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Toronto, Ontario – July 25, 2009
We open backstage with D-Lo Brown, who was talking to his wife on the phone. He cuts the usual stupid promo, making me wonder what anyone thought bringing D-Lo Brown in would do for anyone. Did he gave one good match or cut one good promo?
MATCH #1: Kevin Steen & El Generico vs. The Super Smash Brothers
Steen and Player Dos start the match. They go back and forth a little bit, with Steen using his size and power to his advantage. Generico and Player Uno get tagged and it’s a battle of masked men! The back and forth continues, and once again tags are made. Steen is all over Dos, and along with Generico they double-team him in their half of the ring. The Smash Brothers creatively use the referee to take the advantage. Generico fights back with a chinbreaker and then tags Steen. The Smash Brothers work in tandem to control the much larger opponent. Steen comes back using his power, catching Dos and using him to kick Uno down, and then hitting Dos with a backbreaker. The former ROH World Tag Team Champions are dismantling Dos here. Dos ducks a double clothesline and hits a simultaneous Pele Kick. He makes the tag and Uno is all over Generico. He hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and then tosses Steen to the floor. He hits an electric chair neckbreaker for two. The Smash Brothers start throwing out double teams maneuvers but can’t put Generico away. The crowd generously chants “this is awesome.” Generico comes back with a Michinoku Driver for two. Steen gets tagged and goes for the Swanton but Does gets his knees up and Uno comes in with a double stomp to the back of the head. Generico comes in with a running Yakuza kick on Uno and then a release German Suplex, and Dos is able to land on Generico at exactly the right time with a splash. Steen grabs Dos with a powerbomb and then turns it into the Sharpshooter. Uno breaks it up and makes the tag. Steen hits Uno with a superkick but misses the moonsault and hurts his knee. Generico flies in out of nowhere and hits the running Yakuza and Steen follows up with the Swanton but Uno kicks out at two! Steen goes for the Package Piledriver but his knee is too injured. Dos flies off the top rope with Evan Bourne knees and Uno gets a jackknife rollup for the big upset victory at 15:54. That was a surprisingly good opener, as the Smash Brothers kept the cutesy stuff down and just wrestled a good tag match.
MATCH #2: Frankie the Mobster vs. Bison Smith
I do believe Frankie the Mobster is one of the weirdest wrestlers I’ve ever seen on an ROH show. Bison Smith is of course accompanied by Prince Nana. Smith immediately takes the fight to Mobster. Shockingly Mobster comes back with a clothesline and a big boot to take Smith off his feet. He also hits an exploder suplex for two. He hits a dropkick off the second rope for another two-count. A vertical suplex gets Mobster another two. Smith comes back with a big lariat. He locks Mobster in the Claw and hurls him to the floor. This is turning into a slaughter and I love it. Smith throws Mobster back in the ring, and Mobster surprises him with a dropkick to the face and a suicide dive. Both men are down in the aisle. They get back to their feet and Smith throws Mobster into the crowd and then sails over the barricade to wipe him out. The crowd is actually getting behind the Mobster here. Back in the ring Senior Referee Todd Sinclair tries to hold Smith back and gets tossed aside. Mobster then gets desperate and holds on to him as a shield. Smith doesn’t care and he chops Sinclair, causing the disqualification at 8:08. I’m not sure what the point of this was, and it’s depressing to see ROH do nothing at all interesting with Bison Smith.
Claudio Castagnoli is near a landfill, which he compares to Brent Albright, who is the biggest piece of trash in ROH. He promises to take out the trash tonight and win the European Rules match.
MATCH #3: Toronto Gauntlet – Featuring D-Lo Brown, Davey Richards, Sonjay Dutt, Necro Butcher, Jimmy Rave, and Jerry Lynn
I keep time in gauntlet matches running, for anybody who might wonder. D-Lo Brown and Jerry Lynn start it off. Brown grabs Lynn as he’s making his entrance and hits the Orton DDT. He controls the action and fights off Lynn’s comeback attempts. He hits a diving clothesline for a two-count. He goes up top and misses the Lo-Down. Lynn hits a series of clotheslines and a crucifix bomb to eliminate Brown at 3:20. That was sudden.
Sonjay Dutt is the next man out. He hits a springboard Thesz Press and a standing shooting star press for two. He does the Jarrett strut, of course. The commentators take pointless shots at Jeff Jarrett while Lynn catches Dutt in a spinning backbreaker. Dutt comes back with a slingshot legdrop and a springboard splash for a two-count. A contrived series of reversals leads to Lynn hitting the TKO for two. Moments later Lynn hits the Cradle Piledriver to eliminate Dutt at 7:19.
Next up is Jimmy Rave with Prince Nana. Despite getting pelted with toilet paper, Rave hits a running knee for a two-count. They go to the floor and Rave whips Lynn into the barricade. Back in the Rave gets another near-fall and then locks on a chinlock. Lynn slips out of a bodyslam and hits an inverted DDT. He hits a regular DDT for a two-count. He goes for the Cradle Piledriver but Rave avoids it and hits Ghanarrhea to eliminate the former ROH World Champion at 10:27.
Necro Butcher is next, and Rave doesn’t look too happy since these men have had issues. In a huge shock, the battle quickly spills to the floor with Necro in control. He throws Rave into the post. Necro moves some of the mats outside the ring and slams Rave down. He throws Rave and a chair into the ring, but when he tries to join them, Nana grabs his foot and hangs on as Necro is counted out at 13:05. Referee Paul Turner looked like he kind of didn’t know what was going on there. A frustrated Necro blasts timekeeper Giuseppe di Lorento with a steel chair and starts tearing up ringside. Meanwhile Jimmy Rave just hangs out in the ring.
The last entrant is Davey Richards. He immediately comes in and hits Rave with the handspring spin kick. This is a rekindling of Richards’s first feud in ROH way back in 2006. Richards locks on the Texas Cloverleaf. Rave reaches the ropes. Richards is bouncing off the walls here, like it’s some kind of MMA fight or something. AMERICAN WOLVES! They trade strikes and Rave hits an STO for two. Rave looks for a superplex but Richards knocks him down and grunts some more. Richards tries a dropkick but Rave catches him with a powerbomb and the running knee strike for two. Rave locks on the Heel Hook, and Richards stays in it for a while and then easily gets out, thus killing the move forever. Richards also doesn’t sell the leg at all when gets up and goes for a kick. Rave ducks and rolls him up for two, and then Richards rolls that into an arm submission. That doesn’t get a submission, and Rave rolls through and reapplies the Ankle Lock. Richards reaches the ropes. He hits a kick to the face and hops up to the top rope for a missile dropkick, really selling that leg. That gets a two-count. Richards grunts more and calls for the DR Driver. Rave slips out but gets hit with the Alarm Clock and a clothesline. Richards then hits the DR Driver, but Rave kicks out at two. Rave can’t escape the Kimura Lock though, and Richards wins the Toronto Gauntlet at 21:09. Gauntlet matches are really hard to do really well.
The Nature Boy Comes to Toronto
This is Flair’s last ROH appearance. He tells some old story about Toronto and Niagara Falls. He says “Canadian Women Can Go.” He puts over The Ring of Honor and the locker room. If you saw one Flair promo in ROH you saw them all.
MATCH #4: European Rules – Claudio Castagnoli vs. Brent Albright
Castagnoli is accompanied by Prince Nana. I really don’t feel like recapping all the ridiculous rules right here (I’ll explain them when necessary). It’s basically a more complicated version of Pure Title rules, with rounds. I do find it funny when Cruise says one of the rules is “no standing eight-counts” someone in the crowd rightfully asks “what the hell does that mean?” You know Albright means business because he’s wearing his hat backwards.
They trade forearms to start round one. Albright is fully in control, countering all of Castagnoli’s attacks. Both guys look like they’re moving in slow motion. Albright clotheslines Castagnoli to the floor and follows him out with a dive. The bell rings to end round one, and now we go into the 30-second rest period and there can’t be any contact during said rest period.
Albright charges to begin round two and they back into the corner. Castagnoli hits a closed fist behind the referee’s back, which would have earned him a yellow card if the referee saw it. He peppers in a few more punches, and Albright comes back with a belly-to-back suplex. Albright locks on the Crowbar and Castagnoli reaches the ropes. They go back and forth some more, and Castagnoli hits another closed fist behind the referee’s back. Albright fires back with a right hand and gets tagged with a yellow card right at the end of round two. Castagnoli takes the yellow card in order to clothesline Albright from behind. That’s awesome.
Back in the ring Castagnoli keeps Albright grounded. Albright has a cut on his forehead. Albright catches Castagnoli with a uranage and round three is over. Well there certainly wasn’t much to say about that round.
Albright is fired up now and he unloads on Castagnoli, hitting a belly-to-belly suplex, a forearm in the corner and a lariat. Castagnoli tries a springboard European Uppercut but Albright catches him with a backbreaker. Albright hits a Half Nelson Suplex and locks on the Crowbar. Nana distracts the referee and Jimmy Rave runs out, allowing Castagnoli to get a schoolboy for the pin at 12:24. Albright gets his non-existent heat back by beating up Rave, Joey Ryan, and Bison Smith. They overtake him and then Colt Cabana, Necro Butcher, and Grizzly Redwood come out and make the save. That was a dull match with confusing rules and a lame, weak, hackneyed finish. And that’s coming from someone who thinks Claudio Castagnoli is the best thing in ROH today. What a difference a year makes for Brent Albright at Death Before Dishonor, no?
The camera follows Albright to the locker room to get a few words with him. He says that he proved he can beat Castagnoli in his own match, so he wants Castagnoli to face him in His match – a Steel Cage!
MATCH #5: Tyler Black vs. Tyson Dux
Dux uses Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” for entrance music, which is a great song but terrible entrance music, and I don’t get how it would relate to him at all. I like that Tyler Black is not afraid to show that he loves Harry Potter. Black was originally scheduled to face Nigel McGuinness, but he got injured last night so Dux is filling in. They start off slowly, as Dux is a newcomer to ROH and didn’t even know he’d be wrestling, and Black had prepared to face another wrestler. Dux seems a little more prepared and works on Black with a headlock. Black comes back with a bodyslam and a face stomp, or the top of the chest according to Leonard. They take it to the apron and Black tries a springboard but Dux knocks him down and Black’s midsection lands on the ropes. Then Dux knocks him off the apron entirely and Black’s midsection crashes into the barricade and he falls into the crowd. Black makes it back to the ring and Dux pushes him right back out and hits a suplex. Back in the ring Dux works over the back. Out of nowhere Black nips up and hits a kick to the face. He hits a clothesline off the second rope and then a springboard lariat for two. He snaps Dux’s throat across the top rope Randy Savage style, and then hits the top rope elbow drop. Black then does my least favorite move of his, the stomping the mat before hitting the running forearm in the corner. Dux comes back with a release German Suplex, which Black no-sells, but then Dux hits a lariat and a Death Valley Driver for two. They fight up on the ropes as Dux goes for a superplex but Black escapes and they trade victory rolls for two-counts. They trade more pinning combinations until Black lands a kick to the head. Black hits God’s Last Gift for the pin at 9:13. That was a nice little midcard match that actually could have used more time.
MATCH #6: No Disqualification Match – Colt Cabana vs. Joey Ryan
Cabana cuts a long-winded promo trying to be funny. The gist of it is that Cabana challenges Ryan to make it a no-disqualification match, and since both wrestlers agree, referee Todd Sinclair has the authority to make it such.
Cabana takes the early advantage so Ryan pokes him in the eye. That goes nowhere as Cabana hits Ryan with a dropkick, sending him to the floor. Ryan tries to throw Bobby Cruise’s chair in the ring, but Cabana gives it back to him. Why would Ryan just give Cabana a chair? Ryan charges in and takes a drop toehold right into the chair. He takes a powder and Nana goes to the back. Cabana brings Ryan into the ring the hard way and does his usual. Nana comes back with a hockey stick but Cabana intercepts the handoff to Ryan. That distraction allows Ryan to hit a spear. Ryan now goes to work on Cabana kicks and punches. Ryan grabs the ring bell and tries to ring it in Cabana’s ear but no luck. Cabana picks up the bell and Ryan picks up the hammer. Ryan rings the bell and both men stop as if the match is over. Sinclair has to convince them that they need to keep wrestling. Ryan resumes control but runs into a big boot. Once again Nana uses his scarf to trip Cabana, and when Ryan charges in Cabana moves and Nana crashes to the floor. Cabana unloads with jabs and rips out some chest hair. That’s nasty. Cabana hits a backbreaker and then whips Sinclair into Ryan with a flying apple. Now Cabana runs to the back to get some garbage bags. Apparently there was some kind of garbage strike going on at the time. Anyway Cabana bashes Ryan in the head with the trash bags and then pitches him to the floor like so much garbage. He sets Ryan up on the announce table and rings the bell against Ryan’s balls. He grabs Nana’s headdress but can’t connect with it. Ryan grabs the scarf and tries to choke Cabana, but winds up getting tied up in it. Cabana gets control of the scarf and wraps it around Ryan’s head, and then puts Nana’s headdress on him. Cruise then hands Cabana his chair and he cracks Ryan in the head with it to score the pin at 12:34. I understand that many are entertained by this kind of match and I respect its place on the card, but it doesn’t do much for me.
MATCH #7: Kenny Omega, Jay & Mark Briscoe vs. Austin Aries, Kenny King & Rhett Titus
The ROH World Champion Austin Aries comes out to make fun of the fans and brag about his victory last night. He then calls out Kenny Omega to answer his challenge from last night. Aries agrees to give Omega a title match – just not yet. Kenny King and Rhett Titus run down to help Aries beat up Omega, and the Briscoe Brothers make the save. Omega cuts a brutally stupid promo, calling Aries “Anus Double” and challenging the three of them to a six man tag. The challenge is accepted.
The match starts off as a big brawl outside and inside the ring. The Briscoes are initially in control but King and Titus take Jay down and go to work on his knee. After several minutes Omega gets the tag and unloads on Titus with Canadian Hammers and a rana. Titus’s teammates try to interfere but Omega is able to thwart all three of them simultaneously. Omega spends too much time celebrating and Titus blasts him in the face with a dropkick. After several minutes of abuse, Omega blocks the IED with a boot to the face. Mark gets tagged in and he goes all Jaden Smith on the future All Night Express. The Briscoes unleash some double-teams, but the referee is having trouble controlling these six men. King and Titus come back and deliver a double-biel out of the corner on Jay. King whips Jay chest-first into the buckle and follows him in with double knees. Titus covers and gets a two-count. Aries tags in and hits mark with the Heat Seeking Missile. Jay makes a blind tag to Omega, who comes in with a cross body off the top rope for a near-fall. Aries hits a low blow behind the referee’s back and once again the referee loses control. Titus and King hit the Powerbomb/Blockbuster combo on Omega while the Briscoes hit Aries with the Doomsday Device. The tag teams slug it out now. King hits Jay with a spinebuster and King hits Mark with a clothesline. Jay recovers and hits Titus with a superkick. King hits Jay with a spin kick, but then runs right into Mark’s Ace Crusher. Whew. Mark somersaults off the top rope to wipe out King and Titus on the floor. Omega tries Croyt’s Wrath on Aries but can’t hit it. Aries hits the shinbreaker/belly-to-back suplex combo. He hits the IED and a Brainbuster, and then he pulls Omega up at two. That never ends well for heels. Predictably, Omega gets a quick small package to pin Aries at 16:09. I understand what they were going for with Omega and I’m not even against him getting the win, but that finish was just so uninspired. The match was solidly entertaining formula stuff.
After the match Aries and Titus almost get into a fight with fans over the Canadian flag. Titus is trying to rip it out of some fat guy’s hand and the guy won’t let it go and gets pretty uppity about it. I kind of hate how Omega says “thanks for coming out.” Again, I understand the intent, but you’re a professional wrestler, not playing in a high school band. Nitpicky I know, but deal with it.
MATCH #8: Lance Storm vs. Chris Hero
Storm scores the first knockdown with a shoulder block. Back on their feet they trade wristlocks and other holds on the mat. Storm seems to be one step ahead so far. He hits a dropkick that sends Hero to the floor. Hero takes his time to regroup, and when he gets back in the ring he takes Storm down in a test of strength. Storm tries a springboard elbow but Hero catches him, slams him down to the mat, and then hits a senton. Hero is firmly in control now, not being intimidated by the more experienced Storm. He throws Storm to the floor, allowing Hagadorn to take a cheap shot or two. Hero tries a baseball slide but Storm moves out of the way and unloads on Hero. He tries a whip into the barricade but Hero reverses it. Hero traps Storm underneath the ring mats and hits a senton. Back in the ring Hero continues to wear Storm down. Storm fights back with a flurry of chops and a side Russian Legsweep. He hits a couple of lariats and a leg lariat for two. He hits a springboard lariat (Tyler Black anyone?) for another two-count. Hero hits a rolling elbow out of nowhere but Storm kicks out. He goes for the Liger Bomb but Storm blocks it. They run the ropes and Hero hits a flash kick for a two-count. Storm ducks an elbow and hits a superkick for two. He then locks on the Maple Leaf but Hero reaches the ropes. Hero fights back with a shoulder to the gut and then goes up top. Storm joins him up there and hits a super powerslam (don’t see that every day) and Hero kicks out. Once again Storm goes up top and this time tries a Fog Splash but Hero moves out of the way and hits a ripcord elbow for two. Hero puts on the lucky green elbow pad and Storm gets a quick backslide for a very close near-fall. Unfortunately for Storm Hero pops up and hits two rolling elbows to get the pin at 16:46. That was a good, solid match but nothing special. Not to be rude, but that’s kind of how I feel about Storm in general.
Storm gets on the house mic to be serious for a minute. He thanks the fans for supporting him and for supporting Ring of Honor. He goes on about how great it is that Ring of Honor still has the word Wrestling in their title, but so does World Wrestling Entertainment.
The Pulse: This is not one of ROH’s stronger efforts. No matches reached higher than ***¼, which for them is a bit of an anomaly. Several of the matches fell flat, and nothing really seemed to mean much of anything. I don’t think Chris Hero got significantly more over by beating Lance Storm, or that Claudio Castagnoli got more over by cheating to beat Brent Albright in an awful match. Unless you’re a huge Lance Storm fan you can avoid this one.
Tags: Chris Hero, Death Before Dishonor, Lance Storm, Ring of Honor, ROH