Before We get into this review I would like to highlight this weeks Puroresu Pulse and Ring Of Honor Weekly. The Pulse focuses on the recent action in All Japan and New Japan while, in ROH weekly, Aaron looks at the most likely candidates for the next generation of ROH Main Eventers.
This was the show before ROH’s Sixth Anniversary Show. Unfortunately, bad weather led to multiple wrestlers not being able to arrive in time for the show. The talent that couldn’t attend included: Nigel McGuinness, Davey Richards, Brent Albright, Tyler Black, Erick Stevens, and Roderick Strong. Due to this ROH reshuffled the card and presented a one night, eight man tournament where the prize was a world title shot. The other key point about this show was the US ROH dÃ©but of NOAH wrestler Go Shiozaki. Shiozaki is one of NOAH’s biggest hopes for the future, having been Kenta Kobashi’s protege for years. NOAH were hoping that this tour would give Shiozaki plenty of experience in singles matches, much like Takeshi Morishima’s ROH tour in 2007.
Eye of the Storm â€“ 2/22/08, Deer Park, New York
The Show opened with Bobby Cruise announcing the fact that multiple roster members (listed in the paragraph before this one) could not be present due to the weather conditions. It was announced that there would be a one night only, eight man tournament. The brackets for the tournament are shown below:
Bryan Danielson vs. Rocky Romero
Kevin Steen vs. Delirious
Necro Butcher vs. Go Shiozaki
Austin Aries vs. El Generico
Interestingly, the only match on the card that was originally scheduled was the Danielson vs. Romero match.
<Match 1: Rocky Romero vs. Bryan Danielson.
This was originally scheduled to be Danielson’s warm up match for his ROH World Title shot against Nigel McGuinness at the Sixth Anniversary Show. Danielson has grown his hair a little, and he is now sporting a goatee. There was an embarrassing moment where Danielson’s music ended before the Final Countdown was said, which annoyed a few fans.
This was originally billed as an MMA style match. While it didn’t achieve this the match did feel very different. The match was focused on mat wrestling, looking for openings and strikes. This can be a tricky type of match to pull off but Romero is a good striker and Danielson is so good at mat wrestling that this match just worked. This was a more â€œrealisticâ€ wrestling match as there were no top rope spots, no slams, no Irish whips or running the ropes. Both wrestlers looked to target the legs while Romero also tried to double his chances of victory by looking for opportunities to apply the Cross Armbreaker as well. Eventually Danielson was too much for Romero when he changed tactics and applied a High Angle Fujiwara Armbar.
Bryan Danielson wins by High Angle Fujiwara Armbar, 3.5 out of 5
This was a very different match to most matches on the Indy scene. This style of match, bearing some similarities to the old BattlARTs style, was different from most ROH matches but Romero and Danielson were probably the two best choices to work this type of match. Danielson had a good showing, using lots of different tricks and counters while selling the leg. Romero also did well and looked good but his lack of selling hurt the match. I would call this a good match and it’s something that I would recommend if you are looking for a more believable style of match.
Match 2: Kevin Steen vs. Delirious
At a prior ROH show Steen had commented on how he wanted to hold ROH gold in 2008. At this point Steen was starting to amass an undefeated streak in ROH singles matches. This match started out slowly with the usual comedy start that you see in a Delirious match. Delirious focussed on trying to slam the much bigger Steen but couldn’t make the most of his opportunities. Eventually Steen’s size made the difference as Steen flattened Delirious with a Swanton Bomb.
Kevin Steen wins by Swanton Bomb, 2.5 out of 5
Many people have commented on Delirious’ act becoming too stale and repetitive. This match showed that, if Delirious cannot connect with the viewers and the fans using his comedy and crowd interactions, his matches seem too similar. The build for the slams was nicely done but the match itself was badly structured. Steen showed a lot of promise (this was my first time seeing him in singles) and his short term selling is really good but despite his performance this was an average match.
Match 3: El Generico vs. Austin Aries
Both wrestlers were having fairly poor starts to the year 2008 and they were looking to use the tournament to gain some momentum. The match started out with a feeling out process before the pace quickened. Both wrestlers went to the mat, where Generico began to outsmart Aries, forcing Aries to go to the floor and use it to his advantage. Aries dominated the match from here until Generico manages to get the victory with a sneaky roll up, allowing him to advance while Aries was frustrated at his bad run of form in singles matches.
El Generico wins by Roll up, 3.5 out of 5
This was a really good match with a nice story and some really nice displays of counter wrestling. Aries was great as the face who was completely focussed on victory while Generico was the crowd favourite who was continuously trying to find ways to win despite taking a load of punishment. Generico’s selling really helps this kind of match and the pacing was almost spot on, with Aries playing his role well.
<Match 4: Go Shiozaki vs. Necro Butcher
This was Shiozaki’s first ROH match on US soil, having wrestled for ROH in the UK and Japan. Shiozaki’s US appearances were highly anticipated after he had an amazing match with Bryan Danielson at Live in Tokyo. Shiozaki’s first opponent was Death Match veteran Necro Butcher, a wrestler who is known for his unique look, violent tendencies and his dislike of wearing shoes.
Necro immediately takes the match out to the floor where he learns first hand that you should never start a chop exchange with Shiozaki. Shiozaki’s chops make Roderick Strong’s look weak as they are stupidly loud. Necro has to go back to his hardcore roots to regain the advantage, even going as far as using Ring Announcer Bobby Cruise’s Shoe. This was a hard hitting contest where Shiozaki out brutalised Necro Butcher before getting the victory with a very nice Moonsault Press.
Go Shiozaki wins by Moonsault Press, 3 out of 5
I’ve seen a few Shiozaki matches before this so I know how well he chops people but I was still surprised at the colour that Necro’s chest turned. This was a nice change of pace as it was a hard hitting brawl style of match. Necro had a unique look and is a fairly good brawler, but I was still surprised with how well he gelled with Shiozaki. Shiozaki looked good and both wrestlers sold well, making this an entertaining brawl.
So far none of the first round matches went longer then 15 minutes, suggesting that the later rounds would go a little longer.
Next up was â€œThe Larry Sweeney Show, Starring Larry Sweeney.â€ This had a nice feel to begin with, thanks to the use of cheesy graphics and Sweeney commenting on the crowds fashion sense, or lack thereof. Sweeney then introduces his first guest, Hangmen Three member and ROH student Shane Hagadorn, who is escorted to the ring by Bobby Dempsey. Hagadorn is sporting an awful haircut very similar to one previously sported by Minoru Suzuki. The segment begins to fall apart from here as it devolves into Sweeney praising Hagadorn and the pair tormenting Dempsey. The segment was fairly boring after Sweeney’s fashion comments, although it did foreshadow Sweeney amalgamating the Hangmen Three into Sweet and Sour, Inc.
Match 5: Bryan Danielson vs. Kevin Steen
This was the first of the two semi finals for the one night tournament. You had to question just how far Danielson was willing to go since he had a title shot the following night and was unlikely to risk serious injury. Steen, on the other hand, was willing to do anything to further his dreams and gain ROH gold.
The match starts out with Danielson gaining control but multiple shots to Steen’s ear infuriates the big man and he begins to lose his temper. Steen then targets Danielson’s leg, the same one that Romero had focused on earlier in the night, and he begins to dominate the match. Steen has a nice moment where he was attacking Danielson’s leg to the tune of the â€œMr Wrestlingâ€ chant. Danielson tries to fight back and looks to use the same sequence that he beat Romero with but Steen is not weak enough and Steen applies the Sharpshooter. Danielson doesn’t want to risk going into his title shot with a bad knee and he taps out.
Kevin Steen wins by Sharpshooter, 3 .25out of 5
This match started out a little slow but it had a great story which really developed and helped to draw you in to hat turned into a good, psychologically sound match. Steen gradually got more angry as Danielson kept hitting his ear, leading to Steen targeting Danielson’s weakened leg. The question was, how much could Danielson take before he decided that his title shot at the Sixth Anniversary Show was more important. Danielson sold the leg very well while Steen showed a very good understanding of psychology in how he targeted the leg, even trying to dig his fingers into Danielson’s knee. Steen’s personality shone through here and it showed that he could play the serious, focussed wrestler as well as the cocky persona that he usually uses.
Match 6: El Generico vs. Go Shiozaki
This was the second semi final match and either outcome would lead to an intriguing match up. Steen would face Shiozaki, a man he had never wrestled before, or his regular tag team partner El Generico. This would be Shiozaki’s second match of the night, something he didn’t expect on his first ROH show in the US.
Shiozaki again starts off with his vicious chops so Generico again does the smart thing, this time targeting Shiozaki’s left leg. This starts to hinder Shiozaki but he then goes back to using his chops to target Generico’s neck and chest. Both wrestlers focus on their chosen body parts and Generico eventually looks to use the same finish he beat Aries with. However, Shiozaki is ready for it and transitions it into the Go Flasher.
Go Shiozaki wins by Go Flasher, 4 out of 5
This was a great match and the best one of the night. Again, it had a clear story where the smaller Generico attacked Shiozaki’s knee to lessen Shiozaki’s offence Shiozaki sold the leg well and the fact that he had an opportunity to go for the Moonsault but chose not to was a great touch. Generico is one of the best face sellers in ROH and the fact that both competitors sold really well helped the match. This match had some awesome moments and the finish was well worked, playing off of Generico’s previous match.
Next we had a backstage segment with Rocky Romero and Becky Bayless where Rocky mentioned that he had done his job by damaging Danielson’s leg during the first match of the show. He then tried to invite Bayless back to his room.
Match 7: Four Corner Survival- Mitch Franklin vs. Pelle Primeau vs. Human Tornado vs. Jason Blade
Franklin and Primeau are two of the ROH students, both of whom are shorter then the referee. Human Tornado is a popular regular in PWG whose gimmick is that he is a pimp with Balls of Steel. The fourth competitor is FIP Tag Team Champion Jason Blade, a member of the YRR (Young, Rich and Ready for Action) in FIP.
Human Tornado was the main attraction in this match as he proved to be very charismatic and had some nice kicks in his offensive arsenal. Blade did well playing the cocky, opportunistic heel while Franklin and Primeau proved to be competent in the ring, although they were dwarfed by Tornado since both men weigh less than 150 pounds. The match is a case of everyone making opportunistic or necessary tags with the end coming about due to Franklin trying to take advantage of an opportunity, only for Blade to be even more opportunistic, resulting in Blade winning the match with a modified Half Nelson Driver (I think it’s called the Switch blade).
Jason Blade wins by Switch blade on Mitch Franklin, 1.5 out of 5
This match would not have been on the card if the weather had not resulted in people missing the show. You could tell this from the line up but the match served it’s purpose: namely, it allowed Human Tornado to make his East Coast ROH dÃ©but and it allowed Jason Blade to pick up another win. The students did okay with Primeau doing well and Franklin hitting some nice moves but they were obviously the second class guys in this match. One thing that got me thinking was Franklin kept trying to get pins when he was not the legal man. He has done this before, in other matches, and I don’t know whether it is forgetfulness or some kind of character trait. This match was okay, not bad but nothing special. Still, the match did what it was meant to in filling up the card, pushing Blade and displaying the Human Tornado.
After the match Tornado cut a promo on how he wanted to get a â€œstableâ€ of his own, starting with Lacey. This led to Lacey coming out, preaching about women’s rights and hormone driven men but Tornado ducked when she tried to slap him. Eventually Jimmy Jacobs ran out and threatened to stab Tornado in the eye with a spike, to which Tornado made a reply about stabbing Lacey in the eye with something. This led to Jimmy Jacobs announcing his tag team partner for the night, the newest member of the Age of the Fall, Zach Gowen. As you may remember, Gowen is the one legged wrestler who was involved in the WWE Mr America angle. This is the first I had heard of Gowen since his last tour in All Japan in 2007. This was a good segment as it got Tornado’s character over, gave Lacey some mic time, added some comedy into the show and flowed into Jacobs introducing his partner.
Match 8: The Age of the Fall (Jimmy Jacobs and Zach Gowen, with Lacey) vs. The Vulture Squad (Ruckus and Jigsaw, with Julius Smokes and Mercedes Martinez)
This was a typical tag team match where the heels use short cuts to dominate Jigsaw before he manages to make the hot tag to Ruckus. Ruckus cleans house and the Vulture Squad eventually wins when Ruckus hits a Moonsault Leg Drop.
Ruckus beat Zach Gowen with the Moonsault Leg Drop, 2 out of 5
I really enjoyed the heel work of Gowen and Jacobs as they used some old school heel psychology. The Vulture Squad was okay but Ruckus and Jigsaw have done much better matches more recently, such as their match against the No Remorse Corps at the next PPV, Taking No Prisoners.
This match lacked excitement and the two teams just did not mesh well together, even though Jigsaw did a fairly good job as face in peril.
Before the Main event we see Becky Bayless attempt to interview Austin Aries. Aries is in a foul mood and doesn’t answer any questions before storming off.
Match 9: Kevin Steen vs. Go Shiosaki
This was both competitors third match of the night, as the winner of this match would win a shot at the ROH World Title.
Steen focuses on Shiosaki’s head and neck, in order to set up for the Package Piledriver, while Shiosaki focuses on the leg in order to slow down the big man and prevent him from taking Shiosaki’s weight for his power moves. Shiosaki has some nice little spots, like chopping the knee while Steen showed that he is quite a good seller. This leads into an extended no selling sequence and Shiosaki kicks out of the Package Piledriver. Steen then brutalises Shiosaki and a second Package Piledriver gives Steen the win, as well as a shot at the ROH World Title.
Kevin Steen beats Go Shiosaki by Package Piledriver, 3 out of 5
This was a good match up until the last 4-5 minutes. So many matches have gone from mediocre to good because of the finishing stretches. To me, this was the exact opposite. After 10 minutes of working on specific body parts, slowly building up the tension with good selling, they ruin it with an overly long no selling sequence that could have easily been separated into 2 or 3 sequences separated with exhaustion. I liked Shiosaki’s no selling sequence at Live in Tokyo but this was way too long and just killed the match for me. I also didn’t like the fact that Steen had focussed on the neck for most of the match, only for Shiosaki to kick out of the Package Piledriver. I don’t know why they didn’t have Steen focus on Shiosaki’s previously targeted leg since the previous rounds had Steen win by targeting the leg and Shiosaki win despite Generico attacking his leg. Despite all these complaints, this was a decent match and Steen is a great character and a good seller. It’s just that I feel his forte is Tag team matches, not singles. Shiosaki really impressed me on this show and makes me want to see more of him.
Post match Steen sells the leg and Shiosaki doesn’t want to shake hands until Generico asks him. Steen ended the match by directing the Cameraman, using Generico as a crutch and reiterating that he wants any ROH gold in 2008.
Despite the change of plans due to the weather conditions this was a good show. This show had a lot of short matches on it, since no one match went over 20 minutes. The focus on the show was the 8 man tournament and, more specifically, Shiozaki and Steen’s journey to the final. I was really impressed with Shiozaki for putting on three good matches with three guys he had never worked with before. Steen had a fairly good night but I just don’t him enjoy him anywhere near as much as I do when he teams with Generico. I actually found that his matches in the tournament were my least favourites. The Best match of the night was Shiozaki vs. Generico, a match that had a good story, great selling and was really exciting, despite being under 15 minutes long. The other good matches on this show, in order, were Danielson vs. Romero, Aries vs. Generico, Steen vs. Danielson and Shiosaki vs. Necro. Danielson and Aries had good performances, like they usually do, while Generico really impressed me and I enjoyed Necro a lot more then I thought I would. I would whole heartedly support a title shot for El Generico as he is one of the best faces in ROH, with an exciting move set, good psychology and great selling. The worst matches were the two non tournament matches, although they did serve their purpose. Tornado made his presence felt, Blade accumulated another win in 2008 and Gowen showed that he and Jacobs make a good, old school heel team. While I find that their placement on the card helped to end the show on a bit of a low note it was necessary to help Steen and Shiozaki recover for the final.
Now I am going to ask a question: Would I recommend people to buy this show?
This is a show that overcame adversity, a show that was rewritten on the fly and relied on wrestlers having two or three matches in a night. As such, it’s not in the top tier of ROH shows that I have seen and I wouldn’t call it an essential purchase. I would, however, recommend this show for a number of specific reasons. If you want to see Shiosaki wrestle a variety of opponents, if you want to watch some good El Generico ROH singles matches, if you area fan of Kevin Steen, then buy this DVD. I would also recommend this DVD if you are having problems getting into longer matches since some of these matches are perfect if you just feel like getting a 15 minute fix of wrestling.
Overall Show Rating: 6.5 out of 10