No News of Honor this week since Iâ€™m pressed for time (Holiday weeks seem to give me less down time than work weeks), but we have the Top 12 ROH DVDs of the Year and a guest shot Weekend Preview for Final Battle Weekend! Donâ€™t miss it and be sure to check back this weekend for our coverage of the huge shows Saturday and Sunday night at the Manhattan Center, PPV Taping 5 and Final Battle â€™07.
This Week on Inside Pulse
Seriously, this week specifically Iâ€™m extremely proud of our output so be sure to check the links and find some great stuff youâ€™ll love.
I do a Podcast! with the awesome Ariel Helwani covering a lot of ROH thoughts and history. Give a listen and tell â€˜em who sent you. If youâ€™re an MMA or wrestling fan you need to check out more from Ariel, who, I notwithstanding, interviews the biggest names in the best manner possible.
Ollie has his best review yet, of Round Robin Challenge 2. Daniels vs. London on that is a great, great match.
Vin Truncellito, among the best writers on the net, continues his transformation to a ROHbot, loving Aries vs. Punk, among the best booking and best matches in ROH history from Death Before Dishonor III.
David Ditch is awesome and covers all the major players in Puro over the past year. I find myself getting more and more into Puro of late (again) and have the Ditch to thank.
In that spirit, in A Modest Response, I both Interview Ditch and tackle TNA vs. NJPW 2. Get the answers on Puro history and current favorites from the most respected voice in Puro on the â€˜net.
Eric S is back again and kicks the shit out of everyone and everything on his shitlist. Forget Santa, itâ€™s not worth it being on Uncle Ericâ€™s Naughty List.
The Smart Fanâ€™s Burden: The Top 12 ROH Shows of 2007
Early this year I covered the Top 12 of 2006, so I figured to keep the tradition going, since all the major shows but Final Battle 2007 have taken place. The PPVâ€™s with their special matches throw a bit of a monkey wrench into things, so Iâ€™ll cover them next week, along with Final Battle and the taping of the fourth Pay Per View this Saturday. What we have now is the Top 12 non-PPV ROH shows of the year. 12 is the number for two reasons. First, ROH runs buy 3 get one free sales regularly, so 12 makes sense and besides that, we add a nice 12 days of Christmas theme that fits the season. Without further ado, counting down the Top 12 of the Year.
12. Fifth Year Festival: NYC – This show had huge hype and is constantly badly overlooked, despite its overall importance. The first and biggest reason its here is the much hyped Samoa Joe vs. Takeshi Morishima match. This is Morishimaâ€™s one pre-champion match, his ROH debut, and one of the major Match of the Year Contenders (MOTYCs from here on out). Add in that this was the first and best match of Joeâ€™s ROH farewell tour and you have something truly special. The match is **** Â½ and the class of the show. The way they play off Joe vs. Kobashi takes it from good to a classic.
One match, however, does not a show make, and there are three other matches that, while not classics, are very good. First is Homicideâ€™s best and only good title defense against Jimmy Rave, checking in at *** Â¾. The Briscoes vs. Cabana and McGuinness is about the same rating, with some week selling, but great team vs. singles work. Lastly, a tables match between BJ Whitmer and Brent Albright brings the pain and was Pulse Wrestling boss Matt Michaels favorite match, just a fun, wood filled brawl at a low ****.
11. Live in Tokyo – A historic evening as ROH took their first trip to Japan and with Pro Wrestling NOAH, put on a great show. This one also, unsurprisingly, had a classic MOTYC on it, this time from Bryan Danielson who took on Kenta Kobashiâ€™s protÃ©gÃ©, Go Shiozaki in a smooth match built around Go proving himself to Danielson who did everything he could to remove Goâ€™s biggest weapon, his chops, from the equation. Go shows he can hang in a match thatâ€™s also **** Â½. The crowd had no interest in this early, but rushed the rails to give Danielson well deserved props post match.
This show had an overrated but still good and important main event as Nigel faced Morishima for the ROH World Title. The match is *** Â½ and a fighting spirit fest. Personally, I donâ€™t love the match, but it was very successful and had a big match feel, main eventing the show and leaving the crowd rocking from start to finish.
As usual, the Briscoes nearly stole the show with a **** match, this time with Marufuji against Sydal, Marvin and Aoki. Marvin and Aoki both showed why they are premiere talent, while Sydal had one of his few standout matches of the year. The pace and skill were awesome, but everyoneâ€™s style and distinct personality shining through took this up a notch from just great to memorable.
10. Death Before Dishonor V Night 2 – This is the first show without a single blow-away classic, but also the first show with three separate four star matches and the furthering of two other major feuds. The World Title match might be the class of the show, but itâ€™s hard to tell since the other two great matches are so close. Takeshi Morishima made Brent Albright look like a star in the title match. He was nowhere near Morishima on the card, but the crowd still ate up the near falls due to a great build and good timing. Some pointless arm work drags it down, but itâ€™s still **** and an overlooked gem.
Just as good is the Best Wrestler in the World vs. the Man of a Thousand Holds. Danielson and Quackenbush bring their â€œAâ€ game on the mat and just tell an excellent story of human chess with holds and counterholds galore. Itâ€™s not as good as the first Danielson Aries match from Honor Nation, but thatâ€™s the only other place all year you will find as compelling of a story told on the mat. Again, this is ****.
The last ****, great match is an 8 man street fight between the Resilience and Delirious vs. the No Remorse Corps and Matt Sydal. Aries was hurt and this dragged a bit, but the insane spots that Matt Cross whipped out are matched only in Man Upâ€™s ladder war and Erick Stevens takes a monster beating to show why he will be a star by the time 2008 is up. Everyone comes off looking great here and those who looked badly injured thankfully werenâ€™t.
Jay Briscoe vs. Kevin Steen in a Last Man Standing match and Mark Briscoe vs. El Generico in a Falls Count Anywhere match were fun and added to the thought that Steen and Generico would dethrone the Briscoes. Both check in at *** Â½ and have some memorable brutality, but are a bit short. Hero and Jigsaw vs. Nigel and Claudio kicks the Claudio and Hero feud into another gear while also furthering Hero as a thorn in Nigelâ€™s side. This is all about Heroâ€™s antics and everyoneâ€™s reaction. Itâ€™s only about *** but is still fun. This is a very complete card with story progression and great wrestling in different styles.
9. Glory by Honor VI Night 1 -The first night of another of ROHâ€™s major shows was very similar to our last entry, except this had that MOTYC the last show lacked. The entire first half of this show was spotfests, but they were at least good and culminated with a *** Â½ Vulture Squad vs. Age of the Fall match with a wild, great brawl afterwards that furthered the stable wars.
The major story of this show was Misawaâ€™s first American ROH match with he, teaming with KENTA battling Morishima and Marufuji in a **** time limit draw. Misawa looked old, but good and the personalities of Marufuji and KENTA carried this match in a way that no language barrier could stop.
In a surprise match with a Dusty Finish, Chris Hero challenged Nigel McGuinness for the ROH title. This too was **** and a surprisingly hot match with great booking.
The class of this show was Danielson vs. Aries 3. The third match in their best of three series went under 20 minutes and still managed **** Â½. With a bit more selling, weâ€™d have the Match of the Year. This being their third match they countered every major spot from matches 1 and 2 and built to an absolutely amazing finishing sequence that must be seen to be believed. This is an instant classic and carries the show from very good to great.
8. Fighting Spirit – Two MOTYCs carry the show, but a strong undercard makes this the underrated show of the year. Hagadorn and Pelle for the Top of the Class Trophy is an excellent showing of how to work an underdog face vs. cocky heel match. Blade and Eddie Edwards show they are actually a quite good team facing Hero and Tolland and surprisingly between this and Caged Rage, they still didnâ€™t earn a roster spot. Claudio and Romero have a nice mixed style match. All are three stars, but all are good, simple wrestling that make a show go well and have different styles to prevent monotony.
The show really kicks into gear with the first MOTYC, a **** Â½ affair that has the best booking of the year and best selling by the Briscoes of the year where Jay and Erick Stevens battle Steen and Generico. FYF: Philly might have gotten Steen and Generico a job, but this match made them stars.
*** Â¾ and underrated is Jack Evans and Delirious vs. Strong and Davey Richards. They had a good underdog face vs. heel team match that really showcased the faces flashiness and made them seem like stars and Strong and Davey like bastards for eeking out a win.
**** Â½ is the rating for the first great match of Morishimaâ€™s reign. Morishima and Nigelâ€™s first encounter saw Nigel through EVERYTHING at Morishima to just try and desperately overpower the behemoth, only to fall short. The near falls on this no-name show had everyone at the edge of their seats. Nigel and Morishima brought the big fight feel and stiffness, capping off this great show.
7. Fifth Year Festival Liverpool
A lot of people seem to like this show more than me, but itâ€™s still amazing. It has a MOTYC and a low end MOTYC. The Briscoes in a **** Â½ match had one of their best stories of the year, battling Shingo and Naruki Doi. Not only did the match feature a major upset and title change, but it also showed that the Briscoes simply could not handle Shingo.
The other great match was the second to last on Joeâ€™s farewell tour, against Nigel. Nigelâ€™s old arm work and mat based offense led to Joe smashing him, but his new lariat based work seemed to have Joeâ€™s number. Joe broke out the big guns, with a Muscle Buster on the apron and barely escaped with the victory, rating at **** Â¼.
Delirious and Matt Sydal had an overlooked *** Â¾ two out of three falls match that played off their long relationship with each other, while the newly heel Roderick Strong made the underdog Pac suffer at *** Â½ in a very good match. Homicide and Davey Richards had a short, hard hitting opener, *** Â½ also, making this show great from top to bottom and among manyâ€™s favorite of the year.
6. Supercard of Honor 2 – Three matches in totally different styles back to back to back make this Wrestlemania weekend show must see. The Dragon Gate 6-man was high speed action that you simply cannot get in true form without Dragon Gate wrestlers going all out. These guys are top notch and this is absolutely, as Gabe would put it, State-of-the-Art Wrestling, **** Â¼.
Former partners Aries and Strong met to prove who was the more integral to their long partnership and put on a **** classic wrestling matchup. The hate was lacking considering the bad break of their team, but the skill displayed more than made up for it.
The class of the show is a **** Â½ to **** Â¾ cage war between Jimmy Jacobs and BJ Whitmer. The blowoff to their long feud showed just how wild a brawl can be while still telling a story and showcased Jacobsâ€™ awesome character in the ring. This is must see stuff as Jacobs loses his mind in great foreshadowing for Age of the Fall, beating Whitmer and taking himself within an inch of their respective lives.
The first half of the card features fun, fast paced action with Claudio facing YAMATO, Jay and Delirious vs. Sydal and Daniels, and Jack Evans with Naruki Doi facing Rocky Romero and Davey Richards. All of these are ***-*** Â½. Fast, fun, and easy to watch, these build to brutality, which is a jarring contrast, before going back to great wrestling, and the high adrenaline of the Dragon Gate 6-man. This is greatly put together.
5. Good Times, Great Memories – This is manyâ€™s favorite ROH show ever and has a ton of peopleâ€™s MOTY, a near 40 minute **** Â¾ classic between the Briscoes and the Murder City Machine Guns. Two of the very best teams in the world let loose in a way you canâ€™t see anywhere but ROH and this is absolutely must see.
This is also the last night for many talent, specifically Chris Daniels who gives a great promo, Homicide whoâ€™s in a solid brawl, Colt Cabana, for whom the show is named, and, most notably for this show Shingo, who had a **** Â¼ match with Morishima which is just two monsters beating the piss out of each other. If you like stiffness and fighting spirit, you need this match. Nothing else here is classic, but the historical importance plus two great ****+ matches, one of which is a Top 5 MOTYC make this must see.
4. Death Before Dishonor V Night 1 – Speaking of shows with two great matches, we have one with two legitimate MOTYCs. The first is for the ROH World Title and was Claudio Castagnoliâ€™s coming out party, as he showed remarkable skill and timing taking it to Morishima, who made him look a star.
The second MOTYC here might be the Briscoes best this year, surely saying something. **** Â¾ is my rating for their amazingly stiff and intense. These two teams showed amazing hatred in one of the best brawls in the history of the company. What these teams do to each other here is nearly unconscionable, while how they get their characters and story across is brilliant.
At *** Â½ is Danielson vs. Sydal, which featured Danielson grounding and beating on the flier who thought he was better than he was, while Hero and Nigel furthered their feud in a hilarious Pure Rules match as Nigel suffered the same tricks he used to play as Pure Champion. Davey and Jack Evans continued their rivalry in a great opening match with a weak finish. The show flowed well and built to an amazing crescendo. What more can you want?
3. Manhattan Mayhem 2 – The first Manhattan Mayhem might have been ROHâ€™s best show ever, so this had a lot to live up to and delivered in spades. The fun, flying opener with Quackenbush and Jigsaw facing Stevens and Cross made everyone involved look like gold (*** Â½) and set the stage for the rest of the show.
The major story development of the show had Jack Evans finally forming his unit, the Vulture Squad, with the debut of Ruckus and the return of Julius Smokes. This was sports entertainment done right and lead to some of the best wrestling youâ€™ll ever see.
Post intermission we got Claudio vs. Hero in a **** match that featured Double C answering every antic and trick Hero could muster. This was great fun, but lead to the Match of the Year.
Takeshi Morishima vs. Bryan Danielson for the World Title was **** Â¾. Danielson tried to stick and move and work the giantâ€™s legs, while Morishima crushed Danielson, escaping with a victory by breaking the challengerâ€™s eye socket and detaching his retina. This was amazing and is must see.
The final match of the show was the Briscoes in a high speed 2/3 falls match with Steen and Generico. Itâ€™s a **** match, maybe more if you donâ€™t mind faulty selling and a bit of overkill. This had the unenviable task of following one of the top 10 ROH matches ever and still managed to deliver.
2. Fifth Year Festival: Finale – This show is all about variety and consistent quality. Nothing goes below *** Â½ here but the womenâ€™s match. The show opens with Colt Cabana vs. Delirious in a great comedy match at *** Â½ and follows with a womenâ€™s match before going to a bloodbath brawl with Whitmer vs. Jacobs at *** Â½ in an overlooked encounter that saw Whitmerâ€™s power trump Jacobs speed. Matt Sydal and Pac went *** Â½ with a great high flying match following that.
From here we have the first MOTYC of the show as Jay and Mark Briscoe had a stiff, high powered match based around toughening each other up. **** Â½ and this was manyâ€™s early MOTY.
After that, a classic face vs. heel tag match gets a DG Style infusion as Shingo and Doi take on Davey and Strong in a **** match thatâ€™s sadly overlooked amidst all the Briscoes classics. The show is stepped right back up from there as Nigel finally gives Jimmy Rave his comeuppance in a **** Â½ Fight Without Honor that has some of the craziest spots around.
The show culminates with Joeâ€™s final ROH match, a good one with Homicide where the Joe is showered with respect and adoration from the crowd in an emotional scene. If for nothing else, the ROH Icon leaving makes this must see, but two MOTYCâ€™s and another **** match make this among the best ROH DVDs ever, and its only #2.
1. Glory by Honor VI Night 2 – The newest ROH release is the best this year. This is the only show that has four **** matches. Letâ€™s cover the good stuff that didnâ€™t get **** first.
Hero had two very good *** Â½ matches. The first was Hero vs. Generico, maybe the opener of the year as a major heel took on one of the best underdog faces in the business. Later in the show, Aries and Chris Hero had a very good match with Aries showing his toughness and that he is the ace, taking out the cocky bastard. Albright and Whitmer battle Steen and Generico in a very good match. Steen and Generico are walking heat machines, and them working tag formula with big badasses was a winning formula at *** Â½. Also very good was faction warfare featuring the Vulture Squad vs. the NRC. VS work great together and pull off plucky underdogs trying to beat the smoother, evil NRC very well. *** Â¾ make this a near great thatâ€™s a great adrenaline rush.
The first **** match was the upset of the year as former GHC Champion Marufuji lost to Claudio Castagnoli in a great face vs. face match-up. Claudio was too physically skilled to be underrated by Marufuji and it cost the NOAH main eventer.
In an awesome, hate filled match Danielson and Morishima went to war. Danielson was driven by rage and nearly destroyed the beast in a **** Â¼ memorable match that had the crowd going wild.
Legendary wrestler Mitsuharu Misawa turned back the clock for a **** Â½ emotional match with KENTA, giving KENTA far more than most expected in a great bout that was voted NOAHâ€™s third best of the year in Japan.
The Briscoes finished the show with a wild brawl with Necro Butcher and Jimmy Jacobs, again following a classic memorably at ****. The whopping four excellent matches make this show of the year and absolutely must see for any wrestling fan.
ROH End of the Year Doubleshot: 5th PPV Taping & Final Battle 2007
by Gary Wiest
December always signals the end of the year for the ROH calendar. Many storylines usually get resolved and new ones stem from the repercussions of the final shows. The Manhattan Center is the unofficial home of ROH and anytime ROH is in the house, they will no doubt deliver one of the best shows all year. Lucky for NYC fans that they get two shows in a row!
(If there are any continuity between the 4th and 5th PPV Tapings, I’m sorry if I do not mention them or omit them. I was not there live and since the PPV hasn’t aired yet, it’s hard to know these things)
December 29th, 5th PPV Taping (Some are on the PPV Taping, some are on the Non-PPV section of the show)
ROH World Title Match: Nigel McGuinness(c) vs. Austin Aries
Preview: Nigel McGuinness did the unthinkable two months ago (next month on PPV) when he defeated then ROH World Champion Takeshi Morishima, a feat no one besides himself has been able to do, and pinned Morishima for the second time inside of an ROH ring, the first being at United We Stand. The champ hasn’t had many title defenses under his belt yet thanks to a freak injury during his match with Jay Briscoe where Nigel tore his bicep, but Nigel is coming off a lot of rest and is sure to be looking to prove his mettle as ROH World Champ. Nigel probably sees his first title defense on PPV as a real proving ground for himself, and anyone that has seen Nigel wrestle before knows that when you get in the ring with a determined and dedicated Nigel McGuinness, you better bring everything you’ve got plus the kitchen sink if you hope to beat him.
Aries gained this title shot after beating “The Best In The World” Bryan Danielson in a best of 3 singles series. After a grueling war with The No Remorse Corps and the three hard fought battles against Danielson, any other wrestler would be at a disadvantage. But don’t count out Austin Aries right off the bat though. Aries himself knows what it takes to be an ROH Champ, just ask ROH’s longest reigning Champion and legend, Samoa Joe. Aries has been a main part of ROH’s PPV venture that started with a huge impact when he returned to ROH at the second PPV, Driven. After returning, him and his team, The Resilience, came up on the losing end of a single series match-up against the No Remorse Corps, but Aries was the one laughing in the end when he got his revenge on former partner Roderick Strong by beating him at the fourth PPV, Undeniable. Aries definitely has the momentum coming into this match and as one of the most skilled technicians ever to wrestle inside of an Ring of Honor ring, Aries is definitely a wildcard in Nigel’s title reign dreams.
Predictions: Nigel McGuinness’s title reign has only just begun. This is only the PPV after he won it and in the eyes of the fans who’s only exposure to ROH is it’s PPVs, then Nigel losing the title right away isn’t going to be the right thing to do. Nigel is considered the top babyface of ROH and losing it to another face, one who is probably more popular at this point in time, shouldn’t be the end of Nigel’s reign. Also, if Nigel is going to lose it on PPV, it probably should be part of a feud. Unless Gabe Sapolsky knows that Nigel will have to sit out a good part of the new year and is forced to have Nigel drop it due to that, then doing it on the PPV taping might be the way to go. But we all know Nigel is in it to win it, and he will.
World Tag Team Title Match: Jay & Mark Briscoe(c) vs. The No Remorse Corps of Roderick Strong & Rocky Romero (Best 2/3 Falls Match)
Preview: After coming off their loss to the Briscoes at Undeniable, Roderick Strong wants to help his team step up by teaming with Romero to show that the NRC can get the job done and get the elusive fall on the Briscoes. But The Briscoes are at the top of their game and the “best 2/3 falls” match is their specialty. They are currently 8 for 8 falls and are looking to make it 10 for 10 after putting Strong and Romero down for the count twice in a row.
Prediction: By now, PPV fans know that when there is a Briscoes’ match on, you will shut up and watch. They are undoubtedly the MVPs of ROH’s PPV venture (besides Bryan Danielson and Nigel McGuinness) and a win here is definitely in the bag. Many have said and speculated that when a team does finally gain a fall in this type of match against The Briscoes, it will catapult the team and make them an instant tag team threat. Strong is just coming off a loss from Aries and Romero failed to win the tag straps at the last PPV when it was just only a singles fall match. I don’t think their luck will change this time around. Briscoes will secure their 10 for 10 falls claim.
Grudge Match #1: Bryan Danielson vs. Takeshi Morishima
Preview: These two have been out for each other’s blood since their first singles encounter back in August at Manhattan Mayhem 2. In their first match, Morishima accidentally (or I’m sure he likes to say, purposely) broke an orbital bone underneath Danielson’s left eye that caused him to lose vision and his eye to roll back into his head. Their rematch, at ROH’s third PPV, Man Up, saw Danielson don an eye patch as he challenged once again for the ROH World Title. Prior to the match though, Morishima tried going the honorable route and promised he would not target the eye of Danielson. Long story short, Morishima is not a man of his word as he repeatedly laid into Danielson with elbows to the head where his eye was a constant target and finally the ref had to call the match in favor of Morishima after a relentless barrage of stomps to the head and the eye area. Finally at Glory by Honor VI: Night 2, Morishima and Danielson faced off again, but not for the ROH World Title, but in a hate fueled match. Each man has issues with the other because of moves or attacks they have done to each other in previous matches and it all built to a head here when Danielson got the dq after repeatedly stomping Morishima in the genitals over and over. No doubt in response to the barbaric stomping of his head by Morishima in the previous match-up.
At Manhattan Mayhem 2, as the crowd chanted “Best in the World”, Danielson took a mic and said “the best in the world just walked out with the title” and this match is Danielson’s chance to regain that spark he once had.
Prediction: Their fourth, and most likely final, encounter will no doubt be the most heated match between these two yet. Expect both men to go out there and practically kill each other. With Morishima possibly leaving ROH for an unknown amount of time after this weekend, expect Danielson to pick up the win on the PPV. Danielson has been one of the MVPs of ROH’s PPVs and after the highly praised match between Danielson and Nigel McGuinness at Driven, this win for Danielson is just the build and momentum Danielson needs to garner a title shot against Nigel. The “Best in the World” for the win.
Grudge Match #2: Claudio Castagnoli vs. Chris Hero with Larry Sweeney, Tank Toland, Sara Del Rey, & Bobby Dempsey (If Claudio loses, he will be forced to leave ROH)
Preview: Claudio finally got his hands on Chris Hero in a Four Way Survival at Man Up and now Hero is completely fed up with Claudio being a thorn in his side and always trying to ruin his fun demeanor. Larry Sweeney and Sweet N Sour INC. has pulled some strings to make this a “Loser Leaves” match except that Claudio happens to be the only loser that would have to leave. Claudio is looking to get some revenge on Hero for always being the center of attention when they were a team and then ditching Claudio when brighter and Sweeter opportunities arose.
Prediction: Claudio has been one of the more heavily pushed guys this year after putting on a great performance at ROH’s first PPV, Respect Is Earned. Him losing this match and then leaving ROH would be a mistake. As one of the most over wrestlers on the roster and someone who has been trying to break out as a true main eventer, losing to someone as cocky and goofy as Chris Hero on PPV just isn’t in the cards for Claudio. Plus this also means Larry Sweeney will have to wrestle Claudio at Final Battle the next night, which is what every ROH fan is hoping for.
Tag Team Scramble: The Vulture Squad of Jack Evans & Ruckus vs. Kevin Steen & El Generico vs. The Age of the Fall of Jimmy Jacobs & Tyler Black vs. The Hangm3n Three of BJ Whitmer, Adam Pearce, or Brent Albright with Shane Hagadorn
Preview: Each team has something to prove and some of them want a big win here on PPV to establish themselves as a threat to the ROH World Tag Team Titles. As for personal goals for each team, El Generico & Kevin Steen have some unfinished business with The Hangm3n Three after they were both taken out for a few months. Also The Hangm3n Three still need some big wins to prove themselves as a faction and that under the leadership of Adam Pearce, they can be a strong cohesive monster. The Vulture Squad’s leader, Jack Evans, is always looking for recognition after being in the shadow of his former Generation Next stable members’ shadows. He wants to prove that it’s The Vulture Squad that is the best faction in ROH, not the No Remorse Corps, or the now defunct Resilience. And finally, The Age of the Fall doesn’t want to prove their worth as a faction, they don’t want to impress the fans with a win, they want to destroy ROH from the inside…one wrestler at a time. Expect them to bring the violence.
Prediction: This is a tough one to predict. Scramble matches have always been chaotic, unpredictable, yet fun. Vulture Squad seems like the perfect candidate to take the win here since they represent everything flippy, but with El Generico & Kevin Steen being a big part of the ROH PPVs this year, they could easily take the win as long as Age of the Fall or Hangm3n Three don’t take them out before they can do it.
Non-Title Three Way: SHIMMER Champion Sara Del Rey vs. Daizee Haze vs. Lacey
Preview: All three women have had beef with each other and have been facing each other off and on again throughout the year. Sara Del Rey has been proving to the world that she is the best female wrestle in the world and has been bringing prestige to the SHIMMER Title with each great title defense and hard earned victory. With the title not on the line, a win for the other two women could mean a future title shot.
One Fall Three Way: Jigsaw vs. Necro Butcher vs. Matt Cross
Preview: This match is the definition of Goliath vs. The Davids. Both Cross and Jigsaw are agile and fast compared to the brutish behemoth that is the Necro Butcher. Necro will try to take them out the best way he knows, strikes and power moves. But Jigsaw and Cross will try to shift the momentum into their favor and use their speed and quickness and aerial prowess to take down the giant. Will they be able to work together or fight against each other off the bat is hard to tell. They will need a prayer to take Necro down though.
Prediction: Butcher, nuff said.
Plus more to be announced with: Naomichi Marufuji; Delirious; Davey Richards; Erick Stevens; plus more!!!
Special guests include Tammy Sytch, Daniel Puder and Bushwacker Luke. Sytch and Luke will be available for autographs.
Naomichi Marufuji has been booked to main event the show against someone not already in a match. I can see Davey stepping up and taking on Marufuji, but I doubt he’ll get the upset. Marufuji has been a real treat for the ROH fans since he’s been booked a lot more than he was next year and hopefully a win here will bring him more opportunities to come back next year. Possibly in a feud against the NRC teaming with KENTA. Who knows.
Looks to be a very fun night for the people in attendance and sure to be a big PPV show for ROH. They might play it safe with the PPV considering the title matches, but the next night could prove to be very unpredictable.
December 30th, Final Battle 2007
ROH World Title Match: Winner of Nigel/Aries vs. Takeshi Morishima vs. Bryan Danielson vs. Chris Hero with Larry Sweeney, Tank Toland, Sara Del Rey, & Bobby Dempsey (Four Man Elimination Match)
Preview: Stemming from the match on the previous night, the winner of Nigel vs. Aries will be defending the title here (bank on Nigel) against 3 really tough opponents. Relaxed Rules have been allowed for this match since there will no doubt be some bad blood remaining between Nigel, Danielson, and Morishima. This is Morishima’s first rematch for the title he lost back in October and Danielson’s first title shot for Nigel’s belt. Hero also has some problems with both Nigel and Danielson. Nigel soundly defeated Hero last month in NYC even with an injured arm. Embarrassing to say the least, Hero will no doubt be more focused than he has ever been. He also suffered an embarrassing loss to Danielson at Undeniable when Danielson was ruthless against Hero.
Prediction: This match seems to have the same vibe that the Four Man Elimination match from Redemption had. If Nigel is going to have to vacate the belt or drop it due to his recent bicep injury, this seems the match to do it in. Everyman has a good chance of walking out as ROH World Champion, except for Hero.
ROH World Tag Team Title Match: Jay & Mark Briscoe(c) with Daizee Haze vs. The Age of the Fall of Jimmy Jacobs & Tyler Black with Lacey (Best 2/3 Falls Match or Steel Cage)
Preview: The Briscoes have wanted AOTF blood ever since they were attacked at the third PPV after one of the most brutal matches in ROH history. As Jay Briscoe hung in the air bleeding profusely onto Jimmy Jacobs, one can only imagine the horrors Jay was imagining doing to each member of the AOTF. Each team has met several times before, but this match will probably end up being the most bloody and violent and insane match-up thus far between the two. It is Final Battle 2007 right? The year should end on a bloody, yet high note.
Prediction: We won’t know the stipulation for the match until the aftermath of the 5th PPV Taping, but I predict it will be another best 2/3 falls match. The difference this time? The Age of the Fall will pick up that elusive one fall, and possibly the win. If not, possibly a steel cage match.
FIP World Heavyweight Title Match: Roderick Strong(c) vs. Erick Stevens
Preview: Stevens still has some unresolved beef with Strong after losing to him in the final singles series match at Man Up and after Strong’s stable mates, Romero and Richards, took him out for 2 months.
Prediction: It’s an FIP Title match, don’t expect Strong to lose the belt. Even though FIP is only running shows once a month and thus raising the odds it could change hands in ROH, don’t expect it to happen here.
Tables Are Legal: Kevin Steen, El Generico, & Delirious vs. The Hangm3n Three (Adam Pearce, Brent Albright, & BJ Whitmer)
Preview: Kevin Steen and El Generico were taken out by The Hangm3n Three at the fourth PPV after another match where they teamed with Delirious. All the men look to get revenge on The Hangm3n and most of all, Delirious wants to get his hands on Adam Pearce for ripping his mask and trying to destroy him.
Prediction: I can see The Hangm3n Three getting the win here and continuing their feud with Steen and Generico. Also expect some chains or ropes to be used to help build Delirious’s future match-up with Adam Pearce in Chicago next month.
Grudge Match: Claudio Castagnoli vs. Larry Sweeney (If Claudio beats Chris Hero The Night Before)
Preview: Claudio has been dying to get his hands on Sweeney ever since he sweet talked his best friend, Hero, away from him at last year’s Final Battle. Things look to be coming to a head with this being Sweeney’s first in ring match in ROH.
Prediction: Since Sweeney has been a manager for the last year, this match will be nothing more than a fun match with Claudio dominating and Sweeney playing the chicken heel. Hero and crew could run interference, but it’ll add to the whackiness and fun of the match. Claudio will get his revenge…and the fans will have a laugh riot.
Special Challenge Match: Jack Evans vs. Necro Butcher
Preview: Unlike Necro’s match the night before, Jack Evans simply cannot die and will prove a much tougher challenge for Necro. Jack always puts on a clinic in taking a beating when he’s up against these types of opponents, but Jack may end up surprising Necro when he takes to his wide array of aerial moves and when he utilizes his speed and quickness.
Prediction: Butcher, nuff said.
Tag Team Action: The Vulture Squad of Ruckus & Jigsaw with Julius Smokes vs. Matt Cross & Bobby Fish
Preview: This match is full of potential spotty goodness. If this is the opener, it will definitely get the crowd pumped and excited for the rest of the night.
Prediction: I don’t think anyone sees the team of Cross and Fish getting the win. Ruckus and Jigsaw will get the win for their team and showcase both men as a team as well as balance out Jack’s loss later in the night.
Plus much more to be announced with: Naomichi Marufuji; Davey Richards & Rocky Romero; plus others!!!
Special guests include Daniel Puder and Bushwacker Luke.
Once again, looks like a fantastic night for any ROH fan in attendance. Although the PPV taping looks much better on paper, this still looks like a very fun show.
The one question mark coming into this weekend is “Why is Daniel Puder in ROH? Will he make an impact or is he there as a fan?”
Happy New Year’s ROH Fans. Here’s to ROH having a fantastic 2008!