Hammerstein Ballroom – New York City, NY – Saturday, December 27, 2008
Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard are on commentary.
MATCH #1: Kenny Omega vs. Claudio Castagnoli
Claudio takes the early advantage by aggressively going right after his less experienced opponent. Omega tries to use his agility to make a comeback but Claudio swats him away. Claudio tries to throw Omega to the floor, but Omega blocks it, but can’t block the hot shot. That gets a count of two. Claudio continues to overpower Omega as the crowd stays on his case. Omega hits a monkey flip and has a few people in the crowd behind him as he makes the big comeback. He misses a spin kick and eats a European Uppercut instead. Omega hits the leapfrog bulldog and now the crowd is getting into it. Claudio misses the Bicycle Kick and Omega hits the stupidest move ever invented in the history of wrestling. That sends Claudio to the floor, and Omega dives out right on top of him. Back in the ring Omega hits a missile dropkick to the back for two. Claudio comes back with a chin breaker, and after a few reversals finally hits the Bicycle Kick. He goes for the Ricola Bomb, but Omega reverses it to a small package to get the upset win at 7:00 flat. Omega still bores and/or irritates me, and I don’t know why Claudio can’t buy a win since turning heel.
MATCH #2: Four Corner Survival – Chris Hero vs. Necro Butcher vs. Jerry Lynn vs. Rhett Titus
Necro and Titus start the match, with Necro being aggressive and Titus trying to avoid him. Titus certainly doesn’t appreciate it when Necro tries to show that his own thrust is a must, but his offensive “assault” doesn’t last long. Necro hits an early right hand to the face and Titus crawls over to make the tag to Hero. Before they can make contact, Lynn asks Necro to be tagged in and Necro obliges. Lynn gets a flurry of offense in and Hero powders. We wind up with Lynn and Necro in the ring, and Necro shows off his chain wrestling ability. Titus tries to interfere but gets knocked to the floor. Hero makes a blind tag off Lynn and cracks Necro in the back of the head with an elbow for a near-fall. Titus and Hero start working together on Necro. Hero tries another Rolling Elbow but Necro blocks it and hits a big punch and makes the tag to Lynn. Titus and Hero continue working together, this time on Lynn. Hero hits a huge Rolling Elbow on Lynn and Necro breaks up the fall. Lynn makes the comeback and works in his signature spots but can’t put Hero away. Titus tires a Sunset Bomb to the floor on Necro, but he counters with a rana! Hero and Lynn wind up in the ring. Sweeney distracts the ref, allowing Sara Del Rey to slip Hero the elbow pad, which he places on his boot. Lynn avoids the boot though and hits the Cradle Piledriver for the pin at 12:50. I think Titus should have gone over there, since it would have meant something for him but not for any of the other three guys.
Jimmy Jacobs is in the ring to confront his former follower. He calls him a sellout, and when Necro charges the ring Delirious comes out to attack Necro from behind. This brings out Kevin Steen and El Generico, and the World Tag Team Title match is on!
MATCH #3: ROH World Tag Team Title Match – Kevin Steen & El Generico vs. Jimmy Jacobs & Delirious
Steen and Generico have been the champions since 9.19.08, and this is their fourth defense. The champions start off hot, so the challengers bail. Not deterred, Steen flips over the ropes and wipes both men out. The action settles in the ring with the champions working Delirious over in their half of the ring. Delirious cuts Generico off and Jacobs tags in. Generico is still able to thwart Jacobs coming off the top rope and now he takes a beating in the champions’ corner. Jacobs takes a beating for a few minutes until Delirious illegally enters the ring and takes out Steen’s knee. He then legally tags into the match and continues working the knee. That goes on for a few minutes until Steen makes the hot tag go Generico. He nails Delirious with a huge boot to the face and he goes up top. He hits a high cross body block but Delirious kicks out at two. He then leaps to the floor on Jacobs, while Steen hits Delirious with a cannonball. Generico re-enters the ring with a top-rope splash on Delirious for another near-fall. He gets another two-count with the Michinoku Driver. Steen tags in and Jacobs grabs him from the apron, but a Steen avoids a charging Delirious and Jacobs hits the floor. The Package Piledriver can’t connect because Steen’s knee is too injured, so he puts on the Sharpshooter instead. Jacobs breaks up the hold. Delirious nails Steen with the Panic Attack and then hits Shadows over Hell. Jacobs follows with a senton, but Steen somehow kicks out at two. Generico pulls Jacobs to the floor, and Delirious gets distracted by Daizee Haze. Jacobs hilariously has Generico in a headlock on the floor. Steen hits Delirious with the Pump Handle Neckbreaker on his bad knee, and Delirious rolls to the floor. Since Kevin Steen is too injured to dive off the top rope, Daizee Haze tries to do so. Jacobs rightly pulls her down off the top rope. I mean, what the hell is she doing interfering in the match? She continues to distract Delirious, leading to Steen hitting the Package Piledriver followed by the Generico Brainbuster to get the pin at 13:42. I don’t like that Steen was able to hit the Package Piledriver on his second try, especially when Generico’s finisher is strong enough by itself. Other than that, it was a very solid match, but one can’t help but feel underwhelmed by Steen and Generico’s reign thus far. Something else that bothered me about this match is that from a logical standpoint I totally side with Jimmy Jacobs’s actions toward Daizee Haze, which I don’t think is intended, but she’s sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong. Jacobs berates Delirious after the loss and they make their way to the back.
MATCH #4: Street Fight – Sweet & Sour Inc. vs. Brent Albright, Roderick Strong & Erick Stevens
Sweet & Sour is being represented by Davey Richards, Eddie Edwards, and Go Shiozaki tonight. The good guys waste no time, charging the ring to attack their adversaries. They brawl outside the ring for the first several minutes. Strong and Edwards are the first two in the ring while the other four remain outside. Albright (who has ripped his pants) gets a near fall (they’re back in the ring) on Edwards with a powerslam. The match continues as a big brawl, as tables are introduced. Shiozaki gets into the ring and German Suplexes Stevens through a table propped up in the corner. Strong breaks up the pin attempt. I just realized I can’t remember why Stevens is feuding with Sweet & Sour. Stevens and Strong both get taken out and Albright is left in a three-on-one situation. He manages to get Richards in the Crowbar, and Edwards breaks it up with a chair. Shiozaki and Edwards smash the chair into Albright’s face, but that only gets two. They beat on him for a bit until Stevens and Strong finally recover and clean house on the villains. Richards is the first one to go through a table, on the floor, courtesy of Roderick Strong. The good guys get Shiozaki alone and their combined forces lead to Albright locking on the Crowbar. Shiozaki taps out in his last ROH match to date at 14:33. That was a decent enough brawl, but I’m just not invested in the plight of any of the three babyfaces.
MATCH #5: Dream Tag Team Match – Kensuke Sasaki & Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Jay & Mark Briscoe
Nakajima and Mark start the match. Mark backs Nakajima into a corner and delivers a clean break, but when Nakajima backs Mark in, he chops him in the chest. They trade kicks and slaps and neither man will back down from the other. Nakajima hits a hard kick to the chest and Mark tags his older brother Jay into the match. They go back and forth, and the crowd supports both teams. Sasaki tags into the match and gets a nice pop. He wins a chop exchange but gets hit with a dropkick. Sasaki quickly comes back with a clothesline and a suplex for two. Nakajima tags back in and Jay drives him into the corner and tags Mark. The former five-time ROH World Tag Team Champions isolate on Nakajima now, keeping him in their half of the ring. Nakajima comes back by sweeping Mark’s injured leg out from under him and tagging in Sasaki. He continues working on Mark’s knee, and Nakajima does the same. After several minutes Mark finally makes the tag to Jay and he cleans house. Nakajima comes back with some kicks, but Jay comes back with a chokeslam for two. Soon after Nakajima makes the tag to Sasaki, and he wins a chop battle with Jay and then hits a powerslam for two. A judo throw gets another two. Jay landed awkwardly on his shoulder and Sasaki locks on a submission, but Mark breaks it up. Sasaki knocks them both down with a simultaneous clothesline. The match breaks down to a big brawl and referee Paul Turner has lost control. Nakajima hits a series of brutal superkicks on Jay. A running knee and another kick get two. Yet another superkick gets another near fall for Nakajima. The Briscoes briefly recover and try the springboard Doomsday Device but Mark can’t complete the move due to his injured knee. Jay hits Nakajima with a clothesline but Nakajima breaks it up. Mark and Sasaki go to the floor and Mark whips him into the guardrail. Back in the ring the Briscoes hit the Doomsday without the springboard, but Sasaki breaks it up. Moments later Jay nails Nakajima with the Jay Driller to get the pin at 16:47. That was the good, hard-hitting match I expected it to be, and much better than the one from last night. The Briscoes are still great.
Immediately after the match the American Wolves come out and attack the Briscoes. They handcuff Jay to the ropes and then brutalize Mark’s knee with a chair. The ROH World Tag Team Champions Kevin Steen and El Generico come out to run them off. They turn their backs to check on the Briscoes, and the Wolves attack the champions! Roderick Strong, Brent Albright, and Erick Stevens come out to run them off for good. Brent Albright is pissed! He’s so pissed in fact, that he introduces Cary into the storyline by begging him for a Steel Cage Warfare match. Cary agrees. This was a great segment to get the Wolves over, but it got stupid as soon as Albright took the microphone. Go figure.
MATCH #6: Number One Contender’s Match – Tyler Black vs. Austin Aries
They show clips of their match from Wrestling at the Gateway three weeks prior, where Black got a clean pin with the God’s Last Gift. The crowd is split down the middle for this one. Both men start cautiously, since there’s so much on the line in this one. They trade holds and maneuvers back and forth in the early going. Aries gets the first advantage and works on Black’s arm. Black avoids the patented “escape from the head-scissors dropkick” but Aries puts the headlock right back on. That doesn’t last too long as Aries tries a head-scissors, and Black hits the Aries dropkick! The crowd is pretty much on Black’s side now. Aries doesn’t appreciate that, so he takes Black down but misses the Power Drive Elbow. That brings out an audible “same old shit” chant. Black is in firm control now and goes for covers rather often. He tries to fire up and charge into the corner but Aries cuts him off. Aries tries to do the same move, but Black cuts him off. Both men get back to their feet and Aries hits a knee to the gut and throws Black to the floor. He follows him out with the Heat Seeking Missile. Back in the ring Aries gets a two-count and the crowd chants for both men. Aries takes the battle to the floor and whips Black into the barricade. He sets Black up in a chair and hits a running dropkick to the face. Back in the ring Aries gets another two-count. Aries locks on the Last Chancery, but Black reaches the ropes. He once again throws Black to the floor. Aries tries a Death Valley Driver on the apron, but Black reverses it and hits an F-5 onto the apron! Both men are down outside the ring and Sinclair puts the count on. They make it back in around 15, with Black still on the apron. They trade punches and Black knocks Aries down. He misses the springboard forearm but hits a Pele Kick and Aries goes to the floor. Black follows him out with an awesome dive over the ropes and once again both men are down. Back in the ring Black gets a two-count. He tries God’s Last Gift but Aries blocks it and unloads a series of right hands. Aries tries the Brainbuster but Black reverses it to the Paroxysm for two. Black tries the Buckle Bomb but Aries counters it to the Last Chancery. That doesn’t work so Aries once again goes for the Brainbuster but Black gets a quick rollup for two. The Buckle Bomb connects this time and Black gets another two-count. Black goes up, presumably for the Phoenix Splash, but Jimmy Jacobs comes out and momentarily distracts him. That gives Aries the chance to hit a kick to the head and the Brainbuster, and then woozily hits the 450 Splash to score the pin and earn a title shot at 17:07. That was easily the best match between the two, with great crowd heat, particularly in favor of Tyler Black.
Aries heads to the back, and Jacobs starts berating Black, telling him that he was the chosen one. Black shoves Jacobs down to the mat, and now Jacobs wants a truce. He’s of course insincere, as he kicks Black in the balls and chokes him out with the End Time. Jacobs grabs a chair from ringside and threatens to Pillmanize him. Austin Aries comes back out to save Black, and then he blasts Black over the head with the chair. Jacobs and Aries uneasily double-team Black, going after Black’s now bloody forehead. They leave and Black eventually makes his way to the back, with the fans fully behind him now.
MATCH #7: ROH World Title Match – Nigel McGuinness vs. Naomichi Marufuji
They show clips of the match these two had at Glory by Honor V Night Two over three years ago. Marufuji won that match to successfully defend his newly won GHC Title. Nigel has been the champion since 10.6.07, and this is his thirty-first defense. Nigel goes after the neck to start, as Lenny Leonard announces that ROH has set a new attendance record tonight, but he curiously omits the number. If Nigel can successfully defend the title tonight, he will become the first man to ever hold the ROH World Title throughout a calendar year. They trade a series of near-falls with some pinning combinations and we’re back to square one. Nigel takes a short advantage, but Marufuji has soon reversed the momentum and wears Nigel down with a headlock. The champion reverses to a head scissors, but Marufuji escapes and delivers a kick to the jaw. He then goes back to the neck, looking to soften it up for the Shiranui. Marufuji even executes the SkullF*cker, one of my favorite moves. Nigel comes back with a mule kick in the corner, which I still can’t figure out how anyone would fall for. Marufuji rolls to the floor and Nigel follows him out, driving his shoulder into the barricade. Nigel charges and eats a superkick, followed by a Shiranui! He rolls Nigel back into the ring but only gets two. Nigel goes back on offense and hits a cool hammerlock slam. He throws Marufuji to the floor, but when he sticks his head through the ropes to taunt his opponent he gets dropkicked in the face. Back in the ring Marufuji counters Nigel’s attacks and hits a clothesline for two. Marufuji puts on a combination Cobra Clutch and Triangle Choke. Nigel makes it back to his feet, but Marufuji takes him down with a modified lung blower for two. Marufuji goes to the top rope but Nigel stops him and tries the Tower of London. That gets countered and Marufuji tries the Shiranui. Nigel avoids that and hits the kick to the back and clothesline in the corner combo. He goes to the top rope but Marufuji kicks him down. They trade strikes on the apron with the post between them. Marufuji hits a superkick and a Shiranui on the ring apron! That only gets two, so Marufuji sets up for the corner to corner dropkick. Nigel avoids it but still takes a kick to the head. Marufuji slams him down and goes to the top himself. Nigel knocks him down and goes for the Tower of London. He alters his plan slightly and gives Marufuji a receipt in the form of the Tower of London on the apron. Back in the ring it only gets a two-count and no pop at all. Nigel hits a lariat for another near-fall. Nigel’s right arm looks limp. He hits a lariat with his left arm for another two-count. The champ goes for another Tower of London and it’s blocked. Nigel tries the headstand in the corner and eats a superkick for his troubles. This time Marufuji hits the Coast to Coast Dropkick. That gets a near-fall. Marufuji nails a series of superkicks but Nigel eventually avoids one and hits the Jawbreaker Lariat to get the pin at 18:14. That was a superbly executed match from two of the best wrestlers in the world today.
Jerry Lynn comes out and confronts the ROH World Champion. He just wants to say what an incredible match Nigel just had and takes a shot at WWE and TNA. Nigel is rightfully pissed off about Lynn trying to steal his thunder and makes a comparison to Randy the Ram. That’s a stretch. Lynn gets all pissed off, and he is still just awful on the mic. I just don’t buy him at all.
Before the main event can get underway, Prince Nana is in the ring, begging for a job! Bobby Cruise tries to catch him, but security does a much better job. The crowd loudly chants “We Want Nana!” Give the people what they want!
MATCH #8: Fight without Honor – Bryan Danielson vs. Takeshi Morishima
This match is well over a year in the making. All the matches have been awesome. Danielson starts the match with a surprise springboard knee strike that sends Morishima to the floor. A baseball slide sends Morishima into the crowd, and Danielson leaps over the ropes and wipes out his opponent. Danielson is in control early on with a very aggressive attack on the floor. Back in the ring Danielson remains in control. You know it’s rare to get two former ROH World Champions in a match against each other these days. Danielson tries a sunset bomb to the floor but Morishima counters by dropping his gigantic frame across Danielson’s chest. He throws him into the guardrail and gets back in the ring to a chorus of boos. Danielson’s head is busted open, and Morishima goes right after it. Morishima uses a chair and continues the abuse on the floor. He also beats on Danielson in the ring. Danielson is a bloody mess now. Morishima introduces a steel chain to the match and ties it around Danielson’s neck. He goes up top for the missile dropkick, but Danielson avoids it! Danielson hits a running forearm that sends Morishima to the floor. He follows him out with a dive that carries him all the way over the barricade and into the crowd. Danielson hits a missile dropkick to the knee (damn impressive), and then hits a couple of kicks to the chest. He scores a two-count. Danielson butterflies the arms but Morishima backs him in the corner and hits a kick to the face. Morishima hits a uranage suplex for two. He turns Danielson inside-out with a lariat but again only for two. Morishima tries the Back-Drop Driver but Danielson reverses to a small package for two. A German Suplex with a bridge also gets two. He then locks on Cattle Mutilation and rolls it into the elbows to the face. Morishima comes back and hits another lariat but can’t make a cover right away. He goes back to the chain, wrapping it around Danielson’s neck and trying to choke him out. Danielson won’t give up, so Morishima goes for a pin but he kicks out at two! Morishima goes for a Super Back Drop Driver, but Danielson reverses it to a super back suplex! That gets two for Danielson. Now Danielson goes to the chain and wraps it around Morishima’s neck. He stomps his head in, and then locks on a Triangle Choke. Morishima will not give in. He pulls Danielson off the canvas and slams him down with one arm. Both men get back to their feet and Danielson jumps off the second rope and gets caught and slammed down. Morishima hits another lariat and the Back-Drop Driver, but Danielson was too close to the ropes! He tries to hit Danielson with the chain, but Danielson avoids it and locks on a Fujiwara Armbar. He then uses the chain to tie Morishima’s hands behind his back. He then stands him up and they obviously call the next spots. Ouch, that was blatant. Danielson knocks Morishima down and hits a series of kicks to the groin. He then wraps the chain around his arm and delivers the elbows to the face! He rolls that over to Cattle Mutilation and Morishima is out cold at 20:46. That was the usual batch of awesome from these two, except for that obvious spot calling.
The main event is worth the price of admission here alone, because Morishima v Danielson was always awesome. The two matches prior to that were both four stars as well, so there’s plenty of goodness on this show to keep you entertained.
Tags: Bryan Danielson, Final Battle, Nigel McGuinness, ROH, Takeshi Morishima