Live Review: ROH “The Final Countdown Tour: Boston” (9.25.2009)

It’s hard to believe that I have been to every Ring of Honor show in Boston since “Proving Ground” at the beginning of January 2008. I’m sure that doesn’t sound too significant to many of you, but I have only been a fan of professional wrestling for about five years now. Most people don’t get into independent stuff until they have watched the sport for about eight to ten years, I’d say. Anyhow, due to a bunch of scheduling problems, I almost had to miss “The Final Countdown: Boston”. Honestly, this show didn’t mean too much to me until I found out that Bryan Danielson would be wrestling Davey Richards in one of his last matches in ROH.

Whether I decide to finally pursue my dream of becoming a professional wrestler or not, Danielson will always be an inspiration to me. I had the honor of finally meeting him in Nashua, New Hampshire at a CHIKARA show, just a few weeks back, and he was truly a class act. With that taken into consideration, I essentially made it a priority for me to get into Boston for “The Final Countdown: Boston”. Who would pass up the opportunity to watch Bryan Danielson wrestle in an ROH ring for one of the last times, anyways?

Danielson’s opponent, Davey Richards, is also a guy that I definitely look up to. Shortly after learning about Ring of Honor, Davey immediately became a guy that impressed me because his intensity inside of the ring was comparable to one of my favorite wrestlers of all-time, Chris Benoit. Davey, though, has considerably upped his game in 2009. He has transformed from a talented midcarder into an incredible, all-around performer. His match against Danielson on the twenty-fifth of September is one that I will certainly never forget. Before I did into the main event too much, though, let’s dig into my full live experience.

The event took place in downtown Boston, not too far from Fenway Park, in the Case Gym at Boston University. From what I saw, the crowd appeared to be at a solid number. My guess is about five hundred or so. Without a doubt, the Case Gym hadn’t been this packed since I started attending Ring of Honor shows at the beginning of 2008.

Matt Jackson and Nick Jackson beat Cheech and Cloudy via pinfall (More Bang For Your Buck) – Cheech and Cloudy are two guys that I am quite familiar with. Being a huge CHIKARA fan, I am more than aware of what they are capable of doing inside of the squared circle if given the opportunity. Unfortunately, I have seen several of their matches on HDNet and they weren’t much more than squashes. Surprise, surprise! The Young Bucks and Up In Smoke actually put on quite a competitive and athletic contest. After a little more than twelve minutes of excellent tag action, Matt and Nick scored the win over Cheech and Cloudy. Just a flat-out fun match. I’m glad both teams got a solid amount of time and were able to finish it without any outside inference. Seriously, who wasn’t expecting the Dark City Fight Club to ruin this one? ***.

Delirious defeated Sonjay Dutt via pinfall (roll-up) – Delirious is a character that I have always found interesting, but I really don’t think he has ever had a solid role in Ring of Honor. If you have watched the recent Video Wires, then you know exactly what I am talking about. Throwing Daizee Haze with him isn’t going to be much help. Before this show, Sonjay Dutt was a guy that I had only seen once live. After seeing this bout, it became more than evident to me that Sonjay has the ability to be a solid heel in ROH, as well as the athletic ability to back it up. In about ten minutes, Delirious steals the victory by pinning Dutt with a roll-up. **¾.

Following the match, Sonjay Dutt kissed Daizee Haze. Lethal and Sonjay feud over Val in TNA, anyone? Daizee didn’t take the kiss lightly and quickly slapped Dutt in the face. After taking Delirious out, Sonjay slapped a camel clutch onto Haze and refused to let go until security restrained him. I feel like we have seen this storyline too many times before.

Claudio Castagnoli beat Chris Hero, El Generico, and Petey Williams via pinfall (Ricola Bomb) – Can’t say that I have ever cared for too many four corner survival matches in ROH before. This match, though, was actually really good. Considering the talent booked for the bout, though, I guess that isn’t entirely surprising. Petey was easily the most over guy with the crowd and every time he signaled for the Canadian Destroyer, the Boston fans jumped on their feet. After some excellent and fast-paced action, Claudio caught Petey with a bicycle kick and put him away with the Ricola Bomb. Every guy that participated in the match appeared to be on the top of their game, which made this a real surprising treat. ***.

Bret Hart came out to a monstrous ovation and took the time to high five all of the Bostonians. Never thought of Hart to be a humble guy, but he really came off as being one. Bret’s speech to the fans was short, but he made his point. In a nutshell, he put over Ring of Honor and called it one of the top promotions in America today. Then, he thanked the fans for showing up to the show, took his paycheck, and headed out the door.

Kevin Steen defeated Eddie Edwards via pinfall (chair-assisted package piledriver) in a “Boston Street Fight” – I have a feeling that this match is going to be significantly overrated by a lot of Ring of Honor fans. Personally, I didn’t care for it too much. Maybe I’m just spoiled because I saw Steen’s “anything goes” match against Richards the last time in Boston. They started things off by brawling into the crowd for several minutes and later, the action spilled into the ring. Steen looked to use a ladder, but Davey Richards yanked it from him, and brought it backstage. After low blows by both individuals, Steen set up four chairs and planted Edwards through them to score the pinfall. Good, but not anything spectacular. Edwards was helped backstage by some of the ROH crew afterwards, including Adam Pearce. Wouldn’t be surprised if he hurt himself. ***¼.

Intermission seemed to be much longer than it normally has been in the past. I almost bought a few Pro Wrestling Guerrilla DVDs, but decided against it at the last minute. Instead, I got a commemorable “Final Countdown” shirt and the “Bryan Danielson: Rise To Glory” DVD. For those of you who are wondering, they fixed the “New York, York” error on the tee.

Kory Chavis and Jon Davis beat Bobby Dempsey and Alex Payne via pinfall (Project Mayhem) – Don’t ask me why, but I have always liked something about Alex Payne. I think he’s one of the better students to come out of the ROH Wrestling Academy. The Dark City Fight Club pretty much kicked the crap out of Payne for the majority of the match until he tagged in Dempsey. Dempsey had a nice burst of offense going for him, even nailing his signature cannonball into the corner. After Chavis and Davis took him down, though, they were able to finish off Payne with the Project Mayhem for the three count. Not a half-bad match, actually. *¾.

Roderick Strong defeated Nigel McGuinness via pinfall (Gibson Driver) – When I say that Nigel may have gotten a bigger pop than Bret Hart, I’m not lying. Lots of “thank you, Nigel” chants before the match had even started. The crowd was totally into whatever he was doing and he seemed to greatly appreciate it. Roderick chopped the hell out of Nigel’s chest, which was red by the end of the bout. Strong looked good, if not better than McGuinness, which definitely is a sign that he is breaking out. Potentially a future ROH World Champion? I could see it happening. Two Gibson Drivers prove to be enough for him to walk out victoriously. If you enjoy technical and hard-hitting wrestling, then this one’s for you. Thumbs up. ***¾.

Nigel McGuinness took the time to acknowledge the fans after the match had ended. Without any hesitation at all, he also shook Strong’s hand and called him the “better man”. For a guy that was easily the top gun in the company about three or four months ago, this was a promo that was extremely out of character for Nigel. Still, it was a generous act on his part and the crowd dug it up.

Austin Aries and Rhett Titus beat Colt Cabana and Kenny Omega via pinfall (low blow) – I have a lot of respect for Colt Cabana for everything that he’s accomplished on the independent scene, but I can’t say that I have ever been crazy for his work. He’s gold on the microphone, but I never understood why he was so beloved as far as in-ring ability goes. This match was actually super solid and Kenny Omega shined, in particular. Colt and Omega were also hilarious whenever they did their group poses from time to time. Omega was able to hit the Croyt’s Wrath on Titus, but Aries broke up the count at the last minute. While Kenny was down on the outside, Aries low blowed Colt behind the referee’s back and pinned him for a three count. In my eyes, this may have been Omega’s best performance in Ring of Honor to date. The Boston fans also seemed to thoroughly enjoy his work, as well. ***½.

Davey Richards defeated Bryan Danielson via submission (Kimura) – There really is a chilling presence in the air when Bryan Danielson makes his entrance. Just by that, it makes me believe that he will be successful when his time comes to shine in the WWE. Excellent, excellent technical wrestling to start the match. Everything Richards and Danielson did made it look so believable. A fan in the front row made a few vulgar remarks towards Richards, so he didn’t hesitate to spit on the hoodlum. Out of the absolute blue, Davey nailed a somersault suicida onto Danielson about four rows into the crowd. At that moment, everyone thought Richards had died or some fans had gotten injured. Seconds later, Richards’ head popped up and he lifted his hand into the air in triumph. After some more stiff striking inside of the ring, Danielson dove into the crowd with a dive of his own. By this point, the crowd was chanting “this is awesome” and “holy shit”. Danielson went for the Cattle Mutilation about three or four times, but Davey was able to get to the ropes. The same goes for Richards whenever he applied the Kimura onto Danielson. After nearly forty minutes of action, Richards forced Bryan to submit to the Kimura. This match was so beyond what I’m explaining it as. I’d even go as far as calling it the best match I have ever witnessed. Period. Well-deserved “match of the year” chants when it had ended. ****¾.

Davey Richards grabbed a microphone and explained that Ring of Honor wasn’t about “good guys” or “bad guys”. It’s about being the best wrestling promotion in the world. After referring to Bryan as a mentor to him of sorts, Davey handed the microphone to Danielson, who then gave a very heart-felt speech. He called Davey Richards the “future of Ring of Honor” and proceeded to call the company the only place where wrestling truly exists in North America. A fan yelled, “WWE sucks”, and Danielson laughed and said that he had to go there because he didn’t have enough money to retire. Before leaving, Danielson explained how he never understood why the ROH fans chose him, a small town boy from Aberdeen, Washington, to be the “ace” of Ring of Honor. For instance, Chad Collyer was an excellent wrestler, but he never had the crowd support to be successful in the company. He also left us all with the words of “without the fans, I wouldn’t be who I am today”.

Both, Bryan Danielson and Nigel McGuinness, signed autographs at the merchandise table after the show had completely ended. I would have been more than pleased to speak with Danielson again, but I had to leave or my ride would have taken off without me. It was probably for the best, too, as I had to work at 8:00AM the next morning.

Overall, this was a show that I truly will never forget. The main event truly makes this show one that should be in the collection of every Ring of Honor fan. Seriously, buy “The Final Countdown: Boston” as soon as it’s available on DVD. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if Danielson versus Richards is voted as the Wrestling Observer Match of the Year, either. It was that friggan good. Quite frankly, you would be a moron not to put down the twenty bucks, just to see this event for the main event, alone. Please take my word for it.

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