ROH brought just about the best show they could for the card they had. They were short Nigel McGuinness, Mark Briscoe, Tyler Black, Jimmy Jacobs, El Generico, the Dark City Fight Club, Mike Quackenbush, Austin Aries and Roderick Strong. Between guys being unavailable and injured, that’s quite a handicap. Yet it was obvious guys had more freedom than usual and took opportunities to make up for cancellations.
Delirious Vs. Ricky Reyes
Reyes is the first on the list of people the ROH fans crapped on and didn’t deserve it. My friend (a more casual wrestling fan who will from here-on be known as Wresilitator for talking a Hero fan into not hating Jerry Lynn) were more impressed with Reyes than Delirioius. He came in like a stocky bad ass, going with Delirious’s technical stuff before busting out some great high-end offense like a murderous Back Suplex pin attempt and a sick Siakilypse. It worked as an opener, particular for an exchange where Reyes spat his gum into Delirious’s face, Delirious chewed it and spat it back at him. Getting the audience to laugh a little ensured the release of anxiety of the show, as did the surprising amount of high-end offense for a match a lot of people thought would be a total squash.
Winner: Delirious by pinfall with Shadows Over Hell
Kenny King & Rhett Titus Vs. Player Uno & Player Dos
About ten minutes that went from nice singles stuff to crazy tag team combos. This was a match for people who like the moves, as everyone went for innovation both in offense and counters. It was rough around the edges but both teams showed the beginnings of familiarity with this style, and the promise that they can will get better, even just against each other. Kenny King left the best impression once again, showing great charisma and timing, as well as awareness of the audience. Of all the up-and-comers on the show, he showed the best attempt at building the report that is essential to “getting” how to wrestle for these audiences.
Winners: King & Titus by pinfall with their Splash Mountain/Blockbuster combo
Jay Briscoe Vs. The Necro Butcher
They began with an amusing imitation of boxing before Briscoe switched things up with a couple of mat holds and some limited flying offense like a jumping Heel Kick. Briscoe was just as if not more intense than Butcher at all their punching and confirmed for me that he is already better at everything Necro Butcher does, while having a lot more game. It didn’t go anywhere and eventually the Embassy ran in to attack Necro Butcher, preventing him from doing his flip dive to the outside. This was in revenge for him sticking his nose in their cheating business on the preshow.
Winners: Went unannounced, but was presumably a DQ win for Butcher as he was the one who got attacked
Will You Marry Me? Some Guy Vs. Some Girl
So some guy proposed to his girlfriend in the ring. I don’t know what he was thinking, as indy wrestling fans become the scum of the earth with this kind of temptation. He was chanted down so hard we could barely hear anything he said. She accepted, they kissed, and the crowd boo’d like only a gym full of drinking-age guys destined to return to their parents’ basements could.
Anything Goes Match: Kevin Steen Vs. Davey Richards
This had to be the first half finale and is positively what you buy the DVD to see. The triple threat and world title matches were good, but this was madness. Steen bolted before his entrance, clearly here to avenge Generico, and tossed Richards through the bell table in the opening minute. They brawled up into the stands so that almost everyone in the building was less than ten feet away from the action at one point or another, and tossed each other so hard they dislodged the steel handrail on one side of the bleachers. Once they returned to ringside they rolled into great action that is exactly how people should be doing hardcore today (though not every hardcore match should be anywhere near this dangerous). Steen brought out a giant ladder that loomed in foreshadowing the whole match, tables were setup and teased throughout, and both guys got creative when weapons showed up. Just a few of the ideas were Richards performing sick Kawada-style kicks with a chain wrapped around his foot, Steen responding to Hagadorn stealing his table by setting two in a stack on the outside, and eventually Richards turning it all on him by headbutting him off the ladder and through both tables. It was clear just in what they did that they were making up for all the card cancellations, but while the danger made the match much more exciting, it was plotted excellently, and that’s what people needed to do in these things. Steen has been sucking wind since putting on more weight, but here they kept going, structuring little breathers as they paused in-between killer segments of offense. They made a lot out of their big offense, and turned the ladder fall into a nearfall so believable that even though some jerk had to scream, “He’s going to kick out!” the crowd still hung on the count after Richards got Steen in the ring and pinned him. It stands above all the generic hardcore matches that have sagged on ROH DVD’s since 2007. I can’t wait to see this again on DVD.
Winner: Steen by pinfall after a Package Piledriver off the apron
Bryan Danielson Vs. Eddie Edwards Vs. Sonjay Dutt
Dutt is another of those guys who is very unfairly crapped on. He brought novel armdrags and hurricanranas as crisp as almost anybody in the country and made an excellent audition to become ROH’s new regular flyer, something they really need with Mark Briscoe, Generico, Black, et.al. out right now. The match was essentially Edwards being a jerk and thus getting punished by both the flyer Dutt and the striker Danielson. Edwards belonged, not yet entirely comfortable or in a persona like his partner Richards, but solid and bordering on greatness when the match hit the flow and he caught Danielson with a series of big offense. All three guys did a fine job but showcasing athleticism and telling a classic triple threat story. The only issue was that Danielson was able to make Edwards tap to a hold so quickly at the end, which felt strange even after a good struggle, since this a guy who couldn’t beat in 45 minutes a few weeks ago.
Winner: Danielson by making Edwards submit in the Triangle Choke
Jimmy Rave, Joey Ryan & Claudio Castagnoli Vs. Colt Cabana, Brent Albright & Erick Stevens
As a cool-down before the main event it was forgivable, but this was the weakest thing on the show. Your highlight was Cabana, who was a master showman and directed as much traffic as possible, yet even he did nothing new. Castagnoli looks slimmer and like a total Neo-Nazi goof with his head entirely shaved. Ryan had the least impressive debut possible, getting lost in the shuffle in a trios tag, with no novel offense and getting completely out-classed by Rave as a jerk heel even though they were cooperating rather than competing. Ryan getting grabbed by the chest hair at the outset was amusing, and that was about it for him, as even when he was in the ring the audience was more interested in harassing his partners, even without they “HEY!” shtick catching on for Castagnoli. In lieu of a six-man sprint, they meandered through faces abusing heels, heels abusing faces, and then hitting a bunch of moves for fun before an ending that made no one seem better than anyone else.
Winners: The Embassy after Castagnoli kicked Stevens low and straight-up pinned him
World Title Match: Jerry Lynn ( c ) Vs. Chris Hero
There is a Cena-like split around Lynn. He got one of the loudest reactions of the night for his entrance that quickly mingled with boos. Some threw trash while others bowed to him. It was fascinating to watch the audience not only split, but become that polarized. The wrestlers did themselves no favors by starting extremely slowly with wristlocks, stuff guys like Danielson and Aries can do and be loved, but Lynn can’t – not now. “Jerry-atric” chants broke out as they went another ten minutes of extremely basic exchanges. Eventually the match turned insane, particularly when Lynn gave Hero a Hurricanrana off the second rope to the outside. Hero fell flat to the floor, something even Justin Credible needed a table to take a decade ago in ECW. They built to big nearfalls, though they were all so predictable that I guessed they’d use them a week ago when Hero was announced: multiple Roaring Elbows, teasing use of the Misawa pad, “surprise” roll-up counters, Hagadorn running interference, a big combo, and even Lynn hitting a standard Piledriver when Hero wouldn’t let him get the Cradle. That last really struck me, as it showed how Lynn has not adapted or added almost anything to his repertoire since returning to ROH. The wrestling equivalent of playing all his old songs may be one of the factors that turn people on him, especially if he is so uncreative that he has to rely on an obviously weaker version of his finisher for a near-fall where so many guys on the roster would have something more. None of this disqualified it from being a good match – even the Piledriver nearfall had the crowd in a frenzy, mostly from Hero fans who were so indignant that he’d lose that they were afraid this would do it. The two played the split crowd, even giving Hero moments of babyface-dom, before Lynn finally got the Cradle Piledriver to take it in a half-hour match.
Winner: Lynn by pinfall with the Cradle Piledriver
This is a solid DVD purchase. Nothing touched the Anything Goes Match, which was both well-told and became absolutely insane in what Steen and Richards did to each other. With a great match like that, the triple threat and world title matches were more acceptable at their level of quality. With those three matches being good, the opener and Super Smash Brothers tag were fun filler. Live, Anything Goes had to be before intermission to not overshadow the main event, though on DVD this will detract from the flow – no match ROH did that night can directly follow it. But most ROH fans just want quality matches, and for that this show delivered.
Tags: Add new tag, Bryan Danielson, Chris Hero, Davey Richards, Eddie Edwards, jerry lynn, Kevin Steen, ROH, ROH World Title, Sonjay Dutt