Well, I just arrived in from the show. A lot of the Pulse staff was there, including BigAndyMac, the wrestling chief Matthew Michaels, Pulse big boss Widro, and Broken Dial head Shawn Smith, who’s section you should be reading. The show was good, if inconsistent. Let’s look at the how and why.
Ring of Honor: Fifth Year Festival Night 1
New York, New York
Pelle Primeau emerged first to put out an open challenge. Joe’s old music, “The Champ is Here,Ã¢â‚¬Â plays and the crowd erupts, but Morishima emerges.
Match 1: Morishima defeats Pelle Primeau (Pin, Backdrop driver, dud)
The match was literally just a backdrop driver and a pinfall. After the match Morishima calls out Joe, but Nigel comes out to calm down the big Japanese star.
Match 2: Adam Pearce w/ Shane Hagadorn vs. Delirious
This one was really formulaic, but not bad. Delirious used speed and misdirection to control when he could, while Pearce used power and cheating. Delirious had Pearce beat several times, but Hagadorn remained an issue. Eventually Delirious put brass knuckles in his mask and headbutted Pearce for the win.
Delirious defeats Adam Pearce (Pin, headbutt, ** Ã‚Â½)
Scott Keith used to say “Perfectly acceptable wrestlingÃ¢â‚¬Â to things like this for a reason: it fits.
Match 3: Shimmer Tag Match: Alexa Thatcher and Daizee Haze vs. Allison Danger and Sara Del Ray
This was a fair match, if overly exhibition like, until Lacey came out and took out Daizee Haze, leaving Alexa easy picking for Danger and Del Ray.
Allison Danger and Sara Del Ray defeat Alexa thatcher and Daizee Haze (Pinfall, double underhook to double arm suplex, *)
There was some decent exhibition stuff at the start, but nothing that went anywhere.
Match 4: Four Way Fray: Jack Evans vs. Shingo vs. Jimmy Jacobs w/ Lacey vs. Surprise Entrant Xavier
The rules were all four men in at once in an elimination match. Xavier replaced the injured Davey Richards. Everyone in the indies seems to link up moves, three or four impact moves in a row, even Xavier. This was spotty but very well put together. A reverse DVD bomb by Shingo followed by a reverse hurricanrana and rollup by Jack left Xavier the first eliminated.
Jimmy Jacobs, who for once looked less than impressive, is eliminated by a killer Shingo lariat soon after.
Shingo and Jack are the final two and they work really well together. Jack is over huge and his acrobatics are in full effect. He finished with the 630 to get the win.
Jack Evans defeats Shingo, Jimmy Jacobs and Xavier (Pin, 630, ***)
Good fun, if a bit more sweet than filling.
Samoa Joe comes out and gives a promo for the ROH crowd. I won’t try and do it justice, as hopefully it’ll be on a video wire, but parts of it were a definite chill moment.
Joe calls out Morishima, but draws Nigel McGuinness instead. Nigel says that Morishima calls out Joe, not vice versa. Joe reminds Nigel who he’s talking to and where he works, then slaps him. They have a pull a part brawl. I’d guess this all sets up Nigel as the replacement for Davey Richards on tomorrow’s show.
Match 5: Table Match: BJ Whitmer vs. Brent Albright
This was sick, with BJ being pressed from the top to a table on the floor in the first few seconds. BJ also took an Awesome bomb through two stacked tables, but was too resilient for Albright as he won with a big exploder from the top through two tables.
BJ Whitmer defeats Brent Albright (Pin, top rope Exploder through tables, *** Ã‚Â½)
The crowd ate this up. BJ is much stronger with transitions than Albright and he led Brent a bit in the match, but Albright was up for following and it lead to a really good match.
Match 6: Tag Title Match: Christopher Daniels (c) and Matt Sydal (c) vs. Austin Aries and Roderick Strong
This was sloppy and seemed to be building to a big Aries vs. Daniels sequence that never arrived. At one point Aries tried an Asai moonsault but caught his leg in the rope and landed on his head. His knee seemed injured the rest of the match and my first thought was “there’s TNA’s excuse to pull everyone immediately.Ã¢â‚¬Â Daniels and Sydal won with a Shooting Star by Sydal followed by the Best Moonsault Ever by Daniels.
Christopher Daniels and Matt Sydal defeat Austin Aries and Roderick Strong (Pin, Shooting Star and Best Moonsault Ever, ** Ã‚Â½)
This was unfortunately sloppy and marred by injury. I’d also question the wisdom of sending this out immediately after the big table match.
The big news here, however came after the match. Davey Richards ran out and confronted Austin Aries. During that confrontation Roderick Strong laid out his tag partner, Austin Aries with a big back breaker. He announced a new stable and beat on Aries until Jack Evans chased him away. Aries wanted revenge but Jack asked if he could get to the bottom of it first.
Match 7: The Briscoes vs. Nigel McGuinness and Colt Cabana
This was good and quite stiff. The Briscoes seemed more grounded than usual, but they did hit Stereo Splashes at one point which were quite the visual. Suprisingly, Colt and Nigel took the win the a Pendulum Lariat by Nigel with Colt tripping Briscoe from behind.
Nigel McGuinness and Colt Cabana defeat The Briscoes (Pin, Pendulum Lariat, ***)
I was surprised at how well everyone clicked. This felt like the first in a series more than a culmination in its own right. I really expected Jay and Mark to win, but as soon as I saw the ridiculously stiff Pendulum Lariat I knew it was over.
Match 8: Samoa Joe vs. Takeshi Morishima
Morishima dominated and sold nothing at the start. Joe got in some hope spots, but nothing that was sold. Morishima’s selling was a bit all over the place in this one, but once Joe decided to stiff the living shit out of Morishima, he never relinquished control for long. Each man kicked out of each other’s finishers, the Muscle Buster and the Backdrop Driver, leaving each man exasperated over what it would take to win. The ending borrowed a bit from Joe-Kobashi as Joe used a half-nelson suplex followed by a choke to get the victory. Morishima didn’t tap, he just passed out.
Samoa Joe defeats Takeshi Morishima (Arm dropped three times, Kokina Clutch, **** Ã‚Â¼)
It didn’t live up to Joe-Kobashi due to some spotty selling and a less clear storyline, but it was still a great match and a great way to end Joe’s ROH tenure in New York while adding to his growing legend.
World Title Match: Homicide (c) vs. Jimmy Rave
Jimmy has improved a ton. He’s linking moves, adding leg work, using old moves like the Rave Clash and Ghanarrhea. I was more impressed with Rave than I ever have been before.
Homicide wrestled a good match and the crowd was behind him, but nothing like the rabid support of him against Danielson at Final Battle. It seems more and more likely that his draw was in the chase and he isn’t working out as champion. He wrestled a very good match, despite forgetting to sell a hurt leg several times, including a few great character moments and the use of the fork, but the draw was nothing to that f him chasing the belt.
Jimmy Rave kicked out of the big lariat, while Homicide got out of a second rope Rave Clash and reversed the Heel Hook. A vicious Cop Killer put Rave away after a match that was a good bit better than I thought it would be.
Homicide defeats Jimmy Rave (Pin, Cop Killer, *** Ã‚Â¾)
This built well and didn’t let itself get slow for long, but also could have gone longer and had a bit better leg selling, and less back selling since it doesn’t effect Rave’s finish, from Homicide. Still, very good, just a shame this has to follow the epic Bryan Danielson title defenses.
Summary: This wasn’t as good as Final Battle, but still one of the better ROH efforts from top to bottom in a good while. Definitely worth a purchase on DVD for a very solid top to bottom card.
Stay tuned early Sunday for a review of the Philadelphia show, which I’ll also be attending.