Ring of Honor Weekly

The Danielson debate for MVP raged hotly last week so today we’ll be going over the credentials of the other three major candidates and scouting Nigel McGuinness. Be sure to check back here Christmas Eve, Monday for a Japan and TNA focussed version of A Modst Response.

News of Honor

Mike Quackenbush will not be at Final Battle

Good choice by Quack as his TPI concussion is still acting up.

Glory by Honor VI Weekend is on DVD

These shows feature Misawa’s ROH weekend and two Danielson classics, one vs. Aries to end their best of three series and the rematch from the PPV everyone’s talking about, Man Up, with Danielson vs. Morishima 3.

Bushwacker Luke will be at the Manhattan Center Shows Dec 29, as will Tammy Lynn Sytch aka Sunny

Totally random, this should be fun even if it is quite different from Bruno Sammartino and Harley Race. Both will be available for autographs.

Age of the Fall have their second video up

And damn is their angle cool. ROH has a Video Wire too.

This Week on Inside Pulse

Clark has TNA vs. NJPW part 2’s preview, but I want predictions. Note to everyone though: See Tanahashi if you can. He’s phenomenal.

Brashear depresses me with the World Class Curse.

Ariel Helwanni interviews Mike Sanders. Stay tuned for Ariel’s upcoming interview with me!

The Smart Fan’s Burder

Last week we discussed Bryan Danielson, who is my pick for MVP of ROH. From there, much debate ensued. Today we’ll look at the three other major MVP contenders, beginning with their match listings, **** or more.

Nigel McGuinness

Nigel vs. Danielson – Driven (**** ¾ )
Nigel vs. Morishima – Fighting Spirit (**** ½)
Nigel vs. Rave – Fifth Year Festival: Finale (**** ½)
Nigel vs. Joe – Fifth Year Festival: Liverpool (**** ¼)
Morishima and Danielson vs. Nigel and KENTA – Respect is Earned (**** ¼)
Nigel and Danielson vs. Morishima and Marufuji – United We Stand (**** ¼)
Nigel vs. Claudio vs. Hero vs. Quackenbush – A Fight at the Roxbury (****)
Nigel vs. Hero – Glory By Honor VI Night 1 (****)

Nigel doesn’t have the matches to match up with Danielson at all. In a full year, he has barely half of what Danielson has amassed in just the past half year. Sure he won the title, but the match was far from great and he was up and down the card for months prior with no direction. Being forgotten for half the year is far worse than being injured as far as MVP races are concerned, but Nigel also managed to be injured and miss a good chunk of time too. He was the top face, getting to be on VH1 and lariat Johnny Fairplay and lead the international charge, main eventing in Tokyo vs. Morishima, yet he was no one but Rave. He elevated no one and lacked direction for too long to truly be most valuable. Most haphazardly pushed is perhaps more fitting.

Takeshi Morishima

Morishima vs. Danielson – Manhattan Mayhem 2 (**** ¾)
Morishima vs. Claudio – Death Before Dishonor V Night 1 (**** ½)
Morishima vs. Danielson – Man Up (**** ½)
Joe vs. Morishima – Fifth Year Festival: NYC (**** ½)
Nigel vs. Morishima – Fighting Spirit (**** ½)
Morishima vs.Danielson – Glory By Honor VI Night 2 (**** ¼ )
Morishima and Danielson vs. Nigel and KENTA – Respect is Earned (**** ¼)
Nigel and Danielson vs. Morishima and Marufuji – United We Stand (**** ¼)
Morishima vs.Shingo – Good Times, Great Memories (**** ¼)
Misawa and Kenta vs. Morishima and Marufuji – Glory By Honor VI Night 1 (**** ¼)
Morishima vs. Albright – Death Before Dishonor V Night 2 (****)
Morishima vs.Aries – Battle of Saint Paul (****)

Morishima has 12 matches vs. Danielson, but being a NOAH superstar, wasn’t really around that much more than Dragon. He has the best claim of everyone but Danielson in my opinion. His NOAH standing, actually main eventing a major show, did nothing but raise the prestige of ROH and its title. His title run was also absolutely great, but on PPV, ROH’s major exposure, he was clearly second fiddle to Dragon, this year’s airing PPV’s showing him as Dragon’s teammate when Danielson got the win, and in his Danielson rematch for the title which he only won by attacking an injury. Besides that, he was in squashes. It made him look impressive, but Danielson was still clearly the Ace. Morishima had the best matches for Albright, Shingo, Claudio, and Danielson himself. Danielson of course had the best with Aries, Nigel, KENTA, Go, and Morishima himself. Morishima elevated more people, or rather would have were Albright not immediately put back in the lower card and had Shingo not immediately left for Dragon Gate. That makes Danielson’s matches more useful to ROH, plus the fact that his are bigger names, far more likely to sell DVDs. The influence is comparable, the amount of great matches is comparable, but Danielson’s slightly superior number of great matches is literally all that carries the day.

The Briscoes

Briscoes vs.Murder City Machine Guns – Good Times, Great Memories (**** ¾)
Briscoes vs. Steenerico – Death Before Dishonor V Night 1 (**** ½)
Briscoes vs. Steenerico – Man Up (**** ½)
Briscoes vs. Steen and Generico – Fighting Spirit (**** ½)
Briscoe vs. Briscoe – Fifth Year Festival: Finale (**** ½)
Briscoes vs. Doi and Shingo – Fifth Year Festival: Liverpool (**** ½)
Briscoes vs. Claudio and Sydal – Respect is Earned (**** ¼)
Briscoes vs. Steenerico – Fifth Year Festival: Philly (**** ¼)
Briscoes vs. Shingo and Yokosuka – Live in Osaka (**** ¼)
Briscoes vs. Jacobs and Necro – Glory By Honor VI Night 2 (****)
Briscoes vs. Steenerico – Caged Rage (****)
Briscoes vs. Steenerico – Manhattan Mayhem 2 (****)
Briscoes vs. Daniels and Sydal – Fifth Year Festival: Chicago (****)

Well, based sheerly on great matches, the Briscoes are closest to Danielson. Unfortunately for them, there’s more to it than that. The Briscoes have become the modern day Road Warriors. They take and execute amazing maneuvers only to bounce right back up in fast paced, fun matches that pop the crowd but are ultimately very similar to each other. The problems with this are many, first and least of which is that it’s less compelling wrestling as an art than what Danielson does. Everyone else in the locker room has to work harder to keep up with this kind of overkill. Simple measures for getting over come to mean less as do most moves when Briscoes are doing tons of high spots and bouncing back up. The next problem is the sheer danger and toll that this style takes on the wrestlers. Mark already nearly killed himself with a shooting star to the floor this year. What worse could have happened in the ladder war? What’s the long term damage of the concussions that must surely be occurring here? This is easily the most serious flaw with Briscoes for MVP. Lastly, their way of wrestling gets no one more over than themselves. They simply do not give opponents anything, through both a lack of selling and overly dominant booking, leaving other teams looking second rate with no chance to beat them. Steen and Generico are a superior team with amazing crowd psychology and simply would have gotten over based on that. Generico’s selling and timing mixed with Steen’s personality and highspots make them one of the best teams in the world. Steen and Generico aren’t the only more well-rounded, arguably better team than the Briscoes to appear in ROH this year, as there is also the Kings of Wrestling, Murder City Machine Guns, Quackenbush and Jigsaw, and Aries and Strong. Comparing that to the list of wrestlers who are as good solo as Danielson further pushes the debate in Danielson’s favor: no one on the roster is arguably better than him in the ring. The Briscoes were great this year. They were the most consistent act on the roster and pushed to the moon. Danielson did more in less time and was the best by far, the man whom the title chase centered around even though he didn’t have the belt, when he was healthy. Was he more important than the Briscoes for the entire year? No and if that’s your only criteria, then the Briscoes must be the MVPs, but if you’re going to look at anything else, particularly impact and the fact that the Briscoes were replaceable while Danielson was not, then Danielson is and should be 2007’s ROH MVP.

Scouting ROH

Scouting ROH is a new feature where I will be analyzing the in ring abilities of everyone in ROH, one at a time. I’ve also developed a little scoring system to determine how good they are in ring. Here are the categories followed by a brief explanation of each:

Consistency: This rates how often the wrestler in question delivers on a good to great match as expected depending on spot on the card.

Best Showings: Best Showings is fairly self-explanatory: When said wrestler has a great match, how good is it?

Versatility: Can the wrestler work different styles? Can the wrestler work with other guys of different styles? Can they be either face or heel effectively? Not just what they can do, but how much they can do and to what level.

Top Skill: Some guys aren’t very versatile, but the one thing they’re good at, they are great at. This rates one best skill of a wrestler and how good they are at matches of that type and at that skill as compared to others.

Crowd Psychology: Crowd psychology is keeping the audience involved in the match and keeping the character work consistent and on point.

Ring Psychology: Does what they do in the ring have a reason? Are they consistently telling a story on offense and defense? Does their selling add to the match or detract?

These are the categories we’ll be rating Nigel McGuinness in this week.

Consistency – 6
Best showings – 10
Versatility – 6 – fighting spirit and technical, face or heel.
Top Skill – 8
Crowd Psychology – 8
Ring Psychology – 7
Total – 45

Nigel is one of the less consistent big names on the indies. He can usually bring a fun, hard hitting match, but the quality of that match will often be all over the place. Take for example his series with Morishima. The first match was a hardhitting brawl with Nigel breaking out every big move he could to try and topple Morishima, while practically oozing desperation. The second match of the series featured a lot of pointless arm work, tons of no selling and fighting spirit. This is indicative of a greater trend in McGuinness matches, where there’s no real way to tell if you’ll get Nigel as a world class worker or as a fun striker. The latter isn’t bad per se, but it surely is nowhere near the heights Nigel is capable of.

Nigel most shows what he’s capable of against Bryan Danielson. Danielson tends to handle the bodypart work in these matches, which bodes well for Nigel. He’s great on the mat and can keep up with the complicated mat work Danielson utilizes, while his giant lariats give him excellent hope and counter spots against Danielson. This isn’t all for his best showings. This year alone he’s had excellent matches with Jimmy Rave, the aforementioned Morishima, Chris Hero, and Samoa Joe. That’s quite the variety of wrestlers he looked fantastic against. The common thread in all of these save Danielson is that the technical wrestling was minimized on his end to counter-wrestling used to set up the big strikes, not a major component of his offense on its own.

Nigel’s versatility here is likely underrated, but it is a policy with these to rate too low rather than too high. Nigel is a solid face and the crowd wants to like him. He’s also very traditional, however, and the crowd can often be hostile to him, turning on Nigel in a blink. Nigel was pushed as a heel, but wasn’t really over until the Pure title was put on him. This belt allowed his antics and arm work to have a purpose, transforming him from a solid heel to a great one. Without the Pure Belt, however, all we have to go on is Nigel as a solid heel and thus that’s what he’s rated as. Nigel’s two main styles of working a match are striking and arm work. The striking is good, as his European uppercuts and lariats look great, but an over-reliance on them in the same order and at the same spots every match has, again, caused the crowd to begin to turn on him. I can think of twice this year that Nigel’s arm work was reincorporated after the initial minutes. First was the Samoa Joe match, where Joe had an answer for Nigel’s mat wrestling, but couldn’t handle his new striking. That was great storytelling and established Nigel going all out with striking from there on. The second time was recently against Hero at Glory by Honor VI night 1 which is sure to be badly underrated. In this he added an arm submission that, if it continues to work, will force a re-evaluation of much of Nigel’s regular toolset. Nigel works best against brawlers or strikers, as seen by the list of those he had his best matches again, but is effective against speed wrestlers, using their momentum against him. Suplex-based wrestlers like Whitmer, or mat-wrestlers like Delirious tend to be in rather badly put together matches with Nigel. He tends to wrestle up or down to the competition.

Nigel’s top skill is his striking. The technical work is undermined by how meaningless it ends up. Nigel can strike with anyone in America as he showed in his great Fifth Year Festival: Liverpool match with Joe and can use that facet of his offense to win over a crowd as shown against Morishima at Fighting Spirit. If he varied his strikes up more and further established their relative strength and priority in his arsenal, he’d be tops in the world. As is, he’s just very good at it.

The crowd will almost always care about a McGuinness match. He does a lot of high impact stuff and fancy mat work that gets the crowd involved. Some may hate how he goes about this, but the results are undeniable. The reason this isn’t higher is that there’s a point when Nigel isn’t against a top opponent mid-match where nothing important is going on and the crowd knows it, falling totally out of the match until the comeback or the hot finish. This isn’t due to a lack of hope spots or poor selling like it is with most, but rather the formulaic nature Nigel goes after the arm at that point in the match. Without the finish to go with it shown against Hero, this is a waste of time and the crowd knows it, tuning out that portion of the match until Nigel does the stretch arm-submission where he bends backwards for a pop.

Nigel’s ring psychology is often amazing, but he could easily learn to sell more. Obviously the uselessness of his arm work is important here, but more importantly though, opponents will be focusing on his arm more and more due to both his injuring it and the fact that he has his entire offense built around it. As seen in the Morishima match that will be in Undeniable, the fourth PPV, Nigel cannot work out how to do his signature offense with an arm issue. It detracts from the match noticeably when after arm work, he’s suddenly wildly throwing lariats. If the arm submission becomes a regular part of his repertoire, he has an out for both when his arm is injured and giving him cause to work in his early arm attacks. If that is the case, this will be re-evaluated as well, but for now, Nigel really needs to work on the in ring psychology of his matches to further pull the audience into the proceedings and improve his match quality.

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