Big Andy Macâ€™s Big Andy DVD Review: RoHâ€™s Sixth Anniversary Show; 2-23-08
If you look at where the best shows from each RoH calendar year come from, more often than not one of the shows in that discussion comes from the celebration of the companyâ€™s anniversary. The first anniversary still holds up as one of the top shows in company history for its iconic riot and the classic triple threat between AJ Styles, Low Ki, and Paul London. The second anniversary was a slight step back with a Pure Title tournament that was undone due to unforeseen events. The third anniversary celebrated over three shows saw the debut of James Gibson, the return of Spanky, a classic cage match between Austin Aries and Colt Cabana, Samoa Joe fight of Ebessan Jack, and a whole lot more. The Fourth Anniversary was part of the famed Milestone Series and saw Bryan Danielson beat Jimmy Rave in a classic match, the return of the Briscoes, and a classic tag match between Austin Aries and Roderick Strong facing Matt Sydal and AJ Styles. The Fifth Year Festival was one of the best series of shows in company history with classic matches and moments coming left and right. Can the Sixth Anniversary Show hold up? Read on to find out.
The DVD opens with Becky Bayless in the back with the Vulture Squad. Julius â€œThe Devilâ€™s Son-in-lawâ€ Smokes, street name J-Train, hypes up his crew before their big tag title shot.
Opening Match: Delirious vs. The Human Tornado
Both men are extremely over with the crowd. Tornado decides that he would rather have a dance contest than a match to get things started. Delirious is actually the one who tries to get down to business before succumbing to the POOOOOUUUUNNCCEEE! Tornado then delivers his trademark kicks in the corner but he is interrupted by the Age of the Fall. The dark and brooding superstars, Jimmy Jacobs, Tyler Black, Zach Gowen, the Necro Butcher and Lacey, lead to the match being declared a no contest. Tornado and Delirious want to wrestle though, and referee Paul Turner restarts the contest as a tag team match.
Winner: No Contest; No Rating
Impromptu Tag Team Match: Delirious and Human Tornado vs. Tyler Black and Jimmy Jacobs
This match actually ties in with the previous nights show when Human Tornado raised the ire of Jimmy Jacobs. Like most New York shows, the heat for this match is off the charts. After an early advantage for the unlikely duo of Tornado and Delirious, the man from the Edge of Sanity takes the heat from the Age of the Fall. The match is a lot of signature double teams and tag formula. Tornado was definitely the star in this match as his big spot style is absolutely the type to pop any crowd. Tornado, however, is the one to lose it for his team passing out while caught in the â€œEnd Timeâ€ guillotine choke. The match was fun, and the crowd heat really put it over the top.
Winners: The Age of the Fall; ***
After the match Nigel McGuinness makes his entrance to one of the last truly mixed reactions he will receive. He talks about how hard he has been training and how good his cardio-vascular conditioning is. He is, however, worried about his match with Bryan Danielson because he is a â€œreckless, dangerous human being.â€ He questions, if he gets injured who will main event the PPV next month. He says, â€œHe IS Ring of Honor.â€ McGuinness talks about how he probably canâ€™t compete tonight, in the best interest of the company. This, naturally, brings out Dragon who cuts one of his most impassioned promos I have seen from him in a while putting over the history of the RoH championship. Dragon says he is willing to not use his MMA elbows in order to let the match continue in front of the fans. This was a great segment to put over the main event and the title.
Special Challenge Match: Brent Albright vs. El Generico
This, I guess, is part of the Hangmen 3 vs. Kevin Steen, El Generico, and Delirious feud. Not surprisingly, Generico is using his speed and quickness to counter Albrightâ€™s blatant power advantage. It works to pretty good effect in the early going. The typical story would have been Albright dominating with power moves while Generico picks his spots to use his speed and quickness. Instead, it is the exact opposite. Eventually, though Albrightâ€™s strength and big moves prove to be too much. It is interesting to note that during this show Brent Albright was drawing â€œJim Belushiâ€ chants (they mean Johnâ€¦dumbass New Yorkers), but now he is one of the biggest babyfaces in the company. Albright maintains his advantage with back work, but Generico hits a huge yakuza kick while Albright was on the top rope to regain the advantage. For the second match in a row the crowd is absolutely molten. They even go as far as doing the â€œyayâ€, â€œbooâ€ dueling chants during strike exchanges between the two men. Guess who gets the â€œyaysâ€. Albright gets the win with win with his Knees to Oblivion via ref stoppage. This match was a ton of fun.
Winner: Brent Albright via ref stoppage; ***1/2
The Larry Sweeney Show starring Larry Sweeney
The super agent above all super agents Larry Sweeney is joined by Bobby Dempsey. He brings out his guest Ring of Honor original Allison Danger. It seems that he is going to put over Ms. Danger, but then accuses her of being a huge whore. She says she is not going to take it and Sweeney summarily hits her on the head with the microphone and encourages Bobby Dempsey to become a man. This comes after the show the night before where he made fun of Bobby for never being with a girl. It is nice to see that kind of continuity. Then he knocks Dempsey out on top of Allison Danger which was not nearly as despicable as some fans made it out to be. Sweeney announces that Sweet and Sour Incorporated will be staging a hostile takeover of Ring of Honor, and we roll the credits. Yes, the Larry Sweeney show has creditsâ€¦awesome.
â€œMr. Wrestlingâ€ Kevin Steen vs. Joey Matthews of the Age of the Fall
They had a match during â€œDouble Featureâ€ that I have not seen, but did not receive glowing reviews, so I guess they are trying to make up for it here. Steen is of course coming off of his big â€œEye of the Stormâ€ victory. Steen offers a handshake to follow the Code of Honor (Whatâ€™s that?), but Matthews tries to cheap shot Steen. Instead he gets the brunt of some vicious strikes by Mr. Wrestling. Matthews does a good job as a cowardly heel in this match taking shortcuts to get his advantages over the rotund Canadian. The match is pretty simple, but that doesnâ€™t mean that it is not entertaining. They do a good job of establishing Steen as a badass. The only way that Matthews can gain control is through shortcuts. Steen uses his big moves to keep pace with Joey Matthews skullduggery. Steen tries to go up top a few times, but to no avail. He gets the win by rolling through a Matthewsâ€™ hurricanrana attempt to lock in the sharpshooter. It forces Matthews to tap. This was just a straight ahead match. There wasnâ€™t a lot of flash, but they told a solid story. After the match Steen offers a handshake, but Matthews refuses. Steen then mocks him with an exaggerated fake tantrum. Steen does a lot of the little character things correctly.
Winner: Kevin Steen via submission; ***1/2
We go to the back for a Daizee Haze interview. She talks about how important her match with Sara Del Rey for the SHIMMER championship is.
Special Attraction Match: Go Shiozaki vs. Austin Aries
This is Goâ€™s second Ring of Honor show in the United States, but his fourth match. Aries is in the midst of a losing streak and has been refusing to shake hands in his losing efforts. They do an awesome mat wrestling sequence to start, but Go makes the mistake of putting Austin Aries in a head scissors. He has done his homework, though, and avoids the escape dropkick forcing Aries to lock in a head scissors of his own. They segue this into a striking exchange and really put over just how deadly Goâ€™s chops are. The story being told is that basically Aries is the veteran and better grappler, but Go is way, way tougherâ€¦or is he?
The brawl on the outside of the ring and Aries tries to show Shiozaki that he, too, is super duper tough. While during â€œEye of the Stormâ€ Go relied way to much on chops to less than amazing results, he really shows what he can do in this match with Aries. Chops are still the centerpiece of his arsenal, but he goes to the air and goes to the mat with the aplomb of a veteran. The story of veteran vs. rocky quickly devolves though into two wrestlers just unloading everything they have on one another. Aries hits his heat-seeking missile, corner dropkicks, and locks in the â€œLast Chanceryâ€ a few times, while Go delivers huge lariats, a German suplex, and the Orange Crush, but neither man can get the win. Go counters the knees to the head into a suplex. Aries tries to knee his way out of that but Go is too strong hits it, but is unable to capitalize. Aries comes right away with the crucifix bomb, kick to the head, brainbuster and 450 splash to win the match. This match is lacking a bit in structure, but the awesomeness of the last 5-10 minutes more than makes up for it. Aries nonchalantly slaps Goâ€™s hand after the match.
Winner: Austin Aries via pinfall; ****
While Aries is celebrating the lights go down and we see the Age of the Fall appear around the Grand Ballroom to try once again to recruit Austin Aries into the fold. Tammy Sytch then comes out to talk Aries out of it with a few of her â€œassets.â€
During intermission Becky Bayless is in the back with the No Remorse Corps. Davey Richards gets made to look like the idiot of the group. They hype their matches for later in the show, and continue to make Davey look like the fool.
SHIMMER Championship Match: Daizee Haze vs. Sara Del Rey
I am not a fan of Daizee Haze, but I am a fan of Sara Del Rey, so we will see if I like this match. Daizee actually controls early on with a headlock and uses her speed. Del Rey proves to be too much though, and uses her significant power advantage to beat on the diminutive Haze. The match is surprisingly not bad. Haze is made to look like a credible challenger despite the fact that Del Rey has destroyed her in previous Ring of Honor matches. Daizee got a couple of really close nearfalls before succumbing to the axe kick and the Royal Butterfly. I never bought that Daizee Haze was going to win, but it was a fun little match.
Winner: Sara Del Rey; ***
RoH Tag Team Championship Match: The Vulture Squad of Jigsaw and Ruckus vs. Davey Richards and Rocky Romero of the No Remorse CorpsÂ©
The unofficial stipulation in this match is that if the Vulture Squad canâ€™t get the job done then Jigsaw has to unmask. I find it unique that Davey is the loser of the group in the backstage segments, but that does not translate over in the ring. It creates an interesting dynamic that shows the business-like nature of the NRC when competing. They seem to be following Lucha Libre rules without using tags to enter the ring. The match is basically a spotfest with strikes from the NRC and flips from the Vulture Squad. After a fast and furious start that match settles into the standard tag team formula with Jigsaw taking the heat. In a unique way to set up the hot tag, Jigsaw gets both men out of the ring before tagging out setting up Ruckus for his trademark flippy dives and flippy offense. Both teams show off awesome double teams including my personal favorite from the Vulture Squad, the Chaos Theory Fishermanâ€™s Suplex by Ruckus into a powerbomb by Jigsaw. The end of the match is basically just a ton of nearfalls, and Davey eventually gets the win with a running Liger Bomb. The match was not as sloppy as it could have been, but it was nothing special. Their match from the â€œTake No Prisonersâ€ Pay per View is much better.
Winners: Davey Richards and Rocky Romero via pinfall; ***
After the match Kevin Steen and El Generico are on the stage and challenge the No Remorse Corps recreating a moment from â€œRespect is Earned.â€ It is not as cool as the moment from the first Ring of Honor Pay per View, but it was a nice way to set up an angle that didnâ€™t go anywhere. Rather than actually brawling the NRC takes a powder while Steen and Generico give chase.
Antyhing Goes FIP World Championship Three Way Match: Erick Stevens vs. The Necro Butcher with Lacey vs. Roderick Strong Â©
This match is one fall to a finish like most of the Ring of Honor triple threat matches. Stevens meets Strong as he makes his way down the entrance ramp, and the match on the whole takes a while to get in the ring. Necro gets involved by trying to suffocate Erick Stevens with a plastic bag. This match is basically a huge brawl, and the ref basically is just there to count the three. It settles into the WWE style triple threat with two man fighting and one man down. Necro is the â€œtour de forceâ€ in this match, as it plays more into his specialty than anyone else. Though, when you put heavy hitters like these three into a match, no one has an advantage for too, too long. The match spends very little time in the ring, but since the match takes place at the Manhattan Center, it doesnâ€™t fight into the crowd too much. The cameras do a good job of following the action around the ring. This is one of the first matches that I have seen someone capitalize on Necroâ€™s lack of footwear. Awesome!
This match is basically just chops, chairshots, and violence, but really in the best way possible. They do an excellent job of working chairs into all of their signature spots. The steel folding chair may be the oldest weapon in the history of wrestling, but these three guys do an excellent job of innovating uses of the least foreign of foreign objects. Strong gets the win after a failed Gibson Driver turned pedigree through a table and then another Gibson Driver in the ring on the Necro Butcher. This was just a ton of fun and continued the in ring excellence that has characterized the Strong vs. Stevens feud. Like I said, The Necro Butcher was the star of the match and gets his name chanted at the end.
Winner: Roderick Strong
Next we are treated to a video that highlights some of the classic moments from the past six years. It is a nice little highlight reel set to license free music.
Ring of Honor World Championship Match: â€œAmerican Dragonâ€ Bryan Danielson vs. Nigel McGuinnessÂ©
I donâ€™t know why RoH keeps booking the same matches over and over again. I mean these guys have wrestled at least four or five times in the past two years. Give someone else a shot, huh? That was just a test to see if people read past the first few sentences to see the result and the star rating. These guys have wrestled as much as anybody in RoH, it is probably true, but there is a reason for it. They have amazing chemistry and tell a pretty different story each time out of the gate.
Nigel gets a mixed reaction, but it is clear from the get go that while Nigel is not a full blown heel, Dragon will be the babyface hero in this match. Nigel starts off right away stealing some of Dragonâ€™s schtick by instructing ring announcer Bobby Cruise in how to introduce him slowly building the ire of the fans that are still supporting him. The match itself is just awesome. It has great mat wrestling, great striking, great counters, and a great story. This match, while not really strong style, has elements of the Kingâ€™s Road style in that previous encounters absolutely play into the accumulated knowledge of both wrestlers through the course of their previous encounters.
Nigel gets frustrated with Danielson and strikes the referee to end the match in a disqualification. Or so he wants you to think. Nigel gets on the mic, berates the fans, and walks off. But he is stopped by Austin Aries, Kevin Steen, Roderick Strong, Delirious and others and do not let him walk away. Aries says, â€œYou can go back into the ring and defend the belt with honor, or you can get through all of us.â€ Nigel is really caught between a rock and a hard place, but chooses to continue the match. This was an excellent wrinkly in the match as it fully cemented Nigelâ€™s heel turn. It is really one of the best pure heel reactions anyone has gotten since Roderick turned heel almost a year before. The only real downside to this match is the fact that despite Dragon having a heavily taped leg, Nigel never went after it, but that is nit-picking in the long run. Instead he takes apart Dragonâ€™s arm. The intensity after the restart to this match was just turned up to 11. Dragon played the ultimate babyface. His comebacks are perfectly timed and all come out of Danielsonâ€™s heart and wrestling acumen rather than anything else. Nigel is again the ultimate heel stealing catch phrases, and even the Cattle Mutilation from the American Dragon. Nigel gets busted open as the match heads towards its conclusion. Similar to Dragonâ€™s match against KENTA, Dragon uses moves from some of his fallen opponents like Doug Williamâ€™s Chaos Theory. While Dragon does do his fair share of big suplexes, he does hold true on his promise not to elbow McGuinness in the head at all. He elbows him in the ribs instead. That is also kind of a whole in the match. These head drop suplexes are more likely to cause a concussion, but I guess Nigel doesnâ€™t care about that.
Nigel in true heelishness, though, starts to use headbutts against Dragon including headbutting him right in the orbital bone that was broken by Takeshi Morishima. Nigel ends up getting the submission victory after stealing the MMA elbows and locking in the London Dungeon arm submission for the pass out victory. This match was the ultimate story of Good vs. Evil. It is reminiscent of some of the Ric Flair/Terry Funk battles from back in the day. Nigel wasnâ€™t evil because he wore black or worshipped Satan, or was a corporate champion or anything like that. Nigel was evil because he proved it to be his nature. This match did everything to elevate the already lofty status of the RoH title. It told an epic story, and was just a classic match. In my opinion, it may be the best singles match in Ring of Honor so far this year. The two Nigel vs. Aries matches are definitely close, and a lot of fans loved Nigel vs. Tyler Black (I thought some of the nearfalls at the end were a bit too much, still a great match), but to me this match is just a step above.
Winner: Nigel McGuinness via referee stoppage; ****1/2
Big Andy Macâ€™s Big Andy Final Thoughts: This is a great show start to finish. It may not quite have the match quality of â€œSupercard of Honor 3,â€ but it is more of a â€œwrestling showâ€ than a super card, if that makes any sense. â€œSupercard of Honorâ€ was really just a series of great matches and did not have the great crescendo that this show had. The best match on â€œSupercardâ€ could have been any of the last five, which means in terms of star rating that show was off the charts. It kind of became an internal pissing contest to see which match could be the best. This show was very old school in its structure. It started with a hot angle into a hot tag match. It was brought down a notch with the singles matches and then built back up again with the awesome Austin Aries vs. Go Shiozaki match, followed by an intriguing angle to send the crowd into intermission wanting more. After intermission the crowd was eased back in with a solid SHIMMER championship match, and a fun tag team match before kicking it back into overdrive with the FIP and RoH title matches. It was an excellently structured show. From the above you can tell that it is highly recommended, as like many of RoHâ€™s best shows it has something that appeals to every type of wrestling fan. You should go out of this way to add this show to your collection. And with thatâ€¦
Iâ€™ll see you next time.