Ring of Honor PPV Report: Man Up, 11/28/07

Top American Indy promotion, Ring of Honor, aired it’s third ever Pay per View, ‘Man Up’ on November 28th, via the DishNetwork. The PPV was taped on 15th September in the Frontier Fieldhouse, Chicago, IL. The past 2 PPVs have been excellent by quality standards and very well received, in many of the fan’s eyes this is a test for ROH to see if they can keep the hot streak of PPVs going.

To read my report of ROH’s second PPV, Driven, click here.

~~~~~

Ring of Honor: Man Up

The show opens, with Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard standing at ringside with Naomichi Marufuji already in the ring. Prazak announced they were going to kick things off with a Four Corner Survival match. Leonard previewed the card and announced ROH World Champion Takeshi Morishima vs. Bryan Danielson for later in the evening. Nigel McGuinness came out, walked up behind Leonard and grabbed the mic. He said his road to the title would begin in the ring tonight, he knows he has 4 tough opponents but that doesn’t matter, for he’s IN IT TO WIN IT!

Prazak talked about the Ladder War main event, but was interrupted by a fan covered in black who came out of the crowd and grabbed the mic. He said “AGE OF THE FALL! AGE OF THE FALL!” before security started to deal with him. In the chaos, Leonard shouted for the production crew to go to the open.

~~~~~

We go to an opening video package for the PPV tonight. Highlights of the last PPV, Driven are shown as the Briscoes’ music (Give me back my Bullets) is played in the background.

~~~~~

Back to ringside, where Prazak is interviewing Claudio Castagnoli. He said he’d get his hands on Hero and Sweeney tonight.

Chris Hero’s music hit and he come out with Sweet N Sour Inc. Larry Sweeney (Hero’s manager) cut a promo, talking about Hero being the best athlete there is. The fans really hate Sweeney.

~~~~~

Match # 1: #1 Contender’s 4 Corner Survival Match: Nigel McGuinness vs Claudio Castagnoli vs Chris Hero vs Naomichi Marufuji: We get some really cool graphics on screen highlighting each wrestler, showing some of their moves and saying their goals (ie, Naomichi Marufuji, Goal: Make Name in USA).
All 4 men here are high up on the card; a win here will give them a shot at Takeshi Morishima’s ROH World title.

Nigel and Fuji start with the usual feeling out process. Hero comes in and starts doing his awesome flips around the ring. Headstands, moonsaults, the lot. Fuji tags Claudio, and as he comes in Hero bails! Back in, Hero made a blind tag and took out Claudio from behind, hitting some stomps. CC came back, and Hero tagged out to Nigel. Nigel and CC do an awesome exchange of fast European style stuff and rollups. Hero and CC got fighting again (this time on the outside), but Marufuji took them both out with a somersault dive! Nigel then went up top, and took out both Hero and CC with a huge splash into the crowd (ala vs Dragon at Driven)!

Back in, Marufuji and Nigel went at it. Fuji hit a superkick and Sliced bread #2, but Hero broke up the pin (just). We go into a sequence of everyone hitting a big move and someone else breaking up the pin, as the fans are getting into this. Marufuji gets Nigel on his knees…SUPERKICK! 1…2…NO! Tower of London from Nigel gets 2 on Fuji. Cravat neckbreaker from Hero on Nigel. Top rope double stomp gets 2, when CC breaks it up by giving Hero a huge dead-lift German suplex! GIANT SWING from CC on Hero! Big European Uppercut gets 2! This is crazy. CC gets Marufuji and hits the Ricola Bomb, but Hero jumps on the ref before 3! Hero claims he slipped, as CC is pissed. He sends Hero out of the ring and hits a springboard uppercut on Nigel, but Nigel bounces off the ropes…JAWBREAKER LARIAT! 1…2…3!
Winner: Nigel McGuinness.

Great way to kick things off! For the fast paced style of match this was, the story fit really well– all 4 men wanted the title shot, so they just went all out trying to get the win. At the end, everyone’s tanks were empty – Claudio was too tired to kick out of that last big move (Nigel’s lariat) and Hero and Marufuji were too tired to break up the pin. The action was top notch throughout with all the great nearfalls and such we’re used to, and I liked how the storyline advancement with Hero/CC left us with something to think about after the match had finished. The only bad thing here was some awful pin-attempt break-ups, but apart from that this was a perfect opener.
***3/4.

~~~~~

Bryan Danielson is backstage. He cuts a promo about how Morishima inured his eye back in Manhattan (as highlights are shown), and how dangers like this make his family want him to stop wrestling. He said his Dad said to him that this was always the life you wanted. Danielson said he was going to go for the ROH World Championship and bringing it home because this was the life he always wanted. Great promo.

~~~~~

Up next we have the No Remorse Corps vs Resilience Singles Series. This is basically all 6 men facing each other, but instead of a wild 6 man we’re gonna have a series of (3) singles matches between them.

Both teams made their entrances and chose who will represent each team for the first match in the series. The Resilience choose Matt Cross, as the NRC choose Rocky Romero.

Match # 2: No Remorse Corps vs Resilience singles series match #1: Rocky Romero vs Matt Cross: We start fast with both men exchanging overhand chops to the chest. Cross ran wild on the outside, hitting some cool aerial moves. Back in Rocky hit lots of stuff on Cross, including a dropkick and a big running knee strike. Cross came back with a split legged moonsault-senton for 2. A springboard double stomp to the back and standing moonsault gets 2. A twisting moonsault off the top misses, as Rocky kills him with a German and kick to the head for the 3.
Winner: Rocky Romero.

Good little match. The story of Cross’ flying vs Romero’s strikes was pretty fun, with Romero’s strikes being more powerful and coming out on top. They didn’t have much to work with with the 5 minutes they had, but it had some nice stuff packed in and kept my interest all the way through.
**.

~~~~~

The NRC tricked Aries into thinking he was gonna be in there with Strong next, so Aries entered himself into the next match for the Resilience while Davey Richards entered himself as the next competitor for the NRC.

Match # 3: No Remorse Corps vs Resilience singles series match #2: Davey Richards vs Austin Aries: Aries runs wild to start with some fast stuff. We get lots of fast sequences early, before Davey uses his strikes to get control. Davey works over Aries, tying him up in a few submission holds. The exchange stiff forearms in the center of the ring, and Aries takes Davey down with a roaring one. Suicide dive from Aries! Back in Aries hit a twisting press. Off the ropes…Handspring kick from Davey! Davey hit some Kawada kicks, but Aries caught his leg and hit his shinbreaker/backdrop driver combo!

Aries up top…SUPER GERMAN SUPLEX from Davey! 1…2…NO! Davey ties up Aries’ arm…Brainbuster! It gets 2. Davey hits a forearm in the corner, then a lariat for 2. Aries escapes the DR Drover and gets some rollups for 2. Kick to the head from Aries! BRAINSUTER! Aries up top…450! 1…2…3!
Winner: Austin Aries.

Very good match. This was great for establishing Aries – Aries was superior at the start, so Davey asserted himself to keep up with him, but in the process tired himself out a lot, which in the end made him easy pickings for the brainbuster/450 combo. This established Aries’ superior wrestling skill and showed his determination to dismantle the NRC. Both men were completely on their games here, with my only gripe being Davey doing a bit too many flashy moves considering he’s a heel. Really good stuff.
***1/2.

Match # 4: No Remorse Corps vs Resilience singles series match #3: Roderick Strong vs Erick Stevens: We’re down to the final match in the series here. Strong’s goal is to prove he’s better than Aries, while Steven’s is to earn reputation.
We start hot with Stevens taking Strong off his feet with a big shoulder tackle. he hit an Oklahoma stampede for 2. Strong got control on the outside and started to work over Steven’s back/mid-section. Strong stretches Stevens around the ringpost. Back in they exchange stiff chops, as Strong hits Stevens with a standing dropkick. Strong continues to destroy Steven’s mid-section with backbreakers and high impact moves. Stevens came back, hitting a massive shoulder block and a TKO for 2. Strong off the ropes…Pop up Powerslam from Stevens! 1…2…NO! Strong catches Stevens…gutbuster! Pumphandle Slam drops Stevens right on his head! 1…2…NO! A sitout powerbomb from Stevens gets 2, and this match is awesome.

Both men fight up top…SUPERPLEX FROM STRONG! Stevens is back up! BIG BOOT from Strong! Half-Nelson backbreaker! 1…2…NO! They battle up top again…SUPER POWERSLAM from Stevens! 1…2…NO! The fans are chanting “ROH! ROH!” by this point. They have a long battle up top, where Strong comes out on top and hits Stevens with a SUPER CRUCIFIX POWERBOMB! TIGER DRIVER FROM STRONG! 1…2…3!
Winner: Roderick Strong.

Awesome match. It was all about building Stevens as a bigger player in ROH – Stevens knew if he could defeat the leader of the NRC he’d make a name for himself, so he went all out to try and defeat Roderick, but in the end Roddy’s better stamina and strategy came out on top. Everything revolved around this; the big ‘man up’ strike exchanges, Roddy’s great selling of Steven’s moveset and the finish with Strong busting it all out to finally put the young beast down were all awesome. The wrestling here was all you could ever want with stiffness and big moves aplenty, and even in defeat Stevens came out looking fantastic. One of my favorite matches of this feud.
****.

Post match the fans chant “Stevens! Stevens!” as Aries helps him to his feet.

On the whole, that 6 man singles series was fucking awesome. What made it so great was there was tons of personality and stories on display, which is something that the feud has really been lacking up until now. I loved all the little touches like Aries telling Cross to avoid Rocky’s kicks before his match, the losers of the first 2 matches going to the back while the winners remaining at ringside, etc. We still have the Aries/Strong feud to think about, and Erick Stevens is in the house!

~~~~~

We’re taken to highlights of a 4 Corner Survival match from Hartford, CT, pitting Adam Pearce vs. B.J. Whitmer vs. Nigel McGuinness vs. Delirious. Nigel won the match, hitting the Jawbreaker lariat on Whitmer. Delirious and Pearce went at it, until Brent Albright came out and gave Delirious his Half nelson Suplex. Pearce cut a promo on Delirious, talking about how he persists to hide behind the mask of his. Pearce got out a staple gun, and teased stapling Delirious’ mask to his face.

Whitmer got up to defend Delirious, but Pearce started taking to him about the concept of need and everything Pearce has said to him over the past few months. Whitmer then turned on Delirious, and hit him with the Adrenaline Spike piledriver. Pearce then stapled Delirious’ mask to his face, but we didn’t see all the footage as it was presumably to grotesque to show. We’re told that the stable of Pearce, Whitmer and Albright are knows as the ‘Hangmen 3’.

~~~~~

Both men made their entrances, as Danielson is wearing an eye patch. The crowd want Dragon to take the title home tonight.

Match # 5: ROH World Title Match: Takeshi Morishima (c) vs Bryan Danielson: Danielson got this title shot for defeating Nigel McGuinness in the main event of the last PPV. He comes in with a severe eye injury (suffered at the hands of Morishima back at ROH’s ‘Manhattan Mayhem 2’ show in August), but Morishima himself stated he is an honorable champion and will not attack the eye here.

Dragon went straight for Morishima’s leg at the start, but it failed miserable as Mori clobbered him silly. Mori hits a load of kicks to Dragon’s face and head. The next 3 or so minutes of this match consist of purely Morishima dominating Dragon with a ton of strikes. Mori throws Dragon back in the ring and rests out there (thinking he has it easy), but Dragon hits a tope on him! Back in Dragon hit a series of forearms and running kick, taking down Mori! Dragon’s momentum is cut off by a powerbomb out of midair from Shima, but as soon as Dragon kicked out of the folding press he locked on a triangle choke! Mori reached the ropes, but Dragon later put on a Bow and Arrow on the big man! Mori got out and rolled on top of Dragon for 2. Dragon went for a rollup, but Mori wouldn’t go down and sat straight down on Dragon’s chest.

Dragon applied a sleeper but Mori wouldn’t pass out. Dragon tried for his small package, but Mori reversed it into a slam. Dragon set Mori up top…BACKDROP SUPERPLEX TO THE BIG MAN! FUCK! 1…2…NO! That was one of the sickest bumps I’ve seen in a while. MMA ELBOWS FROM DRAGON! Mori gets up…TIGER SUPLEX FROM DRAGON! 1…2…NO! Dragon out the cattle Mutilation on, but Mori escaped. Dragon then grabbed both his arms and proceeded to recklessly stomp on Mori’s face! I love it! TRIANGLE CHOKE! Elbows too! Everyone thinks Shima is done, but he’s not weak enough yet; he hits a big powerbomb to escape the choke.

Both men get back to their feet, as Mori kills Dragon with a lariat for 2. Mori grabs Dragon…BACKDROP DRIVER! 1…2…Dragon gets his foot on the ropes. Mori hit a clothesline in the corner and took off Dragon’s eye patch! Dragon looked dazed, but then caught Mori in the Small Package! 1…2…NO! Mori quickly grabbed Dragon…Another Backdrop Driver! Instead of pinning Dragon, Shima got on top of him and started viciously attacking his eye! This looked brutal. After about 20 seconds, the ref calls for the bell, as Shima retains via ref stoppage!
Winner, and still ROH World Champion: Takeshi Morishima

Splendid underdog match. What made this great was that it all made perfect sense and was incredibly realistic. The story was based around Mori thinking he had it easy with Dragon’s eye problem and all, but Dragon knew this so he timed his comebacks when Mori was least expecting them. He managed to take it right to Mori when he was off guard, but simply couldn’t do enough damage (in the limited time he had with Mori weak) so Mori destroyed him and came out wearing the belt. Mori destroying Dragon’s eye (when he said beforehand he wouldn’t) adds to Mori’s vicious, unstoppable character too. This had everything a world title match needed; crowd heat, a buyable challenger and of course, close nearfalls. For the 10 minutes that this was, this was excellent.
****.

~~~~~

We get a great video package highlighting the whole Briscoes vs Kel Steenerico feud. Fine stuff.

Both teams make their entrances, as the crowd is red hot for this. Jay grabbed a ladder by the entrance ramp and threw it into the ring, and this thing is on.

Match # 6: ROH World Tag Team Title Ladder War: Jay and Mark Briscoe (c) vs Kevin Steen and El Generico: We go to the outside to start things off. All 4 men go into the crowd and brawl. They start hitting each other with unprotected chair shots to the head, and God, it’s pretty crazy. Generico gets thrown into some chairs. We get some more brawling for a few minutes, until they make their way back to ringside. Mark hits Steen with an Ace crusher off the guardrails.

For the first time in the match everyone gets into the ring. Generico sent Jay to the floor with a dropkick. mark came in with a ladder, but Generico avoided a swing and the ladder bounced off the ropes and hit Mark in the head. Steen hit Jay with his pumphandle neckbreaker. Steen climbed the ladder but Mark hit him with a springboard dropkick. Mark climbed the ladder but Steen cut him off and threw him out of the ring. Back in the Briscoes took out Steen and double teamed Generico. They grab him…DOUBLE TEAM HIP TOSS INTO A LADDER! That was fucking sick and amazing at the same time. Jay got a new ladder and climbed it, but Steen came in, tipped the ladder over and Jay fell into the crumpled ladder in the corner! Wild. Steen hit a back suplex on Jay on a ladder. He hit Mark with 2 superkick, but he wouldn’t do down so Steen hit a low blow!

Generico laid Mark on top of a ladder and hit a split legged moonsault onto him! Generico put Jay in the corner with a ladder over him, then hit his running Yakuza Kick! Steen then grabbed mark and AWESOME BOMBED him over the ropes onto a ladder that was on the outside!!! Mark must be dead. Steen climbed the ladder, but Jay pushed the ladder out from underneath him and Steen fell to the mat. Luckily that went fine, because that could have easily gone wrong and Steen could have got seriously hurt. Release German Suplex from Jay sends Generico right on his head. Mark hit Steen with a springboard dropkick while Steen was holding a ladder! Mark grabbed Generico and explodered him onto a ladder! Jay then gave Steen a DVD on the ladder!

Mark put a ladder ON TOP of Generico and went up top. Oh shit. SSP ONTO THE LADDER BY MARK! Jay then went up top…LEG DROP to Steen on the outside through a table! Mark set up the ladder and started climbing. Generico got up and pushed the ladder out from underneath him and mark fell to the floor. That was scary, if Mark slipped at all he could have died. Jay pointed into the crowd to a huge, red maintenance ladder. In an awesome moment, the fans started carrying the ladder towards the ring. The Briscoes got it and set it up in the ring.

Jay hit a Yakuza on Generico, then the Briscoes set him up for the Doomsday Device. Mark springboarded, went THROUGH the ladder and connected with the Device! That was fucking great! The Briscoes climbed the ladder but Steen hit them with another ladder. He set it up in-between the big ladder’s rungs and the turnbuckle. Steen grabs Mark…PACKAGE PILEDRIVER ON THE LADDER! The ladder snapped in 2! Jay then set up another ladder in the same position as Steen set up the other one, and grabbed Generico. JAY DRILLER ON THE LADDER! That was fucking worse than the package piledriver on the ladder.

Steen and Jay are the only people who aren’t dead, so they both climb the ladder. Jay wins a punch exchange up top and sends Steen into the remains of a ladder down on the canvas. Jay tries to get the belts down but can’t. This is very awkward. Steen starts climbing up the ladder again, but Jay once again knocks him down with punches, grabs the belts and unhooks them! The Briscoes win the Ladder War!
Winners, and still ROH World Tag team Champions: Jay and Mark Briscoe.

Fucking crazy. That is simply what this match is.

Lots of the time, the style of match the Briscoes work can be non-sensical and very overkill at times, that’s why pretty much every fan that dislikes them dislikes them. Here though, the style they work worked wonderfully. The psychology with a match like this is simply to kill your opponents and get the belts in any way possible, and that’s exactly what went down with this match. All 4 men went completely all out (probably the most effort both teams have out into any one match ever) in bringing the hate and telling the story, while at the same time delivered one of the best hardcore matches you’ll probably ever see.

The bumps here were certainly some of the most surreal things I’ve ever seen. I’m so glad no one came out hurt from this; because it looked damn possible people could have died on some of the spots here. At the same time, this had the always effective buildup of spots, where the spots got bigger as the match progressed. If you want crazy spots, this is your match.

I probably could go on all day about how wild this was and how well it was done, but I’m gonna quit rambling now and tell you all to make it a priority to see this match, because it’s (maybe) the best match of its kind there is.
****3/4.

~~~~~

Post match Steen pie faced Generico and was pissed. He stormed out as Generico followed.

Suddenly, we hear the sound of a woman screaming over the PA. There were several fans dressed in black with ski masks in the front row. Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black jumped out of the crowd and went face to face with The Briscoes. NECRO BUTCHER then came into the ring from the other side and attacked the Briscoes from behind, with his fist wrapped in barbed wire! Lacey also came out dressed in black and rooted on Necro, Jacobs, and Black as they destroyed the Briscoes. Necro said he told us if we let him out of his cage, he would pile the bodies to the sky. Cool. The show closes with Mark being dragged up to the ceiling by them mechanism that was used to hand the tag titles during the ladder match.

Check your listings for ROH’s next PPV in January.

The Inside Pulse
Overall Thoughts: The hot streak of ROH PPVs continues. Like the last 2, this really was the ROH style of wrestling at its very best.

Match quality here was excellent. Apart from Cross/Romero (which was hardly bad), every match was very good to fantastic. The opener was a perfect way to open the show, Cross/Romero was a fine introduction to the NRC/Resilience series, Davey/Aries was really good, Strong/Stevens was damn fantastic, Dragon/Shima was one of the best underdog matches I’ve seen in a while and the Ladder War is a definite Match of the year candidate.

ROH continues to improve production, this time with the addition of the wrestler entrance graphics showing their goals. Everything else regarding production was fine.

The continuity with storylines was great here, as we have loads to think about coming off of this. Nigel’s title shot, Aries vs Strong, Erick Stevens, Morishima as champ and the Steenerico potentially breaking up were all playing on my mind just hours after I watched this.

I didn’t think ROH could do it, but here, they actually topped Driven. Driven’s best match (Dragon/Nigel) was better than anything here, but this PPV flew really well, had a higher average match quality and still had a complete must see match in the ladder war.

Again, this PPV is a must see.

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