Ring of Honor Live Report: 6/9/07 in Philadelphia, PA

This show started with a Do or Die which is where non-roster guys compete for a spot. This part of the show also featured a Top of the Class Trophy Match between the trainees.

Do or Die

Match 1: Top of the Class Trophy Match: Pelle Primeau defeats Rhett Titus, Mitch Franklin, and Alex Payne (Pin, Ace Crusher Pin Combination, **)

This was a nice fast paced match with high spots by Pelle and Franklin keeping the crowd involved. Titus is now “the sexiest man alive” and while the gimmick is cliché, he’s learning it quickly and drawing heat with it. Franklin actually defeated both Payne and Titus, Payne with a submission off a sunset flip and Titus with a roll up. The dynamic with sometimes tag partners Pelle and Franklin is very good as both are very similar and go for quick pins most of the time. Pelle still proved supreme with his ace crusher, however, even if Franklin’s beating the other two trainees showed he was a serious contender for the Top of the Class Trophy.

Match 2: Damien Wayne defeated Rex Sterling (Pin, Brainbuster to a top rope elbow drop, **)

Wayne has a good look and is crisp in the ring. Sterling has a less good look and seemed nervous, but was solid and unspectacular. Actually, besides a few nice Wayne spots, this match was entirely unspectacular. I think Wayne earned a shot with a ROH regular, but his finish has to go. A brainbuster into a top rope maneuver for a regular finish is trademarked by Austin Aries in ROH. Still, he was impressive and I can begin to see where the hype is from, even if it would take more time to get a better feel for where and how he’d fit in. Sterling can get another shot, but it really should be another Do or Die type deal. He just looked flat out nervous. Solid match.

Match 3: Azrieal and Deranged defeat Gran Akuma and Mike Elgin (Pin, Doomsday Ace Crusher, * ½)

This was sloppy. Azrieal apparently hasn’t improved much, although Deranged is better than I remembered him being, he’s still not actually you know very good. Akuma looked in a class by himself in this match, but his involvement was kept to a minimum as I’m pretty sure he has a roster spot, but the former Special K members were fighting for theirs. Deranged was sloppy, but fun, and Az was solid, but mostly unimpressive. Having Special K work face was a strange choice since the crowd took a long while to warm up to them since they were always heels previously. I wouldn’t be upset if none but Akuma got another shot, but they weren’t terrible and if an opening tag team is needed, they fit the bill.

Lacey vs. Daizee Haze was bumped to the main show.

Main Show

Bryan Danielson is announced as hurt, but a make-up is promised.

Match 1: Matt Sydal defeats Hallowicked (Pin, Shooting Star Press, ** 1/2)

This started out very slow and threatened to quiet the hot crowd who were strongly behind Hallowicked. Well, when Hallowicked made his comeback, the crowd immediately revived. That he kicked Sydal’s head off with a Yakuza Kick surely didn’t hurt. From there the match was hot and a quite good finish mostly due to the slow build.

Match 2: Lacey and Daizee Haze wrestled to a time limit draw (*)

Lacey tried to wrestle a regular match since she’s all about love now, but when that didn’t work she took it dirty. New, happy Lacey gets no heat, which is a shame. Jacobs looked happy and smoked a cigarette at ringside. The story wasn’t terrible, but as usual, Daizee was sloppy and the match went nowhere.

Match 3: Kevin Steen and El Generico defeat Mike Quackenbush and Jigsaw (Pin, Package Piledriver and Brainbuster, *** ¾)

This was pretty much tag formula at it’s finest. The heat generated by all four men was excellent. Steen came off as a giant jerk and the crowd ate it up, with Generico, as usual, playing his reluctant accomplice. Jigsaw is actually way better at selling and his spots than I recall. And Quack, well, Quack is among the most over men on the roster and absolutely adds to the match just by his demeanor, let alone all the cool stuff he does in the ring. The heat segment on Jigsaw was perfect, with a ton of Steen trickery and taunting throughout keeping the crowd involved until Quack got in and tore it up. Quack and Jigsaw had a great combo where quack hit a swanton, Jigsaw hit a guillotine leg drop then Quack hit a double flying knee. Steen and Generico were ultimately too much as a team and all the face teams pin attempts were broken up, but when the heels hit the Package Piledriver, Brainbuster combination the match was clearly over. A bit more time or a slightly hotter finish (which I almost can’t believe I’m saying, but the bar has been raised) and this is an all time classic. As is, it’s just great and the model of tag formula done right.

Match 4: Davey Richards defeats Matt Cross (Submission, Key lock, ** 1/2)

These two were kind of place holders after the heat of the last match. They had to go out, have a solid match to keep the crowd involved, but keep the show moving, and they did just that. They wrestled a solid, unspectacular match, with a nice finish, which saw Cross break out the big guns to put Davey away going from a Twisting Corkscrew Moonsault to a Sasuke Special and trying to finish with a Shooting Star Press, but missing, landing on his feet and getting thrown into the post shoulder first. Davey hit a tombstone piledriver and locked in the keylock for the submission. The slow match could have built better to the hot finish, but that finish was absolutely top notch.

After the match the No Remorse Corps beat on Matt Cross until Delirious and Erick Stevens make the save. This leads to our next match.

Match 5: Delirious defeats Rocky Romero (Pin, Roll up, **)

This was mostly a big brawl through the arena. Interestingly, at different venues, ROH has established routes for the brawl through the building. This match let me know my pick of Necro Butcher for Nigel’s opponent was incorrect because with Necro on the card the brawl would have been in his match. The match eventually went back to the ring where it proceeded without note, both men hit their signature spots, but couldn’t finish until Delirious stole a win with a roll up. Delirious has lost his way. Without the strong comedy or at least insanity in his matches, he’s just another worker, and none of his finishes are really over. He needs to get back to what works, except establish a new finish.

Post match is another brawl for Resilience and the NRC which ends with Resilience declaring that August 11 will be a Street Fight between the two teams when ROH returns to Philadelphia for Death Before Dishonor V Night 2. I’m there for that.

Match 6: 2/3 Falls ROH World Tag Team Title Match: Jay and Mark Briscoe defeat the Kings of Wrestling (2 Falls to 0, Jay Driller, Springboard Doomsday Device, *** ¾)

It was great to see the Kings back together and they are absolute heat machines. The moves in this were great, but the Kings never controlled enough to make it feel like they had a chance of victory. The first fall, which was Hero losing to a Jay Driller, really felt like it came out of nowhere. The second fall built better and the Briscoes established themselves as pure dominance, defeating Aries and Strong and the Kings of Wrestling in straight falls. This felt distinctly like two teams trying not to steal the show. At the time, that was strange, as was it coming on before intermission.

Match 7: Brent Albright defeats BJ Whitmer, Erick Stevens, and Jimmy Rave to earn a title shot (Pin, Half Nelson Suplex, ** ¾)

The crowd was tired for this one. Albright was put over huge here including a senton from the top to the floor and generally looking dominant at all times. Whitmer desperately needs a heel turn to connect with the audience again. Stevens seemed out of place in this one. He’s too far down t he card to compete with these guys. Jimmy Rave is a star and one of the best heels in the business. He was mostly kept out of this so as to let the heat be on Albright so he’d be impressive for his title shot. Solid match, which served its purpose of making Brent look great. He’s one of the very few in the mid-card that could beat Morishima, assuming he’s still champion at that point.

The next match, Nigel McGuinness vs. a mystery opponent, is announced as being taped for ROH’s second Pay Per View.

Match 8: Nigel McGuinness vs. Bryan Danielson

Looks like Dragon wasn’t hurt after all. The pops these two men received were enormous. They wrestled an inspired match. They started off working in submission moves in a shoot style, working in standard spots and then they turned the speed and heat up for the rest of the match and beat the living hell out of each other. They killed each other on the floor with a running European from Nigel and then a flying cross body into the crowd. Dragon wouldn’t stay down though and suplexed Nigel’s back onto the guardrail. Back in, Danielson had a hurt body part, so he went to work, while Nigel tried to knock his head off as quickly as possible with a lariat before his back gave out.

Eventually, both men get frustrated and begin headbutting each other and the strikes come fast and furious. The finish was great with a bloody Danielson cycling through his finishes, from the crossface chickenwing to the MMA elbows to a Tiger Suplex, and, of course, finishing with Cattle Mutilation, all the while Nigel struggles viciously to hold out, but it isn’t enough and he is forced to tap.

Bryan Danielson defeats Nigel McGuinness (Submission, Cattle Mutilation **** 3/4)
Regular readers know I’m not big on hyperbole, so believe me when I say this is one of the best matches in ROH history. This will be on the second PPV and blows away anything on the first for atmosphere and quality. I think it might be as good as their Unified match, but I’m not prepared to make that assessment without seeing it again. This was two of the very best in the world going all out. See this match, whether on Pay Per View or DVD. I can’t imagine it not being a huge hit if you like pro wrestling. I guess now we know what the Briscoes and Kings were saving the crowd for.

After the match a bloody Danielson asks the crowd who the Best in the World is. He gets the correct answer.

Match 9: ROH World Title Match: Takeshi Morishima defeats Roderick Strong (Pin, Backdrop Driver, *** ¼)

This was very good, but sold to a totally burned out crowd. Roddy worked face here and the two men stiffed the living hell out of each other. It was obvious Strong wouldn’t win, but when he managed the gutbuster and the kick, well, let’s just say it was quite the impressive feat. A very good match that might rate higher, but really, following Dragon and Nigel, it didn’t have a chance.

One of the better ROH shows I’ve ever been two with one of the better live matches I’ve ever seen in Danielson vs. McGuinness. Add in two great tag matches and a fun, stiff title match and you have an absolute must buy show.