A Modest Response

Welcome to A Modest Response, your source for the week’s ROH news and views. This week, a surprise MOTYC is reviewed by our new ROH reviewer and I take a look at the Race to the Top Brackets!

News of Honor

John Kronus, of the ECW Team the Eliminators, dies

Another one. This is epidemic.

Lance Storm and Dave Meltzer both speak out against the status quo

About time. These are known to be two of the more intelligent men in wrestling and hopefully they are heeded.

ROH debuts on iNDEMAND Cable Systems this Friday

Click the link above for showtimes (and here for info on this weekend’s Canadian debut of the PPV!)

Click here for Ring of Honor Tokyo Results

Click here for Ring of Honor Osaka Results

Stay tuned after next weekend’s shows for the debut of the IP Ring of Honor Rankings!

This Week on Inside Pulse

The Top 100 of the Modern Era: CM Punk is by me and it’s got a lot of my favorite AMR in it. Check it out.

Wheeler writes about sick bumps. I suggest that the problem isn’t the bumps, it’s the lack of emphasis put on them by the company. We should be talking about this for months, as should the announcers. That’s secondary to the awesomeness that is “Lisa the Vegetarian.” Homer + Chilli is also fantastic.

Vin likes wrestling books. I do too, but I wish more were actually well written. I second his suggestions on what’s good, particularly the first and second Foley books.

Booker T vs. Boogeyman is reviewed by Brashear. Ask him why, not I.

Column to Honor Andy Mac has released Bracketology for the ROH Race to the Top Tournament. His picks are almost exactly what I’d like to see, but I just don’t find them very likely. So, that said, here is what I consider the likely breakdown of The Race to the Top.

A Modest Response: What will probably happen in the Race to the Top Tournament

The Race to the Top Tournament is, for those who don’t know, a Ring of Honor two night tournament to be held 7/27 in Long Island and 7/28 in Edison. The winner of the tournament will be a top card contender in ROH from here on out. I’ll be following the exact same format as Andy, so be sure to read his column. Here are the brackets.

Bracket A
BJ Whitmer vs. Pelle Primeau
Davey Richards vs. Jigsaw

Bracket B
Erick Stevens vs. Chris Hero with Sweet and Sour International
Delirious vs. El Generico

Bracket C
Claudio Castagnoli vs. Hallowicked
Matt Sydal vs. Mike Quackenbush

Bracket D
Jack Evans vs. Kevin Steen
Brent Albright vs. Matt Cross

Bracket A

BJ Whitmer has been threatening the top of Ring of Honor for quite a while. A regular upper-midcarder, Whitmer just never seems able to get the big win, losing against Morishima and in his biggest match to date, against Jimmy Jacobs. Whitmer has lately been on a losing streak, but as a top seed in the tournament he gets young Pelle Primeau in round one. Pelle is one of the smallest men in wrestling and quite a competitor, but he lacks experience in a tournament of this kind.

Davey Richards is one of the hottest young stars in wrestling. He’s fast, strong and one of the hardest kickers in the business. With the No Remorse Corps backing him up, he’s also been winning far more matches in ROH. Jigsaw is Quack’s tag team partner and probably already among the best young high fliers around. He has, however, yet to win in ROH.

Predictions: It’s almost too easy to predict a Pelle Primeau upset here, so I won’t. BJ, for all his losses of late, has been facing off against top talent. Pelle might be there one day, but as a young competitor, he isn’t yet and BJ is just too big and experienced for Pelle.

Davey and Jigsaw wrestled in the first match of the IWA-MS tournament, the Ted Petty Invitational. The match was very, very good and helped get Jigsaw’s name out to a lot of promoters who tuned in because they’d heard so much about Davey. Davey still won that match, despite Jigsaw’s impressive showing and likely will again here.

Davey and Whitmer really could go either way, but it’s the match in second round I’m most confident predicting will occur. Davey is great at tournaments, but really, Whitmer might just be too big and strong for Davey to handle. Davey, in the TPI, lost to Low Ki, another man who has enough more experience to give Davey trouble. It should be a great, hard hitting match, but with Whitmer’s desperation and Davey’s skill at tournaments (he won the ECWA Super 8 and PWG Battle of Los Angeles last year), Davey should be able to eke out a victory.

Block A Winner: Davey Richards

Bracket B

Chris Hero, the anti-ROH superstar, the man no one thought was good enough to earn a ROH spot has become the favorite of the tournament. By hiring an agent and a trainer he is as good a bet as any to win the whole shebang. Erick Stevens is the young, big muscle of the Resilience. He has a bright future and might be a main eventer sooner rather than later with an impressive showing here.

El Generico, the PWG Champion, can beat anyone at any given time. The Generic Luchador is a very good high flier with brilliant high impact moves that seem to explode out of nowhere. If I could have anyone I wanted win this tournament, Generico would be second only to Quack. Delirious is the unorthodox masked madman of ROH. He’s actually beaten Danielson before and had the most main event success of anyone in the tournament. The masked man from the edge of sanity can beat anyone on the roster and must soon be in line for a title shot. Delirious just beat Roderick Strong in Tokyo and should be hot coming into this one.

Stevens main asset is his strength and size in relation to the rest of the ROH roster. Hero is his size and not much, if any, weaker. His main strength blunted, I see no way for Stevens to prevail against the faster, more well-rounded, and more experienced Hero.

El Generico and Delirious will be an absolute blast so long as they remember to play up the character quirks of both men. Delirious has been less enjoyable to me of late mostly because he’s been downplaying his insanity. No fun. If they play it up, and they likely will, Delirious seems to love Long Island, this can nearly steal the show. Unfortunately for Generico, Del loves Long Island and won’t lose.

Delirious vs. Hero will be a load of fun if you like antics. Even more than Generico, Chris Hero thrives at antics. If Whitmer wins the first round, Hero is all but guaranteed a win here, while a Richards win means he’d likely face Delirious. Hero seems like he should beat Delirious, just having too much size and strength at a similar mat wrestling level for Delirious to handle. The problem is Delirious antics will likely confuse and annoy Hero to the point where he can and will be flustered, giving Delirious the victory.

Block B Winner: Delirious

Bracket C

Hallowicked, another Chikara trainee along with Jigsaw, holds major titles all over America and is a regular partner of Delirious in other companies. He’s less of a high flier than Jigsaw, but a superior mat wrestler and striker. He, like the rest of the Chikara wrestlers, has yet to win in ROH.

Claudio Castagnoli is big, fast, agile and dangerous. Since he’s gotten back in the ROH fans good graces he’s been tough to beat and is owed a title shot on Aug 10 in Boston. He’s a Chikara regular and he and Hallowicked are quite familiar with each other.

Matt Sydal is the premier high flier on the regular ROH roster with Jack Evans so often in Japan. He recently sold out to Sweet and Sour, Inc and this will be Sydal looking for his next win after a very good overseas trip that saw him gain victories.

Mike Quackenbush is one of the best wrestlers on the roster. He’s a phenomenal high flier and master of a thousand and one holds. Think Dean Malenko mixed with Rey Misterio and you’re close. He’s also an owner of Chikara and big draw on the indies in ROH. If any of us could book and choose a winner, it’s Quack, especially with a match with Danielson upcoming.

Claudio will beat Hallowicked. The match will surprise and at several times it will almost be feasible that Hallowicked gets the win, but it will not quite get there.

Quack and Sydal is as hard as possible to pick a winner. Both had extra motivation of history with Claudio as motivation. I’d love for Quack to win here because he and Claudio have the best chemistry of anyone besides maybe Dragon and Nigel, but Sydal has his entourage of Sweeney, Tolland and Dempsey to even the score and he’s had more success in tournaments as a former TPI winner. Looks like Sydal will get the win here.

Claudio and Sydal had better be damn great to have denied us Claudio and Quack in a ROH ring. Claudio will be looking for revenge here, but it’s early in the feud, so Sydal will likely remain a step ahead, just as he did when he and Daniels beat Claudio’s Kings of Wrestling.

Block C Winner: Matt Sydal

Block D

Kevin Steen, El Generico’s tag partner, is the bully of ROH. He beats on opponents and mocks them while their down, being impressive with surprising speed to go with his obvious power. Steen’s surprising speed will face the undeniable quickness of Jack Evans. Jack, a high flier of the highest caliber, is returning from Dragon Gate for revenge on former partner Roderick Strong’s NRC.

Brent Albright, the former Gunner Scott, has really found his way in ROH, beating ROH Icon Homicide and starting BJ Whitmer’s losing streak and frustration. He’s also owed a title shot Aug 11 in Philadelphia. Alrbight will face The Resilience’s Matt Cross. The high flier has been impressive in tag action, but hasn’t made his mark as a singles wrestler.

Predictions: Steen is a tag specialist and that will cost him against a hot Evans who just beat Roderick Strong, who’s too high up the card to be in this tournament. Evans should be too fast for even the surprisingly quick Steen and get the win.

Albright will destroy Cross. This guy just beat ‘Cide and Whitmer. After that, Cross is a light snack.

Albright and Evans is a turning point of the tournament. If Evans can get the win, he might just go all the way in this tournament. Albright might get the win in the tournament, but will he look past Jack with his title shot looming? Evans has beaten stronger opponents before (no pun intended), but has Albright ever faced anyone quite like Jack? Probably not and the Hart Dungeon trainee will take the round.

Block D Winner: Jack Evans

Semi-Finals

Davey Richards vs. Delirious

Matt Sydal vs. Jack Evans

Poor Del, just when he thought he was done with the NRC, here they are again. Davey has been dominant lately, but he’s still a lackey in the NRC and Del just beat his boss. Delirious will win to show he’s still a man to beat for the NRC.

Sydal and Jack Evans should be great as former Gen Next Members explode. Either man could win here, but with Delirious in the finals, Sydal, his long time rival, seems to make a lot of sense as an opponent. Sydal will likely get away with the win here, thanks to his entourage, leading Jack to realize he’d better find someone to watch his back quickly.

Race to the Top Finals

Matt Sydal vs. Delirious

The two longtime rivals and training partners will meet at the end here, just like they did at the last survival of the fittest. Delirious, worn down by Sydal’s new friend Chris Hero and the NRC via Davey Richards will struggle to manage a victory here and thus, after their best match in ROH thus far, Sydal will escape with a victory and move to the Top of the Card as he has been prepped to since he was a member of Generation Next.

Race to the Top Winner: Matt Sydal

And here’s the pure fantasy part of this exercise. This dominance of the tournament by Sweet and Sour, Inc and the NRC will lead Delirious, Jack Evans, and Claudio Castagnoli to form a new alliance against their enemies, with the Resilience, creating a four way stable war.

Upon further Review

This is from new ROH DVD reviewer Chris Sicoli.

Good Times, Great Memories
4/28/07
Chicago, IL

ROH World Title Match
Takeshi Morishima © vs. Shingo

Let me make it very clear that I wasn’t expecting anything from this match when it was first announced. While I was enjoying Morishima’s work around then and was looking into his other singles matches, I wasn’t sold on Shingo. At all. Like, he could have turned around and walked out the door and I wouldn’t feel the least bit upset. So, combine a guy I kind of mark for
with a guy I couldn’t care less about, and you wind up with a display of mediocrity. Well, at least, that’s what I thought would happen…and boy did they prove me wrong.

I read a bunch of live reports about this match, almost all of them hailing it as an ‘epic, MOTYC that needs to be seen to be believed’. I didn’t think too much of it; I mean, live reports can be misleading for a lot of different reasons. Still, I was intrigued, and skipped right to this match
when I popped in the DVD this morning, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The match starts with Shingo absolutely going all-out, hitting ‘Shima with the fastest yet most powerful strikes and tackles he can muster, taking the big man off his feet and sending him to the floor within minutes, showing him a great combination of physical prowess and determination. However, the lightning-quick flurry of attacks from Shingo isn’t enough as ‘Shima decides to start taking this challenge very seriously and dominates Shingo with his much larger physique, nailing hard strikes and dangerous slams.

Morishima then shows how truly awesome he’s becoming with his stay in ROH by taking a move out of the playbook of ROH icon Samoa Joe and twisting it to himself. ‘Shima sets Shingo on a chair in the corner of the guardrail, and proceeds to nail his running hip attack to the side of Shingo’s head, smashing it into the railing…twice! That’s right boys and girls, it’s no
longer the Ole Kick, it’s the Ole Hip, and it looks a LOT more brutal!

They re-enter the ring, and Shingo decides to really heat things up by striking ‘Shima with all he has, and manages to take ‘Shima down with a DDT on the apron, followed with a DVD on the floor! Shingo looks relieved and ‘Shima looks out of it! Shingo gets ‘Shima in the ring as fast as he can, but only manages a two count, so he continues with a series of awesome looking and sounding strikes, but ‘Shima realizes how close he is to losing control of the match and goes wild on Shingo, clubbing him in the side of the head so much that Sinclair tries to slow him down, but ‘Shima has none of it and shoves Sinclair across the ring. As Prazak so sweetly put it- “NO
ONE GETS IN THE WAY OF TAKESHI MORISHIMA!”

However, following a long, extended period of agonizing pain, Shingo enters his ‘fighting spirit’ mode, and finally unleashes the SICKEST looking Wrist-Clutch Last Falconry I’ve ever seen from him, but it only gets a two count, shocking the crowd. ‘Shima fights his way back up, fired up from an adrenaline rush and looks for both a lariat and backdrop driver, but Shingo manages to hang on by a thin thread long enough to avoid both maneuvers and comeback with one of the hardest lariats in recent times, hitting ‘Shima so hard that he makes the weirdest sound ever, almost like a growling bear, as all the air leaves his body at once. Shingo goes for lariat after lariat, and connects with two of them, until ‘Shima has the third one scouted and takes Shingo off his feet. The closing stretch ensues, which sees ‘Shima behead Shingo with one of his best looking lariats yet, and then only gets a two count…so you know what’s coming next! BACKDROP DRIVER, DAAAANGEROOOOUS! 1, 2, 3, and that’s it! Finally; ‘;Shima finishes someone with just ONE backdrop driver! Maybe, just maybe, it won’t take eighty-four backdrop drivers and a gunshot through the head to topple his opponents anymore!

The entire match had Shingo focused on winning the world title to bring honor to both himself and the Dragon Gate promotion, putting his heart and soul into his performance to try and topple NOAH’s giant, almost like the little engine that could. Yet, even though he took it to Morishima hard from the get-go, ‘Shima was an absolute beast that wouldn’t and couldn’t be stopped. I mean, he would take a series of big moves that would easily beat, and probably cripple a normal man, but ‘Shima just got up and asked for more. Now, don’t confuse it with no-selling, ’cause the dude definitely sold Shingo’s offense, however he’s such an animal in the ring and can absorb so
much punishment that he brushes it aside and taunts Shingo, acting like he’s fine to try and demoralize the Dragon Gate star. Watching these heavyweights go balls-to-the-wall and tell a great story along the way was absolutely awesome, and what made it even better was that I didn’t event expect this to be a good match! Hell, at first I was almost sorry to hear it announced!

As far as a match rating, ****1/2 easily, and to me is on par with matches like Briscoe/Briscoe from Liverpool, Umaga/Cena from RR, and Hero/Kingston from CZW earlier this year, as well as a few other matches, making it a prime MOTYC. To top it off, I believe that this is in the top three matches of Morishima’s career (the other two being vs. Misawa in 05 and vs. Joe this year), and by far the best match Shingo has ever been apart of. Props to both men for turning me into a bigger fan for one and a total supporter of the other while creating an epic, MOTYC that needs to be seen to be believed’ in the process.

That’s it for this week. Thanks Chris and as for the rest of you, send any feedback to hbk826@aol.com or drop me a line on Aim at hbk826. See you next week when I’ll be reviewing Bryan Danielson vs. Paul London in a 2/3 Falls Epic Encounter.

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