ROH Review: New York City, New York – 12.27.08

Final Battle 2008.

What can I say? Ring of Honor delivered with a show that everyone hoped for and no one expected. With Gabe gone, everyone was looking forward to see how the first post-Gabe NYC show would turn out. Well it turned out utterly fantastic. There were no specific match of the year candidates here in my opinion but from top to bottom the show was perfectly paced.

The first match was Kenny Omega vs. Claudio Castagnoli. While the crowd carried a wait and see approach to Omega, they outright booed Claudio, giving the guy more heat than I’ve heard him get at the last two ROH events I was at. (against Ibushi/Sasaki respectively). The match was well built to establish Claudio as a monster and Omega as the new guy who was getting his ass beat. The end of the match came when Omega reversed the Ricola Bomb for the pin. Decent match.

Next was Jerry Lynn vs. Chris Hero vs. Rhett Titus vs. The Necro Butcher. The match more or less showcased each wrestler’s personality, with the crowding breaking out into a “Holy Shit” chant when Lynn and Necro broke out into a series of a 2 count reversals. Good stuff. The finish came when Hero missed with the loaded knee pad over his foot and Lynn cracked Hero’s neck with a Cradle Piledriver. It was pretty watchable if a little slow.

Jacobs and Delirious hit the ring to attack Necro which brought out Steenerico. The tag title match was on. A pretty good match that brought out Daizee Haze at the end to serve as a distraction to Jacobs and Delirious. This allowed Steenerico to dump Jacobs to the outside and hit the Package Piledriver/Brainbuster combo for the win. After the match Jacobs verbally attacked Delirious and left the ring.

To close out the first half, Brent Albright, Roderick Strong, & Erick Stevens went against Davey Richards, Eddie Edwards, & Go Shiozaki in a street fight. There were a number of crazy spots here but a large portion of the street fight happened around the ring where no one could see anything. And no. They didn’t go into the crowd. Finish came when Shiozaki tapped to the Crowbar from Albright. From what I could see, this was a great match that needed to have more happen in the ring. It’ll be better viewed on DVD.

Jay & Mark Briscoe fought Kensuke Sasaki & Katsuhiko Nakajima to victory when Jay hit a Jay Driller on Nakajima. During the match Cary Silkin had an alteration with a fan who had earlier given him the finger. The fan somehow managed to make it back into the show four times before Cary showed up with security in tow throwing his arms in the air like Vince McMahon telling the guy to get out. It totally ruined the match for me and took away from four great athletes putting on a great performance, especially when Cary’s actions lead to the audience singing, “Na. Na. Na. Na. (Hey Hey Hey Goodbye)”. Next time wait until the match is over.

The American Wolves then attacked the Briscoes, handcuffing Jay and attacking Mark’s knee with a chair. Steenerico drive the Wolves away only to be attacked by the Wolves from behind. Albright, Strong, and Stevens make the save. Albright then asks Cary for a steel cage match and Cary agrees.

Austin Aries fought Tyler Black in a great #1 contendership match. Jimmy distracted distracted Tyler, allowing Aries enough time to gather himself to dodge the Phoenix Splash. Tyler then shoved Jimmy, who managed to calm Tyler down before connecting with a low blow and The End Time. Jimmy then tries to break Tyler’s neck with a steal chair when Aries makes the save, only to smash Black with a chair. The two then beat down Black.

A pair of fans attacked Aries. Aries beat their asses. The end.

Nigel McGuinness went against Naomichi Marufuji in a dream rematch. Marufuji hit two variations of the Shiranui (one on the outside – one onto the ring apron) and really beat Nigel’s ass for most of the match. The end came when Nigel hit the rebound as Marufuji was getting up after smacking his palm to Nigel’s nose. Fantastic match. Jerry Lynn came out next and tried putting Nigel over, only for Nigel to get upset that Lynn was stealing his thunder. Well Lynn freaked out and Nigel ran away.

Lights go out. Prince Nana comes in. Bobby Cruise gives chase and Nana is dragged away.

In a WWE level PPV extravaganza, Bryan Danielson fought Takeshi Morishima in an awesome Fight Without Honor. No spoilers. Just watch it yourself. Finish had Dragon winning but that’s all I’m saying.