything of significant value. Suplex Elbow to the back of the head causes Titus to slump on the floor looking very much like a dead body. Then Hero swings around and delivers a brutal, completely unprovoked cheap elbow shot to King, splattering him on the floor too. Claudio tries a huge superplex but Titus slips away, delivering a Snake Eyes on the way to making the hot tag to Kenny. Rolling Flash Kick COUNTERED WITH A CAPTURE SUPLEX! King tries the corkscrew enzi…and Hero blocks THAT with the Rolling Flash Kick second time around and both guys are down. Claudio belts King with a clubbing lariat for a 2-count. King backflips out of the corner to block a Super Chokeslam. JUMPING ENZI KICK! SUPER SEX FACTOR BY TITUS! Royal Flush nailed and it brings Hero diving into the ring to save the match. Brainbuster by Titus…SHOOTING STAR PRESS BY KING! HERO SAVES AGAIN! Hero smashes through Titus with an elbow, then walks into an enzi kick from King to leave everyone down in a pile. Hagadorn tries to throw the Golden Elbow pad in…but King intercepts it! He (sort of) escapes the UFO…LOADED ELBOW BY HERO! Claudio covers King at 15:55

Rating – **** – Since most people haven’t seen Steen-erico/ANX from 2009, and the Final Battle 2010 opener is only really considered to be a good spotfest, maybe THIS is the match that will finally be considered a coming out party for the ANX. They stopped being a novelty act a long time ago, but this match was truly superb and should help fans look at them (particularly Rhett) and realise that they are now capable of having genuinely good ‘ROH standard’ showstealing matches. Sure the finish was a little ugly, but the 15 minutes of sheer quality that preceded that more than make amends. I really don’t think any move tonight will get a louder pop than King’s SSP either. It came out of nowhere and the whole building went absolutely nuts for it. I really don’t think anyone expected these four to produce something THAT good!

King and Titus get a standing ovation, along with a loud ‘All Night Express’ chant which is 100% deserved after that effort.

Christopher Daniels vs Eddie Edwards – ROH TV Title 2/3 Falls Match
As the HDNet series has nearly come to an end, I think it’s fair to say that the TV Title bout between these two at the Louisville tapings was definitely one of the stand-out matches of the entire series. Edwards defied a succession of injuries to battle to a 15-minute draw but wanted to BEAT the Fallen Angel so demanded overtime to do so…but it was Daniels who took the opportunity and became the 2nd Television Champion. Jim Cornette brought them together the following week to book an immediate rematch – with Eddie wanting 2/3 Falls and Daniels wanting an increased time limit. Both stipulations were agreed, so tonight they have half an hour and a potential three falls to settle their rivalry. Will Eddie get his belt back, or will Daniels go 3-0 over ‘Die Hard’?

As if to emphasise the fact that they have more time to play with, they spend the first minute doing little more than looking at each other. The whole opening period is incredibly even with some terrific chain-wrestling exchanges between these well-matched competitors. Edwards tries to work Daniels’ arm, but against a backdrop of constant Fallen Angel counters and headlocks. It takes a couple of fierce chops from the challenger to establish an advantage for the first time – getting 2 with a sliding enzi kick. Running bootscrapes from Eddie, and it has Kevin Kelly wondering whether he has hit Daniels so hard he could actually score a fall by TKO. That is until Daniels hits a Saito suplex and drops Eddie right on his neck again. Chops to the neck follow, then he gets 2 with a neckbreaker. Northern lariat, then he goes straight into an innovative headscissors stranglehold which literally traps Edwards in his own body parts, leaving him unable to escape for some time. The champion looks to take the intensity up a notch, dragging Eddie out of the ring and giving him several violent trips neck-first into the rails.

Superplex is blocked, then countered with the SPRINGBOARD SUPER RANA out of the corner, but such is the damage he’s sustained Edwards struggles to even get up after that. When he does he drives Daniels out of the ring with a kick, straight into position for a slingshot double stomp on the apron. He boots the Fallen Angel into the front row…then returns to the ring. But he doesn’t want a count-out fall. SUICIDE DIVE INTO THE CROWD NAILED! He follows up with a missile dropkick (with neck selling)…then a tiger suplex but he pops up clutching his own neck again! BASEBALL SLIDE DROPKICK FROM THE FLOOR! That was awesome but Daniels fires back with his second rope stomp across the chest, rattling that injured neck against the mat again. SPICY DROP GETS 2! Edwards blocks the urinage slam and BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEXES HIM TO THE BUCKLES! Both competitors are totally spent without a fall being earned either way! Backpack Stunner from Eddie…before they go into an intense exchange of strikes. Achilles Lock COUNTERED TO THE KOJI CLUTCH! BACK TO THE ACHILLES LOCK! DANIELS USES THE ACHILLES LOCK SO EDDIE COUNTERS HIM TO THE KOJI CLUTCH! That sequence was all kinds of awesome.

Daniels capitalises on a weary mistake by Edwards and scores a flash pin at 22:57 – taking a 1-0 lead in the final third of the match. Eddie misses another double stomp SO DANIELS GIVES HIM A BLUE THUNDER ON THE APRON! That’s crazy! The champion rolls back into the ring thinking he’s won this by count-out. Less than 5 minutes to go, and even though he beats the count, somehow the challenger needs two falls. PILEDRIVER ON EDWARDS! Somehow he recovers from that to block Angel’s Wings…TURNBUCKLE URINAGE SLAM INSTEAD! Daniels is being so violent in this one. He tries that second rope stomp again BUT IT’S COUNTERED TO THE ACHILLES LOCK! DANIELS TAPS! It’s 1-1 at 26:46! Eddie is desperate and tries to pick at Daniels’ leg again. He locks in an STF but just can’t force a submission as time starts to run out. TOP ROPE SUPER RANA! He hit that with such force that it busts Daniels’ head open! BOTH MEN CRASH OUT OF THE RING! Daniels is a total mess and WOULD be counted out…but the time limit expires at 30:00. It’s agony for Edwards, who would have won as he was back in the ring!

Rating – ****1/2 – I flat-out loved this match. 2010 was a record year for ROH’s MOTYC’s, but I’m telling you now I’d put that high in my Top 10 even if it happened last year. Admittedly it’s only the end of February but I’ll be amazed if this isn’t high on my list for 2011 as this was a genuine mat-wrestling classic. The psychology here was so awesome, with Daniels destroying Eddie’s neck (which, to his credit, Eddie did a competent job selling)…but just like in Louisville the former champion refused to stop fighting, even when injured. Of course the Daniels injury at the end was sad, but it’s also an extra treat in terms of storyline as he did NOT give Edwards an extra 5 minutes whilst injured, which Eddie did for him on TV. The last 10 minutes were pure drama and, considering this was  30-minute technical battle, rather than a blood feud with chairs swinging and head drops flying, the crowd were absolutely electric which really helped.

Officials (including Jim Cornette and Kevin Kelly) rush to the scene as Daniels isn’t moving well at all and is losing a large amount of blood at ringside. He’s given ice and rushed to the back, leaving Jim Cornette to tell the disappointed challenger and fans that the time limit draw has to stand as Daniels can’t continue and needs medical help…

Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Charlie Haas/Shelton Benjamin
When WGTT came to ROH last year the dream match everyone wanted to see was WGTT/Kings. But with that one done, and with Haas and Benjamin now signed to deals which keep them in ROH for the time being, attentions quickly turned to the possibility of a World’s Greatest Tag Team vs Briscoes dream encounter. Jay and Mark are legitimate legends in this promotion, having been here since the start and held the Tag Titles more times than anyone else. But Charlie and Shelton claim they are better than anyone the Briscoes have ever had to face before. Interestingly, Charlie and his sadly deceased brother Russ actually feuded with the Briscoes when they were kids in the pre-ROH era. Now they collide again, with the winners becoming #1 contenders to the Kings Of Wrestling and receiving a title shot at the Atlanta iPPV weekend.

WGTT’s new entrance music is f*cking awful. Jay and Benjamin start, going around the ring in a heated collar and elbow lock-up. They work a similarly competitive exchange on the mat with Jay showing his considerable ability to live with the outstanding amateur skills of Shelton. Mark tags, and his smaller size means Shelton starts to exert his dominance as time wears on. But it’s Benjamin’s turn to show his versatility, doing well to match speed with Mark in a rapid-fire pinfall exchange. Haas in, and he looks PISSED when Mark starts swinging chops at him like a wildman. Jay back in, and just as he did with Mark, Shelton does an awesome job hanging with the faster man as they go pin for pin. Shelton scores with perhaps the biggest move of the match thus far – nearly decapitating Jay with a big boot to the face. Double backbreaker gets 2 as WGTT start to cut the ring in half and isolate Jay. But these two teams are so even that, in a blinking of an eye, the tides are turned and it’s the Briscoes trying to cut Charlie off from his partner. BACK SUPLEX ON THE GUARDRAIL! Haas can barely stand after that, favouring his back and unable to even defend himself for the next couple of minutes. That is until he scores with a desperation German suplex and gets the hot tag to Shelton. He FLIPS Mark through the air with a running palm strike then flattens him with the Stinger Splash/exploder suplex combo. Mark retaliates with the Redneck Kung Fu…then Jay gets 2 after completely stiffing Benjamin with a clothesline. Dragon Whip puts Jay on the mat too! OLYMPIC SLAM BY HAAS! WGTT grab Jay for the Leapfrog Hilo but Mark BLOCKS IT with a flying knee strike out of his own corner. He goes upstairs again though…ROPE RUN BELLY TO BELLY SUPERPLEX BY SHELTON! Amazingly he and Mark come up from that lugging the sh*t out of each other with punches. Benjamin FLOORS him with a superkick! Jay, Shelton and Charlie all start fighting in the crowd, and that can’t be good with Crazy Mark back on his feet. SPRINGBOARD SOMERSAULT PLANCHA GOES THREE ROWS DEEP! More Bang For Your Briscoe? Briscoes modify the Young Bucks finisher, ending with Mark’s Frog Elbow for 2 on Benjamin. Haas blocks the Doomsday Device, then the Jay Driller! HART ATTACK BLOCKBUSTER! WGTT grab the win at 22:21

Rating – **** – I can see why people were a little disappointed with this. It lacked the ‘big match sizzle’ of the Kings/WGTT match at Glory By Honor, and was fought at a noticeably slower pace. BUT, whilst I’ll admit it maybe wasn’t as good as it could have been – I still think this stands up as a very good tag match. The story they told was great in that it painted a picture of two super-talented and totally even teams – meaning they could just go from one well-executed exchange to the next and it still felt seamless and believable rather than spotty and inconsistent. Shelton and Mark, in particular were totally ‘on’ tonight and their exchanges were the highlight of the match for me. With WGTT signed up for more dates – this actually serves as a good match in it’s own right without them doing enough to take away from a rematch which will surely happen as the year progresses.

SIDENOTE – Having read some critiques of the above match – it seems like I’m one of the few people who find the WGTT Hart Attack Blockbuster a believable and credible finish. They used to do it in WWE and I think it looks awesome. I don’t understand the heat they got for it – in an era when the Briscoes have toned their act down and used the regular Doomsday Device instead of the ‘springboard’ variant, I don’t get why the WGTT finish doesn’t work?

After their hard-fought match, the Briscoes and WGTT all shake hands and maintain the Code Of Honor, which is a fitting way for the 9th Anniversary Show to end. Check out the DVD bonuses to see some HUGE matches laid out for forthcoming shows. Richards vs Daniels in a Pure Wrestling Match is signed for New York, Homicide says he wants to bring a partner of his choosing to Manhattan to face the Kings, whilst Haas and Benjamin challenge the American Wolves to reunite and face them in a dream match during the Atlanta shows for WrestleMania weekend.

Tape Rating – **** – It feels like people having unreachably high expectations for this show has actually hampered their enjoyment of it. I’ve seen quite a lot of negative press around it so came in fearing the worst…so I actually was pleasantly surprised to find this to be the best show of 2011 thus far. Ignoring the 4-minute assassination of the women’s division, the undercard was really bright. Lots of punchy and enjoyable matches which were long enough to be good but never outstaying their welcome, then three excellent main events – highlighted by the epic Daniels/Edwards match which stole the show and further legitimised the fledgling Television Championship. As they say ‘haters gonna hate’…but in my opinion Homicide/Strong is nowhere near the worst ROH Title Match ever. Kings/ANX absolutely smoked the lack of expectation for their match, with the All Nights producing one of the best performances of their careers. Briscoes/WGTT is also surprisingly solid for what it was as well. As a package this wasn’t anything like as good or exciting as Final Battle. There were no videos hyping up the matches and giving you reasons to care. There were ROH ‘Top Moments’ videos running through the live iPPV which were cut from the DVD release, as well as an intermission promo with Jim Cornette promoting the Atlanta shows. But not being as good as ROH’s biggest and best show of last year is not a reason to negatively score this one.

Top 3 Matches
3) Charlie Haas/Shelton Benjamin vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe (****)
2) Kings Of Wrestling vs All Night Express (****)
1) Christopher Daniels vs Eddie Edwards (****1/2)

Top 5 World’s Greatest/9th Anniversary Show Weekend Matches
5) Eddie Edwards vs Kenny King (**** – World’s Greatest)
4) Charlie Haas/Shelton Benjamin vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe (**** – 9th Anniversary Show)
3) Kings Of Wrestling vs All Night Express (**** – 9th Anniversary Show)
2) Davey Richards/Charlie Haas/Shelton Benjamin vs Roderick Strong/Chris Hero/Claudio Castagnoli (**** – World’s Greatest)
1) Christopher Daniels vs Eddie Edwards (****1/2 – 9th Anniversary Show)

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