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New Alhambra Arena – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – September 20, 2008
MATCH #1: Jerry Lynn vs. Kenny King
The set looks awesome, by the way. This is a good choice to open the show, given Lynn’s history in this area. I’m getting tired of Prazak and Leonard always referring to “the original ECW” or “the real ECW” whenever they mention those three letters. Both men are cautious early on, doing some basic counter wrestling. Lynn stays one step ahead, scoring a sunset flip for two. A schoolboy rollup also gets two and Lynn goes to the headlock. He says in control so King rakes the eyes and tosses him to the floor. Lynn apparently is the only man in wrestling not affected by an eye poke, since he doesn’t sell it and avoids a dive attempt by King. He then hits the somersault off the apron. King comes back and slams Lynn’s back into the ring apron. Back in the ring the much younger King takes control. A spinebuster gets two. King continues working on the back. Lynn makes a comeback and uses some of King’s own dirty tactics against him. He hits a swinging DDT for two. He tries the Cradle Piledriver but Lynn avoids it. King tries a cradle with his feet on the ropes but the referee catches him. The ensuing argument allows Lynn to hit a top-rope rana and this time connects with the Cradle Piledriver to win the match at 10:20. That was a solid opener and the crowd is into Lynn so good for that old, old man.
MATCH #2: NWA World Heavyweight Title Match – Brent Albright vs. Adam Pearce
Albright won the title on 8.2.08, and this is his fifth defense. They show footage of the match, which is a nice touch. These two definitely over-performed in their last match, so I’m very curious to see how this one goes.
Both men start aggressively, with the champion overpowering the challenger. Pearce tries to powder but doesn’t pay attention and Albright follows him out and throws him around for quite a while. Referee Paul Turner for some reason starts his count over when he gets close to 10, because in NWA Title matches there is a 10-count on the floor. Well why is he re-starting his count? And there are also disqualifications under NWA rules, so why was Albright not disqualified for using a chair? This match is already irritating. Shane Hagadorn distracts the referee, allowing Pearce to throw Albright over the top rope. He follows the champion out and hits a suplex on the entrance ramp. Pearce at least goes slides under the bottom rope for a second to restart the count, which Albright couldn’t be bothered to do. Back in the ring Pearce takes over with his usual boring offense. Sweeney gets a cheap shot in behind the referee’s back. Pearce hits the Superfly Splash for two. He undoes his wrist tape but Turner catches him before he can use it. While they stall for a ridiculous amount of time, Hagadorn sneaks in the ring and takes forever to wedge a chair between the top and middle turnbuckle. A contrived spot leads to Pearce taking the chair to the skull and both men are down. Albright gets up and gets a suplex for two. Pearce tries a cross body block for some reason, but Albright (with an injured arm) catches Pearce and hits a swinging backbreaker. The challenger recovers and tries the figure-four but Albright gets a rollup for two. He then conveniently jumps right into position for the Air Raid Crash for two. They fight over a Half-Nelson Suplex and Pearce gets a low blow and then hits the move for two. He tries the Piledriver but Albright reverses it and hits one of his own for a near fall. Pearce goes up top again and appears to be going for a Pepsi Plunge. Albright fights it off, and then Sweeney distracts the referee so Hagadorn throws both men off the top rope to the floor. Why would he do that? They make it back to the ring and hit simultaneous clotheslines. Albright puts on the Crowbar but Pearce rolls out of it. The champ tries a Half-Nelson Suplex but Pearce blocks it and Pearce locks on his own Crowbar. Albright actually taps out and Pearce regains the title at 13:56.
The crowd is pretty shocked, and not in the good way. I’m sure NWA politics figured in to it somehow, but since that was Pearce’s last match in ROH to date, that’s a pretty strange way to end this feud. The match, by the way, was filled with so much garbage and internal logic conflicts that it drove me crazy. It’s pretty crazy that a little over a month later Pearce would become the booker of this company.
Bryan Danielson, the new GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion, has a lot of things going on right now. In addition to being the GHC Junior Champ, he’s feuding with Claudio Castagnoli, and chasing ROH World Champion Nigel McGuinness. He promises that he will not go down no matter how hard his challenger, Katsuhiko Nakajima, kicks him.
MATCH #3: FIP World Heavyweight Title Match – Go Shiozaki vs. Kevin Steen
Shiozaki has been the champion since 8.23.08, and this is his first defense. They also show footage of Shiozaki’s title win from Heatstroke ‘08. These two wrestled back in February at Eye of the Storm, Shiozaki’s first show as a regular member of the roster.
They stall a bit to start. They try to out-power each other, but neither man will budge. They continue running into each other until Steen sidesteps Shiozaki and dumps him to the floor. He’s able to hit a somersault from the apron to the floor and the crowd approves. They fight out on the floor, where for FIP Title matches there is a 20-count instead of 10. Steen throws Shiozaki back in the ring, but then Shane Hagadorn distracts him, allowing Shiozaki to dropkick the knee. He continues working on the injured body part, which thankfully doesn’t stop Steen from slapping Hagadorn in the face. Steen fights back and hits a legdrop with his non-hurt knee. He follows up with a dropkick off the second rope into a jackknife pin for two. Shiozaki comes back and drops Steen’s neck across the top rope. He tries a knee drop off the top but misses, and Steen hits a flying forearm. Steen now works on Shiozaki’s leg, tit for tit I guess. Shiozaki avoids the Package Piledriver and hits a Fisherman Buster. He misses a moonsault and Steen hits one of his own, but Shiozaki kicks out at two. Steen is selling off and on here, which is kind of annoying. He goes up top and tries the Swanton but Shiozaki gets the knees up. Shiozaki locks on a Dragon Sleeper but Steen reaches the ropes. The champion comes back with a couple of lariats for two. He hits mounted chops to the neck and Steen appears to be out. Steen comes back with a German Suplex, which Shiozaki no-sells. The challenger follows up with a Sky-Hi Powerbomb for two, and then rolls Shiozaki into the Sharpshooter. Shiozaki powers out and then hits two Go Flashers to get the pin and retain the title at 15:21.That was better than the previous match, but the selling and psychology of the match came and went.
Before Steen can leave the ring, ROH World Champion Nigel McGuinness comes out and delivers a DDT onto Steen’s Tag Team Championship belt. The champ cuts a promo about how nobody is good enough to beat him.
MATCH #4: GHC Jr. Heavyweight Title match – Bryan Danielson vs. Katsuhiko Nakajima
Danielson has been champion since 9.14.08, and this is his first defense. Of course they show footage of his title victory six days ago. They aggressively lock up and Danielson narrowly avoids a kick to the head. They take it to the mat and trade holds and do the standoff. Danielson gets an early advantage and works over the arm. Nakajima is only 20 years old, but he’s been training since he was about 14. He lands a kick to the chest and tries to back Danielson into the corner, but the champion fights out and goes right back to the arm. The challenger fights back with kicks and Danielson continues focusing on the arm. Danielson abandons the arm to lock on a surfboard, which seems designed to injure Nakajima’s kicking legs. Nakajima fights back with an enziguiri and goes to work on the champion now. Danielson comes back with a flying forearm that sends Nakajima to the floor. He hits a baseball slide dropkick and then tosses him over the barricade into the crowd. He hits the springboard dive to the floor, much to the delight of the crowd. Back in the ring a little bit of back and forth ends with Nakajima dragon screw leg whipping Danielson into the ropes, and they go outside. Nakajima works on the leg and hits a kick to the chest. Back in the ring the challenger continues working over the leg. Danielson makes a brief comeback but Nakajima cuts him off with a DDT for two. The champ gets a German suplex with a bridge for two. They do the stupid spot where they trade suplexes and then sell them afterward. I know, they do it in Japan, and Nakajima is from Japan, but it’s still stupid. Nakajima gets the advantage and both works on the leg and hits a series of kicks. He locks on an Ankle Lock but Danielson reaches the ropes. Danielson almost fights back, but Nakajima hits a brainbuster for two. The German Suplex also gets two. A series of kicks knocks Danielson down, but he gets up before the 10 count. Danielson gets a quick small package for two. He hits a release German Suplex and begins kicking Nakajima’s head in. He then locks on the Triangle Choke and Nakajima reaches the ropes. Danielson goes for the super back suplex, but he abuses Nakajima in the Tree of Woe first. Then he hits the suplex. Danielson tries the Cross-Face Chicken Wing and the Cattle Mutilation but can’t lock on either of them. He hits a series of elbows to the face and a Tiger Suplex for two. He holds on and now locks on Cattle Mutilation and Nakajima taps out at 23:02. There was that one annoying bit of no-selling but other than that this was yet another great match from The Best in the World, Bryan Danielson.
Jerry Lynn is backstage trying to channel Randy “The Ram” Robinson. I always give Lynn points for effort, but he’s no Mickey Rourke. He says almost beating Nigel McGuinness in June lit a fire under his ass and he wants a shot at the title now.
MATCH #5: Erick Stevens vs. Rhett Titus
Shockingly I think Titus has more heat at this point than Stevens. Titus tries a headlock but Stevens gets out of that and hits a shoulder block. It doesn’t knock Titus down, but a second one does, and a Samoan Drop does more damage. Stevens hits a chop and then clotheslines a kneeling Titus for a two-count. Titus fights back with his own flying shoulder tackle and it gets a one-count. He tries to keep the momentum going but Stevens forces him into the corner and unloads on him with chops and forearms. Apparently Stevens’ nose is busted open and he’s not happy about it. Titus comes back with a dropkick, and then continues to attack the nose, just to be a jerk. He goes for mounted punches in the corner and Stevens slips out. He catches Titus jumping off the ropes with a suplex and hits the Choo-Choo. He finishes it up with the powerbomb lariat and the Doctor Bomb for the win at 3:24. The broken nose provided the match with its only real excitement and that was accidental.
Larry Sweeney comes out after the match and has a contract offer for Stevens. He guarantees that if he takes the offer, in six months he’ll be moved on to somewhere else making more money, though what Sweeney really wants is no more Stevens in ROH. Stevens is smart enough to see through the offer and refuses. Sweeney tries to get him to reconsider, so Stevens blows his bloody nose on the contract. That angers Sweeney so he slaps Stevens, and when Stevens tries to beat up Sweeney the rest of Sweet & Sour run out and beat him down. Jobbers from the back try to help Stevens but they get held off. Go Shiozaki hits a knee drop off the second rope to the back of Stevens’ head that’s resting on a steel chair. Roderick Strong hits the ring and somehow he and the Vulture Squad clear the ring. It appears as though we have an impromptu match on our hands.
MATCH #6: Roderick Strong & The Vulture Squad vs. Sweet & Sour Inc.
Jigsaw and Ruckus represent the Vulture Squad, while Sweet & Sour is made up of the motley crew of Chris Hero, Eddie Edwards, and Shane Hagadorn. Strong starts the match in control, working over Chris Hero. Jigsaw and Ruckus get their shots in too. Hagadorn gets tagged in and he gets beaten up too. Sweeney finally get s chance to interfere and that gives his team the advantage over Jigsaw. He gets beat up for a while and then makes the tag to Strong, who takes out all three of his opponents. The match basically becomes a scramble from this point on, with everyone getting in and out of the ring and going for big moves and stuff. Hero hits Strong with the loaded elbow pad to score the pin at 11:08. The action was decent but of course had little rhyme or reason. And “That Young Knock-Out Kid” does nothing for me as a gimmick.
MATCH #7: Kensuke Sasaki vs. Claudio Castagnoli
Sasaki’s GHC Heavyweight Title is not on the line here. Castagnoli outmaneuvers Sasaki in the early going. Sasaki beat former ROH World Champion Takeshi Morishima to win his current title, which also made him the only man to hold all three major Japanese Heavyweight Championships: the GHC Heavyweight Championship for NOAH; the IWGP Heavyweight Championship for New Japan; and the Triple Crown Heavyweight Championship for All Japan. Castagnoli tries a headlock early on but Sasaki winds up hitting a chop and Castagnoli regroups. They come back out with a Greco Roman Knuckle Lock, and Sasaki wins that exchange as well. Sasaki hits a series of chops and Castagnoli powders. Back in the ring they have a strike exchange and Castagnoli uses an eye rake to take the advantage. It doesn’t last long though, as the GHC Champ is soon in control with a clothesline and a suplex. Castagnoli comes back with a hot shot for a near fall and puts him in a front chancery. Jimmy Bower makes a special appearance in the booth, and it’s oddly fitting that he did that since it would be the last DVD he would produce. So long Jimmy Bower. This match is going nowhere fast. Sasaki eventually grows weary of Castagnoli’s rest holds and runs him into the corner and hits a series of chops. It’s all Sasaki now. Castagnoli tries fighting back with European Uppercuts and Sasaki fights back with chops. Sasaki gets a judo throw and a powerslam for two. Castagnoli comes back with the Alpamare Water Slide for two. He tries the Ricola Bomb but Sasaki blocks. He settles for an inverted atomic drop and a running European Uppercut for two. He goes up top but Sasaki thwarts him and hits a nice rana off the top. He follows up with a clothesline off the top for two. Castagnoli comes back with a bicycle kick, but when he tries another one Sasaki catches him and powerbombs him. He then locks on an arm/neck submission but Castagnoli reaches the ropes. Castagnoli hits a springboard European Uppercut and then drives his knee to the chest from the second rope. He hits another Bicycle Kick for two, and a Ricola Bomb also only gets two. Sasaki comes back with a Half Nelson Suplex, a Northern Lariat, and two more lariats to take him down for a two-count. Sasaki then hits the Northern Lights Bomb and that’s enough for the pin at 14:44. That match never really developed any kind of story, and the crowd didn’t seem too invested.
MATCH #8: ROH World Title Match – Nigel McGuinness vs. El Generico
McGuinness has been the champion since 10.6.07, and this is his twenty-sixth defense. They start off cautiously with basic chain wrestling, and Generico breaks that up by chopping the World Champion up against the ropes. McGuinness comes out shoving and lands a chop of his own. He switches to European Uppercuts and he immediately goes into wear-down mode, focusing on the arm. Generico comes back with a leg lariat for one, and hits some mounted punches in the corner. He also hits a rana off the top rope for two-count. McGuinness comes back with the mule kick in the corner and goes right back to the challenger’s arm. The battle spills to the floor where McGuinness stays in control. Back in the ring it’s more of the same, with the champion dismantling the challenger. Generico comes back and hits a Blue Thunder Driver for two. He avoids several of the champion’s lariats, but does fall victim to a Tower of London. He kicks out at two. McGuinness hits another Tower of London, this one on the apron, and that only gets two. He puts on the London Dungeon and Generico makes it to the ropes. Generico lures McGuinness to the top rope and tries the Super Brainbuster but McGuinness avoids it. And now Generico has entered his standard “barely selling the beating he’s taken for so long” phase of the match. He avoids a lariat and hits the brainbuster for a near fall. They trade holds and McGuinness hits a DDT, and then he undoes the turnbuckle pad off, and while referee Paul Turner tries to reattach it, McGuinness attempts to use his belt as a weapon. However, Kevin Steen is there to stop him and he hits a superkick. That gets a near fall (Turner’s hand actually hit three times), and the crowd is hot now. Generico hits the running Yakuza Kick and sets up for a Super Brainbuster on the exposed corner but McGuinness pushes him down and gets a jackknife pin to get the win and retain the title at 20:59. The crowd is pissed, but they were pretty quiet for most of the match until Steen interfered. That was the usual good match from the Champion, but Generico’s selling is starting to get out of hand.
MATCH #9: Steel Cage Warfare – The Briscoe Brothers & Austin Aries vs. Jimmy Jacobs, Tyler Black & Delirious vs. Necro Butcher
I would be much more excited for this match if we didn’t know what Necro Butcher would do, but since he already turned on Jacobs we know he’ll go after the Age of the Fall team. The video package detailing this feud is actually pretty awesome. It’s probably one of the best ROH has ever done. Thanks, Jimmy Bower. This is a regular cage setup except there’s no door. This is just like War Games, except with three-minute intervals and elimination rules. Age of the Fall won the coin toss so they will have the man advantage. Austin Aries drew number one, and Tyler Black is number two. The fight actually starts on the floor, with Aries in control. They get into the ring and Aries pretty much has control there too. Three minutes have gone by and Jimmy Jacobs makes himself entrant number three. The former two-time ROH World Tag Team Champions go to work on Aries, busting him open. The wild card Necro Butcher comes in at number four, and he cleans house on Jacobs and Black. He even goes after Aries. Necro and Black fight on the floor, and Jay Briscoe and some steel chairs come out at number five. Some are brawling in the ring, some are outside. Jay is busted open as well. Number six is Delirious. Everyone is brawling, and the first real sick spot of the match comes when Aries and Jacobs take turns blasting Necro in the head with steel chairs. Jacobs then hits a spear, and Aries follows with the kick to the head and the brainbuster, and Jacobs joins him to cover Necro and eliminate him at 14:09. Well that “wild card” was pretty wild, I guess. The crowd isn’t happy with his elimination. Soon after Mark Briscoe comes out at number seven and that’s everyone. Mark is coming armed with a barbed wire table. They do some more meandering brawling and the crowd is sporadically interested at best. The Age of the Fall dominate for a bit, and Delirious is able to hit three straight Panic Attacks on Aries, and then Jacobs locks on the End Time to eliminate Aries at 21:52. The crowd chants “We Want Necro” at this point. Jacobs wants Delirious to spike Jay, but Daizee Haze runs out and tried to talk him out of it. Jacobs of course takes offense and gets in on the argument, and Delirious decides to spike Haze! I should do that to girls who reject me. The bloodthirsty crowd really enjoyed that. This gives Mark a chance to recover and the Briscoes have had enough. They hit the Doomsday Device on Delirious to eliminate him at 25:49. Now we’re down to Jacobs and Black versus the Briscoes. Jacobs and Black take control briefly and each of them nail a Briscoe in the head with a steel chair, but they just no-sell it and finish off the Age of the Fall with a Jay Driller and a Cutthroat Driver, respectively, at 27:09.
That certainly didn’t live up to the standard of the first Steel Cage Warfare, or even live up to the potential of everyone involved. I know former booker Gabe Sapolsky has written at length about the struggles he had surrounding this match so I don’t feel like I need to expound on it much, but this was certainly a huge disappointment. Beyond that, it didn’t even end the Age of the Fall versus Briscoes feud, so the whole thing really doesn’t mean much.
Tags: Austin Aries, glory by honor, Jimmy Jacobs, Nigel McGuinness, Ring of Honor