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Hammerstein Ballroom – New York City, New York – March 21, 2009
We open the show with Bobby Dempsey, talking about the two open contracts Larry Sweeney put out on him. Tonight he’ll face the first mystery opponent. Dempsey cuts a weird promo about being a gunslinger and killing people. The guy just doesn’t get it does he?
Cut to KENTA working out in the ring, preparing to challenge Nigel McGuinness for the ROH World Championship tonight.
MATCH #1: Roderick Strong & Erick Stevens vs. Rhett Titus & Kenny King
King and Strong start the match. They trade holds and King levels Strong with a shoulderblock. Strong comes back with a couple of armdrags and locks on an armbar. He takes King over to the corner and tags in Stevens. Titus gets tagged in and is immediately double-teamed by his more powerful opponents. King interferes and Titus makes the tag, and the heels start working Stevens over in their corner. Stevens comes back with a powerslam on King, but his tag attempt is thwarted by Titus. Soon after Stevens makes the tag for real and Strong is on fire. The match breaks down to a brawl, and Stevens kicks King to the floor. Titus takes a bevy of signature moves from both opponents, but King breaks up the pin. King tosses Stevens to the floor and they double team Strong but can’t put him away. Stevens makes a blind tag and hits a Samoan Drop on Titus for two. King comes in the ring but for some reason goes after Strong instead of breaking up the pin. That was weird. All four men are brawling in the ring until King brings Strong to the floor. Stevens hits Titus with the leg capture clothesline and then goes after King on the top rope. Titus breaks that up with a back rake, and gets Stevens in position for the powerbomb. Strong comes back in and hits a Yakuza to knock King off the top rope. Meanwhile, Stevens hits Titus with the Doctor Bomb for the pin at 8:52. That was a good high-energy opener, but I was kind of rooting for an upset there.
MATCH #2: Brent Albright vs. Claudio Castagnoli
I’m really sad that I’m writing this review four months after this show and this feud is still going on. Claudio jumps Albright and stomps away at him. Albright fights back with chops and forearms. The battle quickly spills to the floor, and Claudio stands in place and waits for Albright to hit a slingshot dive. Back in the ring, yawn, Albright goes, yawn, on offense. Man, I just got tired for some reason. Claudio fights back and goes for the Riccola and Albright blocks and tries the Half-Nelson Suplex, which also gets blocked. Albright tries a cross body but Claudio ducks and Albright hits the ropes hard. Claudio goes on offense now. The commentators talk about the main event for a while and Albright eventually makes the comeback. He gets near-falls with a snap powerslam and the Air Raid Crash. Claudio comes back and executes the Big Swing. He stops to bicker with the fans and Albright grabs him in the Crossface. Claudio reaches the ropes. They fight back and forth some more and take the battle to the floor. Back in the ring Albright hits a superplex and both men are down. Bobby Cruise announces one minute remaining in the time limit. Both men get up and exchange strikes for what seems like forever and time runs out at 15:00 (good job Mr. Timekeeper). The crowd wants five more minutes. Claudio gets on the mic and says he can beat Albright, and all he needs is five more minutes. Albright agrees and the fight is right back on. Claudio tries to fight off the Crowbar but Albright cinches it in. Unfortunately for Albright Claudio reverses it. Albright breaks the hold and goes for the Half-Nelson Suplex and Claudio hits an intentional low blow and Albright is the winner via DQ at 1:02. I appreciate the effort they’re putting into a mid-card feud, but Albright just doesn’t bring anything worth cheering about to the table. The match, like all of their other matches, was technically solid just not all that engaging. Claudio hits the Riccola Bomb on Albright and then grabs a chair and stomps it into the back of Albright’s head.
Mike Quackenbush is standing backstage against a beige wall. Boy that’s a metaphor I thought I would have to make for myself but ROH went right ahead and did it for me. I’ll never get the love for this guy.
MATCH #3: Adam Pearce vs. Bobby Dempsey
They show clips from Caged Collision back in January when Dempsey finally turned on Larry Sweeney and “became a man” or whatever. Bobby Cruise introduces George Oliphant as the guest timekeeper. I have no idea who that is or why he’s there. This is the first of two open contracts that Dempsey had signed with Sweeney, and the second time Pearce has appeared as a wrestler since taking the book. Pearce is accompanied by Sara Del Rey and Shane Hagadorn, but no Larry Sweeney. He yells at the crowd, then makes fun of and Oliphant, and then physically threatens him. I suppose if I knew who that guy was I might care, but what was the point of that? Pearce delivers a cheap shot to start the match. Dempsey reverses a whip and knocks Pearce down. He follows up with the Death Valley Driver to get the pin at 0:27. I don’t see much use in Dempsey, but he’s over with the crowds, and that was a good use of Pearce.
MATCH #4: Jerry Lynn vs. Mike Quackenbush
Here are two guys I don’t dint he least bit interesting. They start with the expected mat work, and the crowd seems to appreciate both wrestlers. Lynn goes after the wrist and tries to wear Quack down. Quack comes back with some token offense and Lynn tries taking the match to the floor. Lynn of course hits his cute little legdrop. Quack tries a rana on the floor but Lynn catches him and throws him head-first into the barricade. Back in the ring Lynn hits a release German Suplex and a Tornado DDT for two. They trade more holds and eventually clonk heads. Quack goes to the top rope but Lynn slams him down, and Quack rolls through. Lynn goes up top and Quack tries a superplex but Lynn hits a Sunset Bomb for two. Whew. A few moments later Lynn hits the Cradle Piledriver to get the pin at 9:36. They just did moves and then it was over. The crowd chants for Quack despite his performance being not all that impressive.
MATCH #5: Revolution Rules Match – Tyler Black, Delirious & Necro Butcher vs. The Age of The Fall (Jimmy Jacobs & Brodie Lee) & Austin Aries
We start off with a video package detailing this incredibly long feud. So this is an elimination match, but each fall has to end in a different way, so if someone taps out for the first elimination, the second elimination could not come from submission. That seems needlessly complicated to me. Black and Delirious both try attacking Lee to start and get shoved aside. Lee calls for Necro and it is on now. The former Age of The Fall team takes the early advantage and surrounds Jacobs. They pound away on him and Lee pulls Jacobs to the floor, but Delirious follows them out with a dive. The good guys are accompanied by Daizee Haze, by the way. The match has broken down to a big brawl on the outside of the ring. They make their way back into the ring and pair off in three separate corners. It doesn’t take long to get back to the floor, and Necro wipes everybody out with a dive off the top rope. Daizee Haze then tries to steal heat and goes to the top rope herself. Aries grabs her and Delirious comes to the rescue. Delirious starts dishing out Panic Attacks, but soon becomes the victim of an Aries brainbuster and is eliminated at 7:05. Everyone’s on the floor again. Necro and Lee fight up the aisle, leaving Black to fight off both Jacobs and Black. Eventually Lee gets on the ring and makes in three-on-one for Black. Aries locks Black in the Fish Hook just to be a jerk. Necro makes his way back to the ring and dumps Aries to the floor. He tosses Jacobs as well, and then turns his attention to Lee with a series of strikes. Necro hits a bulldog and kicks Lee to the floor. He seems to have injured his foot, which I guess is a hazard of wrestling barefoot. He takes Lee back to the floor and clotheslines him into the crowd. The brawling continues, and Sinclair makes the decision that both Lee and Necro are counted out around 11:40 (no bell). Now it’s a two-on-one situation, with Aries and Jacobs working over Black. Aries and Jacobs can’t decide who gets to hit the dive on Black and they start fighting amongst each other. Black takes advantage and recovers, taking both men down. That doesn’t last too long, and Aries and Jacobs resume the double teaming. A little bit of miscommunication leads to Aries dropkicking Jacobs to the floor, and that leaves Black alone with Aries in the ring. A bit of an awkward reversal leads to Black hitting the Buckle Bomb/Superkick combo, and then locking Aries in the End time to eliminate him at 18:12. Jacobs uses a chair to beat Black down. He switches it up to the Spike, but Black avoids it and hits a Pele. Black gets a hold of the Spike and tries to hit Jacobs but he misses, and the Spike is sticking out of the turnbuckle. Jacobs hits the Contra Code but Black kicks out at two. He then puts on the End Time, but the match can’t end via submission. Black eventually reverses the hold into the God’s Last Gift to eliminate Jacobs and end the match at 20:52. That had some good action but probably would have been better as a straight up elimination tag match. Still, it came off better than I thought it would when I initially heard the idea.
Backstage the ROH World Champion Nigel McGuinness is warming up for his main event title defense against NOAH Superstar KENTA.
Kyle Durden is backstage with Jay Briscoe, who will be wrestling D-Lo Brown tonight. Jay is one of the few guys left on the roster from their debut show seven years ago. I hate how people keep saying “I grew up watching D-Lo Brown” when what they really mean is “D-Lo Brown happened to be on TV when I was growing up.”
MATCH #6: Bison Smith & Jimmy Rave vs. Bryan Danielson & Colt Cabana
Prince Nana, Bison Smith, and Ernie Osiris are out first to announce Jimmy Rave as Bison’s mystery partner. If I’m not mistaken, Rave is wearing the robe that he wore back when Nana first introduced him into the Embassy at Reborn Completion. Rave gets a pretty good pop; it’s his first match in ROH since July 27, 2007 at Race to the Top Tournament Night One. Danielson charges into the ring and gets immediately double-teamed. Grizzly Redwood comes out to try and help but gets dumped unceremoniously to the floor by Bison. Then Danielson’s real partner, Colt Cabana, comes out to a huge pop. Cabana hasn’t wrestled in ROH since April 28, 2007 at Good Times Great Memories. He goes after Rave and clotheslines him to the floor. The Embassy looks like they’re going to high-tail it, but they change their minds. Cabana and Rave start the match proper, but Rave quickly takes a powder. That doesn’t do him much good, as the babyface team easily maintains control over him for the first few minutes. Rave catches a quick shot on Danielson, and tags Bison into the match. Bison throws Danielson and Cabana around and generally looks like a beast. Rave and Bison isolate Danielson in their corner now. Danielson fights back with a running kick to Bison’s chest and then tags in Cabana, who’s fresh. Cabana hits his signature butt-butt, but Bison comes back with a running shoulderblock to level Cabana. Rave and Bison hit a combination of maneuvers but can’t put Cabana away. Cabana blocks Greetings from Ghana, and Danielson breaks up a Claw Slam attempt. They knock Bison to the floor, and a double baseball slide dropkick sends him into the crowd. Danielson follows him out with a springboard dive over the guardrail and into the crowd. Meanwhile back in the ring Rave has recovered and goes after Cabana. He locks on the Heel Hook but Cabana reverses it to a cradle to score the pin at 12:44. That was a super fun tag team match and two positive additions to the ROH roster.
MATCH #7: D-Lo Brown vs. Jay Briscoe
D-Lo cuts a promo about getting fired by the WWE. Jay is accompanied by his injured brother Mark. They trade holds in the early going, and Jay gets an advantage so D-Lo powders. The match quickly makes it back to the ring and they go to a stalemate. They have a nice little match until Bryce Remsburg gets out of position and D-Lo hits a blatant low blow. At first D-Lo feigns innocence but then reveals his true colors. D-Lo goes on offense now for the next several minutes. They fight spills to the floor, where D-Lo nails Jay with a dropkick off the apron. Back in the ring Jay almost gets to try the Jay Driller, but D-Lo avoids it and hits the Sky-Hi Powerbomb for two. Jay comes back with a Death Valley Driver for two. He goes up top and tries a guillotine legdrop but it misses and D-Lo grabs the tights to get the pin at 12:38. D-Lo just looks washed up and slow out there. Mark Briscoe tries to speak on behalf of his brother, but the referee’s decision is final.
MATCH #8: ROH World Tag Team Title Match – Kevin Steen & El Generico vs. The American Wolves (Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards)
Steen & Generico have been the champions since 9.19.08, and this is their seventh defense. We see clips from Final Battle 2008 and Insanity Unleashed, when the Wolves viciously attacked Steen’s knee. Bobby Cruise announces that this mach is a no-disqualification match. The Wolves are accompanied by Sara Del Rey and Shane Hagadorn. The champions charge the ring and quickly send the challengers for a powder. Steen hits a dive, wiping out both Wolves on the floor. Back in the ring the champions stay in control, and since it is no-DQ a chair gets involved pretty early on. They eventually come back to hurt the champs, as Richards catches Generico with a Tombstone Piledriver right onto a pile of chairs. The Wolves then immediately start attacking Steen’s knee, even bashing it with a steel chair. Steen is able to low-bridge the top rope and sends both Wolves crashing to the floor. Generico has recovered and hits a dive off the top rope onto the challengers, and hits Edwards in the gut with a chair. The champions are firmly back in control as Steen introduces a ladder to Edwards’s face. Richards takes a beating and Edwards comes to his rescue but eats a running Yakuza for his troubles. Generico tries a somersault dropkick onto Richards, but Richards moves and Generico’s back cracks against the ladder. The second attempt, this time on both Wolves, hits successfully. Richards comes back and once again goes after the knee. He hits it with a chair and then locks on the Texas Cloverleaf. Generico breaks it up, and then accidentally nails Steen in the head with a chair. Richards goes up for his Shooting Star Press but Steen avoids it and then takes out Richards’s knees with the chair. Steen locks on the Sharpshooter and Richards taps out at 16:29. That was tremendous chaos and lots of hate-filled brawling that I like in my tag team wrestling. Ever the sore losers, the Wolves attack the champions after the match, bloodying Steen and putting Generico through a table. Steen then gets tied up to the ropes and blasted with a con-chair-toe.
MATCH #9: ROH World Title Match – Nigel McGuinness vs. KENTA
They show clips of last night’s tag team match, in which KENTA & El Generico notched a victory over Nigel McGuinness & Davey Richards. Nigel has been the champion since 10.6.07, and this is his thirty-eighth defense. If he gets by KENTA, he will tie Bryan Danielson’s record for title defenses. It doesn’t take long for the challenger to start going after Nigel’s badly injured arms. He struggles to fight back but KENTA is just pin-pointing his kicks. Nigel is finally able to make a comeback and hits the Tower of London to the floor. I hate how that’s become a transition move. Back in the ring Nigel now goes to work on KENTA’s arm. Leonard notes that back on May 15, 2008 in Japan, Nigel beat KENTA and BJ Whitmer in a three-way match to retain the title, though he pinned Whitmer to get the duke. They were also teammates against Bryan Danielson & Takeshi Morishima at the first-ever ROH pay-per-view Respect is Earned on May 12, 2007. KENTA makes the recovery and both men are looking worn down. He goes right back to work on Nigel’s arm. The champion fights back and uses some of his usual offense, which is very hard on his injured arms. Nigel tries the Tower of London but KENTA avoids it and hits a powerslam. They fight up on the top rope and KENTA winds up crashing down to the floor. The challenger reverses the momentum and kicks Nigel into the crowd. He then follows up with an awesome double stomp off the top rope onto the guardrail. Nigel almost gets counted out and when he gets back in the ring KENTA is all over him. The Busaiku Knee gets two. KENTA tries the Go 2 Sleep but Nigel blocks it and goes for the Jawbreaker. That misses and the trade pinning combinations. Nigel locks on the London Dungeon and KENTA reaches the ropes. He hits the Tower of London but KENTA kicks out. KENTA tries a Sunset Bomb but Nigel avoids it, but can’t avoid the super Falcon Arrow. Nigel kicks out at two! KENTA hits a German Suplex with a bridge for two. He avoids the Jawbreaker and hits Go 2 Sleep but Nigel gets his foot on the bottom rope. They battle on the ring apron and Nigel hits a Super Tower of London onto the apron. Both men barely make it back into the ring at 19. They trade strikes and Nigel tries the headstand but KENTA counters with a Go 2 Sleep attempt. Nigel blocks that and tries the Jawbreaker, which KENTA ducks, but then Nigel hits his own Go 2 Sleep! KENTA kicks out at two. Nigel locks on the London Dungeon, which KENTA reverses to a rollup for a near fall. KENTA almost hits Go 2 Sleep but Nigel avoids it and once again locks on the London Dungeon and then stretches KENTA back across his knees and KENTA has to tap out at 25:19. For a guy as injured as he absolutely is, Nigel put on an amazing performance. KENTA more than held up his end, and there were some really creative counters and reversals, and it was just a damn fine match.
Tags: American Wolves, Anniversary Show, KENTA, Nigel McGuinness, Ring of Honor