Ring of Honor DVD Review: Dragon Gate Challenge II, 3/28/08

ROH has a tradition, of every year, following WrestleMania and running a triple/double shot weekend of shows in the nights before WM. Wherever WM is there’ll be lots of wrestling fans, so ROH always draws good crowds for these shows. Here, 28th March 2008, ROH is following WM again, running this show from Orlando, Florida.

In another tradition, ROH always brings over wrestlers from the Japanese Dragon Gate promotion for these shows, and here, we’re getting a challenge series with them vs certain ROH wrestlers (hence the show name). With some amazing looking tag matches (Steen and Generico vs Doi and Yoshino, Age of the Fall vs BxB Hulk and Shingo) and an all-star main event, this is a very good looking show on paper.

Also, read Glazer, Ditch and Jake.

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1. Nigel McGuinness vs. Delirious (Non Title): Good match to start the show. Delirious hasn’t been very hot lately, but Nigel is fresh off his heel turn and the fans are all over him.

We start with Delirious running wild with his comedy infused offence. Delirious tricks Nigel into going to the outside, where he hits him with a flipping senton off the apron. Back in Nigel has had enough and starts picking apart Delirious’ arm. He does his usual arm focused offence with a little bit of heelish brutality added. Delirious comes back with some strikes and an enziguiri, then connects with the leaping lariat with his non-hurt arm. Both men get a few nearfalls before Nigel murders Delirious dead with a lariat. He goes for Tower of London but Delirious reverses and dives for Shadows Over Hell, but Nigel drops down and Delirious’ bad arm connects with his leg! The London Dungeon seconds later and Delirious taps.

That was a really fun little match (and I wouldn’t mind them going at it again with more time). They kept the crowd involved and didn’t spend too long on anything, fine stuff.
Winner: Nigel McGuinness. ***.

2. Ruckus & Jigsaw vs. Kenny King & Sal Rinuaro: This is the kind of match that would usually open an ROH show. Fun little match here, but had a bit too many moves for its place on the card.

This follows the usual formula with the VS running wild to start then heat on Ruckus. Ruckus is a pretty uninspiring face-in-peril; I think Jigsaw’s way better for the role. The YRR are okay, they’re just a bit too eccentric. Ruckus comes back and makes the tag and the nearfalls start happening. The YRR have some indy-tastic offence, with Kenny King doing some nice power based stuff. The finish comes when, in a very Cide/Ki Manhattan Mayhem reminiscent spot, Jigsaw Jig ‘N’ Tonic’s Sal while Ruckus hits a double stomp on his thighs.

There’s only a certain amount of moves and flashy stuff the fans can take in one show without getting too tired for the main event, that’s why I don’t like the amount of them here (seeing as it’s only the second match on the card, and there’ll be loads better this style later with the Dragon Gate guys). Still, not bad stuff.
Winners: The Vulture Squad (Ruckus and Jiggy). **1/4.

3. Austin Aries vs. Genki Horiguchi: Fun juniors style match, if lacking a little direction at times. So far this year, Aries is my wrestler of the year having awesome matches on every show, but sometimes I think he gets a bit too move heavy and his matches get too move heavy in favor of any real direction.

This starts with some nice back and forth exchanges with both men feeling each other out. The fans are really, really into Aries, and I don’t blame them. Genki is heel and starts working the leg. It’s going good but Aries comes back pretty quickly and we got straight to the finishing stretch. Aries sells the leg a bit but from then on it’s all nearfalls. Lots of nice reversals and counters before Aries gets out of some rollups, hits the kick to the head, Brainbuster and puts on the Horns of Aries for the tapout.

I’d have liked to have seen more stuff with leg (Genki targeting it later on or something) but as it stands this is a fun midcard match. I like the Junior style they did and the crowd are fully into Aries before his world title shot tomorrow night.
Winner: Austin Aries. ***.

4. Kevin Steen & El Generico vs. Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino: This was a dream match in many fan’s eyes and it didn’t disappoint. Both teams could have done more with more time, but this was still excellent overall like you’d expect.

Speed Muscle (Doi/Yoshino) attack before the bell. Steen and Doi go at it with forearms and feel each other out. Generico and Yoshi come in and do some sharp moves. It comes down to a heat period on Generico, which is, as always, very fun. Speed Muscle hit their flashy double teams (ala the Briscoes) while Generico sells it perfectly. He eventually comes back, hot tags Steen, and the match picks up in a big way.

Steen does his high impact hot tag while the fans eat it up. We start going into the fast reversals and nearfalls. Generico tries a split legged moonsault, but Yoshino gets his knees up and hits a BEAUTIFUL tilt-a-whirl Reverse DDT. The moves get bigger, as Doi hits Generico with the Doi 555s but Steen stops the Bakatare sliding kick with a Superkick. Yoshino later hits the Toremelino (light speed spinning face buster) and Doi hits the Bakatare kick for a close 2. The nearfall of the match (and probably of the year so far) comes when Steen hits Yoshino with s super gutbuster, then a Swanton, then a top rope splash from Generico for 2! The crowd completely explodes.

Generico hits Yoshino with his half Nelson suplex and brainbuster for consecutive 2 counts; lacking nearfalls after what we’d just got. Yoshino gets placed up top (Generico wants the turnbuckle brainbuster) and winds up eating the Package Pliedriver into Brainbuster for the 3!

Awesome match. We had some nice underlying stories with speed vs speed (Generico/Yoshino) and power vs power (Steen/Doi), but at the end of the day Yoshino ate too many big moves and the finish was elementary. The only real problem I can think was that both teams weren’t clicking very well at first, but when it got down to it this was the great match everyone expected it to be.
Winners: Kel Steenerico. ****.

5. Jimmy Jacobs & Tyler Black vs. BxB Hulk & SHINGO: Awesome match. This was just as good as the previous ROH/DG tag, if not a tiny bit better. This was post-intermission and expectations weren’t very high going in, but they really won the crowd over by the end of it.

BxB and Shingo run wild at the start. BxB hits Jacobs with his standing backflip kick, which is awesome every time I see it. They hit Jacobs with a backbreaker/guillotine legdrop. The AOTF get on offence and BxB takes the heat. Much like the previous match, the AOTF use lots of double teams on him while he sells everything really well. BxB winds up on the apron, hitting Tyler with a kick then NAILING Jacobs with a springboard missile dropkick in the face. He tags Shingo and it is on!

Shingo does an awesome hot tag, DDTing Tyler and killing Jacobs with his spinning Razor’s Edge. I’[m really getting into this at this point. BxB misses a top rope moonsault, lands on his feet then hits Tyler with a standing SSP! It gets 2. He goes up top again but Tyler cuts him off. He follows him up there and hits a super Reverse suplex, rolls backwards and hits a reverse Brainbuster for 2! The crowd go nuts after that spot.

Shingo peppers Tyler with punches, but as he comes off the ropes Jacobs spears him from seemingly nowhere. They hit their double team finisher on BxB (culminating with the End Time), and I actually bought BxB tapping, but Shingo broke it up. New Hazard gets back on track, KILLING Black with a doomsday spinning kick for 2. He winds up getting lariat-ed by Shingo, followed by a Last Falconry variation for the 3!

Excellent match. What I really liked about this was how different both teams are – while Steenerico/Speed Muscle was awesome, both teams are very similar which made it a little predictable at times. Here, both teams are very different, yet gelled together really well, which made the end result a really interesting (and solid) match. The story of AOTF spending too much time on the (resilient) Hulk and getting owned by Shingo for pretty much the whole last part of the match was very fun too. I’m not a fan of Jimmy and Tyler, but this match really sold me on them; great stuff all round.
Winners: New Hazard (BxB Hulk and Shingo). ****.

6. Jay & Mark Briscoe vs. Dragon Kid & Ryo Saito: This was a fun match, but in comparison to the two previous tags is kinda weak. The problem with the match wasn’t necessarily the wrestlers; it was more so the fact these 2 teams were booked against each other.

We start with the usual stuff. As normal, Dragon Kid takes the heat period, which goes on for a long time. Now, this is the main problem of the match; the Briscoes isolating Dragon Kid and working him over is fine, but their flashy moves combined with them being so over made Dragon Kid kinda get ignored as the face-in-peril. The Briscoes were just beating him up and showing off their stuff, which wasn’t very engaging. Anyways, he makes his comeback with the awesome Suplex into Stunner counter and tags Saito.

The finishing sequence is a load of fun, a lot like a normal Briscoes finishing stretch. Jay catches Dragon Kid off a rana attempt, so Kid springs up and SPIKES him with a DDT. In one of the coolest spots of the show, Jay is lying dead in the corner, while Dragon Kid sunsets slips Saito who German suplexes Mark right into Jay! Dragon Kid is weak after all the punishment he’s taken, so the Briscoes make short work of him, then focus their attack on Saito. Saito eats some big moves before taking the Springboard Doomsday Device for the 3.

Overall this was a fun affair, but the heat period going too long combined with it not really working hurt things, as well as the match generally being unmemorable. Still, good match.
Winners: The Briscoes. ***.

7. CIMA, Erick Stevens, & Go Shiozaki vs. Roderick Strong, Davey Richards, & Rocky Romero: Good main event. We’ve seen better matches of this style before, but it was fun overall and a nice way to close out the show.

It starts with CIMA and Romero. All 6 men feel each out before the faces start to dominate Strong. The NRC gain control and work over Go. They don’t do much to him until he tags Stevens, who ends up taking the heat for a long time. The NRC seems pretty off at times, but Steven’s awesome selling keeps them into it. He eventually comes back and tags CIMA, and we have the finishing sequence on our hands.

CIMA cleans house, hitting an awesome double stomp/dropkick combo on Davey. We go into a prolonged ‘one guy hits a move, another guy comes in, hits a move’ etc stage, with Romero botching some of his stuff. Stevens and Strong chop the ever-loving sh*t out of each other. Things are a bit disjointed, but all the high impact moves keep the fans hot. It reaches a point where there are too many spots to recap; CIMA eventually takes it home for his team with the Crossfire Bomb on Strong (following a nearfall from a Schwein).

Good match, if a bit too messy at times. Not that I really expected them to, but the all star team really didn’t fit well together (language barrier perhaps?), and the NRC being off at points made some parts really awkward. They kept the fans into it for 20 – 30 minutes though, and there was lots of (stiff) goodness, so it was a fine match overall.
Winners: CIMA, Erick Stevens, & Go Shiozaki. ***1/2.

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Overall Thoughts: Most ROH shows are 3 hours long; this one was just over 2 and a half. This led to lots of the matches running short/being shorter than they should have been, in some matches (eg Steenerico/Speed Muscle) I felt they could have done a lot more with like, 5 extra minutes. The card structure overall (with all the tag matches in a row) made some matches less…emphasized than I think they should have been, but it’s hard to blame ROH considering all the talent they had to use. Overall this was a very fun show with lots of good – great matches, just could have been longer.

Overall Score: 7.5/10.

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