Ring of Honor Weekly

For the past two weeks, I, along with Robin Scott, have been booking for a fictional ROH television show. If you are interested and missed there columns, here are Part 1 and Part 2. This week, to get back in the swing of things, we’ll take a huge look at the current ROH roster, their character, matches, and outlooks. We’ll even give three recent must see matches to round out these profiles. The exception to this exercise is Bryan Danielson, who is covered in depth right here. We’ll do this alphabetically.

Albright, Brent

Character: Brent, from his introduction into ROH has been a Gun for Hire. He worked for himself, enjoying making money, but would hurt whomever the highest bidder requested, most notably Homicide at Danielson’s behest. He believed in the Hangmen 3, so he gave up his big pay, but when Pearce “sold out” to Larry Sweeney, his contract was in the hands of a man he couldn’t stand. No longer an independent contractor, as such things go, he was working exclusively for Sweeney as an employee, which he found distasteful. Since he hated Sweeney so much, he decided to strike out on his own again, attacking Sweeney and his group, Sweet and Sour, Incorporated. A big man, he has been using his power in an attempt to dismantle the group and has a shot at former mentor Adam Pearce for his NWA Title.

Matches: Brent is a power wrestler who is proficient on the mat. One could tell ROH has big things planned for Brent due to the plethora of deadly finishers at his disposal. He has the half-nelson suplex, the crowbar submission, and the knees to oblivion strikes. All of these combine with some judicious no-selling to make him wildly over in his face persona. His big moves always drew pops, but as a heel, they were subdued and buried under long control periods. As a face, he has the ability to take a huge beating, come back with huge moves, and make the crowds fall in love with him. His current role is reminiscent of Taz, where he’s an unstoppable wrecking machine who tears through opponents.

Outlook: Albright makes too much sense as NWA champion to not pull the trigger. He’s a regular on NWA shows and is over enough that with a strong title push could draw fans to arenas. Facing Pearce at the Hammerstein is the perfect time to showcase his newfound stardom and take the title. This makes sense for ROH as well, since it is a high profile title switch and gives them a pure face champion to go along with the heel Nigel and Tweener Roderick Strong.

Recommendations:

ROH World Title Match: Takeshi Morishima © vs. Brent Albright – Death before Dishonor V Night 2. This is Albright’s best ROH match to date and where he debuted his current asskicking, timely no-selling persona. He was still a heel at this point, but wrestled face against a monster champion and had a tough Philadelphia crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. ****

Brent Albright vs. Bryan Danielson – Proving Ground. If you want to see how good a wrestler is, put him against the best in the world. Danielson and Albright worked a very good back and forth mat match that, in the mid-card, was able to focus on getting a simple story over and seeing who would come out ahead. Danielson won in a match that showed Albright could clearly hang in the upper echelon of the card. *** ½

Chris Hero & Brent Albright vs. Ruckus & Jigsaw vs. Delirious & Pelle Primeau – A New Level. This match is notable mostly because of what occurs at the end of it. This is, however, a very good showcase of Albright as a power wrestler against the smaller members of the ROH roster that he’d usually be facing. Post-match Albright turns on Sweet n Sour to a gigantic pop, showing how badly fans wanted to root for him. ** ½

Aries, Austin

Character: A former ROH World Champion, the intense Austin Aries began the year on a losing streak. Over time this subsided as the Age of the Fall intently attempted to recruit him. This proved problematic for the revolutionary group when Jacobs had Lacey try to seduce Aries into the group and instead Aries and Lacey found a connection and began a relationship. This lead to Jacobs going insane in jealousy, kidnapping Lacey and regularly attacking Aries. Aries anger matched Jacobs and he went after Jacobs in a rage. This one is just getting started. Adding to the feud is that Jacobs has the tag belts with Tyler Black. Aries has been seeking the tag titles with Bryan Danielson, giving them another reason beyond their rage to go war, as if the rage weren’t enough. Currently, Aries is attempting to convince the Necro Butcher to turn on Jacobs, even forcing a match between the two coming up and taking a chairshot from Necro without fighting back in his own singles match with the Butcher. Although they are partners, Aries and Danielson maintain a healthy rivalry over who the Ace of ROH is, with Aries having won a best of three with Danielson to be declared Ace, but having lost twice after that, once on PPV and once in a four man where he and Danielson were the final two participants. A major title contender, as well, Aries has lost twice to McGuinness in classic matches.

Matches: Aries wrestles a fast paced technical style, using bursts of speed to compliment his mat wrestling prowess. Notably, Aries, a veteran, scouts his opponents well and counters many signature maneuvers in preparation for his two main finishers, the 450 and the Last Chancery, both of which are out of a brainbuster. During his feud with Roderick Strong the year prior, Aries showed some issues with selling, but has adapted his style to include more selling, though against others besides Strong, he also controls far more and a little selling goes further.

Outlook: Aries is a guy to build the company around, having no ties to WWE and burned his bridges in TNA. He’s a great wrestler with a great look who can talk. He’ll remain at the top of the card as a contender for any belt he sets his sight on and a constant regular in major feuds, like this against Jacobs. Hopefully he will not dismantle the Age of the Fall, an effective stable whose potential has barely been touched, but his attempt to makes for a great storyline and, ultimately, dismantling Jacobs and reuniting with Lacey will serve Aries well.

Recommendations:

FIP World Title Match: Erick Stevens © vs. Austin Aries – Transform. Aries works a counter game against a far bigger opponent, who also has more power and physical skill. Can Aries intensity and veteran know how beat Stevens power and physical skills? This is a major chapter in Aries early year frustrations. **** ¼

ROH World Title Match: Nigel McGuinness © vs. Austin Aries – Supercard of Honor 3. This is the rematch from the Rising Above title match, which is also a classic, but this has a more fan friendly pace. These two go at it in a mat war which pit Aries speed against Nigel’s striking, while showing a heavy familiarity between the two wrestlers who had counters upon each other’s counters. Eventually, what nearly won Aries the title the first time they faced off caused him to lose this time, as a risk backfired in classic fashion. **** ¾

ROH World Tag Team Title Match: Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black © vs. Austin Aries and Bryan Danielson – Respect is Earned 2 (PPV to debut Aug 1). Aries and Jacobs bring the absolute hate here, providing the perfect counterpoint to Danielson and Tyler’s more competitive rivalry. **** ¾

Black, Tyler

Character: Tyler, the Age of the Fall’s young gun, splits his time between making life hell for ROH’s elite and being a tag champion. He has taken Nigel, Aries, and Danielson to the limit with his amazing physical abilities and ever improving skill. This man is a future World Champion in the making, but first he must get past Danielson, with whom his rivalry has reached the highest level.

Matches: Tyler has the athletic ability of AJ Styles with the underdog skills of Paul London. If that sounds unbelievable, then you simply must see more of Tyler’s work. Against Danielson he plays a cocky upstart, trying to match the best around in every way. Against Nigel, he is outheeled, but plays a supreme underdog, his selling and timing making the crowd scream for his victory. In tag matches with Jacobs, he carries the bulk of the in ring action, mixing athleticism with skill to hold down his opponents. A man with few limits, all he needs is more experience, though even that is coming faster than expected as he’s one of the fastest learners around.

Outlook: Black continues his battles with Danielson on PPV and at the Hammerstein is in a 4-man match for the title with Danielson and likely Nigel. He looks to win the title soon as its hard to imagine a star rising more quickly.

Recommendations:

Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black vs. Shingo and BxB Hulk – Dragon Gate Challenge 2. Jacobs was pretty clearly not up to full strength here, so Tyler took the bulk of the Dragon Gate style offense, countering when possible as only he can. If there were ever a question about his athleticism or ability to keep a pace, it was here answered. ****

ROH World Title Match: Nigel McGuinness © vs. Tyler Black – Take No Prisoners. Tyler here shows just how awesome of an underdog he is. Selling is the lost art of the indies, but Tyler is fully capable of putting the crowd in the palm of his hands as Nigel’s awesome heelishness and his well-timed, flashy comebacks take the champion to the limit. **** ½

Tyler Black vs. Bryan Danielson – Southern Navigation. Tyler and Danielson had a recent match (at Breakout) where Danielson came in severely underestimating Tyler and was regularly pie-faced because of it. Danielson’s veteran savvy came through, however, as he stole a victory. In this rematch, Tyler both men go to war with something to prove. Tyler attempts to out mat-wrestle and show up Danielson (and fails) while Danielson tries to out fly and show up Tyler (which fails). Danielson decides to work the ribs and back, but that won’t put Tyler away. Tyler works the head, but Danielson won’t stay down. Neither can finish with a big move, so Dragon, tries a surprise change in strategy and shows Tyler how much he has left to learn. **** ½

The Briscoes

Character: Two tough rednecks established themselves as the kings of tag wrestling in ROH with a record setting reign. Since then they’ve been targeted by the Age of the Fall, who injured Mark. Mark, too crazy to be deterred, continues to assault the Age of the Fall at every turn while Jay battles their opponents in brutal matches.

Matches: The Briscoes are known for amazing balls-the-wall stiff spotfests. They also, unfortunately, tend to regularly work in the same spots time and again. When they want to, these can be incredible and steal a show, but often they feel like they’re going through the motions.

Outlook: With Mark set to return, its time for revenge on the AOTF. The ROH originals will do everything in their power to hunt down the Age of the Fall and reclaim their tag titles.

Recommendations:

The Briscoes vs. Kota Ibushi and Austin Aries – Tag Wars 2008. This is a wild spotfest with the Briscoes and their opponents throwing tons of bombs at each other. The build in the pace and timing are great as the crowd eats this up, but it ultimately lacks staying power. *** ¾

The Briscoes vs. The Murder City Machine Guns – Return Engagement. This is what the Briscoes are capable of when they care and is likely my Match of the Year so far. The Briscoes and Guns play off their encounter at Good Times, Great Memories, twisting tag formula with selling and limited overkill. **** ¾

ROH World Tag Team Title Match: Jay Briscoe and Austin Aries © vs. Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black. The first match after Mark’s injury, this was something of a train wreck. Jay brawled like a devil while Aries work was surprisingly wrestling oriented given his hate for Jacobs. Jay showed just how violent he could be and this is crazy Mark Briscoe’s first time showing up post injury. The match isn’t great, but it set up what amounts to Jay and Mark’s status quo since sans belts. ** ¾

Castagnoli, Claudio

Character: Claudio is a Swiss wrestler who was best friends with Chris Hero before he was betrayed when Hero joined Larry Sweeney. Claudio doesn’t have much personality beyond being virtuous, but is currently chasing villain Nigel McGuinness for the ROH world Title.

Matches: In the ring, Claudio is an unparalleled mix of speed and power. He is especially good at being a launching pad for smaller wrestlers, but is fully competent against bigger wrestlers and usually has a good match, despite his focus on early match comedy with his “Hey” calls. His European uppercut from different angles sets up an off balance opponent who’s then easy pickings for Claudio’s power game.

Outlook: Claudio needs something to do. He is chasing Nigel’s title, but without a character or better matches, it’s hard to see him rising above the upper-midcard. Reuniting the Kings of Wrestling as faces would be best for him, but if not, simply continuing good to great matches every night isn’t the worst fate.

Recommendations:

Claudio Castagnoli vs. Kota Ibushi – Injustice. Claudio at his launching pad best makes Kota look like a million bucks until he uses his power to slow down the Japanese phenom. Kota had better matches, but even Generico struggled to make him look superior. *** ¾

Claudio Castagnoli and Nigel McGuinness vs. Kevin Steen and El Generico – ROH Tag Wars 2008. Claudio wants a shot at Nigel, so Nigel says if he can help him defeat rival Kevin Steen he can have it. Claudio has his own rivalry with Generico here as well. They mix tag formula with individual stories to great effect and put on a great show, as good as the more heralded Briscoes vs. Kota and Aries match. *** ¾

ROH World Title Match: Nigel McGuinness vs. Claudio Castagnoli – A New Level. On the other hand, here Claudio challenged the ROH Champion, a bigger wrestler. This one was kept mostly on the ground, with Nigel taking apart Claudio’s arm, but Claudio managed a bit of speed… unfortunately, not enough to win or take the match to the next level. *** ¾

Edwards, Eddie

Character: Eddie has no character beyond being a good wrestler who Sweeney signed as a prospect.

Matches: Eddie is a proficient technical wrestler, reminiscent of Austin Aries, capable of having a surprisingly good match in a short period of time. Unfortunately, that’s all he’s gotten to show in ROH thus far.

Outlook: Eddie will stay on the lower card for now, but hopefully soon raise up since he’s capable of great matches and not go the way of another very good New England wrestler, John Walters.

Recommendations:

Eddie Edwards and Jason Blade vs. Kevin Steen and El Generico – Reborn Again. A dead crowd wasn’t awakened by Sydal vs. Marufuji or Delirious vs. KENTA, but this undercard match had the crowd rocking as they parlayed a simple tag formula into a big finish in a very solid match. ***

Eddie Edwards vs. Ruckus – Manhattan Mayhem 2. This was Ruckus first ROH match and designed to be a showcase. Edwards accidentally stole this one and came off having a very good, short match. ** ½

Eddie Edwards vs. Jigsaw – Bedlam in Beantown. Not a good match at all, this is where Edwards signed with Sweeney. Unfortunately this is during Jigsaw’s bad period and Sweeney kept it short. * ½.

El Generico

Character: The quiet and valiant generic luchador is one of the better wrestlers on the roster. Most of his time is spent with Kevin Steen in search of the tag titles, though he is also a tournament darling and has a competitive rivalry with Claudio Castagnoli. As a team, he and Steen have a long standing rivalry with the Briscoes and have defeated both the Hangmen 3 and the NRC. They are looking to face and defeat the Age of the Fall for the tag titles.

Matches: Generico is the best underdog on the ROH roster. He has great at generating sympathy and fighting back with great speed and counter wrestling. The crowd adores his comedic styling and is always into his big finishers, especially the top rope brainbuster, which is rarely hit, but built to wonderfully.

Outlook: Steen and Generico will be tag team champions before the year is out. In the meantime, they will continue to steal shows as potentially the best team in wrestling today.

Recommendations:

El Generico vs. Claudio Castagnoli – Without Remorse. This is one of my favorite matches this year. Claudio and Generico take a slow pace, both fearing each other’s big moves, while Generico sells like a champ for Claudio’s leg work and avoids big moves, he works a headlock to slow the big man down. The psychology is great and this one needs more love. ****

Kevin Steen and El Generico vs. Shingo and BxB Hulk – Supercard of Honor 3. Generico battles the Dragon Gate stars with his partner Steen. The DG guys stay a step ahead for much of the match so Generico gets to wrestle right in his element, as an underdog trying to think ahead and use his speed to survive, unfortunately, its against Dragon Gate guys, so it might be different.

El Generico vs. Kota Ibushi – Return Engagement. Kota is a physical marvel and Generico has to try and compete with that. Luckily he has an experience advantage. This is flashy awesomeness and builds to an amazing crescendo. **** ¼

Delirious

Character: The man from the edge of sanity is a bit insane, but sincere and well-liked. He recently decided he likes Daizee Haze, but is continuously stopped from acting upon that by Rhett Titus. He has a rivalry with Adam Pearce and Bryan Danielson and is at least friendly with Steen and Generico.

Matches: When wrestling, Delirious uses a combination of mat wrestling and unorthodox insanity. He’s most impressive when either in an underdog role, where his selling and sympathy can carry him, or when he is going the comedy route, confusing opponents and getting the crowd to enjoy themselves.

Outlook: Delirious, though stale right now, may end up with Haze and, since that story has been fairly touching, end up the better for it. Still, he’d be better off concentrating on opening comedy, where he can make crowds care at the start of shows.

Recommendations:

Delirious, Hallowicked, and Helios vs. Mitch Ryder, Shane Hawke, and Larry Sweeney – Chikara King of Trios Night 3. Here we have a really old school heel team vs. the unorthodox faces. Hallowicked and Delirious are a great team and really should be in ROH. They all draw great sympathy and have an awesome comeback against the vicious heels. *** ½

Delirious vs. Kevin Steen – Eye of the Storm. In the opening round of a tournament, the crowd was disappointed the announced show wouldn’t run. Because of this Del and Steen wrestled with a heavy emphasis on comedy. By the time they were done, the crowd was eating out of the palm of their hands and were firmly behind Steen. ***

Delirious and The Human Tornado vs. Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black – Sixth Anniversary Show. Tornado pissed off Jimmy Jacobs on this weekend, so Delirious decided to help take out the Age of the Fall. The sympathy they draw is great and the crowd adores the comedy duo, getting the show off to a great beginning.

Hero, Chris

Character: A comedic heel for much of his ROH tenure, the Sweet and Sour Star has become a serious, puro styled wrestler. He still mocks opponents, but now it’s before knocking them out. He has issues with half the faces on the roster, notably Claudio Castagnoli, Pelle Primeau Brent Albright, and Roderick Strong. Luckily, he has all of Sweet and Sour behind him.

Matches: Hero is among the best brawlers in the world and well versed in everything from technical wrestling to lucha to his current favorite, NOAH style. He’s using heavy strikes around his usual offense and great technical skill to make short work of many top card workers, while remaining one of the men on the crowd sure to draw a massive reaction from the crowd. Hero can be an awkward seller, but as a heel, that’s minimized and as a face he draws such amazing reactions, it doesn’t matter.

Outlook: Hero, if he turned face, is a sure future champion. As a heel, he’s at the spot directly below Jacobs and Nigel, making every face’s life hell for the foreseeable future. His ability to draw a reaction would immediately make the X-Division matter again were he to decide to go that way.

Recommendations:

Morishima vs. Bryan Danielson vs. Chris Hero vs. Austin Aries – Final Battle 2007. This is the highlight of comedy heel Hero. Morishima is a monster and Danielson and Aries are dead eyed killers. The crowd can’t stop giving Hero’s entertaining personality huge amounts of love. ****

Chris Hero vs. Claudio Castagnoli – Chikara Two Eyebrows are Better than One. This is heel Hero at his best, the blowoff to the Kings of Wrestling explode feud. Hero is at his hatable best, while they vary styles and Hero remains a dick in each. ****

Chris Hero vs. Bryan Danielson – WXW 16 Carat Gold Tournament Night 3. And this is why Hero is so good as a face. I need to do a full review of this, but Danielson is a marvelous dick heel and Hero is the absolute perfect conquering babyface, until he falls short and the fans nearly riot. **** ½ at least.

Jacobs, Jimmy

Character: Jimmy loves Lacey. Lacey doesn’t love Jimmy. Jimmy kills BJ Whitmer. Lacey loves Jimmy. Jimmy feels nothing. Jimmy loves nihilism. Jimmy forms Age of the Fall and, as a message, tries to kill the Briscoes. Jimmy wins the tag titles with Tyler Black. Jimmy wants Aries in AOTF. Jimmy has Lacey try to recruit Aries. Aries loves Lacey. Lacey loves Aries. Jimmy goes insane. Jimmy hates Aries. Blood feud.

Matches: Jimmy has become fantastic at making fans care, love him or hate him. He manages to infuse everything he does with his emo jerkiness. He’s a very good mat wrestler, but an amazing brawler who can, even at his small size, believably use his speed to set up brutality. Jimmy is a top heel through sheer force of will.

Outlook: Likely an ROH lifer due to his size, this man thinks so far ahead of the curve, he’s a natural for a booking committee and also will remain as a top heel, being pelted with garbage as long as he remains his passion.

Recommendations:

Jimmy Jacobs vs. BJ Whitmer – IWA-MS 500th Show. Jacobs and Whitmer bring their ROH hate to IWA and somehow find new ways in which to brutalize one another, including a sick, awesome finish. **** ¼

Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black vs. the Briscoes – Supercard of Honor 3. A great brawl that is fast becoming too known for its fabulous finish, Jacobs and Black sell like champs to give the Briscoes moves context and meaning. ****

Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black vs. The Murder City Machine Guns – Tag Wars 2008. Jacobs and Shelley have been rivals for years, but while Jimmy has become a disenfranchised cult leader, Shelley is a television star. Mix liberally with Tyler and Sabin’s athleticism and you have a special match. **** ½

Jigsaw

Character: A Vulture Squad member, Jigsaw was a masked man with a bright future. Since demasking, he seems to have lost a lot of confidence. His character is that of a flier trying to prove himself.

Matches: Once the epitome of the Chikara style, with lucha and mat wrestling interspersed with flying and good selling, he has shifted to a more generic independent flier.

Outlook: Jigsaw looks to be on the fast track off the roster unless he puts his mask back on and regains his confidence. There are a hundred independent fliers just as good wrestling the way Jigsaw is now.

Recommendations:

Jigsaw vs. Claudio Castagnoli – ROH Undeniable – Jigsaw is a Chikara flier and Castagnoli is the best launching pad in the world today. On a show with a title change and a huge Aries vs. Strong match, they steal the show in a memorable matchup. ****

Jigsaw and Ruckus vs. Rocky Romero and Davey Richards – Sixth Anniversary Show – Jigsaw shows how good a flier he can be in a match that mixes tag formula and an awesome pace to keep the crowd involved. Unfortunately, frantic though the pace is, Jigsaw’s team loses, leading to the loss of Jigsaw’s mask and confidence. *** ½

Jigsaw vs. Joey Matthews – Tag Wars 2008. The confidence-free Jigsaw went into a freefall so great, he was put in there with Matthews who was to teach him to work a normal match. Matthews, naturally, worked wonders and hopefully Jigsaw retains these lessons of making the crowd care. ***

McGuinness, Nigel

Character: A virtuous face until the crowd began turning on him due to his injuries, Nigel has embraced his hatred of the fans, doing anything he can to show them, and their chosen champion Bryan Danielson, up. The Champion has a stranglehold on the belt with Danielson, Tyler Black, Kevin Steen and Claudio Castagnoli hot on his heels.

Matches: Nigel is the consummate cocky heel, getting a great crowd reaction with arm work and constant cheating. This sets up a barrage of lariats, weakening opponents for the London Dungeon. With the right opponent, this formula leads to absolute classics, but against a lesser wrestler, the match stalls at the very good level.

Outlook: Nigel’s time as champion is likely running out, but his character is so despicable he’ll remain a top heel as long as he wants to. With TNA showing interest, we’ll see how long that is.

Recommendations:

ROH World Title Match: Nigel McGuinness © vs. Austin Aries – Rising Above. With the crowd turning on Nigel, he and Aries went out and had a classic match. Despite a concussion, Nigel answers questions about his psychology, bringing the intensity in one of the finest matches of his reign. **** ½

ROH World Title Match Nigel McGuinness © vs. Bryan Danielson – Sixth Anniversary Show. When Nigel accepts his heelish nature here, it’s a glory to behold. Playing off his history with Danielson, the pure title, and injuries, he takes it to the former champion who has developed a new appreciation of everything the ROH title means. This is a classic. **** ½

ROH World Title Match: Nigel McGuinness © vs. Kevin Steen – ROH Injustice. The problems with Nigel’s formula are evident here as we get a very good match which falls short of the greatness expected of a ROH World Title match. Still, Steen’s first shot shows he’s a viable contender Nigel has no interest in facing fairly. *** ½

The Necro Butcher

Character: A wild-man heel he is both beloved by the crowd and a part of a despised stable, the Age of the Fall. He’s possibly the most controversial man on the ROH roster. He’s violently involved with the Briscoes, but Aries is trying to turn him on Jacobs.

Matches: All of his matches are crazy brawls, but damned if he doesn’t keep them interesting someone. His selling is unconventional, but works. He has an amazing in-ring connection with the audience.

Outlook: Necro will either join Aries and become a major face or stay with the Age of the Fall and remain regularly cheered.

Recommendations:

Necro Butcher vs. Kevin Steen – Bedlam in Beantown. A Necro brawl, full of overkill and moves no sane man should take. Great fun. *** ½

Necro Butcher vs. Jack Evans – Southern Navigation. This one illustrates the problems with Necro as he simply shrugs off Jack’s offense, including his finisher. Whether he was in barbed wire matches or not, that’s unnecessary. ½*

Necro Butcher vs. Takeshi Morishima – A New Level. A straight beating, but with great brutality. Necro has no shot, but the crowd loves him taking it to Morishima. ***

Pearce, Adam

Character: Pearce is the NWA Champion and a cowardly, Memphis heel. He hates masked men and Brent Albright, though he’d rather sneak up on them than fight them face to face.

Matches: Pearce stalls, then he cheats, then he stalls some more. That’s pretty much it. The crowd hates him, so at least there’s that.

Outlook Pearce will lose the NWA belt soon and spend awhile chasing itm trying to cheat his way back to the top.

Recommendations:

Adam Pearce & BJ Whitmer vs. Kevin Steen & El Generico vs. Jimmy Jacobs & Tyler Black vs. Jack Evans & Ruckus – Rising Above – Pearce is here mostly to antagonize the crowd and sneak up on people, but, hey, its what he’s good at. He takes a hell of a beating here. *** ½

Claudio Castagnoli vs. Adam Pearce – Breakout. Claudio is clearly superior, so Pearce tries to slow him down. It works for a bit before Claudio’s skills become too much. Whatever Pearce doesn’t have many good ROH matches. ** ½

Adam Pearce vs. Delirious – Without Remorse. The worst dog collar match in ROH history. This is what happens when a Pearce match goes wrong. A notable trainwreck. * ½.

Primeau, Pelle

Character: The first ROH trainee to make the main roster as a regular, little Pelle is a virtuous underdog. He really hates Hero and sure is plucky.

Matches: Pelle takes a great beating and uses a ton of springboard moves. That’s really it, but his fire keeps crowds involved and he’s very fun in multi-man matches.

Outlook: Pelle will take a big beating. He will never win a feud.

Recommendations:

Roderick Strong vs. Pelle Primeau – Double Feature. Pelle takes a beating, and Strong’s chops and backbreakers make the crowd oooh and aaah. Works for me. ** ½.

Adam Pearce and Brent Albright vs. Claudio Castagnoli and Pelle Primeau – Return Engagement. Pelle gets a beating and tags Claudio. A comeback and Pelle goes down. This continues Pelle taking a beating from SnS. ** ½

Pelle Primeau vs. Chris Hero – Southern Navigation. Hero beat on the underdog who made awesome comebacks. It was filler to show how serious Hero could be, but his knocking out Pelle was good fun. ** ¾.

Richards, Davey

Character: Davey is a killer in the ring, but he is mocked by his peers outside of it. He has turned on the No Remorse Corps, joining Sweet and Sour, Inc and gone to NOAH for the summer. He’s clearly hoping he’ll get more money and respect with SnS than he did in the NRC.

Matches: Davey has a remarkable ability to tell a high speed story without sacrificing the storytelling or selling. His strikes and limbwork don’t slow the match down and his constantly awesome pace and ability to build his sneering heel character into his matches make him an amazing heel killer.

Outlook: A future ROH champion if he isn’t snatched up, Davey has the speed and selling to be a super-face, but currently his sneering heel is just too good. He can either be a killer for SnS or continue to be mocked by the suddenly serious group, making him more of an outcast as he continues to grow.

Recommendations:

Davey Richards vs. Naomichi Marufuji – Final Battle 2007. Marufuji and Davey had one of the more fun matches of 2007 on its very last show. The pace and story here showcased just how good Davey is. He hung with one of the very best in the world. **** ¼

ROH Tag Team Title Match: Davey Richards and Rocky Romero © vs. The Briscoes. Davey’s ability to sell and keep pace were ideally catered to the Briscoes who had their best normal match since Final Battle the year before. *** ¾

Davey Richards vs. Kota Ibushi – Bedlam in Beantown. Kota’s first ROH match allowed him to be showcased with a man very similar to himself. Both beat the hell out of each other with flashy spots, though Davey toned it down to allow his showcased opponent to shine. *** ¾

Romero, Rocky

Character: Romero is a cocky, dancing heel who has developed real charisma. He and Davey were an underrated team and the cooler older brother of the two, Romero really shone in their tag matches.

Matches: Romero is a great striker with underrated, Shelley-esque mat skills. Despite his unwillingness to take sick bumps, he’s become a great worker, which I didn’t think was possible. His dance is greatly timed and really gets the crowd involved as half cheer and half jeer.

Outlook: Romero as a face has a chance to bring a new dynamic to ROH and he should be used that way, however, currently we need to see if he sides with Strong against SnS or with SnS and Davey Richards.

Recommendations:

Rocky Romero vs. Bryan Danielson – Eye of the Storm. A personal favorite, Romero and Danielson go MMA style, ignoring the ropes except for breaks. The pure mat wrestling is great, if a bit short. *** ½

Davey Richards, Rocky Romero and Roderick Strong vs. Marufuji, Morishima, and KENTA – Southern Navigation. Look at those names. Romero stole the show. Impressive, no? Make sure to see this. I’ll have a full review soon. At least ****

Davey Richards and Rocky Romero vs. Kevin Steen and El Generico – A New Level. Steen and Generico get a shot on the NRC after they lose the title. This is still a major pride issue and the two teams go at it fast and furious in a great match. **** ¼

Ruckus

Character: Ruckus is the smoking flier of the Vulture Squad. The Squad hates the NRC, but since the NRC no longer seem toe exist and the Vulture Squad’s future is in the air, what occurs with Ruckus remains to be seen.

Matches: Ruckus flips a lot and takes a big beating. That’s basically it. But damn, does he flip a lot. He’s basically a lesser Jack Evans.

Outlook: With no more real VS, there’s no reason to not join BLK Out and have them in ROH. A team with Kingston would be awesome.

Recommendations:

Ruckus and Jigsaw vs. Bryan Danielson and Austin Aries – Double Feature. The killer faces work over Jigsaw while Ruckus just wants to fly! Good fun. ***

ROH World Tag Team Title Match: Davey Richards and Rocky Romero © vs. Ruckus and Jigsaw – Take No Prisoners. Maybe the best and fastest match in these teams series. They go fast and hit everything crisply. *** ½

Jack Evans and Ruckus vs. The Briscoes – Bedlam in Beantown. Jack and Ruckus fly through the Briscoes usual offense and manage to steal a huge upset. *** ¼

Shiozaki, Go

Character: Go is a Japanese young gun who has taken Larry Sweeney’s money. Why? Well, if he’s here for a visit, he might as well get paid.

Matches: Go is a bit over-reliant on fighting spirit, but a killer all around worker who merely needs to learn to work the crowd.

Outlook: The protégé of Kenta Kobashi will be a star… in Japan.

Recommendations:

Go Shiozaki vs. El Generico – Eye of the Storm. Go kills Generico; while Generico sells for Go and tries to take out the legs. Is Go just too big and bad? *** ½

Go Shiozaki vs. Austin Aries – Sixth Year Anniversary. Go’s best match as Aries uses his veteran skill against Go’s far superior physical talent. This is awesome. **** ¼

Go Shiozaki vs. Erick Stevens vs. Roderick Strong – A New Level. A killer opener with CHOPS! *** ½

Steen, Kevin

Character: Steen is a fat, cocky bastard who the fans can’t get enough of. He’s sarcastic and hilarious and brings that to his matches. He hates Nigel, but also feuds with the Briscoes, NRC and pretty much anyone who thinks they’re big and tough.

Matches: Steen cockily uses speed, power, head games and head drops. He can even sell a bit. He’s a good wrestler who rarely, if ever, accomplishes anything spectacular on his own. He’s recently become quite good at working the leg along with his usual power/speed game and hopefully when that develops he’ll take his skill to a new level.

Outlook: Steen wants the world title, but he’ll need to settle for the upper-midcard and tag title until his matches get better.

Recommendations:

Kevin Steen vs. Bryan Danielson – Eye of the Storm. This is a mat battle that Steen surprisingly hangs in. Danielson shows how good Steen can be, but also his remaining weaknesses. *** ½

Kevin Steen and El Generico vs. Naruki Doi and Masato Yoshino – Dragon Gate Challenge 2. Steen plays off Doi and Yoshino’s speed, catching them off guard with how strong and fast he is. The speed of this match and that Steen stars make it especially impressive. **** ¼

ROH World Title Match: Nigel McGuinness vs. Kevin Steen – Return Engagement. Steen begins to step his game up in singles here. This is really at the borderline of **** and expect a review soon.

Stevens, Erick

Character: Stevens is a plucky babyface, but he’s huge. He wants the FIP title and that’s his real and total focus. As such, since the Resilience broke up, he’s been chasing Roderick Strong. He hates Davey Richards for injuring him as well, which is convenient since he has issues with Larry Sweeney.

Matches: Strong works like a young Barry Windham. He can sell and uses that to set up awesome babyface fire. The combination of great beatings and great comebacks make him a future star. He needs to work on making that beating more memorable and feeling special when he comes out.

Outlook: At his size, as a power wrestler, he’ll likely stay in ROH. As such, he’s a sure star.

Recommendations:

FIP World Title: Roderick Strong © vs. Erick Stevens. Stevens takes an awesome beating, sells it amazingly, then gets up and the crowd chants his name. That’s how it’s done. ****

Erick Stevens vs. Tyler Black – Double Feature. This is the problem with Stevens. Though he took a great beating, the crowd just refused to care. If he had a buzz at the start, that wouldn’t happen. This was still good, despite the crowd’s complaints. This will main event shows one day. *** ½

Erick Stevens vs. Roderick Strong – Supercard of Honor 3. Stevens and Strong kill each other here, with Stevens showing how sick a beating he can take and lay on people. This is pure intensity without ever getting silly. ****

Strong, Roderick

Character: Roderick was the cocksure leader of the NRC until Davey turned on him. Now, without remorse, he wants revenge and will try and destroy SnS, with or without help.

Matches: As a face, Strong is among the best workers you can find. He can sell and has great backbreakers that set up all his finishers. He doesn’t keep it that simple though, as there is always a mat wrestling match or another reason to care. I’m thrilled to see Roderick as a face again. As a heel he’s too flashy and reliant on faces selling to be as effective.

Outlook: If Danielson leaves, Roderick and Aries are the top two faces. Having burned his bridges in TNA, he’s ROH for life.

Recommendations:

ROH World Title Match: Nigel McGuinness © vs. Roderick Strong – Without Remorse. Nigel is a face and Roderick is a heel here, but they wrestle as if that’s reversed. It’s to the match’s benefit. ****

CIMA, Erick Stevens, & Go Shiozaki vs. Roderick Strong, Davey Richards, & Rocky Romero – Dragon Gate Challenge 2. CIMA teams with ROH and NOAH’s future star to take out the NRC. The focusis on Strong and Stevens and their amazing chemistry makes this matter just that much more. ****

FIP World Title Match: Erick Stevens © vs. Roderick Strong – FIP Redefined. A stalemate match leads to Strong getting desperate in a shortlist match of the year contender. **** ½

That’s it for the ROH roster, so that’s it for this week. See you next with more ROH Weekly.

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