Ring of Honor Live Report: Sixth Anniversary Show, 2/23/2008

Welcome to Ring of Honor’s Sixth Anniversary Show! This show is special not only in that it is a major yearly show, but it is also the last that Ring of Honor will be hosting at the Manhattan Center’s Grand Ballroom. That’s right, for those that haven’t heard, on May 10, 2008 Ring of Honor will run, for the very first time, the Hammerstein Ballroom. That’s something to discuss later (Friday to be exact), so for now, let’s cover the big anniversary show.

Pre Show Match: Pelle Primeau vs. Zach Gowen

Zach is a heel now and member of the Age of the Fall. He’s a surprisingly good heel and he and Pelle had an effective little match that Zach won via moonsault.

Zach Gowen defeats Pelle Primeau (Pin, Moonsault * ½)

On to the main show.

Match 1: Human Tornado vs. Delirious

Tornado was extremely over. Early on Tornado’s music played and he beat up on Del in dance. Soon, however the Age of the Fall ran out and attacked him for thinking Lacey was attractive. Daizee took out Lacey and after Delirious was hit he agreed to team with Tornado to take on Black and Jacobs.

Human Tornado and Delirious went to a no decision (AOTF interference, NR)

Match 2: Human Tornado and Delirious vs. Tyler Black and Jimmy Jacobs with Zach Gowen

This was standard tag formula with Del playing face in peril and Tornado getting wildly over with flashy offense. This was the perfect use of his comedic talents with his flashy offense. Unfortunately, Tornado got caught with a corner powerbomb by Black into the End Time by Jacobs. He tapped out, naturally.

Jacobs and Black defeat Delirious and Human Tornado (Submission, Tornado taps to the End Time by Jacobs, ***)
This was the real opener and it was perfect for its role. The crowd was able to get into the antics and the wrestlers had a good match.

After the match Delirious chases away the heels with Tornado’s hair pick. Ring of Honor World Champion Nigel McGuinness made his way to the ring and the other faces departed.

Nigel cut a promo on how he was healthy, but Danielson was too dangerous to wrestle and he didn’t want another concussion. He said that since he is ROH, he can’t risk it. This drew out Danielson who discussed all the great men of ROH who fought for the title. Dragon agrees to not attack Nigel’s head if he would just accept the match. Nigel agrees. Nigel is now a heel.

Match 3: El Generico vs. Brent Albright

This was all Generico selling for Albright, who worked the back. The parts that were different featured Generico using his flashiest moves, like the Yakuza Kick and various dives to the floor to attempt to tackle the bigger competitor. Generico is not able to stay a step ahead long enough and takes the half nelson suplex. Albright then knees him until the referee stops the matc, which worked, but was weak since the back was so set up.

Brent Albright defeats El Generico (Ref Stoppage, Knees to Generico’s head, ***)
Generico’s selling held this one above average and keeping one step ahead worked great, until it didn’t. Nice, but more of a head focus would have helped since Generico was selling so well.

The Larry Sweeney Talk Show is next. He brings out Allison Danger. He wants to know if she’s really a major slut. She refuses to take it and when she tries to leave, Sweeney knocks her out with a mic from behind. He then encouraged Bobby Dempsey to rape her while the crowd cheered it on. Dempsey was knocked out on top of her. This was absolutely tasteless and unnecessary. This is the sort of embarrassing angle I watch ROH to get away from and hopefully this kind of nonsense will not continue. (EDIT: After this report was originally posted, Gabe Sapolsky wrote the following on the ROH message board: “I am sorry if you are offended by this. I can assure you that this will never happen in ROH again. Thank you for all your support.”)

Match 4: Kevin Steen vs. Joey Matthews

Steen gets early control, then Matthews uses WWE offense to slow the match way down. This was weak and annoyed the crowd. Steen eventually finished the weakest match of the night with the Sharpshooter.

Kevin Steen defeats Joey Matthews (Submission, Sharpshooter, * ½)
Slow with no real story except “heel beats on face, gets comeuppance.” You can find that anywhere, and often done far better than this. I expected more of Matthews.

Match 5: Go Shiozaki vs. Austin Aries

This was a near classic. The early portion of the match set up everything. Aries is a better counter-wrestler and comparable striker, but Go’s chops are deadly. They change control based on this premise, with Aries constantly just staying alive. Both hit big moves, only to be escaped, but eventually Go wandered into the Kick, Brainbuster, 450 combo from which there is no escape and lost, despite having Aries nearly finished.

Austin Aries defeated Go Shiozaki (Pin, 450, **** ¼)
This great match was sorely needed at this point. I might even end up liking this more on DVD. Go is a huge success with great matches against Aries, Generico and Danielson already.

Pre-intermission the Age of the Fall recruit Aries from the balcony. Tammy Lynn Sytch emerges to promise Aries sex if she will join him. Aries says he needs time to think on this. Lacey takes all of this as a personal affront from the former Sunny.

Match 6: Shimmer Title Match: Sara Del Rey vs. Daizee Haze

Del Rey beat on Daizee who was good with her hope spots. The butterfly and suplex finished Daizee in short order despite her best efforts.

Sara Del Rey defeats Daizee Haze (Pin, Butterfly Suplex, ** ½)
Inoffensive and both women came off great!

Match 7: ROH World Tag Team Title Match: Davey Richards and Rocky Romero © vs. Jigsaw and Ruckus with Julius Smokes and Mercedes Martinez

The match was very lucha heavy. This was again good tag formula, with Jigsaw mostly being the face in peril. Davey and Rocky beat on him quite well, but his hot tag fell a bit flat to me as Ruckus’ flips did nothing to add to his offense for the most part. The eventual chaos that ensued allowed Davey to powerbomb Jigsaw twice for the win.

Davey Richards and Rocky Romero defeat Jigsaw and Ruckus (Pin, Davey powerbombs Jigsaw, *** ¼)
The finishing sequence and Ruckus’ comeback were a bit weak. Everything else was great.

Post match Jigsaw refuses to take off his mask as his manager challenged him to do upon losing. This could be interesting and I’m hoping for VS vs. Chikara or Lucha guys!

Match 8: FIP World Title Match: No DQ: Roderick Strong © vs. Necro Butcher vs. Erick Stevens

This match was Strong and Stevens trying to get hold of each other with Necro destroying them. Strong realized Necro as a true threat sooner than Stevens so while Stevens took a DVD through a chair, Strong was able to come through with a Gibson Driver ’91 through a table, then another in the ring for the win.

Roderick Strong defeats Necro Butcher and Erick Stevens (Pin, Gibson Driver ’91 on Necro, ****)
This war of attrition had brutality with a story. What’s not to like?

Match 9: ROH World Title Match: Nigel McGuinness © vs. Bryan Danielson

Huge heat for Dragon and against Nigel. Danielson controls entirely on the mat early, eventually hitting a back drop suplex on Nigel. Nigel grabs his head in pain, then hits the ref to earn the DQ to huge heel heat.

As Nigel tried to leave, Aries and others appeared, demanding he defend the belt properly or go through them. ROH President (and owner) Cary Silkin declared the match restarted.

At the restart Nigel immediately took advantage of Danielson’s anger, working over the arm heavily. Danielson stayed alive with big moves, including the dive to the crowd, but couldn’t keep Nigel down. He might have had the win a few times, but honored his word and didn’t elbow Nigel out of the Cattle Mutilation or during the Triangle Choke. This allowed Nigel to control as he began attacking Dragon’s head. He used headbutts to control Danielson, weakening him for his own MMA elbows. The last one knocked Dragon out. Nigel locked in the London Dungeon arm submission for the win to huge heel heat.

Nigel McGuinness defeats Bryan Danielson (Ref Stoppage, London Dungeon, **** ½)
Danielson should have sold the arm work more, but beyond that, this was essentially a perfect match. I dislike this for Danielson’s character as much as I love the match though. He stomped Morishima’s balls to mush, attacked a hurt Nigel, and has refused to have anything to do with any corporation, including ROH (see CZW War), yet now he’s all about ROH and his word. I’m going to need an explanation to buy that and feel it is a significant step backwards for Danielson as a character. Even so, the match is must see.

With three four star matches, this show more than makes up for the three significant missteps. Get this the second its out.