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George R. Brown Convention Center – Houston, Texas – April 3, 2009
We open backstage with the ROH World Champion Nigel McGuinness, who will defend his title against Jerry Lynn tonight. He says he’s been champion as long as he has because he hates to lose, and he loves proving people wrong, basically.
MATCH #1: Erick Stevens vs. Rhett Titus
Titus does everything he can to avoid getting hit with a chop, but ends up taking a Samoan Drop instead. Stevens is firmly in control in the opening minutes here. Titus blocks a body slam attempt and grabs onto the Mohawk. A punch to the face and a Rocker Dropper takes Stevens down and Titus is in control now. He hits a running knee to the face. A dropkick gets two for Titus. He goes up top for a flying something, and Stevens catches him in an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Stevens is all over Titus now, throwing him face-first into the canvas. He hits a shoulderblock off the second rope and goes for the Doctor Bomb but Titus goes to the eyes. Titus sets up for the Muff Driver but Stevens backdrops him and hits the Choo-Choo. Stevens hits the leg capture clothesline and that’s all for Titus at 6:48. That was a perfectly competent opener.
MATCH #2: Chris Hero, Eddie Edwards & Incognito vs. Kevin Steen, Jay Briscoe & Magno
The heels are accompanied by Shane Hagadorn. Steen charges the ring along with his partners and they send the Sweet & Sour team running to the floor to regroup. Jay and Hero start the match. Hagadorn is now the “Head of Ringside Operations.” Hero starts throwing strikes but Jay weathers the storm and hits a high back body drop. Incognito gets tagged in and Jay follows suit by tagging Magno, who promptly breaks the top rope off an Irish whip. Oh that sucks. The match quickly turns into a ringside brawl, and we end up with Incognito and Magno in the ring. They start wrestling on the mat, because what else are they going to do? Steen tags in but he’s only interested in going after Edwards, and that costs him, allowing Edwards to attack the knee and start wearing it down. All three of Steen’s opponents take turns brutalizing his knee. Steen eventually makes the hot tag to Briscoe, and he’s handling all three of his opponents. Hero comes back with an elbow strike and a sit-out powerbomb for two. He hits a series of elbows but Jay counters with a big boot and tags Magno. He hits some impressive aerial maneuvers with only the use of the second rope. He sends all three opponents to the floor and Steen wipes them all out with a dive. Magno hits a moonsault off the ring post to the floor! He and Hero wind up back in the ring and Magno hits a slam and goes to the ropes. Hagadorn distracts Magno, allowing Hero to put on his loaded elbow pad. Hero clobbers Magno with it to get the pin at 14:21. Well the rope breaking certainly didn’t help, but they managed to make the best out of a bad situation.
Backstage D-Lo Brown is wearing a t-shirt that says “Heel.” Wow, he’s so “hip” and “insider.” He cuts a brutal promo trying to establish his heel persona. His “future endeavors” thing is already old. I just don’t care about him.
MATCH #3: Roderick Strong vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima
The crowd chants “This Is Awesome” before the match even starts. I’ll be the judge of that. They trade arm drags and stuff in the early going. Of course that quickly becomes an exchange of elbows and chops, and the crowd loves it. Strong takes control with chops, clotheslines, and a suplex for two. A backbreaker gets another two. Nakajima comes back and tarts attacking Strong’s knee. Strong makes the comeback with an enziguiri and slams Nakajima down on his face. Both men are down. They rise and start throwing chops at each other. Ouch. Strong ends that with a backbreaker on his bad knee, and he sells it like a champ. He goes up to the second rope and Nakajima kicks him in the head. Nakajima hits a brainbuster for two. Strong comes back with another backbreaker. They trade more kicks and Strong hits the gutbuster, and is able to hit the running Yakuza. He finishes up with the Gibson Driver at 9:30. They sure packed a ton of action into a small amount of time and it was quite fun to watch.
MATCH #4: Sweet & Sour Challenge – Bobby Dempsey vs. Kamala
This is the second of the open contracts Larry Sweeney had in place before Bobby Dempsey left Sweet & Sour Inc. back in January. Shane Hagadorn and Kimchee are accompanying Kamala tonight. Dempsey takes off his shirt and he has the same belly paint as Kamala, thus Kamala won’t attack him. Hagadorn smacks Kimchee, so Kimchee takes a shot at Hagadorn and sends Kamala after him instead of Dempsey! Kamala squashes Hagadorn in the corner and Dempsey follows in with a cannonball. There was no closing bell, but this was obviously some kind of no-contest. Should I even rate it?
Alex Koslov is backstage cutting a promo in Russian on his opponent tonight, Bryan Danielson. I have no idea what he said.
MATCH #5: Four Corner Survival – El Generico vs. Blue Demon, Jr. vs. Claudio Castagnoli vs. Brent Albright
No tags are needed in this one. Albright chases after Claudio before the other two participants can even be introduced. Two of the competitors in this match hold gold, as Generico is one half of the ROH World Tag Team Champions and Demon is the current NWA Champion, having beaten Adam Pearce for the belt back in October. Demon and Claudio start the match. They go back and forth for a bit before Claudio winds up in the ring with Albright, his nemesis. Albright is throwing punches, chops and kicks, wearing Claudio down. He charges and gets sent over the ropes and to the floor. Generico enters the ring and sends Claudio and Demon to the floor. He has three options and chooses to hit Claudio with a big dive. They wind up back in the ring and Claudio works to ground Generico, wearing him down with a chinlock. Eventually Generico makes the tag to Albright, who is more than happy to unleash fury on Claudio again. Albright hits a powerslam for two. Everybody’s in the ring now, and the masked man take to throwing chops at each other. Demon knocks Generico to the floor and wipes him out with a dive. Back in the ring Albright tries to put Claudio in the Crowbar but can’t do it. Claudio blocks several attempts at the Half-Nelson Suplex, and the referee gets knocked out of the way. That’s the only opening Claudio needs to hit Albright with a low blow and score the pin at 9:13. That was mostly just a jumble of moves surrounding a mid-card feud.
MATCH #6: Bryan Danielson vs. Alex Koslov
Koslov score the first knockdown but Danielson doesn’t seem to be sweating his Russian opponent. I hate to say it, but Danielson seems less motivated since Pearce has taken over. Outside of the Bison Smith thing, Danielson has done very little since losing the big title match to Nigel McGuinness back in November. It’s not that he’s not having good matches; he always does, but something just seems different. They do some stalling and let the crowd enjoy themselves. They engage in a test of strength and Danielson gets the first advantage, but Koslov powers back and takes Danielson down for a series of near-falls. They take it to the mat and Danielson goes for the surfboard but Koslov reaches the ropes. Danielson of course issues a clean break before the count of five. Koslov traps Danielson in a head scissors but Danielson escapes and once again tries the surfboard but Koslov powers out. Some fans are rooting for Koslov. Once again we’re back to square one with both men on their feet. Danielson locks Koslov in an armbar and starts going to work. Koslov reaches the ropes, and when Danielson breaks the hold Koslov scampers over and attacks Danielson’s knee. That was pretty clever. Koslov then destroys any good will he had built up with me by executing the Kenny Omega “stop sign” garbage. Not only should he not do it because it’s Omega’s thing in ROH, but it’s just a stupid thing for anyone to be doing. Danielson apparently agrees and makes Koslov pay with the surfboard, finally. That gets broken and Koslov suplexes Danielson from the apron to the floor, with Danielson taking a nasty bump on his tailbone. Koslov leaps from the top rope and wipes Danielson out on the floor. Back in the ring Koslov goes to work, and even puts on his little Russian hat and does the dancing kicks. Danielson doesn’t think much of that and goes back on offense. He tries Cattle Mutilation but Koslov successfully avoids it and hits an enziguiri. Some kind of alarm seems to be going off in the building. Koslov hits a Frog Splash for two. He then locks on Danielson’s own Cattle Mutilation. Koslov then takes it a step further by hitting some elbows to the face. Danielson really doesn’t take too kindly to that, and he Hulks Up! Koslov fights back with a Russian Legsweep. He covers Danielson in the Russian flag and goes up top. Koslov misses the splash and Danielson takes advantage with elbows to the face. Danielson then rolls into Cattle Mutilation and Koslov taps out at 15:15. Danielson was on autopilot and Koslov didn’t do much to impress me.
MATCH #7: Colt Cabana vs. D-Lo Brown
This is Cabana’s second match back with the company, and this is D-Lo’s third match with ROH overall. They do some back and forth, with Cabana doing the fun-loving good-time mat wrestling he’s known for. They engage in a test of strength, which D-Lo takes the first advantage in. Cabana escapes it and does more of his goofy stuff, but winds up taking a shining wizard for his troubles. D-Lo goes on offense, as the pace slows to a crawl. Cabana battles back and hits D-Lo with an Asai Moonsault for two. He hits the running butt-butt in the corner, but D-Lo comes out with a TKO. D-Lo goes up to the second rope and misses the senton. Both men get back to their feet and Cabana locks on the Billy Goat’s Curse. D-Lo taps Cabana’s leg, so Cabana thinks he’s won and breaks the hold. But since Paul Turner didn’t see it, the match goes on. That’s lame. D-Lo gets a quick small package for two. Cabana gets up and goes for the Colt 45 but D-Lo reverses it to a Sky-Hi Powerbomb. D-Lo goes up top and Cabana shoves him down to the floor. Cabana follows him out and throws him back inside. He takes his own sweet time getting back in the ring for some reason, giving D-Lo time to put on brass knuckles. Cabana jumps off the top rope and D-Lo punches him with the knuckles to get the pin at 11:04. That finish took far too long to set up and makes Cabana look like a complete idiot. Three matches in and I would be ready to pull the plug on the D-Lo Brown experiment that’s for sure. It’s not like the match was good leading up to the finish anyway.
MATCH #8: GHC Jr. Heavyweight Title Match – KENTA vs. Davey Richards
Richards is accompanied by his fellow American Wolf Eddie Edwards. KENTA has been the champion since 3.1.09, this is his third reign, and I believe this is his first defense. Richards declines the handshake and here we go. KENTA was Richards’s mentor at one time, so these two know each other very well. The tempers flare early on and the strikes are coming in stiff. KENTA takes the first advantage and lays in the kicks. Richards comes back and goes to work on the leg, which is quite the smart strategy. KENTA comes back with a flurry of offense and heads to the top rope to hit a leaping lariat for two. He’s barely selling the knee, and Prazak is all but calling him on it. Richards comes back and sends KENTA to the floor. He charges out with a running dive through the ropes and pretty much misses KENTA as he crashes into the crowd. Back in the ring Richards hits a German Suplex for two. The crowd chants “this is awesome” and Richards basically breaks kayfabe to acknowledge their assessment. Richards goes for a superplex but KENTA knocks him back and hits the slingshot missile dropkick and two running boots in the corner followed by a dropkick. A sit-out powerbomb gets another two for KENTA. He follows up with a crazy double stomp to the chest off the top rope for two. He tries a rana off the top but Richards powerbombs him down and locks on the Texas Cloverleaf. KENTA reaches the ropes, and both men get up and start trading kicks. They nail each other in the head and both men are down. They get back up and start throwing bombs again. KENTA wins that battle and hits a Tiger Suplex for two. They fight to the ring apron and KENTA hits a nasty looking Falcon Arrow to the floor. The fans chant “F*ck WrestleMania,” which is ignorant and obnoxious. Back in the ring Richards flips KENTA off and gets smacked around for it. KENTA hits the Busaiku Knee for two. Richards blocks Go 2 Sleep and locks on the Texas Cloverleaf. KENTA reverses to a rollup for two. Richards hits the alarm clock and a clothesline. He hits the D.R. Driver but KENTA kicks out at two! KENTA comes back and tries Go 2 Sleep again but Richards counters it to a crucifix for two. Richards tries the cartwheel elbow, but KENTA grabs him in a Torture Rack and hits Go 2 Sleep! I haven’t seen him do that before. KENTA retains the title at 18:17. That was definitely the best match in ROH so far this year, but Shawn and Undertaker would eclipse this match and likely every other match so far or to come this year just two days later. But hey, the crowd didn’t know it, give ‘em a brake. Anyway, Richards has become so awesome and KENTA was his usual excellent self. The crowd wants Richards to shake hands, which to my great disappointment he does, and then bows to the guy who just beat him. Richards then gets on the mic to put over Ring of Honor, and everything after that match was completely out of character for Richards and that really upsets me.
MATCH #9: Austin Aries & Jimmy Jacobs vs. Tyler Black & Necro Butcher
I feel like these guys have been wearing the same red dress forever, so to speak. Jacobs and Aries enter separately but Tyler and Necro come out together. Aries and Jacobs stall outside the ring, so Tyler dives over the referee’s back to the floor and wipes them both out. Necro joins him and goes after Jacobs, while Tyler and Aries briefly fight into the crowd. Jacobs and Necro fight in another part of the crowd. Meanwhile Aries and Tyler start the match proper in the ring. That doesn’t even last too long as Tyler knocks Aries to the floor and drops him face-first on the apron. That leaves Jacobs alone in the ring with both of his opponents, and they try to toss him through a table on the floor but Aries makes the save. Jacobs then returns the favor, and then they both avoid getting slammed simultaneously. They send both of their opponents to the floor and Aries hits the Heat Seeking Missile. He tosses Tyler back into the ring and he and Jacobs go to work on him. Aries and Jacobs come across a disagreement and start throwing hands at each other! Tyler takes the opportunity to make the hot-ish tag to Necro. The barefooted warrior throws Jacobs to the floor and hits the Necrocanrana on Aries. Jacobs breaks up the pin but Necro remains in control. The referee gets in the way so Jacobs helpfully removes him and boots Necro in the junk. He locks on the End Time, while Tyler and Aries fight on the floor. Tyler makes it back in the ring and breaks up the hold. Necro chokeslams Jacobs onto Aries, and then takes Tyler’s order to put Jacobs on a table. I thought the whole reason he left Age of The Fall was so that he didn’t have to take orders anymore? Tyler goes to the top rope and Aries knocks him down and follows him out. Aries sets Tyler on the table while Necro and Jacobs fight. Necro punches Aries off the ropes and back into the ring. Now Necro sets Aries on the table but Jacobs stops him before any damage can be done. Jacobs goes for a tornado DDT but Necro blocks it and tries a chokeslam. That gets blocked, and Jacobs tries a back suplex. Aries dropkicks them both through the table, leaving him and Tyler to go one-on-one. He tries the dropkick in the corner but Tyler catches him and hits an F-5. Tyler sets up for the Buckle Bomb but Jacobs intercepts him with a spear, and Aries lands right on Jacobs’s head. Aries hits Tyler with the kick to the head and the brainbuster to get the pin at 11:02. That was the good match you would expect from these guys, but none of it seems to be going anywhere. Jacobs and Aries try to demolish Tyler after the bell, but Necro runs them off.
MATCH #10: ROH World Title Match – Nigel McGuinness vs. Jerry Lynn
Nigel has been The Man since 10.6.07, and this is his thirty-ninth defense. They start the match with some chain wrestling, and Lynn goes hold-for-hold with the Champ. He wisely focuses on Nigel’s injured arms. Nigel tries to run to the floor but Lynn follows him and goes to work on the arm. Back in the ring Nigel takes a cheap shot and goes to work on the challenger. Lynn comes back with a flurry of offense, including a tornado DDT. Nigel comes back and tries the Tower of London but Lynn reverses it to an inverted DDT for two. Moments later Nigel does hit the Tower of London but Lynn kicks out. The champ then locks on the London Dungeon but Lynn reaches the ropes. Nigel sets Lynn on the top rope and goes for the Tower of London on the apron. Lynn avoids it but gets clotheslined back into the ring. That really took a toll on Nigel, but he’s still able to hit the Tower of London to the floor. Lynn barely makes the count back in before 20. He’s able to fire up and hit a Sunset Bomb for two, and then locks on a London Dungeon of his own, and Nigel reaches the ropes. Nigel gets an O’Connor roll for two, and then misses a Jawbreaker. They trade pinning combos but neither man can get the three, and Nigel locks on the London Dungeon again. Lynn reverses to his own London Dungeon again and Nigel barely makes the ropes. He then locks on a cross armbreaker and Nigel once again reaches the ropes. The challenger hits a lariat and an Air Raid Crash but still can’t wrest the title away. Nigel goes for an Alabama Slam, which Lynn reverses to a Cradle Piledriver and Nigel barely gets his foot on the ropes! Lynn goes for another one but Nigel blocks it and connects with the Jawbreaker Lariat. It does so much damage to Nigel’s arm that he can’t make the cover right away. When he does Lynn kicks out and once again locks on the cross armbreaker. Nigel reaches the ropes after being in the hold quite a while. He gets up and tries another Lariat but Lynn avoids it and hits the Cradle Piledriver to score the pin and become the eleventh ROH World Champion at 19:08. That was a shockingly excellent match, with Nigel being so crippled and Lynn being so Lynn. It really made me wish the storyline building up to the match had been more compelling and less “Jerry Lynn is Randy the Ram,” but I can still appreciate an excellent match when I see one. The crowd appreciates both men after the match, and both Lynn and Nigel cut a promo.