Ring of Honor Live Report: Hammerstein Ballroom, NY, 5/10/08

At the start of the show, ROH owner Cary Silkin came out with the usual live ROH opening, but looked around the Hammerstein with an awesome, smug yet awed look. That’s what it’s all about folks. The little company that could is making it.

Match 1: FIP World Title Match: Roderick Strong © vs. Erick Stevens vs. Go Shiozaki

This is among the stiffest chop-fests I’ve ever seen as all three men absolutely laid into each other and the entire match was about who could hit hardest. It turns out the answer is Stevens, as both Go and Strong had bloody chests and Stevens nearly got the win with the Doctor Bomb on Go before being rolled up by Strong. Great match that really protected Stevens going into the Fight without Honor in Philadelphia, while I’m dying to see Go vs. Strong and Go vs. Stevens.

Roderick Strong wins the Triple Threat match (Pin, Rollup on Stevens *** ½)
With more time, this is a sure **** match. What’s here is worth going out of your way for, particularly to whet your appetite from more from these men.

Match 2: Rocky Romero and Davey Richards vs. Kevin Steen and El Generico

This was straight tag formula for the most part, with a really good workover on Generico and beautiful hope spots. Romero was surprisingly very charismatic here and is actually getting face pops, while Davey brought the intensity. They went with a hot finish and while it didn’t really feel like Steenerico could lose, the speed with which they attempted to dismantle the former tag champs was awesome. The Package Piledriver into the Brainbuster remains awesome.

Steen and Generico defeat Romero and Richards (Pin, Package Buster, ****)
Steen and Generico might be the best team in the world. There’s a reason tag formula is so used- it simply works.

Match 3: Tag Scramble: Delirious and Pelle Primeau vs. Jigsaw and Jack Evans vs. Chris Hero and Brent Albright with Larry Sweeney, Sara Del Rey, Bobby Dempsey, Eddie Edwards, Shane Hagadorn and Johnny Fairplay

This was a short spotfest, mostly dominated by Chris Hero, with some nice spots by Jigsaw and Evans. I don’t think Pelle got in one move, though his mini-feud with Hero was furthered as he took quite a beating.

Hero looked to win, but a blinded Albright hit him with a German suplex. This lead to a Bizzaro driver and Delirious pinned Hero.

Delirious and Pelle won the tag scramble (Pin, Bizzaro driver on Hero, ** ½)
This was basically setup for the postmatch.

After the match Sweeney demands that Albright make amends for losing the match by showing his best moves on Dempsey. All of SnS attack Dempsey, but Albright refuses, instead destroying SnS, Inc. He powerbombed Hagadorn through a table, a German suplex for Hero, knees for Eddie Edwards, and a half-nelson suplex for Del Rey. Fairplay and Sweeney escaped, though barely. This drew a huge pop and was very successful, getting “Albright” chants.

After this an August 2 Hammerstein return is announced, featuring the Motor City Machine Guns.

Match 4: Bryan Danielson vs. Naomichi Marufuji

These two went to work beautifully, with Danielson having an arm and back focus, while Marufuji went all out after the head of Danielson. This showed how serious Marufuji was about the match. Danielson, meanwhile, didn’t force things and wrestled his regular match. Marufuji scouted Danielson and even incorporated many Danielson-esque moves into his offense, but went for the finish too soon, leading to a huge finishing sequence of mostly mat and counters, which leaves Danielson at an advantage. Marufuji showed he could strike with Dragon, but had no answer for the mat work and finally was forced to tap to the Cattle Mutilation.

Danielson defeats Marufuji (submission, Cattle Mutilation, **** ¼)
This should have gotten more time, but the good start story and awesome, lengthy finishing sequence made it an excellent match. How awesome is it that they had a **** ¼ match and there’s still the feeling they’ve barely scratched the surface of what they can do?

Intermission.

We return with Daizee Haze announcing a new attendance record for NYC. Delirious comes out to ask her to dinner in a really sweet moment. Rhett Titus, the most charismatic ROH student interrupts to ask her out. Daizee runs away and a saddened Delirious drops his rose that he had for Daizee and walks away dejected. This was, somewhat surprisingly, quite touching.

Match 5: Necro Butcher vs. Takeshi Morishima

Necro came out to Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down” and got the biggest entrance pop of the night. Morishima came out and was immediately taken aback by Necro’s awesome brawling, but eventually became too much a physical force, stiffed the shit out of Morishima and, despite some hope spots, dominated. Necro was put over huge by kicking out of a second rope backdrop driver on a chair head, but a second backdrop driver was enough to put him away.

Morishima defeats the Necro Butcher (Pin, ***, Backdrop Driver)
This was pure fun. An extended squash, but a good one, where Necro got more over for the beating he took. It wasn’t realistic for Necro to get too much offense on the GHC Champion, but this was still a very good little brawl. Let the Necro push commence!

ROH World Tag Team Title Match: Austin Aries and Jay Briscoe © vs. The Age of the Fall of Tyler Black and Jimmy Jacobs

They began with heated brawl, pairing Jacobs and Aries and Tyler and Jay. This featured far too much wrestling and far too little hatred. This continued on with the faces mostly controlling the brawl, until Aries was basically eliminated and the heels worked over Jay.

A super Contra Code was escaped by Jay who bladed HUGELY after being spiked. Tyler during this managed to survive both the Horns of Aries and a Spike Jay Driller. Jay basically just survived, as Aries was eliminated, but then Aries came back in and his team nearly got a win. Necro interrupted that, but then Mark Briscoe, hurt, came out and hit the Springboard Doomsday Device on Black to finish.

Briscoe and Aries defeat Jacobs and Black (Pin, Springboard Doomsday, ** ½)
A disjointed mess, but had at two things going for it-

1. Black is the guy who can get out of finishers now.
2. Black and Tyler’s matches with The Briscoes have a weird mirror effect going with the Steen and Generico stuff. Their first match is reminiscent of the first Steenerico match with crazy spots and a great straight match. Their Sueprcard of Honor 3 match is a bastardized version of the Steenerico Death Before Dishonor V Night 1 match, and this is reminiscent of Fighting Spirit.

Post match Jacobs pins down Aries (as the Briscoes just leave him) with Age of the Fall and promises to emotionally destroy him. Okay then.

Match 7: ROH World Title Match: Nigel McGuinness © vs. Claudio Castagnoli

The crowd was pretty exhausted by this point and that this match was extended mat wrestling didn’t help. Nigel had a mat and striking advantage, though Claudio’s speed, setting up his strength gave Nigel fits, particularly some smart and underrated counterwrestling. This went on for a bit as Nigel targeted the arm. The lariats weakened the crap out of Claudio, but he did manage to hit the Ricolla Bomb. If it weren’t for the lack of effective weardown, that’d have been it, but Nigel escaped. A few more lariats and a final London Dungeon finished Claudio.

Nigel McGuinness defeats Claudio Castagnoli (Submission, London Dungeon, *** ½)
The set up and storyline here were absolutely great, but the finishing sequence never clicked here, leaving the ending, which was in and of itself fine, anti-climactic. I’m beginning to worry that Nigel is a weak face character but amazing worker and a weak heel worker, but amazing character. That would be a problem. The title change wasn’t to be expected here, particularly because the faces went over in the last match and the money in a heel title run is in the rematches.

Summary: This show was not an all time classic. Let’s get that out of the way right at the start, but with two **** matches, two more at *** ½, an effective major face turn, a touching moment, and a fun Morishima-Necro match it’s still a memorable and great show. If WWE or TNA put this on, it would be heralded as show of the year. That ROH did it means that people have absurdly high expectations, which is not all unreasonable considering the quality usually puts out. Still, it reeks of a spoiled crowd that they’d complain about anything of this high quality. The second half was a bit of a disappointment, but that’s as much card placement’s fault as anything (why have the FIP Title match as the opener? Why so short?). When this is out on DVD, you have the highest recommendation to check this out. It’s a great show with two excellent matches, a number of angles forwarded and an atmosphere reminiscent of Glory by Honor V Night 2 and Respect is Earned.

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