A2Z Analysiz – ROH Kevin Steen: Ascension to the Top (El Generico, Bryan Danielson)

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MATCH #1: Kevin Steen vs. B-Boy, Do or Die IV, 2.19.05

Steen is positively svelte here compared to how he looks today. Since this was an afternoon bonus card before Third Anniversary Celebration Part 1 there is no commentary. They take it down to the mat and wrestle to a standoff. Steen goes for an early Package Piledriver but B-Boy blocks it and tries a Shining Wizard so Steen bails to the floor. Back in the ring Steen unleashes some strikes and as soon as B-Boy makes the comeback Steen bails again. This time B-Boy follows him out with a forearm off the ring apron. Steen tries to get back in the ring but B-Boy stops him on the apron and hits an inverted DDT. Back in the ring B-Boy gets a two-count. B-Boy is firmly in control now, keeping Steen on the mat with his unique attacks. Steen fights back with a neckbreaker and an elbow drop to the back of the neck for two. He continues focusing his energy on the back of the neck, which is good strategy to set up for the Package Piledriver. After several minutes B-Boy fights up, no-sells an enziguiri and levels Steen with a clothesline. Both men are down. Back up on their feet Steen hits a slingshot flatliner and follows up with a top-rope moonsault for two. Steen tries the Package Piledriver again but B-Boy fights it off, only to run right into a Schwein for another two-count. B-Boy grabs Steen and hits an exploder suplex into the turnbuckles. He follows in with a hard dropkick to the face and covers for two. B-Boy then hits a sort of Back Drop Driver for a two-count. Steen comes back with a Stun Gun and tries the Package Piledriver yet again but B-Boy counters to the Shining Wizard and gets two. B-Boy tries the Shining Wizard again but Steen blocks it and finally hits the Package Piledriver but B-Boy rolls to the floor. Steen retrieves B-Boy but by the time he gets him back in the ring B-Boy is able to kick out. B-Boy is able to hit a Tornado DDT and a piledriver of his own. He follows with the Shining Wizard to get the win at 13:53. That was a decent showing for Steen, but there was not a lot of rhyme or reason to the match. I think time has shown that the wrong guy went over too.
Rating: **

MATCH #2: Kevin Steen vs. El Generico, The Homecoming, 7.23.05

This match has never been released on DVD … until now. There is also no commentary on this match, which opened the show. They start with some chain wrestling and manage to blow a leapfrog, which is always unfortunate. At least Generico is wise enough to start selling his knee and Steen is wise enough to attack it. Unfortunately though they don’t really stick with that and Steen just starts hitting chops and stuff instead. Generico tries a tornado DDT but Steen catches him in a hard backbreaker. Steen continues the assault, focusing on the back now. He hits another hard backbreaker for a two-count. Generico tries to fight up again, going for a slingshot move but Steen catches him with an Ace Crusher for two. Steen misses a charge and gets himself tied up in the ropes and Generico takes advantage with a nice moonsault off the top rope. Both men are down, and when they get back to their feet Generico finally unloads with a flurry of offense. Generico hurls Steen to the floor and follows him out with a slingshot springboard moonsault. The crowd is into it. Steen gets up to the apron and drops Generico’s neck off the top rope, and then hits the slingshot Ace Crusher for two. He tries the Package Piledriver but Generico flips out of it and hits the Tornado DDT for two. Generico tries the running Yakuza Kick and hits it on the second try. He follows with the half-nelson suplex but it only gets a two-count. They fight up on the ropes and Steen knocks Generico down and then tries an impressive Merosault but Generico moves out of the way. Generico tries a springboard hurricanrana but Steen catches him in a powerbomb. Both men try their finishers and after a series of reversals, Generico traps Steen in a backslide to get the pin at 10:45. Both guys looked pretty good here for where they were in their careers and their time in ROH, which was almost none. They kept it mostly basic but showed off their stuff and the crowd got into both of them, so that’s a success.
Rating: **¾

MATCH #3: Kevin Steen & El Generico vs. Jay & Mark Briscoe, Fifth Year Festival: Philly, 2.17.07

Things immediately get heated and the Briscoes send Steen to the floor and double-team poor Generico. Steen pulls Mark to the floor and throws him into the barricade and then gets in the ring to battle Jay. After a brief back-and-forth exchange Jay clotheslines Steen over the ropes and they both tumble to the floor. Generico and Mark get in the ring to do battle now while Jay and Steen fight outside the ring. Mark decides to help his brother by wiping Steen out with a somersault dive over the ropes. Jay gets in the ring to face Generico while Mark throws Steen into the guardrail. Things calm down a little as the Briscoes isolate Generico and work him over. Generico is able to come back enough to tag Steen into the match. Now Steen and Generico isolate Jay. The hatred between these teams (particularly through Steen) is palpable, which is awesome because they have no pre-existing storyline so it makes the match that much more exciting. Generico allows Jay to make the tag and Mark is a redneck afire. Once again Generico is isolated from his partner and subject to a beating from #DemBoys. Mark tries to hit a springboard Ace Crusher but Generico is able to counter into one of his own (great spot) and both men are down. Tags are made and Steen drills Jay with a missile dropkick. Steen is a house afire, showing off everything he can do. The fight spills to the floor and Steen wipes out both Briscoes with a somersault senton from the top rope. Generico dives through the corner to hit Mark with a tornado DDT on the floor, which is awesome. Back in the ring Steen hits Jay with the Swanton but it only gets two. Steen hits the Pumphandle Neckbreaker but Jay kicks out again. He tries the Package Piledriver but Jay blocks it and the match breaks down with all four men fighting in the ring until they are all down. The Philadelphia crowd gets especially behind Generico. Mark and Generico go back to the apron while Jay and Steen do battle, knocking each other out. Once again hot tags are made and Generico and Mark do battle. Mark hits a Buckle Bomb and a half-nelson suplex for a two-count. Jay gets back in the ring to help with a double-team neckbreaker with gets two again. Steen and Jay go back to the floor and Steen powerbombs Jay right on the edge of the ring! Back to the ring Generico makes a tag and Steen takes Mark down and goes up top for a moonsault. Mark moves but Steen lands on his feet and Generico drills Mark with the running Yakuza Kick and then wipes out Jay with a dive. Steen hits Mark with a Frog Splash and Mark is somehow able to kick out. He goes for the Package Piledriver again but Mark slips out and hits the Cutthroat Driver. The Briscoes go up top and hit the combination guillotine legdrop and shooting star press to finally get the win at 18:03. Because of this match these two teams would wind up feuding for the better part of the rest of the year and resulted in some of the best, most brutal tag team matches in ROH history, including the first Ladder War. Steen and Generico totally earned their ROH stripes in this match and the crowd rewarded them.
Rating: ***¾

MATCH #4: Kevin Steen & El Generico vs. Jay Briscoe & Erick Stevens, Fighting Spirit, 4.14.07

Mark is injured so Stevens is filling in for him. Jay and Generico start the match and it looks heated from the get-go. Stevens makes a quick tag and Jay flies over the top rope to wipe Steen out on the floor. Jay then hurls Steen into the barricade while Stevens and Generico battle in the ring. Generico and Steen are able to isolate Stevens and keep him away from his partner. Stevens fights back using his power advantage on Generico and makes the tag. Generico brings Steen back into the match and he drills Jay with a hard DDT. The momentum has been shifting back and forth often in these opening minutes. Then from out of nowhere the No Remorse Corps comes out to distract the referee and powerbomb Stevens onto the barricade at ringside. Officials come out and bring Stevens to the back, leaving Jay on his own to get dominated by Steen and Generico. Jay makes a couple of efforts to fight back but at a two-on-one disadvantage he’s struggling. After almost 10 minutes of seeing his brother getting beaten up, the not cleared to wrestle Mark Briscoe makes his way through the crowd and gets up on the apron! The crowd is behind the decision but the Briscoes’ mama is not. Steen and Generico go for the Doomsday Device but Jay slips out and hits Steen with a hard suplex and then knocks Generico off the top rope. Jay instinctively tags his brother and the crowd explodes. Mark is a redneck afire until Generico cuts him off with a hard elbow to the head, which is dick because a head injury is the reason Mark was not cleared to compete tonight. Even with that dastardly attack the Briscoes maintain control, going to work on Steen. Generico comes over to the corner to knock Jay off the top rope and Steen knocks Mark off the apron to the floor. The fight stays on the top rope, as Generico tries a super Ace Crusher but Mark sneaks back in and hits him with one instead, and Jay follows him down with a Superfly Splash for two. Steen comes back in and dumps Mark to the floor hard. Jay signals for the Jay Driller but Generico counters it and hits the swinging DDT. Steen comes back in illegally to hit the pumphandle neckbreaker and a Swanton but it only gets two when Mark breaks up the cover. Mark then drags his brother to the corner and tags himself in. He goes for the Cutthroat Driver on Generico but can’t connect. Generico hits the running Yakuza Kick and a half-nelson suplex but Mark pops up! Another boot to the face and another half-nelson suplex take Mark down, but even so he cuts Generico off with a clothesline. Steen pulls Mark to the floor and whips him head-first into the barricade. This angers Jay, but Steen is able to take him out too. Back in the ring Steen hits Mark with the Package Piledriver and then rolls him right into a Brainbuster from Generico and Mark is done at 24:48. That was a great piece in the storytelling for this feud, as it put tons of heat on Generico and Steen and made Mark super sympathetic.
Rating: ****

Brawl – Respect is Earned, 5.12.07

Kevin Steen and El Generico interrupt the Briscoes celebration after defeating Claudio Castagnoli and Matt Sydal to retain the ROH World Tag Team Titles and ask when they’re going to get their title shot. They rush to the ring for a big brawl as students and officials try to break them up. Some poor schmuck gets hit with the Package Piledriver and then the Brainbuster, and then Generico wipes out the slew of bodies on the floor with a somersault dive off the top rope. They fight all the way backstage and Steen blasts Mark with a steel chair, knocking him out.

MATCH #5: Kevin Steen vs. Mark Briscoe, A Fight at the Roxbury, 6.8.07

They waste no time and start slugging away at each other. Mark takes the early advantage, knocking Steen to the floor and wiping him out with a dive, and then following up with a somersault senton off the second rope. Steen fights back by catching Mark coming off the apron with a powerbomb onto the ring apron. He then powerbombs Mark right into the crowd! The fight spills into the arena now as they continue fighting amongst the people. Eventually they make their way back into the ring and continue to trade control back and forth. Steen hits the pumphandle neckbreaker for a two-count. He goes up top for the Swanton but Mark gets his knees up. Mark hits an exploder for two. He presses the advantage, hitting a springboard superkick. Now Mark goes up top and Steen knocks him down and shoves him through the timekeeper’s table at ringside! Back in the ring Steen hits the Package Piledriver to get the victory at 9:44. The hatred felt real in this one and it made for a very effective brawl.
Rating: ***¼

MATCH #6: Kevin Steen & El Generico vs. Mike Quackenbush & Jigsaw, Domination, 6.9.07

Generico has his alternate blue gear on tonight. The masked men start it off for their respective teams, but it doesn’t take long for Quack to tag in. When Quack gets an advantage Generico goes over and tags Steen, so Jigsaw tags in as well. Steen uses his power to take advantage, and he and Generico are able to isolate Jigsaw in their half of the ring. They focus on Jigsaw’s back, keeping him on the mat and making it hard for him to fly around the ring. After several minutes Jigsaw is able to hit a big swinging DDT and tags are made. Quack goes to work on Steen, showing why his nickname is “Lightning.” A DDT by Quack gets two and then he goes up top. Steen is able to knock him down and hit a powerbomb. Generico follows with a Superfly Splash for a two-count. Quack fights back with a Hurricane DDT and Jigsaw tags back in. Jigsaw goes for his own Superfly Splash but Generico gets the knees up. Generico misses the running Yakuza Kick and Jigsaw hits a Rack Bomb. Quack follows with the Swanton, Jigsaw hits a guillotine legdrop, and Quack hits double knees but Steen pulls Jigsaw to the floor at the count of two to save his partner. Steen tags in and tries a moonsault but Quack moves out of the way. Jigsaw tries a super rana but Steen catches him and holds on, allowing Generico to hit the corner to corner dropkick. Steen then hits a Super Powerbomb but Quack breaks up the cover! The crowd is going nuts. Generico throws Quack to the floor and wipes him out with a dive. Steen then hits Jigsaw with the Package Piledriver and rolls it into the Generico Brainbuster to get the win at 13:02. That was good solid tag team wrestling and the crowd got super hot by the end of it.
Rating: ***½

MATCH #7: Boston Street Fight – Kevin Steen & El Generico vs. Jay & Mark Briscoe, Death Before Dishonor V Night One, 8.10.07

Steen and Generico meet the tag team champions in the aisle and the fight is on. Prazak and Leonard decide that since it’s unsanctioned and dangerous, they don’t have to do commentary, and thus neither do I, but I’ll be back for the finish.

After some inhumane beatings suffered by all four men, Steen slips out of a Jay Driller, kicks Jay in the balls, and hits the Package Piledriver on a ladder to get the pin at 22:12. That was an absolutely insane brawl that may have shortened the careers of everyone involved. It was brutality at its finest. Steen promises that they will be taking the belts in the steel cage match in two weeks in Hartford.
Rating: ****¼

MATCH #8: ROH World Tag Team Title Steel Cage Match – Kevin Steen & El Generico vs. Jay & Mark Briscoe, Caged Rage, 8.24.07

The Briscoes have been the Champions since 3.30.07, and this is their eleventh defense. This is the first time the ROH World Tag Team Titles have been defended inside a steel cage. Jay was also involved the first time the ROH World Championship was defended in a cage, challenging Samoa Joe at At Our Best on March 13, 2004. The fight starts out on the floor, as these four men can’t wait to get their hands on each other. Steen powerbombs Mark into the crowd and dumps Jay out there as well. Jay gets busted open early but it doesn’t deter the Briscoes from fighting back on both of their challengers. They finally make it into the cage except for Generico, allowing the champs to double-team Steen. When Generico makes it back in the ring, control shifts back and forth between the two teams often. Steen and Mark are both busted open now as well. This is a lot like the street fight from two weeks prior in Boston, with all four men just kicking the crap out of each other. The challengers use the steel cage effectively, whipping both Briscoes into the walls. The Briscoes fight back and double-team both Steen and Generico, which they do better than anyone else in ROH. They hit the double-neckbreaker on Generico but it only gets two. Steen kicks Jay to the floor and then hits Mark with a hard powerbomb. Then Generico hits the running Yakuza Kick, and Steen hits the pumphandle neckbreaker for a two-count. Jay pulls Steen to the floor and throws him into the barricade. Mark unloads on Generico, and then Jay rejoins the cage and hits a military press into the Death Valley Driver for two. Jay holds Generico as Mark goes to the top of the cage, but Generico fights it off and goes up as well. Mark shoves him down and goes to the tippy top of the cage. Steen climbs up from the outside and stops him, but Jay climbs up as well and they knock Steen down through the timekeeper’s table! Generico grabs Jay and hurls him into the cage. He can’t follow up though, and the Briscoes are able to hit him with the Doomsday Device and the Spiked Jay Driller to get the pin at 16:25. These teams are almost incapable of having a bad match together, and this was another fun one. The hatred between them is palpable and they consistently find ways for all four guys to look strong.
Rating: ***¾

MATCH #9: ROH World Tag Team Title Ladder War – Kevin Steen & El Generico vs. Jay & Mark Briscoe, Man Up, 9.15.07

The Briscoes have been the Champions since 3.30.07, and this is their fourteenth defense. It doesn’t take long for this brawl to begin out on the arena floor. Steen launches Mark into the crowd while Jay blasts Generico with a chair elsewhere in the crowd. The fight continues to go throughout the crowd, with all four men beating each other unmerciful. It’s funny to see Rhett Titus just trying to hold the crowd back during this Ladder War, knowing that four years later he would be facing the Briscoes in this exact match. They make it back to the ring and Generico makes the first attempt at climbing the ladder but he doesn’t get very far. Generico and Mark take their fight to the outside, so Steen and Jay get in the ring. Jay goes for the Jay Driller but Steen blocks it and hits the pumphandle neckbreaker. Steen climbs up the ladder and Mark knocks him down. Mark climbs up now but Steen is able to stop him. Generico rejoins the fray and the Briscoes hit him with a double biel right into a ladder! That was sick. The Briscoes set up a taller ladder to climb, but Steen throws Mark to the floor and pushes Jay over onto the broken ladder. Steen then hits Jay with a belly-to-back suplex right on the ladder. Mark gets back in the ring and Steen kicks him right in the nuts. The challengers are firmly in control now as they replay a couple of highlights from the match for some reason. Generico sets a ladder in front of Jay in the corner and hits the running yakuza Kick. Steen then launches Mark over the top rope with an Awesome Bomb right on top of a ladder. Generico tries to hold Jay at bay while Steen climbs the ladder but Jay pushes through and knocks the ladder over. These guys are taking absurdly sick bumps in this match. Mark hits Generico with a sick exploder on a ladder. Jay hits Steen with a Death Valley Driver onto a different ladder, and on the jagged edge of it. Mark sets a ladder on Generico and hits him with a beautiful Shooting Star Press. Jay goes up top and dives onto Steen on a table on the floor. Mark tries to climb a ladder but it’s very wobbly and Generico is able to knock him down. Jay calls for one of the maintenance ladders, which is significantly taller than the regulation ladders. This new ladder is so tall that the Briscoes are able to hit a Doomsday Device with Mark diving THROUGH the ladder. That’s incredible. Steen gets back in the ring and takes out both Briscoes with a ladder, and then setting it between the super tall ladder and the corner. Mark hits Steen with a couple of superkicks and climbs up the ladder. Steen climbs up with him and hits the Package Piledriver! This is insane. Generico flails around as he climbs the ladder and Jay throws another ladder at him to thwart his progress. Jay sets up the ladder between the tall ladder and the corner just like Steen did and hits Generico with a Jay Driller! If Jimmy Bower was on commentary that’d be worthy of a DANGEROUS! Steen and Jay climb to the top of the ladder now and slug it out. Jay knocks Steen down onto a ladder. He tries to pull the belts down but has great difficulty and Steen climbs back up but Jay is finally able to get a belt down at 26:19 to retain the titles. The first in a series is always hard to top, and this Ladder War set the bar awfully high. The bumps were sick, the crowd was hot, and the hatred was there. This is one of the best matches of 2007 and one of the best tag team matches in company history.
Rating: ****½

MATCH #10: ROH World Title Match – Kevin Steen vs. Takeshi Morishima, Honor Nation, 10.5.07

Morishima has been the Champion since 2.17.07, and this is his twentieth defense. Steen attacks right away and takes it to the dominant champion. He knocks Morishima to the floor and wipes him out with a house show dive. The abuse continues out there, as Steen hurls Morishima face-first into the ring post. The winner of this match gets to defend against Nigel McGuinness tomorrow night. Back in the ring Steen hits a slingshot senton for a two-count. Steen keeps up the offense and tries to put Morishima away early but to no avail. Morishima fights back with a flying hip attack. Steen responds by going after the knee, even hitting it with a steel chair. I think he moved the referee out of position first but with the camera angle it was hard to tell. After several minutes Morishima shrugs off Steen’s forearm shots and hits a hard side slam. Morishima takes it to the floor and whips Steen into the ring post and then hits the Ole Hip Attack. Back in the ring the champ is all over the challenger. Steen fights back and lands a springboard cross body block for two, and then goes right back to work on the knee. Morishima responds with a release German Suplex. He goes up for the Missile Dropkick but Steen avoids it and puts on the Sharpshooter! Morishima reaches the ropes as El Generico comes out to cheer Steen on. Steen takes Morishima down with a superkick and follows with the Swanton and a Frog Splash but amazingly that only gets two. He tries the Moonsault but Morishima avoids it and hits a big boot and a lariat for two. Morishima goes back up top and Steen joins him to hit a superplex, but Morishima no-sells it. Steen then hits a spinebuster but it only gets two. He tries the Package Piledriver but Morishima counters it with a backdrop and then drops onto Steen’s chest for a two-count. They rise and trade forearms and Steen hits an enziguiri. Morishima cuts Steen off with a huge clothesline and then a second one for a two-count. The champ then hits the Back Drop Driver to get the pin at 18:30. With Morishima scheduled to face Nigel the next night the result of this one was never in doubt, but Steen put in a hell of an effort and these two matched up together very well.
Rating: ***¾

MATCH #11: Street Fight – Kevin Steen vs. Necro Butcher, Proving Ground, 1.11.08

They immediately start off in a slugging match. Steen wins that battle and hits Necro with the Cannonball in the corner. Out on the floor the fight continues and Steen is in control. Necro reverses a whip that sends Steen careening into the barricade. He puts Steen under the ringside mat and then delivers a splash off the top rope. Necro takes Bobby Cruise’s shoe off and uses it as a weapon. Back in the ring Necro hits the chair slam for a two-count. Necro tries to hit Steen in the head with the chair but Steen blocks it and hits a Codebreaker, and then hits the front-flip legdrop, all chair-assisted, and gets two. They spill back to the floor and Necro fights back, dropping Steen crotch-first on the barricade. Necro sets up some chairs and takes Steen to the apron. Steen fights back and sends Necro reeling onto the chairs. He goes for a somersault dive but Necro moves and Steen crashes through the chairs. Ouch. Back in the ring Necro covers but only gets two. A neckbreaker on the chairs gets another two-count. Necro sets the chairs back up and hits the backbreaker but Steen kicks out again! He takes Steen up to the top rope but Steen fights out and slams Necro off the top and right onto a chair. Steen puts the chair on top of Necro and hits the Swanton but it only gets two! He hits two superkicks, and then Necro challenges him to blast him in the head with a chair. Steen obliges, and Necro actually shrugs it off and asks for another one, so Steen kicks him in the nuts and then hits the Package Piledriver on a chair to get the win at 14:41. Some rampant no-selling aside this was a fun garbage brawl and the finish was cute.
Rating: ***

MATCH #12: Number One Contenders Tournament Semifinals – Kevin Steen vs. Bryan Danielson, Eye of the Storm, 2.22.08

Danielson beat Rocky Romero and Steen beat Delirious to get to the semifinals. They start with some mat wrestling and trade holds. No one can gain an advantage in the early going. Danielson does his best to keep the larger, more powerful Steen on the mat. Tempers flare as Danielson takes a couple of shots at Steen’s ear, which angers the big Canadian. Steen traps Danielson’s leg in the ropes, giving himself some time to recover before going after the limb. After several minutes Danielson fires up with a series of elbows and a suplex. Danielson goes for the diving headbutt but Steen rolls out of the way and tries a spinning toehold but gets kicked off and Danielson rolls him up for two. Steen hits a powerbomb and then goes for the Sharpshooter but Danielson kicks out of it, so he hits a superkick instead for two. Danielson blocks a Package Piledriver attempt and puts on an armbar, and then adds a series of elbows to the head. Steen escapes and hits a superkick and the Pumphandle Neckbreaker for a two-count. He traps Danielson in the Tree of Woe and follows him in with a Cannonball. After a struggle Steen is able to cinch in the Sharpshooter and Danielson taps out at 14:40. With a title match coming up tomorrow night that was a wise move by Danielson and a bit of an upset for Steen. They kept it basic but the psychology was sound and the finish was perfect.
Rating: ***½

MATCH #13: Number One Contenders Tournament Finals – Kevin Steen vs. Go Shiozaki, Eye of the Storm, 2.22.08

This is Shiozaki’s first night as a regular member of the roster, and he beat Necro Butcher and El Generico to get here. Steen beat Delirious and Bryan Danielson. Shiozaki attacks right away and they trade strikes. The fight spills to the apron, where Shiozaki hits a hard DDT. Shiozaki takes control and starts wearing Steen down. Dave Prazak has Artie in his earpiece, noting that Bryan Danielson will be ready to go for his title match tomorrow night in New York City. Shiozaki targets the knee, just as Steen did in his match against Danielson. After several minutes Steen fights back with a neckbreaker, and then targets that area for destruction. They take it to the floor and Steen hits a Frog Splash off the guardrail. Back in the ring Steen covers and gets a two-count. They take it up to the top rope and Shiozaki hits a super rana. That doesn’t faze Steen, as the two men trade superkicks. Shiozaki hits a fisherman buster but Steen pops up again and hits a nasty release German Suplex, which Shiozaki shrugs off. They try clotheslining each other but they’re both too fired up to go down. Steen hits an enziguiri and Shiozaki responds with a big lariat and a bridging German Suplex for two. Shiozaki goes up and hits a beautiful moonsault for a two-count. Steen responds with a Package Piledriver, which Shiozaki straight kicks out of. I don’t approve of that. Steen hits a couple of lariats and a second Package Piledriver and that one is enough to get the pin at 15:26. They had a solid structure for the match but both guys seemed a little gassed since it was their third match of the evening, which prevented it from kicking into a higher gear. I also think one Package Piledriver should be enough to finish anyone, but since it was Shiozaki’s first night I guess they wanted to make sure he looked strong.
Rating: ***¼

El Generico comes out to celebrate with his tag team partner. Steen puts Shiozaki over and makes sure to get a handshake.

MATCH #14: Kevin Steen & El Generico vs. Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino, Dragon Gate Challenge II, 3.28.08

They waste no time getting this one underway. Doi pairs off with Steen in the ring while Yoshino and Generico briefly battle on the floor. The match settles down and tags are made. Obviously the pace gets real quick real fast, as these are two of the fastest men in the business. Neither team can gain an advantage in the early going until the Muscle Outlaws isolate Generico and starts wearing him down with their awesome double-teaming. Doi and Yoshino focus on Generico’s midsection, keeping him away from tagging Steen. Finally Generico is able to fight back with a Blue Thunder Driver on Yoshino. The tag is made and Steen is a house afire. Steen knocks Doi to the floor and catches Yoshino with a powerslam for two. The referee loses control a bit as Doi fights back on Steen and sends him to the floor. Generico and Yoshino battle again and Yoshino hits a nice inverted DDT for two. Doi sneaks in the ring and hits Generico with Doi 555 and Steen comes in to hit him with a superkick. Steen then sends Yoshino to the floor. Generico hits Doi with the swinging DDT, and Steen follows with the Pumphandle Neckbreaker for two. This one is getting out of hand. Yoshino traps Generico in From Jungle and Steen breaks it up. The referee has lost control as all four men are going at it in the ring. Yoshino hits Generico with Torbellino and Doi follows with the Bakatare Sliding Kick for two. Steen uses his power to take control, throwing the Outlaws around. He goes up top and winds up hitting Yoshino with a super gutbuster and then the Swanton, and Generico follows with a Superfly Splash and despite what the crowd thinks it only gets a two-count. Now Generico goes for the Super Brainbuster but Doi breaks it up and the Outlaws hit a Doomsday Sling Blade for a near-fall. Steen tosses Doi to the floor and takes him out with a dive. Generico hits Yoshino with a half-nelson suplex for two, and then hits the Brainbuster but again only gets two. He goes up for the Super Brainbuster but Yoshino shoves him down. Steen comes in and pulls Yoshino into the Package Piledriver and then rolls him right into the Generico Brainbuster to get the pin at 17:37. That was an awesome, non-stop piece of tag team wrestling from two of the best teams in the world at the time.
Rating: ****¼

MATCH #15: ROH World Title Match – Kevin Steen vs. Nigel McGuinness, Injustice, 4.12.08

Nigel has been the Champion since 10.6.07, and this is his eleventh defense. These two have an immediate hatred for each other that shines through the opening “handshake.” Steen goes for an early Sharpshooter so Nigel takes a powder. Back in the ring Nigel tries a Jawbreaker Lariat but Steen simply walks out of the way and then mocks the champion before throwing him to the floor and wiping him out with a somersault dive. Nigel comes back and whips Steen into the barricade. Back in the ring Nigel goes to work on the arm and shoulder, as he is known to do. Steen comes back and targets the back. He hits a DDT and the front-flip legdrop for two. Lenny Leonard adds a nice little tidbit, noting that Steen hasn’t lost a singles match since October 5, 2007, when he narrowly lost to then-ROH Champion Takeshi Morishima. Even with that fact now being known, Nigel comes back and goes to work on the shoulder again, both in and out of the ring. Steen withstands a great deal of punishment and is able to come back with two cannonballs in the corner. He tries the Sharpshooter but Nigel kicks off. Nigel throws Steen into the corner and hits a running European Uppercut and a big lariat for two. He goes for the Tower of London but Steen pushes him away and hits a high cross body block for two. Undeterred, Nigel goes back to the shoulder and almost puts on the London Dungeon but Steen wriggles out. Nigel goes up top and Steen slams him down. Steen puts on the Sharpshooter but Nigel reaches the ropes. He slams the champion and goes up top but Nigel knocks him down and hits the Tower of London for two. Nigel puts an insane amount of pressure on the arm and shoulder. Steen is able to slip out and try the Sharpshooter but once again Nigel reaches the ropes. Nigel is able to position Steen to hit the Tower of London out on the floor and Steen looks out. Back in the ring Nigel goes for another Tower of London but tries a superplex instead and Steen reverses the momentum and falls on top for a near-fall. Steen hits a big superkick and goes up top to hit the Swanton but Nigel just barely kicks out. He tries the Package Piledriver but Nigel blocks it and tries the Jawbreaker, but Steen catches him in the ropes and pulls him out for the Sharpshooter! That was awesome. Nigel reaches the ropes yet again. Steen hits the Pumphandle Neckbreaker and goes for the Package Piledriver again but Nigel counters to a folding press and uses the ropes for extra leverage to get the win at 21:33. These two are great opponents and they did a lot of cool reversals of each other’s moves. The psychology was sound and the clever finish easily lends itself to rematches.
Rating: ****

MATCH #16: ROH World Title Match – Kevin Steen vs. Nigel McGuinness, Northern Navigation, 7.25.08

Nigel has been the Champion since 10.6.07, and this is his eighteenth defense. He also defended the title against Steen at Injustice and Return Engagement in April. They start off slowly, since they know each other so well from their prior two title matches. Nigel of course goes after the arm and shoulder. Steen fires back and they slug at each other for a bit and when Nigel tries the Jawbreaker Lariat Steen simply strolls out of the way, and then mocks the champion. They spill to the floor and Steen takes control. Steen goes up to the barricade for the Frog Splash, but Nigel slams him right onto the ring apron! That was sick and I don’t think I’ve ever seen that before. Back in the ring Nigel wisely goes to work on the back. Steen tries to fight up but he took a ridiculous bump on the apron there and Nigel is just relentless on him. Finally after a long beating, Steen comes back with a flurry of right hands and a huge cannonball in the corner. Nigel throws Steen into the turnbuckle but Steen turns right around and hits a lariat for two. Steen goes for the Package Piledriver but can’t hit it, instead hitting a powerbomb for a near-fall. He goes up top and Nigel knocks him down and tries the Tower of London, but Steen reverses that to the Sharpshooter! Nigel reaches the ropes, and then bails to the floor to bait Steen into the Tower of London. Back in the ring Nigel can only get two. Nigel follows up with a lariat but again only gets a two-count. He hits the Codswallop Combo and then another Tower of London but still can’t put Steen away. The frustrated champion then goes for the Ultimate Insult, locking Steen in the Sharpshooter. Steen reaches the ropes. Nigel goes for the lariat off the top rope but Steen dumps him to the floor and follows him out with a springboard somersault senton. Damn son! Back in the ring Steen tries the Swanton and hits nothing but knees. Even so Steen is able to put the Sharpshooter on and Nigel reaches the ropes. Back on their feet Steen hits a superkick and the pumphandle neckbreaker but only gets two. Steen tries the Moonsault but misses. Nigel tries the Jawbreaker but Steen hits a lariat instead. Steen hits the Package Piledriver but Nigel kicks out at two. Some moves just shouldn’t be kicked out of and I feel like that’s one of them. Steen hits another clothesline for another two-count. He signals for another Package Piledriver but Nigel slips out and hits a huge lariat for two. Nigel follows with a short-arm Lariat for two. Finally Nigel connects with the Jawbreaker but Steen kicks out! Steen gets a small package from out of nowhere for two, but then runs right into another Lariat. Nigel then hits the top rope Lariat to retain the title at 30:58. That was a little bit long but the crowd stayed with them the entire way and both men played their roles to perfection. If they had cut out a few finishers and maybe three or four minutes it would have been really great.
Rating: ****

MATCH #17: Kevin Steen & El Generico vs. The Motor City Machine Guns, Death Before Dishonor VI, 8.2.08

Both teams show signs of feistiness before the opening bell. Sabin and Generico officially start the match. They wrestle to a standoff and Shelley tags in. Shelley takes Generico down and puts on a bow and arrow. Generico comes back with a headscissors and a couple of leg lariats. Shelley comes back and tags Sabin. The Guns are going to work on the arm. Generico backs Sabin into the corner and makes the tag. Sabin takes Steen down with a headscissors and the Guns double team him. Steen quickly makes a comeback and now he and Generico work over Sabin over. Shelley and Steen get into a bodily fluid war and the referee has to break it up. Sabin fires up with a chop but Steen hits one of his own. Generico comes back in and hits a backbreaker for two. Shelley comes in the ring illegally to take the advantage on Generico. The Guns put their opponents in simultaneous submission holds and generally dominate. They cut the ring in half and keep Steen out of the ring. After several minutes Generico reverses a double team and sends Sabin’s head into Shelley’s groin. Before he can make the tag Sabin pulls Steen off the apron from the floor. Generico hangs on and finally rolls through to make the tag. Steen is on fire, throwing Sabin on his back and delivering a senton on Shelley. He hits a spinning side slam for a two-count. Sabin tries a rana but Steen catches him in a powerbomb and locks on the Sharpshooter. Steen superkicks Shelley to the floor and reapplies the Sharpshooter; Generico wipes Shelley out with a dive. Sabin reaches the ropes to break the hold. Steen goes up top and Shelley hits him with a Super Chinbreaker. Sabin then launches Generico into Steen in the corner. The Guns hit their little kick combination for a two-count. Sabin goes to the top rope and Generico pushes Shelley into the corner to knock him down. Generico hits Shelley with a Michinoku Driver and then the running Yakuza in the corner. He goes for another running Yakuza but Sabin trails him and hits one of his own. Sabin tries the Cradle Shock but Steen breaks it up and hits a pumphandle neckbreaker. Both Steen and Generico climb opposite corners but the Guns break up their offense. Shelley hits Steen with the Air Raid Crash for two. Sabin hits Generico with a rana, sending him crashing into Steen, and Shelley follows with a frog splash for two. The Guns go for the assisted Sliced Bread #2 and Generico fights his way out of it. Steen runs in and hits Sabin with the Cannonball and locks on the Sharpshooter. Generico knocks Shelley out with a super Brainbuster and Sabin taps out at 19:50. That was not so surprisingly a great tag team match with awesome work from all involved.
Rating: ****

MATCH #18: Kevin Steen vs. Jigsaw, Age of Insanity, 8.15.08

Jigsaw is without his mask at this point. Steen takes the early advantage with his superior power, knocking Jigsaw down with a couple of shoulder tackles. Jigsaw tries to fight back with his speed and agility, but Steen cuts him off with a powerbomb. Steen continues the advantage, keeping Jigsaw on the mat. Jigsaw fights back with a dropkick and a DDT for a two-count. He goes to the second rope but Steen stops him, but Jigsaw is actually able to pull Steen down with a rack bomb for a close near-fall. Steen comes back with the pumphandle neckbreaker for two. He goes for the Package Piledriver but Jigsaw slips out and hits a superkick. Jigsaw goes for a Code Red but Steen counters with a nice backbreaker. Steen then hits the Swanton across the back to get the win at 7:38. This was a fine opener to get the crowd going in Cleveland, but I’m not sure why it made a Best of compilation.
Rating: **

MATCH #19: Kevin Steen vs. Kenny King, Night of the Butcher II, 8.16.08

This is another opening match, this one from Chicago Ridge. These are two very arrogant competitors, albeit in different ways. They slap each other to try and establish dominance, as Lenny Leonard notes that King is part of the YRR faction in FIP, and is also one half of the FIP Tag Team Champions. Steen dominates with his power, even withstanding King snapping his neck off the top rope. King fights back with a spinebuster and an elbow drop for two. He follows up on offense, choking Steen with his boot and hitting a clothesline for a one-count. A backbreaker gets a two-count, and King jaws with the crowd, wasting valuable time. As he wastes more time talking to the camera, Steen comes charging in with a Cannonball. Steen hits a powerbomb for two, and turns it right into the Sharpshooter, but King blocks that. They fight up on the top rope and King hits the high enziguiri, and then follows it up with a swank Blockbuster for a two-count. King goes for another backbreaker but Steen counters to a schoolboy rollup for two. Steen hits the Pumphandle Neckbreaker. He tries the Package Piledriver but King slips out, only to get trapped in the Sharpshooter, which is enough for Steen to get the victory at 7:26. That was another decent opener and another curious choice for a Best of.
Rating: **½

MATCH #20: ROH World Tag Team Title Match – Kevin Steen & El Generico vs. Tyler Black & Jimmy Jacobs, Driven 2008, 9.19.08

Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black have been the champions since 6.6.08, and this is their fourth defense. They actually won the titles by beating Steen and Generico in a tournament final in Hartford at Up For Grabs, and this is finally the rematch. All four men start the match in the ring and the challengers soon clear the champions out. Jacobs and Generico start the match proper, and Jacobs quickly tags out to Black. Steen also gets tagged in pretty quickly. Black and Steen trade holds and the challengers take control. The crowd is heavily into Steen and Generico here. Jacobs makes a blind tag but Generico is able to thwart him anyway and the challengers remain in control. Black takes a cheap shot and he and Generico trade maneuvers for a minute until Steen gets tagged back in. They isolate on Black and then Jacobs in their half of the ring and make some quick tags. Black kicks Generico in the back when he bounces off the ropes and he gets tagged in and goes on offense. He tries a headlock but Generico reverses it to a back suplex for two. Steen hits a lariat for two. Generico goes to the top rope and Jacobs grabs his ankle. The momentary distraction allows Black to take control of the situation. He and Jacobs work Generico over in their half of the ring, and even outside the ring as well. Keeping Generico from making the tag is the primary concern of the ROH World Tag Team Champions. Generico avoids their attacks and makes hot tag to Steen finally. He nails Jacobs with a powerbomb onto the ring apron. Back in the ring Steen hits a pump-handle neckbreaker for two. He tries the moonsault but misses, and Black tags Jacobs in. Jacobs comes right in and locks on the End Time. Generico breaks it up with a big boot and Steen rolls over with a jackknife pin for two. The champions regain control, and a combo ending with Black hitting a frog splash gets two on Steen. The match breaks down to a big brawl with all four men doing essentially whatever they want. Generico tossing Black into the air right onto Steen’s shoulders was pretty awesome. Steen hits a Swanton and Generico follows up with a Superfly splash for a near-fall. He tries the Package Piledriver but Black avoids it and hits God’s Last Gift for two. Jacobs and Generico fight outside the ring, while Black misses a Phoenix splash inside the ring. Generico comes back in and hits the running Yakuza and looks to try a super brainbuster. Jacobs forcefully dissuades him from that idea. The champions set up a top-rope Contra Code but Generico fights out of it. Steen locks the Sharpshooter on Black, but Generico can’t connect with the super brainbuster. Generico clotheslines Jacobs to the floor and wipes him out with a dive. Meanwhile Black can’t quite reach the ropes but luckily Jacobs makes it back in the ring and breaks up the hold. Jacobs and Generico get tagged in and Jacobs takes a suplex right on his neck. Generico goes for the Yakuza but Jacobs catches him with the End Time. He reveres it to a brainbuster attempt, which doesn’t quite work out for him. Some miscommunication on the Age of the Fall side leaves Jacobs taking the Package Piledriver followed up with an immediate brainbuster and we have new ROH World Tag Team Champions at 20:29. It’s too bad these teams didn’t have a longer series of matches against each other. This match was even better than the one at Up For Grabs, helped a great deal by the super hot crowd that was rabid for the challengers to unseat the champions.
Rating: ****½

The Pulse: Kevin Steen has become one of the hottest acts in Ring of Honor lately, and this two-disc set does a pretty good job illustrating why. The match selection is a pretty good cross-section of singles and tag team battles as well as heel and babyface work, plus a never before released match from 2005 against El Generico, a big bonus for collectors like me. If you like Kevin Steen or want to find out why he’s such a big deal, you should head to the ROH Store and pick this one up.

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