Alhambra Arena – Philadelphia, PA – December 26, 2008
For an easy to navigate archive of all my Ring of Honor DVD reviews, please visit RetROH Reviews.
Kyle Durden is backstage to get the first ROH interview (as far as I know) with Kenny Omega. He tries to be funny but he’s just not. His opponent for tonight, Rhett Titus, busts in and talks some trash.
Moving on, Durden finds Chris Hero backstage, who enforces his “That Young Knockout Kid” nickname. He promises to knock his opponent Erick Stevens out tonight.
We head out to the arena, where Bobby Cruise announces all the various officials and doctors for this evening. Philadelphia State Athletic Commissioner Frank Talent makes his first appearance on camera in quite a while.
MATCH #1: Kenny Omega vs. Rhett Titus
They start with some basic back and forth stuff. Omega’s response receipt for Titus jerking off his arm is worse than the original act. Astute readers will recall that I pretty much dislike everything about Kenny Omega. Titus takes control with a dropkick for a near fall. He continues to control the action, keeping Omega on the ground. A tilt-a-whirl backbreaker gets two. He continues working on the back. Omega fires up and hits a couple of Polish Hammers. He lands a couple of kicks and then the leapfrog bulldog. He tries to hoist Titus up on his shoulders but his back is too damaged to hold him up there. He is able to hit the Stop Sign Enziguiri, which is without a doubt the stupidest, most contrived move in Ring of Honor, if not all of wrestling. He follows that up with the Electric Chair German Suplex to get the pin at 7:42. Titus controlled almost the entire match with his boring offense until Omega hit the finish, so there really wasn’t much to see here.
MATCH #2: Erick Stevens vs. Chris Hero
Stevens charges the ring and the fight is on. It’s all brawling at the start, as both men exchange chops and kicks. Hero tries to take a powder but Stevens follows him out and throws him around ringside. Stevens tries to get back in the ring and Sara Del Rey distracts him long enough for Hero to grab Stevens and ram his shoulder into the ring post. Hero is fully in control now, and tosses Stevens to the floor. Stevens recovers, tossing Hero into the ring post. Del Rey and Sweeney distract him once again, and Hero rams him into the barricade. He follows up with a mat-assisted senton. Back in the ring they trade strikes, and Stevens absorbs Hero’s shots and unloads some of his own. Hero comes back with an elbow strike, only to get back body dropped into the lights. Stevens hits the Choo-Choo and a shoulder-block off the second rope for two. Hero comes back with another elbow for two. Stevens gets an O’Connor roll for two, and then the capture clothesline. He goes for the Doctor Bomb and Del Rey climbs in the ring, but since she doesn’t actually touch Stevens there’s no DQ. In the distraction, Sweeney slips Hero a loaded elbow pad, which he puts on his foot. He kicks Stevens in the face with it, and that’s enough for the pin at 9:38. The match was decent enough, but it’s not like the booking of either guy right now is making them look like a threat to anything.
Brent Albright and Roderick Strong are backstage getting themselves fired up to face the NOAH contingent of Kensuke Sasaki and Katsuhiko Nakajima. It’s a good thing that Albright and Stevens competed in a gauntlet match for the right to face these guys and lost, so that Albright and Strong could face them instead. At least there’s some reason, as Strong asked for a rematch with Sasaki any way he could get it.
MATCH #3: Kensuke Sasaki & Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Roderick Strong & Brent Albright
Strong and Nakajima start it off. They take it to the mat, with Nakajima seeming to have the early advantage. They wrestle to a standoff, and then continue some back and forth chain wrestling and striking. Strong begs for Sasaki to come in the ring, and he unloads the chops to no effect. He goes over to tag in Albright. They quickly engage in a Greco-Roman Knuckle Lock, and Sasaki gets the first advantage. Albright powers back and they start trading chops. Both hit hard, so they decide to switch over to shoulder-blocks, and neither man can knock the other down that way either. Albright hits a dropkick for a near fall. Sasaki comes back with a powerslam and tags in Nakajima. He delivers a missile dropkick for a near-fall. He unloads a combination of kicks for another near-fall. He charges in and Albright catches him with a swinging backbreaker for two. Strong gets tagged back in and they double-team Nakajima as Albright forgets who the legal man is. Nakajima comes back on Albright and tags Sasaki back in. He suplexes Albright for a two-count. Nakajima comes back in to trade blows with Albright. He hits a knee in the corner and a series of slaps and kicks. Sasaki and Nakajima double team Albright, and Sasaki focuses on the knee. Strong tries to help his partner and eventually does break the hold. The NOAH team continues working over Albright’s wheels, tagging in and out to keep a fresh man in there. Sasaki whips Albright off the ropes and they clothesline each other. Both men make tags, and Strong is on fire. Sasaki makes his way back into the ring and halts Strong’s momentum. He hits a nice powerbomb for two and then locks on an arm submission. Strong recovers and tags in Albright. They double team for a moment, and then Albright hits the Air Raid Crash for two. They dump Nakajima to the floor but can’t put Sasaki away. Nakajima gets back in the ring and they brutalize Strong. He dumps Strong back to the floor and hits a dive over the ropes. Meanwhile Sasaki hits Albright with a lariat for a near-fall. Moments later the Northern Lights Bomb is enough to do the trick at 15:59. It took the fans a little bit to get into it, but they eventually did. The match just didn’t have any real flow, just moves going back and forth for a while. It was fine for what it was I guess.
Larry Sweeney is backstage with his American Wolves. Richards has developed personality over the years; Edwards is still a blank slate.
MATCH #4: Takeshi Morishima vs. Go Shiozaki
Shiozaki is six days removed from dropping the FIP World Title to Tyler Black. I miss Morishima. Shiozaki attacks right away and knocks Morishima down with one chop and then sends him to the floor. He rams the former ROH World Champion’s head into the steel post twice. Back in the ring it’s all Shiozaki, surprisingly. He works Morishima over and puts him in the Tree of Woe. Morishima finally fires up and lands a series of strikes. Shiozaki comes back and tries a Piledriver but can’t hit it. Morishima takes control now and throws Shiozaki to the floor. Shiozaki’s back gets cut open by the barricade, so he takes his time getting back into the ring. When he does Morishima takes control and keeps Shiozaki down. Shiozaki makes the comeback and hits a Fisherman’s Buster after several attempts. He still can’t hit the Piledriver though, and winds up taking all of Morishima’s weight down on his chest. Morishima hits a missile dropkick. A running clothesline in the corner and a uranage gets two. Morishima goes back to the top rope and Shiozaki stops him and hits a superplex. A clothesline by Shiozaki gets two. Morishima tries the flying hip attack but Shiozaki grabs him in a German Suplex. A couple of shots to the head area gets another two-count for Shiozaki. He goes up for a moonsault but Morishima grabs him in a powerbomb for a near-fall. Morishima withstands Shiozaki’s strikes and hits a lariat of his own. He follows up with the Back Drop Driver and that’s good enough for a pin at 11:31. I was hoping for something along the lines of Morishima versus Shingo from Chicago, and even though it didn’t quite reach that it was fun.
MATCH #5: Three Way Elimination Match – Nigel McGuinness & Claudio Castagnoli vs. Jay & Mark Briscoe vs. The American Wolves
Nigel and Jay start the match. They chain wrestle for a bit before Nigel aggressively tags Richards into the match. Richards takes control of Jay, but the momentum switches to the Briscoes when Edwards gets tagged in. Mark follows the apparent tagging rule for this match, as he aggressively tags the ROH World Champion into the match. The Wolves try to double-team him in their corner so the champion wisely takes a powder. Back in the ring Nigel wants no part of Richards, so he tags Jay into the match. The E.U. lets the Wolves take control of the Briscoes before weaseling their way back into the match. They work over Jay for a while before he makes the comeback. The Briscoes try the springboard Doomsday Device on Claudio but Davey breaks that up from the floor, further injuring Mark’s bad knee. Claudio hits a pop-up European Uppercut on Jay, but he’s unaware that Edwards made the blind tag, and Edwards rolls Claudio up to eliminate him and Nigel at 10:33! Man, Claudio jobs to everybody. Nigel is unhappy about this development. An angry Claudio grabs the timekeeper with that ridiculous mustache and throws him into the first row.
Back in the ring we’re down to the Briscoes versus the Wolves, and they’re working on Mark’s weakened knee. After several minutes of abuse Mark makes the hot tag to Jay, and he cleans house on the Wolves. A Death Valley Driver on Richards only gets two. The Wolves use some double teaming to reclaim the advantage. Edwards hits the backpack chin-breaker for two. Does that move have a name? The Wolves use more double teaming, and even try the springboard Doomsday Device. The Briscoes won’t allow that though, and break it up. Moments later Jay hits the Jay Driller and the Briscoes pick up the win at 18:57. That was a fun match with a variety of styles and it came together pretty well. I don’t like the name “American Wolves” but I think they can be an effective tag team, especially if Edwards can develop some sort of personality.
Naomichi Marufuji gets some promo time backstage to hype his upcoming match with Austin Aries. Thanks to the interviewer for translating.
MATCH #6: Naomichi Marufuji vs. Austin Aries
Both men are over with the crowd, and they start cautiously. They take it to the mat early on and play fair. They trade holds and reversals with neither man gaining a clear-cut advantage. Aries is able to take Marufuji down and lock on the Last Chancery, but he’s too close to the ropes and Marufuji rolls to the floor. Back in the ring Marufuji is able to land a Superkick that knocks Aries to the floor. Back in the ring it’s more back and forth, with both men exhibiting their skills. They exchange chops in the corner and Marufuji gets the better of it by nailing Aries in the nose. He continues to work on the face. Aries tries fighting back but Marufuji is able to maintain control. He puts Aries in the Tree of Woe, but Aries avoids the coast-to-coast dropkick. He hits a neckbreaker against the ropes, and then continues going to work on the neck. Back in the ring that trend continues. Marufuji makes a brief comeback but Aries cuts him off with a nice dropkick to the face. Aries for some reason starts jawing with the fans, which gives Marufuji the opening he needed to make the comeback. He hits a Superkick for two. Aries comes back with an STO and the Power Drive Elbow for two. He throws Marufuji to the floor and tries the Heat Seeking Missile, but Marufuji kicks him in the face. He follows up with another running dropkick and a slingshot elbow back into the ring for two. He tries the Shiranui but Aries avoids it. Aries hits a Crucifix Bomb and Marufuji rolls to the floor. This time Aries hits the Missile and Marufuji looks like he took it hard, that’s what she said. Back in the ring Aries hits the knee strikes and locks on the Last Chancery. Aries just releases the hold for some reason and then goes for the brainbuster. Marufuji avoids that but can’t avoid the shin-breaker/belly-to-back suplex combo. Aries then hits two running dropkicks in the corner. He then goes for a Super Brainbuster but Marufuji drops him down and hits a variation of the Curb Stomp off the top rope. He follows up with a springboard dropkick for a near-fall. He tries the Shiranui but Aries once again avoids it. Marufuji hits a series of three Superkicks and then hits a move that Prazak doesn’t have a name for (I HATE THAT) and gets the win at 20:06. The match had some really good stuff in it but both of them seemed slightly off at certain points. Luckily those two being off is still better than a lot of guys.
Prince Nana once again makes an appearance, begging Cary Silkin for a job. The crowd gives him an enthusiastic recommendation.
MATCH #7: Kevin Steen, El Generico & Necro Butcher vs. The Age of The Fall
Age of the Fall is represented tonight by Jimmy Jacobs, Tyler Black, and Delirious. The fans are still chanting “Next World Champ” at Black at this point. Oh if they only knew what ROH management had in store for him. Daizee Haze comes out with the good guys, as she usually does. Jacobs tries to stall, but the good guys will have none of it. The match starts as a big brawl on the floor, with everyone pairing off with an opponent, Generico and Black being the first two actually in the ring. The match is still a bit out of control, and finally settles down when the AOTF isolates Steen in their corner. Steen makes the comeback on Delirious and they take over on him in their corner. They beat him up for a while, but Delirious is able to tag in Black, who goes to work on Generico. Steen soon gets tagged in and now Black is being worked on in the corner. Generico comes back in and Black rams him into the corner and the AOTF take control again. He gets beat up on for quite a while before making the hot tag to Steen, and the crowd wakes up. The match breaks down into a brawl and the referee isn’t even trying to control it. Delirious is about to spike Necro, but Daizee Haze comes in and stops him, and he drops the spike. Necro then choke-slams Delirious and somersaults off the top rope onto his opponents. The tag champions then get back in the ring and go for the Package Piledriver / Brainbuster combo, but the American Wolves come out and break it up and hit Steen in the knee with a pipe, all behind the referee’s back. Jacobs takes his chance to lock on the End Time on Steen, who can’t escape and has to tap out at 15:30. That had some decent action and stuff, but it never felt like there was any real heat between anybody here.
MATCH #8: Bryan Danielson vs. Jerry Lynn
ROH World Champion Nigel McGuinness has joined the commentary team. The match starts off with both men tentatively trying to secure a hold on his opponent. Danielson gets an early advantage, but a series of reversals sees both men tumbling to the floor. They get back in the ring and start all over with a lockup. They do some more back and forth that leads to another standoff. Yes, really. More reversals lead to another standoff, and then Danielson starts going after the leg. Lynn powers up and they trade reversals once again and it’s another stalemate. Danielson avoids a springboard body press and hits a running knee strike for two. He switches gears and starts working on Lynn’s arm, likely to set up for Cattle Mutilation, and perhaps to help thwart the Cradle Piledriver. They do the rolling fish out of water spot, and neither man is able to even get a one-count on his opponent. Both men are dizzy but back to their feet. They simultaneously try cross body blocks and both men are down once again. They get back t o their feet and Lynn goes on offense. He gets a few moves in, and then Danielson uses his legs to pull Lynn to the floor. Danielson follows him out with a big dive through the ropes and both men are down. Back in the ring Danielson tries a Missile Dropkick but Lynn (sort of) grabs his leg and catapults Danielson to the floor. Lynn now follows him out with a dive and both men are down. They get back in the ring and Lynn hits a cross body off the ropes for two. Danielson makes a brief comeback but Lynn shuts him down with a Cross-Face Chicken Wing. Lynn can’t coax a submission though, and Danielson reaches the ropes. Danielson avoids the Stupid Jerry Lynn Legdrop and hits a springboard knee strike. He follows up with a German Suplex with a bridge for two, and rolls it over into Cattle Mutilation. Danielson rolls it over in the elbow strikes but Lynn won’t give in. Lynn powers out of the hold and drops Danielson with a sort of inverted Gory Bomb. He tries the Cradle Piledriver, but Danielson plays possum and locks on a triangle choke. Lynn escapes that and Danielson gets a jackknife cradle for two. A powerbomb by Lynn gets two. Lynn once again tries the Cradle Piledriver and Danielson counters it to the Triangle Choke. Unfortunately for Danielson, Lynn makes the ropes. Danielson sets Lynn on the top rope but Lynn counters to a sunset bomb for two. Both men get up and trade maneuvers once again. They reverse each other’s small package, but on third reversal, Danielson is able to hold Lynn down for the win at 26:28. That was way too long for Jerry Lynn these days. The ending got pretty hot (even if I hate the finish), but this isn’t what I want to see in a main event. The first 10-12 minutes was all just standoff spots and that stuff went out of style years ago. And there’s no reason for Lynn to be portrayed as being on even ground with “the best in the world.” Sometimes it’s okay for guys to lose, and Lynn losing to Danielson would be one of those instances. Not everybody has to always be equal. Danielson gets on the mic to put Lynn over, and Lynn gets to speak his piece as well.