Ring of Honor Results: Respect is Earned – 5/12/07 NY, NY

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“Respect is Earned” was last night and I absolutely loved the show. From the instant it started everyone was energized and put on great performances.

Match 1: Brent Albright defeats Tank Tolland w/ Larry Sweeney and Bobby Dempsey (Pin, half-nelson suplex, ***)

This was a much better opener than it had any right to be, thanks mostly to Albright’s undeniable charisma. He’s still basically a heel supposedly, but against Tolland and the obnoxious Sweeney, he was clearly the face. It seems being a face may be the way to go, as he put the match together much better that way. Albright is learning some stiff kicks and Tolland is becoming a better seller.

Tolland’s exercise based offense is cute and funny in small doses because he didn’t control this match too much. Since the roided up Tolland is a heel and needs to control a lot of the offense because of it, and since his offense works better in small doses, he really needs to be kept in a tag team. Tolland managed his finish -a one armed slam, think a chokeslam, but holding the belly- but that only got two and immediately after Albright finished with the half-nelson suplex. That finish is really getting over after pinning Homicide and Whitmer.

This won’t be on the Pay Per View, amusing since both are ex-WWE guys as Gunner Scott and one of the Dicks respectively.

Dave Prazak and BJ Whitmer come out to announce the start of the PPV. Prazak hypes the crowd and departs. The Pay Per View begins with Whitmer challenging anyone in the back only for ROH World Champion Takeshi Morishima to accept.

Match 2: Takeshi Morishima defeats BJ Whitmer (Pin, Backdrop Driver, ***)

This began with Morishima no selling a lot of BJ’s offense, but BJ eventually got control with an awesome sequence including the Exploder, a wicked lariat and frog splash, but it wasn’t enough. Morishima gets up after this angered, and decapitates BJ with a lariat. A backdrop driver and we’re done.

BJ is really improving. He’s not flashy and he, like Nigel previously, needs to add more of that, but he’s good at everything and fantastic at selling. His tough guy reputation immediately puts Morishima over here. Morishima is a monster.

Nigel McGuinness is out. He challenges Morishima. This brings out Bryan Danielson who says he deserves the title shot since he was such a great champion. Bryan attacks Nigel and Morishima helps. Morishima takes his belt and leaves, so as soon as Nigel gets up, Danielson retreats as well. The crowd ate that up.

Match 3: Naomichi Marufuji defeats Rocky Romero (Pin, Shiranui, ****)

Romero establishes his heel credentials by spitting at Marufuji instead of shaking hands and they begin with a beautiful reversal sequence establishing them as relative equals. Romero gains control and works the arm of Marufuji for a good bit, focusing on the cross-arm breaker.

Marufuji gains control and is all about working the leg in new and interesting ways. He hit a dragon screw leg whip from the second rope into a figure four leg lock and the crowd pops huge.

Romero eventually makes a comeback with a couple of gorgeous tornado DDT’s, but although he is limping he almost immediately goes back to kicking with the hurt leg, damaging the match. Romero goes for one of his finishers, a tiger suplex, but Marufuji lands on his feet and manages a lungblower variation to the face. A lariat and powerbomb get 2, so Marufuji goes to the top. He is met there by Romero who goes back to the arm with a jumping cross-arm breaker.

Marufuji manages to get out, shakes off the arm as best he can and hits a springboard coast to coast dropkick. Romero attempts to fight back after that, but it’s academic- spin kicks, a shiranui and he’s done.

This was very well put together with Marufuji wisely not going back to the leg once he saw Romero using it again so as not to draw attention to the snafu. Romero really stepped up here and showed what he can do. Marufuji is one of the best finesse wrestlers in the world and showed why he’s a former GHC Title holder. I don’t know if this will be on the Pay Per View, but you should.

Nigel McGuinness is out again and he says he didn’t come in with a herniated disc in his back and a separated shoulder to be beat down. Danielson and Morishima begin to beat him down again but KENTA makes the save and we have a Tag Main Event.

Match 4: Davey Richards defeats Erick Stevens (Submission, Key lock, *** 1.4)

This was quite stiff and both men looked really good. Davey left a lot of his charisma in the back tonight, but it was made up for how over “choo choo” is getting. It’s a runaway train! Hahahaha. Okay no.

Stevens continues to learn and grow and he, along with Davey, another guy who’s improving leaps and bounds, might just be the future of pro wrestling. The best sequence of the match had Davey suplex Stevens into the ropes and right back into the ring. When he tried it again Stevens reversed and deposited him on the floor. The key lock sequence at the end with Stevens attempting to use his power moves to steal a win before Davey could get the key lock in the center of the ring was quite nice as well. Davey eventually got the key lock and Stevens was forced to tap.

The Resilience continue to be hopeless losers.

Match 5: The Briscoes defeat Claudio Castagnoli and Matt Sydal (**** ½, Pin, Springboard Doomsday Device)

This started out a bit slow, but once it got going, it was pure gold. This is a guaranteed Pay Per View match and the spots and timing are phenomenal. Get the PPV for this match. It’s better than anything the WWE have done all year and probably the Briscoes 4th or so best match. Tag wrestling lives.

After the match the Briscoes celebrate while Dave Prazak, on stage, discusses the show for the camera. Kevin Steen and El Generico come out to ask for their title shot and they and the Briscoes have the best pull apart brawl I’ve ever seen. Steen and Generico kill the trainees that try and stop the fight and Generico dive onto the assembled crowd on the floor. I can’t wait for this match.

Homicide comes out as a special guest. He gives a mouth full of marbles interview, but says he has LAX business and ROH will be America’s number one promotion in time. He got quite emotional, left his bandana in the ring and Julius Smokes pours a drink on it. That was emotional. Goodbye ‘Cide.

Match 6: Sara Del Ray defeats Daizee Haze (Pin, Roll up, *)

This was based almost entirely off a prior match where Daizee used her speed to sneak a win. This time Del Ray was prepared and countered properly to win. Haze was less sloppy than usual so it wasn’t terrible. Del Ray is really good. If you have an interest in Shimmer, I urge you not to use the women’s ROH work as your benchmark. They’re all far better in Shimmer for whatever reason.

Match 7: Tag Scramble: Kevin Steen and El Generico defeat Irish Airborne, Pelle Primeau and Mitch Franklin, and Jimmy Rave and Adam Pearce w/ Shane Hagadorn (Pin, Package Piledriver, ** ½)

Good spotfest, but not great and mostly just fun filler.

Jimmy Rave is clearly the star out of this bunch. His presence adds legitimacy and it’s amazing how far he’s advanced as a heel at this point. Pearce is a great old school heel and in NYC always gets “Repo Man” chants, so this time when the chants started he pulled out a Repo Man mask. It was hilarious and totally worthwhile. Hagadorn had his arm in a sling selling the beating Danielson gave him the night before.

Irish Airborne are a good team, but not good wrestlers. More time against top talent and they could be something, so hopefully they can open some shows and get the crowd hyped with their fast paced double teams while improving.

Pelle and Mitch were here to take a beating. Unfortunate because Pelle can do much more and the crowd is into him. Mitch might be improving.

Steen and Generico are fast moving up my ranks of favorite performers. Their timing as a team is fantastic, their moves look crisp and they make opponents look good. PK, our newest ROH fan, prefers them to anyone on the card. They finished a member of Irish Airborne with the Package Piledriver.

Match 8: Roderick Strong defeats Delirious (Pin, Gibson Driver, ***)

This was for the PPV, but hopefully it’s cut. It’s a long, slow match between two guys without much, if any, chemistry. If a long slow match is going to be showcased, Danielson really should be in it since he’s the best at it. If you’re going to showcase Delirious he should be fully in character, comedy and all, since that’s why he’s over. The Romero-Marufuji and Stevens-Richards were better ROH showcases than this, although this might have been technically as good of a match. Strong finished with the running kick and Gibson Driver.

After the match the NRC came out (Davey Richards and Rocky Romero, along with Strong) and continued to beat Delirious down. They hit the Gibson Driver on a guard rail perched between the ring and the other guard rail. After this Erick Stevens came out and chased off the heels.

Match 9: Bryan Danielson and Takeshi Morishima defeat KENTA and Nigel McGuinness (Submission, Cattle Mutilation, ****)

Great 90s AJPW style tag match with some more spots thrown in. If you’re a WWE fan only, you’ve never seen anything like this that I can recall.

The match was built on tag formula stuff, with Nigel taking a viscious assault such as standing under Morishima while ‘Shima hit a Yokozuna style butt splash. The assault continued until Nigel was able to hit a Tower of London on the behemoth and KENTA kicked the crap out of everyone.

KENTA and Danielson’s stages of the match were fantastic as they showed why they are two of the best in the world and they built superbly off of their previous matches with counters and reversals to standard spots.

Nigel gets back in and is extra stiff, as he kills both Dragon and ‘Shima with lariats, including a top rope lariat into the crowd on ‘Shima. Meanwhile, Danielson goes for a flying headbutt on KENTA, but KENTA’s playing possum so Danielson eats boots. KENTA hits his running knee and the Go To Sleep, but Morishima, back in, breaks it up with a urinage suplex.

KENTA gets beat down for a few minutes until Nigel comes in. Nigel hits the Jawbreaker Lariat on Morishima and KENTA does a pop up falcon arrow on Danielson, but a Jawbreaker Lariat try on Danielson is countered and Danielson seriously injures Nigel’s arm in the process. That was wildly cool.

KENTA and Dragon are up and striking. KENTA wins, but Dragon meets him up top for a backdrop from the top and Cattle Mutilation. A counter sequence follows. Danielson goes for the MMA elbows, but is lifted to Go to Sleep, but Danielson blocks and hits a Dragon Suplex. Another Cattle Mutilation as Morishima attacks Nigel’s hurt arm. KENTA is forced to tap.

What a great sequence. Slightly sloppy in the middle, but the great sequences more than made up for it in this primer for ROH Main Eventers.

After the match Morishima takes out Danielson with a backdrop driver and lariats Nigel when Nigel hands him his title.

Great show with nothing actively bad going long except maybe Delirious and Roderick, and really only the women’s match besides not being an outright positive. Good first PPV, especially the Briscoes match.

Glazer is a former senior editor at Pulse Wrestling and editor and reviewer at The Comics Nexus.