This show was an interesting one as the main event was Nigel McGuinenss vs. Chris Hero in a Cage for the ROH World Title. The big talking point, however, was newcomer Tyler Black challenging the ROH Founding Father Bryan Danielson. Could the newcomer defeat Danielson like his Age of the Fall team mate Jimmy Jacobs, or was he going to be another victim for the â€œBest in the World?â€
Breakout â€“ 1/25/08, Dayton, Ohio
The show opens up with Nigel McGuinness in the Cage before the show starts. McGuinness talks about how he and Hero first broke into wrestling in the Dayton area, commenting that he worked so hard to win the ROH World Title and that he would do whatever he could to retain it.
We then go backstage to a collective promo from Sweet and Sour Inc. We get to hear from Larry Sweeney, Tank Toland and Chris Hero, with all of them talking about how focused Chris Hero is on becoming the new ROH World Champion. Both these promos did a good job of putting over how important the ROH World Title is and helped build up the main event. The Sweet and Sour Inc promo was more focussed on business then humour in order to highlight how important being champion is to Hero. McGuinness continues to show that he is one of the best in ROH on the mic, as this was a tight promo that focussed on adding background and meaning to the main event.
Match 1: Mark and Jay Briscoe vs. Jigsaw and â€œMdogg 20â€ Matt Cross
This was originally scheduled as the Briscoes against Jack Evans and Ruckus, Jigsaw’s Vulture Squad team mates. Unfortunately, Evans had to have facial surgery after getting kicked in the face by Human Tornado in Dragon Gate and Ruckus was hospitalised with Pneumonia. Jigsaw was the obvious replacement and he brought in another big high flier, former Resilience member Matt Cross. Cross had been dropped from ROH after his run in the Resilience due to increasing apathy from the crowd. Cross came out looking like a short, white Fidel Castro as he had a ridiculously bushy beard, and a camouflage Jacket.
This is a typical Briscoes match where the Briscoes used their power and teamwork to control their opponents and Cross and Jigsaw relied on their speed. Jigsaw used a nice range of submissions and Cross has a nice period of counter wrestling with Mark Briscoe. At one point the Briscoes dominated Jigsaw, who is a good Face in peril, although his bumps do occasionally frighten me ever since the time he knocked himself out during a top rope Dropkick. The Briscoes familiarity with each other is too much for the makeshift pair and the Briscoes picked up the win with a Jay Driller on Cross.
Jay Briscoe pins Matt Cross by Jay Driller, 2.5 out of 5
This was a fairly decent Briscoes formula tag match. By that I mean that the Briscoes dominated the match with their opponents getting in a hot tag. Cross did well on the hot tag and Jigsaw can play Face in peril very well. This was not one of the best Briscoes match that I’ve seen but it wasn’t offensive. It was an entertaining match with Jigsaw putting in a decent performance and Cross impressing me more than his run in the Resilience, probably because he focussed more on using his speed to escape moves and less on getting in overly flippy spots.
After the match Jay got on the mic and promised that the Briscoes would regain the ROH World Tag Team Titles.
Next we had a promo from the Age of the Fall in what looked like a Car Park. I couldn’t tell since this was very dark. Tyler Black talked about the AOTF focussing on breaking down walls and destroying Idols, Jimmy Jacobs recruiting a new member of the group and how Jacobs inspired him to take on the â€œBest in the World,â€ Bryan Danielson, later on in the show. Black was decent on the mic but he needs to build up his confidence a little more and improve on his delivery.
Match 2: Adam Pearce (with Shane Hagadorn) vs. Claudio Castagnoli
Pearce had a Dog Collar match against Delirious the next night at Without Remorse. As such, Pearce came out to the ring pulling along Shane Hagadorn by a Steel Chain, while Hagadorn was wearing a mask that Pearce had stolen from Delirious. Castagnoli is one of the most popular acts in ROH as he constantly gets a lot of support from the crowd. Only Aries, Danielson and the Briscoes get the same kind of reaction as regularly as Castagnoli gets.
The match started with Castagnoli focussing on maintaining a Wrist lock on Pearce, a move that Pearce struggles to break due to Castagnoli’s size and skill. Pearce eventually dominated and Castagnoli keeps plugging away with hope spots, including the Giant Swing. Pearce has to resort to repeated cheap shots but he gets distracted by the Steel Chain he brought Hagadorn down with, letting Castagnoli hit a Ricola Bomb for the win.
Claudio Castagnoli beats Adam Pearce by Ricola Bomb, 2.5 out of 5
This match had a good storyline with Castagnoli being too good for Pearce, who constantly had to look for short cuts to keep in control. Castagnoli proved that he can be a great fiery face and had some good hope spots but Pearce just isn’t good enough a wrestler to make this match better than average.
We get another Sweet and Sour Inc promo further helping to put over the importance of the Main Event and the ROH World Title. One of the things I like about ROH is how they build their main belt and actually make it feel really important.
Match 3: FIP World Heavyweight Match â€“ Davey Richards vs. Austin Aries vs. Erick Stevens (Champion)
Stevens had previously defended the title successfully against Austin Aries and Bryan Danielson in singles matches. This match harks back to the No Remorse Corps feud with the Resilience, with Stevens looking to beat his old rival Richards as well as proving himself to Aries. Aries had just started to lose a lot of matches and this was visibly beginning to frustrate him.
The match started with former Resilience members Stevens and Aries working on Richards, although there was some tension between the two. This slowly built up with Richards trying to egg them on, only for their hatred of him to overcome their problems with each other. Eventually Aries found the right opportunity to target Stevens and Richards proceeded to work on Stevens, looking to use the Kimura. The tension and action continued to build with the spots and transitions becoming more and more spectacular. Stevens gets in some great hope spots using his power and he eventually manages to retain his title using the Doctor Bomb on Richards.
Erick Stevens retains by beating Davey Richards with the Doctor Bomb, 3.75 out of 5
This match had a fantastic build as both the tension and the action built up slowly until it reached it’s climax at the end. Each spot and transition was bigger in scale from the last, as each competitor tried bigger and bigger things to win the title. The dynamic between these three guys worked really well, helped by the fact that all three are very good sellers. Richards had a good showing but his heel persona was strangely muted except for one or two moments. Despite that his intensity and selling helped the match reach the level it did. Aries had another good performance and began to show how his frustration at not winning regularly was making him become more aggressive and opportunistic. Stevens had a great performance with good selling and some fantastic hope spots.
Match 4: No DQ Tag Match â€“ The Hangmen Three of BJ Whitmer and Brent Albright (with Shane Hagadorn) vs. Delirious and El Generico
The Hangmen Three’s main objective in ROH has been a vendetta against all masked wrestlers in ROH, starting with Delirious. They later turned to Generico as well and this is a big match before Delirious’ Dog collar match against Pearce. Delirious comes out with a red mask and black tassels, a costume change for blood feud matches.
The Hangmen began by ambushing the faces and the match starts out as a brawl on the floor. One fan gave his belt to Generico in order to hit Whitmer with it. The action returned to the ring and Delirious got the advantage before Hagadorn interrupted. This lead to Pelle Primeau coming out to try and take Hagadorn out of the equation. Delirious used this as an opportunity to take Hagadorn out with Poison Mist. The face teams numbers advantage was lost when Primeau was brutalised by a sick combination of moves from Whitmer and Albright, building up how dangerous they are. This even warranted the little seen ROH replay. The match ended up back on the floor and out in the crowd where Albright and Generico attacked each other with the aid of a large plastic Garbage can. The bigger Hangmen Three regained control and the action returned to the ring. Generico ended up having to survive against the odds before Delirious manages to make the save. The faces gained the advantage before Pearce attacked Delirious and dragged him to the back using his steel chain. Generico is isolated and the Hangmen Three get the win by Ref stoppage when Albright hit big Knee strikes on Generico while holding him in a Double Underhook.
Brent Albright beats El Generico by Ref Stoppage, 2.75 out of 5
This was a decent brawl but nowhere near as good as these brawls have gotten in ROH, namely the Street Fight at Death Before Dishonor V Night I. Generico is a great baby face and you feel a lot of sympathy for him but I have begun to feel that Delirious is getting a little stale. It also doesn’t help that his in ring style and gimmick aren’t geared towards this kind of match. Whitmer and Albright did well in their roles and I liked the use of Primeau in that it helped get rid of Hagadorn and also helped make the heels look very dangerous. The brawl had some good moments, such as using a fans belt or a garbage can, but the action in the ring was too bland, even though it was heated. I liked the idea of Pearce intruding as it builds their upcoming match and Generico is so sympathetic as someone getting beaten down.
We now get our third Sweet and Sour Inc promo of the night and this one is slightly more comedic in tone. While I like the use of multiple segments I feel that they could have tried to add a bit more substance as they began to feel a little samey.
Jacobs comes out with Allison Wonderland and Lacey and he offers a place in the Age of the Fall to Austin Aries. Daizee Haze comes out and tells Jacobs to stand up and be a man, leading to Haze vs. Lacey.
Match 5: Lacey (with Allison Wonderland and Jimmy Jacobs) vs. Daizee Haze
Lacey and Haze have been feuding in ROH for longer than almost everyone, with Haze teaming with anyone who is feuding with Jacobs. Lacey focused on Haze’s back, with Haze getting some shots in but not enough to be meaningful before Haze got the opportunity to hit a Sunset flip into a Jackknife cradle for the shock win.
Daizee Haze beat Lacey by Jackknife Cradle, 2 out of 5
This was a decent women’s match with some good selling and a nice story of the underdog overcoming the odds. Despite this I couldn’t give the match more as I don’t feel the same connection to the matches that I do to all the other matches in ROH. This may be due to the crowd or it may be due to my own personal tastes. Despite the low rating, this is the best women’s match in ROH that I have seen so far, including the Del Rey vs. Danger match from FYF: Liverpool.
After the match the Age of the Fall, now joined by Tyler Black, trap Haze before the Briscoes run in to save the day. Suddenly Joey Matthews, formerly Joey Mercury of WWE tag team MNM, comes into the ring, complete with fur coat and a chair. Matthews destroys Mark with a Butterfly DDT onto the chair and Jacobs chokes out Jay with the End Time. The students take the Briscoes to the back as Matthews hits a very good promo about reaching the top only for his â€œPersonal Demonsâ€ to get the better of him. Matthews states how Jacobs was the only person who believed in him, leading him to join the AOTF. Roderick Strong and Rocky Romero then came out for their scheduled match.
Match 6: The Age of the Fall of Joey Matthews and Jimmy Jacobs (with Tyler Black) vs. The No Remorse corps of Rocky Romero and Roderick Strong
This was a tricky match for the fans as both sides were heels and the crowd obviously didn’t know who to root for. The AOTF wrestled more of a heel style then the NRC as they controlled both their opponents and the pace of the match. Romero worked as a face in peril and, while he sold well (by his standards), he did not draw much sympathy from the crowd. Strong made a good hot tag and there was a nice sequence at the end where Matthews, as the illegal man, tried to buy Jacobs some time to recover. Unfortunately for the AOTF, Strong got the better of Jacobs in a very nice series of reversals and Strong beat Jacobs via the Stronghold.
Roderick Strong beat Jimmy Jacobs by Stronghold, 2.5 out of 5
The problem with this match is that, as a heel vs. heel match, there is no one that you have the desire to root for. This makes you feel less attached and less interested since this is not a flashy exhibition style match. I think that the AOTF did a good job as heels and I liked Joey Matthews. Some people don’t like Matthews but, personally, I feel that he adds a different feel to his matches. His style of psychology and his move set both give him the aura of a cunning veteran who is focusing on in ring success instead of external pleasures. I actually like the slower pace and it compliments Jacobs ability as a tag team heel. Romero did okay and Strong had a good performance but the match up itself, with the nature of both teams, really hampered this match from being any better than it was.
After the match Tyler Black gets a mic and he calls out Danielson, saying how he knows that he can beat Danielson. This leads into the next match.
Match 7: Tyler Black vs. Bryan Danielson
The match begins with no handshake and, from the very beginning, this is all about Black’s lack of respect for Danielson. After repeated Pie faces and slaps by Black, Danielson’s temper gets the better of him and it becomes a case of cocky youngster versus angry veteran. Black had to repeatedly rely on tactics like targeting Danielson’s bad eye (the one that Takeshi Morishima injured) and high impact moves to try and keep up with Danielson. You really get a feel that both men are really motivated in this match as Danielson brings in some new offence and Black manages to take many of Danielson’s most vicious finishers and keep on coming. At the end Black takes all that Danielson can dish out and manages to get in some big moves in order to set up for the Phoenix splash. Black hits the move but Danielson’s experience allows him to turn it into a Small Package for the win. After the match Black is so enraged that he attacks Danielson’s eye with the time keepers hammer before hitting the Small Package Driver. The Briscoes then manage to chase Black off before he does any more damage.
Bryan Danielson beat Tyler Black by Small Package, 4.25 out of 5
This was the best match of the show by far. The match had a great story focussed around respect with Black realising that he was outmatched but still doing everything that he could to win. There were lots of nice touches in this match, from Black targeting Danielson’s eye and shoulder (two injuries that put Danielson on the shelf for a little while), Danielson bringing out some new stuff and Danielson even resorting to his perfected Small Package in order to put Black away as quick as possible. Black gets in enough credible offence, and takes so much punishment, that he comes off as looking like a star. He sold well, made the most of his periods on the attack and made it very clear what his motivations were during the match. Danielson did what he does best, put on a great match with sound psychology, great emotion and his usual crisp offence This match has made me want to see more of Black’s work, especially his match at the 6th ROH PPV, Take No Prisoners.
We now have a backstage promo from Adam Pearce. Pearce is wearing a Delirious mask and his promo focuses on how he hates masked wrestlers since they pretend that they are something that he’s not. This was a good promo and this is my problem with Pearce. He is so good on the mic but he never seems to draw in the audience during the match. He does not have the best in ring style but his inability to make the crowd despise him during a match really doesn’t help him. I think Pearce would be so much better as a manager in the Cornette mould.
Match 8: Cage match for the ROH World Title â€“ Chris Hero (with Larry Sweeney, Sara Del Rey, Tank Toland and Bobby Dempsey) vs. Nigel McGuinness (Champion)
This match came about due to Sweet and Sour Inc constantly interfering in Hero’s matches. Hero felt that he had been robbed at Glory By Honor 6, Night 1 when he was announced the winner of a Title match before the official saw McGuinness’s foot on the ropes.
This match was not about punishing your opponent, it was all about escape. Hero spent the entire match looking for the easy way out by continuously climbing the Cage or running for the door. Hero was more focussed in this match as he targeted Nigel’s leg in order to make climbing the Cage that much harder. Hero does some good work on the leg, utilising a chair provided by Tank Toland. McGuinness keeps stopping Hero from escaping, and he eventually gets frustrated, throwing Hero into the Cage. Hero’s blood loss and cockiness give McGuinness and opportunity but Larry Sweeney slams the Cage door into McGuinness’s head. This gets Sweet and Sour Inc ejected from ringside. Eventually they manage to get Dempsey back at ringside and he goes to hit McGuinness with the door as he escapes. Unfortunately, Hero is quicker to the door and he takes the door full in the face. McGuinness manages to climb out of the cage just before Hero falls out of the door, retaining the ROH World Title. After the match Dempsey is beaten by the male members of Sweet and Sour Inc and Chris Hero is utterly despondent at losing his shot at the Title.
Nigel McGuinness retains the ROH World Title over Chris Hero by escaping the Cage
This was a good, psychologically sound match. Hero was looking for the easy way out and Sweet and Sour Inc meant that McGuinness could not escape through the door like Hero. Hero working the leg was a sound strategy as it worked as a way to make McGuinness tap and as a way to prevent McGuinness from climbing the cage. This was sold very well on the most part and it made you feel like McGuinness had no chance. This wasn’t a vicious, heated Cage match but the story worked really well and Hero’s cheating backfired spectacularly. There were some moments that didn’t work but Hero did well as a more determined heel and McGuinness did a great job of selling the leg, even though I felt that the fans cheered more for Hero. What really impressed me was how the match really put over how much the title means, mostly due to Hero’s action after the match.
This was not a bad card but there were only three matches that I would call good. Of those the Cage match was a good example of how to do a Cage match without excessive hatred and violence. The escape stipulation, especially using the door, made sense and added to the story of the match. The three way match was a great example of how to slowly build the tensions and how to build up the spots in a logical exciting manner. The fact that you have three good sellers in this match, along with the storyline issues between the three, made this my second favourite match of the show. The best match was Black vs. Danielson as this was a great match. You had a good storyline mixed with great selling and a good crowd. The personalities and styles mixed very well and this was a brilliant match. I wouldn’t call any of the other matches offensive but they weren’t great and the opener was one of the weakest that I’ve seen in a while. I did like some of these matches but, overall, this was a weaker card than Eye of the Storm. Unlike Eye of the Storm it had two good matches at the end and the three way kept my interest enough so that the Danielson match arrived when my interest began to wane.
Would I recommend this show?
This is not one of the five best ROH DVD’s released so far this year. By December it will not be in the top 15 shows for ROH in 2008. I wouldn’t recommend it as one of my first choices as I feel that shows such as Eye of the Storm, the Sixth Anniversary Show and the just released Wrestlemania 24 weekend shows (Dragon Gate challenge 2 and Supercard of Honor 3) are all better overall cards. If you had some cash to spare after buying the aforementioned shows and wanted a DVD with a good Cage match and an awesome Bryan Danielson match then I would recommend this. If you aren’t a Danielson fan, or were looking for a good first ROH DVD, then I would suggest that you leave this show alone.
Overall Show Rating: 6 out of 10