7/27/07 in Deer Park, NY
I was front row for this one, sending results in to fat internet geek #42, Big Andy Mac.
Match 1: Race to the Top Round 1 Match: Pelle Primeau vs. BJ Whitmer
Pelle early on looked great and BJ was having a very hard time keeping him still, but, unfortunately for Pelle, that was not to last. BJ grabbed hold of him and looked to make quick work of the smaller wrestler. A few high impact moves were all BJ managed, however, because Pelle grabbed a quick small package and got the mildly surprising win.
Pelle Primeau defeats BJ Whitmer (Pin, Small Package, *)
Power vs. Speed was the order of the day and speed won on a fluke. This was really short.
Post match, as Pelle crowd surfed, BJ beat up on Rhett Titus, a trainee, and then on Pelle himself.
Match 2: Race To the Top First Round Match: Davey Richards vs. Jigsaw
These two met in round one of the TPI and that was better. Davey is working an intense heel style and Jigsaw, quite smoothly attempting to counter. Davey’s brutality was too much as he managed a DR Driver on Jigsaw, but even that only got two. Unfortunately for Jigsaw, the kickout lead to a Key Lock, from which he had no choice but to submit after some earlier arm work.
Davey Richards defeats Jigsaw (Submission, Key Lock, ** Ã‚Â½)
Perfectly acceptable match with the striker focusing on the arm, while Jigsaw just tried to keep away. Jig is getting really smooth in the ring, and while this was considerably less sloppy than their TPI match, that one was also more ambitions. Perfectly good, but really, paint by numbers. Unfortunately, if Jigsaw is kicking out of the DR Driver, it’s really basically dead as a finish now. Not good for such a nasty head drop and I wish they’d be more cautious with moves like that.
Match 3: Race To the Top First Round Match: Claudio Castagnoli vs. Hallowicked
These two have good chemistry, but were trying to have a good match, rather than a great one. Both guys wrestle a similar style and so this was a back and forth affair, with Claudio generally one step ahead. The Alpamare Water Slide by CC only got two on Hallow, but the Riccola Bomb was enough to finish.
Claudio Castagnoli defeats Hallowicked (Pin, Riccola Bomb, ***)
Hallowicked needs more bookings in singles matches as these guys didn’t have a special match because they didn’t want to at this point in the card and that was pretty clear. Claudio doesn’t have bad matches at this point it seems, and Hallowicked made him look great without ever coming off as weak. This was an impressive showing without being fancy.
Match 4: Race To the Top First Round Match: “Lightning” Mike Quackenbush vs. Matt Sydal
Pre match Larry Sweeney talked a bunch and took Sydal’s entourage, Sweet and Sour Inc to the back. These guys worked a lot of mat wrestling and speed in, with Quack being the superior mat technician and Sydal being quicker. Unfortunately, for Sydal, to set up his speed he had to let Quack grapple him a bit, which allowed a face plant and rollup to get Quack the win.
Mike Quackenbush defeats Matt Sydal (Pin, Roll up, *** Ã‚Â¼)
I really, really don’t know this for sure, but I get the impression too often to not mention it, but Sydal appears to have significantly worse matches and try a lot less when he isn’t in a featured match or booked to win. He and Quack are so good that this didn’t suffer that greatly because of it, but this could have been a lot more, especially as Quack’s first singles win and with him going into a featured match with Danielson in two weeks. There go my brackets, by the way, since I had Sydal winning the tournament.
Match 5: Race to the Top First Round Match: Chris Hero w/ Larry Sweeney, Sara Del Ray, Tank Tolland and Bobby Dempsey vs. Erick Stevens
This was just a very good match with great heat and both guys looking like a million bucks. Hero, consistently trying to show up Stevens, spent most of the match getting mashed in the mouth for showboating too often. Of course, supporting his demeanor, the entourage distracted the ref and Stevens, allowing for a lot of control by Stevens who had his best ROH singles showing to date. Stevens, of course, finally got the better of Hero with a Michinoku Driver and almost got a three, but Sweeney pulled out the ref. Unfortunately, this lead to an irate Stevens eating a Hero’s Welcome for three.
Chris Hero defeats Erick Stevens (Pin, Hero’s Welcome *** Ã‚Â½)
Stevens best singles showing and he’s surely destined for great things. Hero is already a top card talent and showed why, but with his fun flips and showboating, we’ll see how long he can manage to remain a heel. This nearly stole the night for me and was very good. Hero really almost paid for underestimated the rookie, who came out looking very strong and was quite over.
Match 6: Four Way Fray for the FIP World Title: Roderick Strong (c) vs. Gran Akuma vs. Austin Aries vs. Jimmy Rave
Both Aries and Rave are wildly over, with Aries getting “welcome backÃ¢â‚¬Â and huge chants. Aries badly wants to get his hands on Strong here, but in his over eagerness is pinned by all three men and eliminated from the match.
Akuma begins striking at Rave after this, not the best idea since Rave is a brilliant counter wrestler. This of course leads to the heel hook and elimination number two.
Roderick and Rave had a strong match here, but Roderick didn’t do much through the first two eliminations and while Rave controlled early, a series of backbreakers and finally the Strong Hold finished Rave who couldn’t get to the ropes.
Roderick Strong wins the Four Way Fray (Submission, Strong Hold, **3/4)
This was fun and everyone looked strong, but really, this could hardly be less memorable. Rave is begging for a turn into a tweener, though, and really can handle the top of the card. It is a boost for him that he was too big to be in the RTTT and hopefully leads to a push. This was a placeholder for guys who weren’t in the tournament and a reminder of Strong and Aries loathing for one another.
Match 7: Race to the Top First Round Match: El Generico vs. Delirious
Delirious and Generico had a fun back and forth match based mostly on grappling, but nothing fancy. Generico took to the air, a tactic which forced Delirious on the defensive. Two Yakuza kicks and a brainbuster later and we have a major upset as Generico defeats Delirious.
El Generico defeats Delirious (Pin, Brainbuster, ** Ã‚Â½)
The match wasn’t special, but Generico over Del in ROH is a big deal as they occupy much the same spot on the card. Generico’s win totally destroys my brackets, but he’s a great wrestler and, like Claudio, almost impossible to have a bad match with. Glad to see him get a push.
Match 8: Race to the Top First Round Match: Matt Cross vs. Brent Albright
This was expected to be quite the squash, but Cross, who the crowd didn’t care for immediately, started off fast with a number of high risk moves culminating in a Sasuke Special #2. Cross continues to try and stay ahead of the monster Albright, but Albright manages to grab his arm and the crowbar severely weakens Cross. Cross, favoring his arm is picked off with the half nelson suplex, leaving Albright in a bad way, but he lifts him before the three. A press slam into another crowbar forces Cross to tap.
Brent Albright defeats Matt Cross (Submission, Crowbar, **1/2)
Cross got in more than I thought, but it was a matter of time before Albright got a hold of him and ended it.
Match 9: Race to the Top First Round Match: Kevin Steen vs. Jack Evans
This was great as they had a dance off to start, during which Steen stomped Jack. Apparently this pissed Jack off since he immediately went on the offensive and hit an absolutely filthy hands free dropkick to the floor. Back and forth they battled on the floor with Steen finding the offensive and sending Jack into the guardrail right in front of us. Jack tried hope spot after hope spot only to be dropped on his head for his trouble, but eventually a double knee from the top into a tree of woe sitting Steen got Jack control of the match. With Jack, that meant high risk was coming, and a 630 Splash later, Jack had the victory.
Jack Evans defeats Kevin Steen (Pin, 630, ***3/4)
This was a load of fun. Both of these guys are all charisma, crowd pleasing moves and interaction. They played that up, with Steen having the sense to forgo most of his speed moves against Jack, but it not mattering because of how quick and resilient Jack is. I’m really looking forward to this match on DVD.
Match 10: Ring of Honor Tag Team Championship Match: Jay and Mark Briscoe(c) vs. Nigel McGuinness and “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson
Nigel began the match and the Briscoes abused him a bit. When Dragon offered help and got in, however, he controlled and he and Nigel took turns abusing the Briscoes separately. They really end up heating things up with a Tower of London and super backdrop by Nigel and Dragon respectively, but a hot tag allows the Briscoes to use their teamwork against the challengers and Danielson is set up for a springboard doomsday device. Nigel stops that and Dragon manages a reversal into the Cattle Mutilation. Nigel and Jay battled on the floor and Nigel (nearly breaking my knee in the process) was thrown into the guard rail, allowing Jay to get back in and hit a big splash to break up Cattle Mutilation.
When Nigel returned he battled both Briscoes alone he managed a top rope mounted lariat of extreme pain, but it was broken up and back and forth they battled. When Dragon recovered, they had the tag champions on the defensive and went for a roaring elbow (from Danielson) and jawbreaker lariat (by Nigel) on the back to back Briscoes. The Briscoes moved, Nigel took the elbow, and was rolled up for three.
The Briscoes defeats Nigel McGuinness and Bryan Danielson (Pin, Roll up, *** Ã‚Â½)
This was good and very fast paced. Apparently, unlike in TNA, a great team will trump two great singles workers, especially with any miscommunication involved.
This entire night was fast paced, high energy fun. The venue was hot and overcrowded, but Sports Plus closing left ROH in a bind. Still, with nothing classic occurring, this show managed to hold up with consistent quality and good pacing.
7/28/07 in Edison, Long Island
Match 1: Race to the Top Second Round Match: Chris Hero w/ Larry Sweeney, Sara Del Ray, Tank Tolland and Bobby Dempsey vs. El Generico
A good portion of this match was Hero showboating and becoming frustrated while Generico did high risk, crowd popping offense that Hero struggled to match. This frustration caused Hero to complain after a close nearfall rather than go for the pin. As he attempted the Hero’s Welcome, a recovered Generico managed a backslide and got the win.
El Generico defeats Chris Hero (Pin, Backslide, No Rating)
I got to the venue about 5 minutes into this one so I don’t feel like rating it would be fair. What I saw was good, solid face-heel dynamic wrestling.
Match 2: Race to the Top Second Round Match: Davey Richards vs. Pelle Primeau
Pelle tried to use speed to counter arm work and striking, which didn’t work out quite as well as he’d hoped. Davey was, once again, quite intense here. Pelle eventually thought he had the victory and so went for his stunner roll-up combo, but that earned him a tombstone and key lock from which he was forced to tap.
Davey Richard defeats Pelle Primeau (Submission, Key Lock, **)
Pelle never managed to feel like a threat to Davey, making this match much more miss than hit.
Match 3: Race to the Top Second Round Match: Jack Evans vs. Brent Albright
Brent, a beast, swung around Jack like nothing, mixing in arm work and crowbar attempts to try and stop Jack from using his speed. Unfortunately for Albright, his best offense, a crucifix bomb through a table, and the crowbar submission hold were not enough to stop the resilient Jack Evans. Albright, becoming frustrated, argued with the ref and suffered the same fate as Chris Hero. Jack recovered and managed the 630 for the win.
Jack Evans defeats Brent Albright (Pin, 630, ***)
This felt like a mismatch of styles and a mishmash of the first two matches, but was still better than either due to Jack’s good timing of hope spots, big comebacks, and Albright being a monster.
Match 4: Race to the Top Second Round Match: Mike Quackenbush vs. Claudio Castagnoli
Well, these two wrestled the slowest match they have that I’ve seen, and I’ve seen them wrestle at least 6 times. This was the worst. They focused on mat wrestling rather than power vs. speed and really, their reputation and skill saved them, because this was put together poorly for a crowd that was heavily anticipating it.
The mat wrestling was solid and when Quack used speed, he controlled, but he was worn down from working the mat with a bigger opponent so when he went up top, Claudio had time to counter with a top rope headscissors and a running European uppercut finished.
Claudio Castagnoli defeats Mike Quackenbush (Pin, Running European Uppercut, ***)
Thanks guys for making me look bad when I promised loudly for a stellar match. Changing the same match they usually wrestling is good, but altering the story beyond recognition for a new audience for each was an unwise course in my opinion.
Becky Bayless came out to introduce Danielson and McGuinness who are tonight captains of a team each that will battle each other. The winners of this match will get $10,000. They bicker and do a decent skit with each other that hopefully doesn’t lose its charm on DVD. Danielson ends up with Mark Briscoe, Matt Sydal and Austin Aries. Nigel ends up with Jay Briscoe, Delirious, and Roderick Strong.
Match 5: Race to the Top Third Round Match: Davey Richards vs. El Generico
This one was all about the arm work of Davey, which Generico sold like a champ. As has been a problem with that strategy on speed guys, they still have their strength, which is to say they can still run around with a hurt arm. Generico used this to his advantage and a key lock and other moves could not finish him as he continued to wear down Richards. The Brainbuster to the top rope finished and gave Generico a pass into the finals.
El Generico defeats Davey Richards (Pin, Brainbuster on the top turnbuckle, ***)
Generico had really won the crowd over by this point, facing a second strong heel. He was an underdog everyone was pulling for and winning with the extremely impressive move he did further built him up. Very well done.
Match 6: Race to the Top Third Round Match: Claudio Castagnoli vs. Jack Evans
Where Steen didn’t use his speed because of Jack’s and Albright didn’t have speed to use, Claudio, the best big man against juniors around right now, kept moving and hitting high impact moves with Jack. His superior size lead to more resilience and great conditioning meant he did not tire, and so he was able to get the win over Jack with the Riccola Bomb, now an effective finisher once again!
Claudio Castagnoli defeats Jack Evans (Pin, Riccola bomb, ***)
Good story and pacing here. This tournament highlighted two things about Jack to me. First, he has improved hugely and is great at drawing sympathy and timing his comebacks. He’s a great face right now. Second, he re-uses spots a lot and while they are always impressive the first time, the second time you see them in a single night, or thrice in two nights, will overexpose. This isn’t going to be a regular problem, but really, the second time around the flips just weren’t as impressive. Still, Jack deserves a push to the very top for coming so far from being a simple spot monkey if he stays in America and doesn’t return to Dragon Gate.
Match 7: 6 Man Mayhem: Erick Stevens vs. Matt Cross vs. Hallowicked vs. Kevin Steen vs. Jigsaw vs. BJ Whitmer
This was better than it had any right to be with everyone interacting wonderfully and helping each other get over. Stevens and Hallowicked had some great back and forth moments leading Stevens to explain “that masked guy is good!Ã¢â‚¬Â while Cross and Stevens of Resilience and The Chikara Duo of Hallowicked and Jigsaw worked together. Steen pissed off Whitmer and Stevens, having some nice brawling with each other. Jigsaw is ridiculously smooth and of all the Chikara guys, he feels the most like Quack.
Eventually, this broke down, we got out regular dive spots and eventually during a bunch of chaos, a guy hit his finisher and got the win. In this case, that was Erick Stevens with the DR Bomb. It was good to see his hard work from the night before pay off.
Erick Stevens defeats Jigsaw, Matt Cross, Hallowicked, Kevin Steen and BJ Whitmer (Pin, Dr Bomb, *** 1/4)
A very good match for what it was. The formulaic match let guys personalities come through and everyone got over as a result.
Match 8: $10,000 Challenge: Bryan Danielson, Austin Aries, Jay Briscoe and Matt Sydal vs. Nigel McGuinness, Mark Briscoe, Delirious and Roderick Strong
Before even getting to the ring, Delirious and Strong begin fighting and have to be separated by their teammates. Not a good start from Nigel’s team.
Delirious and Sydal match up first, with some decent stuff, although Del is clearly distracted by Roderick. Aries attempts to get his hands on Strong, who runs away as much as possible and back and forth we go between the teams until Jay and Mark Briscoe are in against each other. Nothing all night popped the crowd like this.
Jay and Mark absolutely went at it back and forth at high speed. Then again they brawled, still evenly matched. No one would tag either, so they kept going at it until they realized that they’re tag champs and blood was thicker than water. Upon deciding this the Briscoes together decimated everyone else in the match on both teams to a monster pop and left to go get beers. Words cannot express how awesome this was.
The rest of the match carried along until Delirious and Roderick decided they couldn’t stop fighting and brawled to the back.
Nigel, mocked by Danielson, was now alone against Sydal, Danielson, and Aries. He tried, but really, no shot. Aries beat him down and Sydal went up for the shooting star to finish. Danielson pushed him off, wanting the pin himself, so Aries pushed Danielson off and hit the 450 for the pin.
Bryan Danielson, Austin Aries, and Matt Sydal defeat Nigel McGuinness (Pin, 450, *** 1/2)
I’m entirely sure how to rate this. It was absolutely as fun as can be, but not a great match by any means. Nigel is apparently an idiot picking the worst possible team and was destroyed for it. Danielson has a giant edge in their rivalry at this point. This is likely leading to Danielson holding the title as Nigel finally gets the big win, but they need to be careful not to kill Nigel off before then. He looked very weak in both matches this weekend.
Match 9: Race to the Top Finals: Claudio Castagnoli vs. Generico
This was a slow build match with each guy trying absolutely everything to win the Race to the Top. The match these two put on elevated the entire tournament. Generico used his speed and consistently tried to either kill himself for the win or just sneak away with a quick pin, but Claudio, knowing he had a man who had wrestled so often concentrated on just killing Generico with as many power moves as possible on his tired opponent. They almost went overboard with near falls here, including a top rope Alpamare Water Slide that only got two, but the crowd ate it up and bought every bit of it. Since it plays on the importance of the tournament, it works. The finish saw Generico take an elevated Riccola Bomb which was the final kill move he could not escape.
Claudio Castagnoli defeats El Generico (**** Ã‚Â¼)
Well, this was to make a main eventer and both men look like legitimate threats to anyone at this point, so mission accomplished. The crowd was dead and drained from the previous match at the start but couldn’t help but be enthralled by the end of this one. Great match.
Post match, Claudio gives a thank you speech to a highly appreciative crowd.
Both of these shows were very good for totally different reasons. Friday night was fast paced and fun with nothing really bad. Saturday night was slow and mostly dull until after intermission, but the final three matches were very good and the last two should be seen to appreciate both ROH’s great story’s and characters (the $10,000 challenge) and world class, high stakes wrestling (the tournament finals). Overall, this was a very good tournament, on par with the TPI, BOLA and other great indie tournaments. Seek it out when it’s on DVD and you’re sure to enjoy. Stay tuned for to Pulse Wrestling, as always, for the best Ring of Honor Coverage on the Net.
The Inside Pulse
7/27 Quick Results
Race To the Top First Round Match: Pelle Primeau def. BJ Whitmer
Race To the Top First Round Match: Davey Richards def. Jigsaw
Race To the Top First Round Match: Claudio Castagnoli def. Hallowicked
Race To the Top First Round Match: “Lightning” Mike Quackenbush def. Matt Sydal
Race to the Top First Round Match: Chris Hero def. Erick Stevens
Four Way Fray for the FIP World Title: Roderick Strong (c) def. Gran Akuma, Austin Aries and Jimmy Rave (Rave submits to Strong)
Race to the Top First Round Match: El Generico def. Delirious
Race to the Top First Round Match: Brent Albright def. Matt Cross
Race to the Top First Round Match: Jack Evans def. Kevin Steen
Ring of Honor Tag Team Championship Match: Jay and Mark Briscoe(c) def. Nigel McGuinness and “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson (McGuinness pinned by a Briscoe)
7/28 Quick Results
Race to the Top Second Round Match: El Generico def. Chris Hero
Race to the Top Second Round Match: Davey Richards def. Pelle Primeau
Race to the Top Second Round Match: Jack Evans def. Brent Albright
Race to the Top Second Round Match: Claudio Castagnoli def. Mike Quackenbush
Nigel McGuinness and Bryan Danielson choose teams
Race to the Top Third Round Match: El Generico def. Davey Richards
Race to the Top Third Round Match: Claudio Castagnoli def. Davey Richards
Erick Stevens defeats Jigsaw, Matt Cross, Hallowicked, Kevin Steen and BJ Whitmer (Stevens pins Jigsaw)
Bryan Danielson, Austin Aries, Matt Sydal, and Jay Briscoe def. Mark Briscoe, Nigel, McGuinness, Delirious and Roderick Strong (Aries pins McGuinness)
Race to the Top Finals: Claudio Castagnoli def. El Generico