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Frontier Fieldhouse – Chicago Ridge, IL – Friday, March 31, 2006
Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard are on commentary.
MATCH #1: The Commissioner Strikes Back!!!
He wants to know how many ROH Virgins are in the audience, as well as those who are not. He asks the old guys to say hi to the new guys. The building is absolutely packed. He mentions WrestleMania (not by name) and the crowd boos. BJ Whitmer has a broken ankle and will not be competing tonight. Cornette says his ankle was broken by a CZW attack. Now I watched the match BJ had the night before this with Jimmy Jacobs, and he took a huge fall off the top rope and was limping, and took his boot off immediately after the match, so I’m more inclined to believe he hurt his ankle there. I understand why they would say that CZW injured him, but after the footage I saw last night it doesn’t sit right. Cornette says that perhaps he’s been too hard on the CZW hardcore guys, and maybe they deserve a chance. He calls out the two hardcore guys he found, and it looks kind of like Dunn & Marcos under hoods. It’s probably students though. Cornette goes on and on and on and I can barely understand what he’s saying, nor do I care. He says he found two guys who are willing to wrestle these clowns, and it turns out to be Samoa Joe and Adam Pearce. That’s an intimidating team. We have an impromptu match.
Joe and Pearce storm the ring and throw the two masked guys around. This is obviously complete and total domination. Joe hits the smaller guy with the Muscle Buster and Pearce follows with a Superfly Splash to get the academic pin at 0:59. That seemed to fire up the crowd, but looking back on that now it all seems pretty silly and not the strongest punch ROH could throw in the war against CZW.
MATCH #2: Four Corner Survival – Ricky Reyes vs. Delirious vs. Flash Flanagan vs. Shane Hagadorn
Hagadorn is a replacement for Jimmy Jacobs, who himself is replacing BJ Whitmer later in the card against Samoa Joe and Christopher Daniels in a three-way match. Reyes is accompanied by Julius Smokes. Delirious loses his mind at the bell and his opponents watch it happen. Reyes and Flanagan star the match proper. Flanagan has the size advantage but Reyes is one tough hombre. Sometimes it’s just fun to type stuff that Jim Ross would say. Hagadorn tags in and actually gets in some offense on Reyes, who has previously dismantled ROH students. Delirious tags in and squares off with Hagadorn. Flanagan and Hagadorn dump Delirious to the floor and Flanagan follows him out. Reyes hits Hagadorn with a t-bone suplex. He hits another suplex and Flanagan comes in the ring and gives him a taste of his own medicine. Flanagan goes up top and Delirious shoves him down. Delirious goes up top and puts the miss in missile dropkick. Hagadorn gets dumped to the floor. Flanagan hits Delirious with a spinebuster. Delirious is able to come back with Shadows Over Hell! Flanagan kicks out. Hagadorn comes back in and Delirious hits him with the Bizarro Driver. Reyes hits Delirious with a spinning neckbreaker and locks on the Dragon Sleeper to get the win at 6:53. On its own the match was not amazing, but it led to a great moment the next night so it’s all good.
MATCH #3: The Embassy vs. Claudio Castagnoli & Jimmy Yang
The Embassy is represented by Jimmy Rave and Alex Shelley, and they’re accompanied by Prince Nana and Daizee Haze. Rave and Shelley get the toilet paper shower, which was always awesome. Yang and Shelley start the match. They chain wrestle and Yang gets the early advantage. Rave tags in and the crowd is all over him. Rave was one of the few guys in ROH that drew legitimate heel heat during the REALLY smarky crowd days. Yang again gets the advantage and Castagnoli tags in. They focus on Rave’s arm. Castagnoli looks so weird with long hair. Yang and Castagnoli show some impressive teamwork and dominate the Embassy in the opening minutes. Rave drives a knee into Yang’s gut and makes the tag. The advantage is short-lived and Shelley is soon back on defense. Finally the Embassy is able to string together a little bit of offense and they isolate on Yang. Shelly avoids a charge in the corner and Yang’s shoulder crashes into the ring post and he falls to the floor. Rave whips Yang into the first row. Back in the ring Rave covers for two. After several more minutes of abuse Rave goes up top but gets caught with a spin kick on the way down. Yang is not able to make the tag though. Shelley puts Yang on the top rope and Yang shoves him down and hits a missile dropkick. Rave tags in and Yang hits him with an enziguiri. Finally Yang makes the hot tag and Castagnoli is a house afire. Yang wipes out Shelley with a big dive to the floor. Castagnoli and Rave go at it. They trade pinning combinations and Rave is able to hold Castagnoli down for a pin at 16:03. That was a smartly worked tag team match with clearly defined roles and good work from everyone involved.
MATCH #4: First Blood Match – Ace Steel vs. Chad Collyer
This is the first ever First Blood Match in Ring of Honor. Steel’s “crazy” character is one of the worst things in the history of ROH, hands down. He grabs the “Section B” sign on his way to the ring and uses it as a weapon. Collyer responds with a steel chair. They fight back and forth and do their best to make the Chicago crowd care. Collyer controls a bit but then misses a knee drop off the second rope. Steel dropkicks him to the floor and follows him out with a suicide dive. He continues the abuse, throwing Collyer into the barricades. Collyer fights back and hits a bulldog on a table that was laying on the floor. He thinks that did the trick. Collyer brings a piece of barricade over and puts it in the ring. They take turns slamming each other into it. Steel grabs a chair but it backfires as Collyer dropkicks it back into his face. Collyer tries to Pillmanize Steel’s neck but Steel knocks him off the top rope. Steel hits a Tombstone Piledriver on the steel barricade, and then waffles Collyer on top of the head with a steel chair to bust him open and win the match at 11:51. That was pretty boring and not all that great but at least they had a feud built up so there was reason for its existence.
MATCH #5: Austin Aries & Jack Evans vs. AJ Styles & Matt Sydal
They show a nice little video package of Sydal’s entrance into Generation Next and his issues with leader Austin Aries. Evans is joining up with Aries tonight because Aries’ tag team championship partner Roderick Strong is challenging Bryan Danielson for the ROH World Title later on tonight.
Sydal and Evans start the match. They chain wrestle and show off their impressive agility. Styles tags in and he demands that Evans tag Aries into the match. Aries obliges. The crowd absolutely loves Aries. Sydal then wants to tag in because that’s who he has issues with. Aries dominates and works Sydal’s arm. He turns the table and asks for Styles to come in. Styles and Aries engage in an intense lockup and each try strikes that don’t connect. Momentum continues to shift and tags are made several times no both sides. Aries hits Sydal with a Golden Gate Swing, a move I’ve always liked. Evans and Aries isolate Sydal show good teamwork in wearing him down. Sydal slips out of an Evans suplex and hits him with a release German. Styles tags in and he destroys Evans just for fun. He works with Sydal to tag in and out frequently and wear Evans down. Eventually Aries gets the hot tag and he’s a house afire. He takes Sydal down with a Finlay Roll and Evans follows with a big splash off the top rope for a two-count. Styles gets in the ring and the referee loses control with offense coming in from all over the place. Evans tries a Space Flying Tiger Driver on Styles but he gets caught and hit with the Styles Clash! Aries and Sydal battle on the top rope and Sydal knocks him down so Aries hits Styles with the Heat Seeking Missile right after Styles threw Evans back in the ring. Whew. Sydal then hits Evans with the Shooting Star Press to get the impressive victory at 17:47. What a tremendous tag team match with great work from all involved. They played up the “competitive rivalry” but the guys weren’t just jerking each other off like a lot of guys in ROH do now. The finish was also really well timed and very creative. This all came off really well.
MATCH #6: Blood Generation vs. Do Fixer
I knew nothing about Dragon Gate at this time other than CIMA and Shingo Takagi were part of it, and that was only because of the Dragon Gate Invasion show back in August. Do Fixer is represented by Ryo Saito, Genki Horiguchi, and Dragon Kid. Blood Generation Masato Yoshino, Naruki Doi, and CIMA. Horiguchi and Yoshino start the match with some fast-paced chain wrestling. Kid and Doi take the next turns impressing the crowd. Everyone gets their chance to show off and no one is taking it easy tonight. After several momentum shifts Blood Generation is able to focus on Horiguchi and they keep him isolated with an impressive series of double and even triple team maneuvers. After several minutes Horiguchi is able to make the tag and now things start to get crazy. Everyone ends up on the floor except the team captains and they take it to each other. Blood Generation makes it back in and they triple-team Saito. They then turn their attention to Dragon Kid. Yoshino hits Sling Blade and the big missile dropkick for a two-count. Doi and Horiguchi are next. Horiguchi hits an inverted DDT for two. Doi hits Doi 555 for another two-count. He goes up top but Saito stops him and puts him on his shoulders. Kid hits a super rana and Saito follows with a Superfly Splash but it only gets two! The crowd is going nuts. Prazak and Leonard leave the booth, noting that this action speaks for itself. I will do the same and be back for the finish. Finally after an ungodly display of awesome from all six men that has to be seen to be believed, Kid hits Doi with the Ultra Hurricanrana to get the pin at 20:34. All six men worked their asses off and the crowd was juiced to the max by the end of it. Having seen a lot of Dragon Gate by now, I was worried how this would hold up, but it’s still great. They built everything up to the frenetic last few minutes and everybody looked great in the process. Nothing will top seeing this for the first time, especially live – it was a true mind blowing experience. There could not have been a better way to introduce Dragon Gate talent to the ROH roster.
MATCH #7: Six Woman Mayhem – Lacey vs. Rain vs. MsChif vs. Daizee Haze vs. Cheerleader Melissa vs. Allison Danger
Everyone starts off trying to score a quick pin, but with that many women in the ring that’s quite impossible. There are only supposed to be two in the ring at a time! The match settles with Haze and MsChif going at it. Haze sends MsChif to the floor so Lacey comes in and takes a crack at the Haze. Lacey sends her reeling so Danger comes in to challenge Lacey and she kicks her right in the back of the head. Rain comes in next and hits an inverted DDT. Melissa comes in and pitches Rain to the floor. She dispatches Haze as well to get to her SHIMMER rival MsChif. The action continues at a rapid pace. Lacey and Rain work together since they are a regular tag team. Lacey, Rain, Melissa, and Danger wind up on the floor and MsChif wipes them all out with a dive. Haze follows with a moonsault to wipe them all out again. Back in the ring the action still doesn’t let up. The parade of finishers begins but no one can get a pin because someone is there to break it up. Melissa puts MsChif in an inverted cloverleaf and makes MsChif kicks herself in the head! That’s awesome. Haze breaks it up. MsChif spits the green mist in Melissa’s eyes. She then hits Rain with the Desecrator to score the pin at 8:44. That was tremendous action, great work from all six wrestlers, and a good showcase for SHIMMER.
MATCH #8: Homicide vs. Mitch Franklin
Franklin looks nervous, as he probably should. Homicide dominates from the get-go and gets angry with the fans for chanting “Colt Cabana.” Franklin does get a little bit of token offense in but Homicide quickly cuts him down. Homicide misses a diving headbutt but it makes no difference as he hits Da Cop Killa to get the win at 2:34. That was a fine squash and it made perfect sense to have it given the angle.
MATCH #9: Samoa Joe vs. Christopher Daniels vs. Jimmy Jacobs
Jacobs is accompanied by Lacey. Joe and Daniels stare daggers at each other and ignore the third man in the match. Jacobs won’t be intimidated though, and he makes them pay attention to him with a series of dropkicks. His control of the match doesn’t last too long though. Daniels takes the advantage and uses some creative offense on both of his foes. The pace continues to be quick as all three men struggle to maintain control. Joe sends both Daniels and Jacobs to the floor and then wipes them out with the elbow suicida. Out on the floor Joe continues to dominate. Joe sends Jacobs back in the ring and Jacobs goes for the “Top 8” punches in the corner but Joe will have nothing to do with that. Lacey gets up on the apron to distract Joe and when Joe grabs her Jacobs comes to the rescue and slaps Joe across the face. Daniels grabs Joe in an O’Connor Roll, knocking Joe into Jacobs which knocks Lacey to the floor. Jacobs checks on his woman while the other two continue the battle. Daniels hits the Blue Thunder Driver for two. Joe responds with the snap powerslam for two. He then locks on a Cross Armbreaker and Daniels reaches the ropes. Daniels hits the uranage slam and goes for the Best Moonsault Ever but can’t connect. Jacobs hits Daniels with a spear. He stomps on Joe and then hits him with the big senton off the top rope. Jacobs goes back to Daniels and hits an STO for two. He hits the Implant DDT (Lacey’s finisher) for another two-count. Daniels comes back with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. He tries the Angel’s Wings but Jacobs counters with a headscissors. Jacobs goes for the Contra Code but Daniels pushes out of it. Joe nails Daniels with a superkick. Jacobs tries the Contra Code on Joe but Joe counters into the Choke and Jacobs is out at 9:12. The action never stopped in this one and Jacobs being in there with two top guys was an interesting dynamic. I also really liked the finish. Good stuff here.
MATCH #10: ROH World Championship Match – Bryan Danielson vs. Roderick Strong
Danielson has been the Champion since 9.17.05, and this is his fourteenth defense. Strong is one half of the ROH World Tag Team Champions along with Austin Aries. Prazak notes that it’s 10 of midnight, and the show has been going on for almost four hours. This is the third attempt for Strong to wrest the title from Danielson. The crowd is juiced from the opening bell, cheering both men. They’re not taking it easy in the early going, with fast-packed intense chain wrestling. Strong lands his first chop pretty early and he follows it with a dropkick to send the Champ to the floor. Back in the ring they go back and forth some more until Strong hits another chop and Danielson bails again. Danielson tries to take a walk but Strong gets on the microphone and challenges him to get back to the ring. Strong even calls him a bad word. Back in the ring again and this time Danielson takes control. Strong fights back and goes to work on the arm. Neither man can maintain the advantage for too long, which makes sense given how well they know each other, since they’ve had two singles matches, a three-way, and a tag match against each other in the last five months. Just over 15 minutes have passed and Danielson is wearing Strong down with submission holds. It’s been a pretty even match-up so far. Strong fights back and locks Danielson in the surfboard and almost gets a pin on him with it. The challenger unleashes more chops. Strong tries a sunset flip but it leads to a series of pinfall reversals for two-counts. Danielson tries to follow up but Strong cuts him off with a big chop for two. The Champion hits a diving European Uppercut for two. Danielson then locks on the surfboard. He continues the abuse and hits a diving headbutt for two. Danielson keeps up the pressure and put son Cattle Mutilation but Strong is too close to the ropes. Strong is able to move out of the way when Danielson tries another diving headbutt, but both men are slow to reach their feet. Strong tries a couple of pinning combinations for near-falls and then lands a leg cradle backbreaker for two. He hits a huge superplex but only gets a two-count. Leonard mentions that we’re just over the 30-minute mark. Strong puts on the Stronghold and Danielson reaches the ropes and rolls to the floor. That doesn’t matter to Strong, who hits a flying forearm off the apron. Back in the ring Danielson cuts Strong off with strikes. Danielson hits three rolling German Suplexes for a two-count. He locks on the Crossface Chicken Wing and Strong reaches the ropes. Danielson is absolutely dominant here and Strong is in trouble. Strong catches Danielson with a gutwrench backbreaker but he can’t follow up because he is too beaten down. Danielson uses the Figure-Four Leglock and Strong reaches the ropes. The Champ goes for a Dragon Suplex but Strong counters with a victory roll for two. Danielson hits a low dropkick to take Strong off his feet. Every time Strong tries some kind of comeback Danielson has an answer for him. Danielson locks on a Boston Crab. Strong escapes and traps Danielson in Cattle Mutilation! Danielson gets to the ropes. Strong suplexes Danielson from the apron to the floor! Prazak won’t stop ripping on WrestleMania 22 and even John Cena in particular. Just sell your own product, dude. Strong beats up Danielson on the floor but misses a chop and hits the ring post! That gives Danielson a huge advantage. Danielson goes to work on the hand and seems really confident now. Strong fights back with chops using his left hand, which is just all kinds of awesome. Danielson tries to bail but Strong follows him. Strong charges at Danielson against the guardrail but Danielson moves and pitches him into the crowd. Danielson then goes back in the ring and hits the springboard dive! Back in the ring Danielson hits the missile dropkick. Danielson tries the elbows but Strong avoids them and hits a gutbuster! Strong hits two Sick Kicks and a Gibson Driver for two! The crowd bought that. Strong hits a half-nelson backbreaker and then another one. He follows with the torture rack backbreaker, further injuring his own knee. Strong covers but only gets two. He locks on the Stronghold and Danielson reaches the ropes. Strong tries to go up top but it backfires when Danielson hits the belly-to-back superplex for two. Danielson cinches in Cattle Mutilation but Strong will not give up. Once again Danielson puts on Cattle Mutilation and adds knees to the head. Strong gets back to his feet but Danielson knocks him down with a huge forearm. Danielson hits a Dragon Suplex and rolls it into the Crossface Chicken Wing! Once again Strong reaches the ropes. They fight up to the top rope and Strong hits a super gutbuster! Bobby Cruise announces five minutes left in the time limit as Strong covers for two. Strong puts on the Stronghold but Danielson counters with a cradle to finally get the pin at 56:01! The fact that the crowd stayed with them the whole way is nothing short of incredible. This match is even better than I remember it, with awesome work from both guys and great selling throughout. It never felt as long as it was and Strong played a great underdog to Danielson’s determined Champion. These two had nothing but great matches together and this one may be the best.