Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard are on commentary.
This Is ROH
We open with a video package highlighting the hard-hitting, fast-paced in ring style that has defined ROH. I don’t remember if this video was made for any specific reason, but it’s a good collection of clips. It includes a highlight reel of past stars, legends, and foreign talent that have made appearances.
MATCH #1: El Generico vs. Chris Hero
Hero is accompanied by Larry Sweeney, Bobby Dempsey, and Sara Del Rey. My goodness Hero’s gear was so ridiculous at this point. That being the case, he goes right after Generico’s arm. Generico responds in kind and takes it down to the canvas. Hero comes back and takes Generico down and the masked man simply nips up so Hero takes a powder. He then makes Bobby Cruise announce that what Generico did was not impressive. Back in the ring Generico tries to knock Hero down with a shoulderblock but has no luck. Generico hits a chop instead and avoids a Hero armdrag, and then hits an armdrag of his own into an armbar. Hero backs Generico into the corner. That doesn’t get him too far and Generico locks on an armbar again. Hero powers his way out of it and locks on a headlock. Generico pushes him off into the ropes and Hero comes out with a couple of forearms to the back of the head. Hero then shows off his agility with all those little flips and stuff. I wasn’t much of a Hero fan at this point. Back in the ring Generico hits yet more armdrags. Hero uses referee Todd Sinclair as a human shield and that allows him to take control. Actually it doesn’t last long as they run the ropes and Generico throws Hero over the top rope. Hero successfully skins the cat and celebrates about it, so Generico clotheslines him to the floor for real. Generico goes to the apron and Dempsey distracts the referee while Sweeney grabs Generico’s leg. Hero grabs Generico and pushes him off the apron and into the barricade. Sweeney takes a few cheap shots while he can. Hero takes control for real now and even finds time to abuse Dempsey. Back in the ring Hero gets a two-count. Hero hits a senton off the second rope for a two-count. He goes for a ridiculously long guillotine legdrop and doesn’t quite make it, landing hard on his posterior. That’s a clever spot; I don’t think I’ve ever seen it in another match. Generico goes on offense and hits a pop-up rana off the top rope for a two-count. He goes up top for a cross body but Hero rolls it into a Cravat. Hero hits a Cravat Neckbreaker and then a move that Prazak describes as “drives him down to the canvas.” Come on just call it something. How about an inverted suplex into an Ace Crusher? It’s not like you’re doing this live. Generico comes back with a backslide (which is how he beat Hero in the semifinals of the Race to the Top Tournament) for two. He then hits a big swinging DDT for two. Hero comes back with a neckbreaker out of the corner and then goes up top. Generico simply pops up and goes for the Brainbuster on the turnbuckle but Hero shoves him to the canvas. Hero somersaults over Generico and winds up in the opposite corner, otherwise known as the perfect position for the running Yakuza kick! It gets a two-count. Generico goes for a diving headbutt and Hero catches him with a Cravat Suplex. Hero then hits the Hero’s Welcome to get the revenge win at 14:25. It felt longer than it was but solid opener otherwise.
The Hangmen 3 (Brent Albright, BJ Whitmer, and lackey Shane Hagadorn, once again without leader Adam Pearce) come out to attack Generico, and they set up a table on the floor. Albright powerbombs Generico from the ring through said table. They seem pretty happy with themselves. Finally Kevin Steen comes out to save his partner (what took him so long?). The crowd chants for Delirious and they get what they want to start this impromptu tag team match.
MATCH #2: Kevin Steen & Delirious vs. Brent Albright & BJ Whitmer
Steen and Whitmer fight on the floor while Delirious and Albright start off in the ring. Delirious hits Albright with a leaping lariat as Generico gets carried out. He chokes Albright with his ring jacket and then makes the tag. The oddball team of Steen and Delirious effectively cut the ring in half on Albright. Delirious hits a drop toehold and a senton to the back. He goes up top and Whitmer grabs his leg. That allows Albright to catch Delirious coming off the top with a spinning slam. Whitmer officially tags in and the Hangmen go to work. He goes for a superplex but Delirious pushes him down and hits a missile dropkick! However Delirious is unable to make the tag and the Hangmen abuse him some more. Albright hits him with a belly-to-belly suplex and Whitmer follows up with a frog splash. Delirious is able to kick out at two and Albright tags back in. The former Gunner Scott hits a snap powerslam for a two-count. Albright goes up to the second rope and tries a jumping something but Delirious headbutts him in the midsection. Finally Delirious makes the hot tag and Steen is a house afire. He knocks Albright to the floor and signals for a dive but Whitmer cuts him off. Whitmer then foolishly whips Steen to the ropes and Steen hits that dive he was looking for. Delirious gets back in the ring to keep Whitmer at bay. Steen comes back in to hit the pumphandle neckbreaker. He tries to talk quick strategy with Delirious but they don’t have experience teaming together so Albright gets back in the ring and breaks them up, throwing Delirious to the floor. Albright hits the 61Knee and Whitmer follows with a bridging German Suplex for two. Delirious dumps Albright to the floor and they take Whitmer down in the corner. He hits the Panic Attack and Steen follows him with a Cannonball. They follow that up with a Shadows Over Hell/Swanton combo, and Albright breaks up the cover. Both Steen and Delirious throw one of the Hangmen to the floor. Delirious hits a dive to wipe them both out and then throws Whitmer back in the ring. Steen goes for the Package Piledriver but Hagadorn snakes in and hits a low blow and gives Whitmer a chair. While the referee is distracted with Albright and Delirious on the floor, Albright hits Steen with an exploder on the chair to get the pin at 11:00. That was another rock solid match featuring some smart work by odd couple partners Steen and Delirious.
After the match Shane Hagadorn gets on the house mic. He sends Albright and Whitmer, saying he’s “got it from here.” He says that Adam Pearce can’t stand New York and that’s why he’s not here. Then he issues an open challenge, in honor of Pearce of course. Unfortunately for him, Austin Aries answers the call.
MATCH #3: Austin Aries vs. Shane Hagadorn
Hagadorn attacks before the bell and rakes the eyes. He actually hits a Death Valley Driver and Aries kicks out at one. He hits a charging knee in the corner and a series of right hands. He hits his one move – that kick to the face in the corner that he does. Then he celebrates too long and Aries blasts him with the IED. Aries follows up with a kick to the head, a brainbuster, and the 450 Splash to get the pin at 1:14. That was the right length for the participants involved.
Continuing a trend, Aries gets on the mic after the match. He has a big announcement to make. A few people boo and Aries says “if you think you’re more talented feel free to step into this ring any time.” Yeah well if he did that security would stop him you dolt. I hate it when wrestlers tell fans to get in the ring as a comeback. Especially for ROH, when they’re all “cheer and boo whoever you want, we love the fans, etc.” but anytime a fan says something unpopular one of the wrestlers gets all uppity about it. Anyway, Aries disbands the Resilience, leaving Erick Stevens and Matt Cross on their own. He says that he has no time for Faction Warfare while he’s trying to become the first ever two-time ROH World Champion. Speaking of, current ROH World Champion Nigel McGuinness comes out. He says he respects Aries. He also laments his injury, and a fan says something rude (didn’t catch exactly what). Nigel then shows Aries the proper way to show disgust with the fans, interacting with them in a way that enhances his character and furthers the angle rather than just blindly throwing out the “yeah well then you get in the ring” junk. The champ promises to put the title on the line against Aries on December 29.
MATCH #4: Claudio Castagnoli vs. Naomichi Marufuji
This is a first-time ever singles match. It’s surprisingly low on the card. The fans shout “Hey!” to support Claudio. They also shout it for Marufuji, so both men have their support. This is ROH vs. NOAH, Europe vs. Asia, Switzerland vs. Japan, and two really talented wrestlers facing each other. They go back and forth with some respectful chain wrestling in the early going. Claudio wears Marufuji down with a headlock, and Marufuji tries to go to the eyes. Marufuji powers up and breaks the headlock, only to get dumped to the apron. He actually comes back with a springboard Iron Claw. Claudio fights back with a claw of his own. This match pretty much gets five stars for that. The height advantage works out for Claudio, as he wins the Claw battle. Marufuji powers out and the pace quickens. They wrestle to a standoff and the crowd is quite appreciative. They engage in a test of strength and once again the taller and stronger Castagnoli wins the battle. It’s probably more because his pants sparkle like Edward Cullen. Just because I’ve seen it doesn’t mean I like it. Marufuji pops up and leaps to the top rope. Claudio shoves him down to the apron but Marufuji grabs his leg and hits a Dragon Screw Leg Whip between the top and middle ropes. Marufuji viciously attacks the knee with a variety of holds. He locks on a Figure Four Leglock. Claudio turns it over and they roll into the ropes. He comes back with a modified flapjack out of the corner, and then hits the Les Artes Lift. He hits a Perfect Plex but can only use one leg to bridge so Marufuji kicks out at two. He tries a back suplex but Marufuji slips out and hits a Codebreaker, and then Claudio catches him with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for two. Claudio hits a vertical suplex with a bridge. You don’t see that every day. Marufuji comes back with an enziguiri and a clothesline. He hits another clothesline for a two-count. Claudio avoids a dropkick and hits an impressive bridging German Suplex for two. He tries the Ricola Bomb but Marufuji avoids it. Marufuji can’t avoid the Bicycle Kick though, and that gets two. Claudio goes to the top rope and Marufuji dropkicks him down. Marufuji hits a superplex but Claudio kicks out. Back up Marufuji hits a superkick and goes for Shiranui but Claudio blocks and dumps him all the way to the floor. Back in the ring Claudio hits a diving European Uppercut off the top rope for two. Claudio tries another one but Marufuji blocks it and tries a powerbomb, but Claudio counters that with a Giant Swing. He then blasts Marufuji with another European Uppercut but he kicks out! Back on their feet Marufuji fights back and stomps Claudio’s face into the mat. Marufuji hits a superkick and the Shiranui, but Claudio is able to get his foot on the bottom rope! Claudio kicks Marufuji in the gut and tries the Ricola Bomb but it leads to a series of reversals and Claudio gets an O’Connor Roll with a bridge (for a second I thought he was going for the Chaos Theory for the huge upset victory at 18:41. What a terrific midcard match and a big win for Claudio Castagnoli.
Larry Sweeney and Chris Hero come out to attack Claudio. Sweeney hits a top rope elbow drop, and then says that whenever Claudio has something to be proud of, Sweet & Sour Inc. will be there to reign on his parade.
MATCH #5: ROH World Tag Team Title Match – The Briscoe Brothers vs. Necro Butcher & Jimmy Jacobs
The Briscoes have been the champions since 3.30.07 and this is their sixteenth defense. The champs don’t waste much time getting into the ring and taking it right to the challengers. They send Jacobs to the floor. Then they turn their attention to Necro. Jacobs comes back in with a steel chair. But misses and gets tossed into the air. Necro brings another chair in the ring and Mark picks up the first one. They swing at each other and the referee calls for a double disqualification at 0:40. The crowd is obviously not happy with this finish.
MATCH #6: Bryan Danielson vs. Takeshi Morishima
Danielson dives onto Morishima before he can even enter the ring. This is the third singles match and Morishima has won both of them. Danielson has caught the big man completely off guard. He throws Morishima and goes up top, but Morishima catches him and hits a suplex. Morishima takes Danielson down in the corner and kicks away at him. The intensity between these two is awesome. Morishima hits a series of elbows to the head for a two-count. The beating continues, as Morishima keeps Danielson down. He hits the cartwheel avalanche, and then a missile dropkick that sends Danielson to the floor. He hits an Ole Butt-Butt, and when he goes for another one Danielson moves and clotheslines him into the crowd! Danielson goes up to the top rope and wipes out Morishima with a dive. He grabs the ring bell and the hammer and goes after Morishima’s eye! Morishima panics and nails Danielson with the Back Drop Driver on the floor! Danielson crawls back up to the apron and Morishima knocks him right back down into the barricade, busting him open. Once again Danielson is able to crawl back onto the apron, and he drives a shoulder into the midsection and gets a sunset flip for two! Morishima flattens him with a lariat. He goes for the Back Drop Driver but Danielson lands on his feet. Danielson tries a series of roaring elbows but Morishima shrugs them off so he dropkicks the knee. He unloads a series of kicks to the chest and then the elbows to the head! He picks Morishima up for a bridging German Suplex but Morishima kicks out at two! He then unleashes the kicks to the head and locks on a triangle choke. Morishima picks him up and powerbombs him down. Danielson immediately hits another dropkick to the knee, and then runs into a lariat. Morishima unloads with more forearms, aggressively targeting Danielson’s injured eye. Danielson escapes with a low blow, and then unleashes repeated kicks to Morishima’s nuts. Referee Paul Turner tries to stop him and Danielson hurls him into the corner for the DQ at 11:40. The fans are pissed at the DQ, but in this case I actually think it’s a great finish to a hot match. It lets the feud continue, and this feud brought the awesome on a regular basis.
ROH World Champion Nigel McGuinness comes out to scold Danielson, and winds up getting kicked in the injured arm for his trouble. Well it serves him right for interfering in someone else’s business.
It’s intermission time and Rebecca Bayless catches a word with Bryan Danielson, who is not at all ashamed about what he did tonight. Nor should he be. He also tells Nigel McGuinness that he’s coming after the ROH World Title.
MATCH #7: Tyler Black vs. Alex Payne
Black wastes no time going after the youngster Payne. He knocks him to the apron and Payne get s a shoulder to the midsection and a sunset flip for two. Black doesn’t much care for that and hits a Buckle Bomb and God’s Last Gift to get the pin at 1:08. That was obviously not much, but a good squash.
The Briscoes come out to run Black off, and they challenge the Age of The Fall to a real match, TONIGHT! They want unsanctioned, no disqualifications, and they’ll put the belts on the line!
MATCH #8: No Remorse Corps vs. The Vulture Squad
The Squad charges the ring and the fight is on. Strong and Ruckus battle in the ring as I get the sense that this one is going to be hard to keep up with. Romero and Jigsaw replace Strong and Ruckus in the ring. They go to the floor and Richards and Evans take their turn. Jigsaw wipes out the entire NRC with a dive. The Vultures take Romero into the ring and triple-team him. Richards comes in and gets the same treatment. Strong makes his way in and finally the NRC is able to take control and the match settles into a regular six-man tag. The NRC take turns working on Jigsaw, keeping him grounded. After several minutes Jigsaw avoids stereo kicks and makes the tag to Ruckus. The match breaks down and the referee decides to count pinfalls for anyone regardless of who’s legal. The match returns to how it started, with bodies flying all over the place. Strong and Evans wind up in the ring trading shots. The other four rejoin them in the ring briefly, and then they all start tumbling to the floor again so that people can start hitting dives. Once again we’re left with Strong and Evans, the two leaders, in the ring. Evans knocks Strong to the floor with a handspring elbow. He tries the Space Flying Tiger Driver but Strong moves. Strong moves the ring mats and hits Evans with a HARD Gibson Driver on the floor. He throws him back in the ring and locks on a sick Stronghold and Evans is done at 14:35. That was fun for a scrambled egg type match.
The Age of The Fall (sans Necro Butcher) is outside a Toys ‘R’ Us store to cut a promo about childhood innocence. This relates because there’s a strip club right next door.
Back at the arena, Sweeney, Hero, Dempsey, and Del Rey make their way back out and complain about Claudio Castagnoli. Hero also says that he should be the ROH World Champion after last night. He also complains about Austin Aries being the number one contender. That brings Aries out. He challenges Hero to a match RIGHT NOW. Of course, Aries wrestled less than 90 seconds against Shane Hagadorn and Hero wrestled 15 minutes against El Generico, so I’d say that Aries has the advantage here. Sweeney wants Aries to put his title shot on the line. Aries agrees, but also adds the stipulation that if he wins, Sweeney will have to face Claudio Castagnoli on December 30 at Final Battle. Everyone agrees, and the match is on.
MATCH #9: Austin Aries vs. Chris Hero
Hero attacks from behind and away we go. Aries absorbs Hero’s attack and hits a dropkick, so Hero takes a powder. Hero tells Bobby Cruise to ask Aries for a do-over. He gets back in the ring and Aries attacks his arm. Hero reverses the hold and takes Aries down to the mat. After a few minutes of that Hero goes into his little flipping routine that I hate so much. He loses his towel so Aries wipes it on his nuts. Hero then shoves the towel into Dempsey’s mouth just to be a jerk. Back in the ring Aries hits the slingshot senton and an elbow drop for two. Hero does more flipping stuff for some reason, so Aries dumps him to the floor. Aries goes for the Heat Seeking Missile but Hero pulls Dempsey into the way. That takes Aries off guard and Hero delivers a big boot to the face. Hero throws Aries into the barricade and then back into the ring. He starts working the arm, trying to keep Aries down. After several minutes Aries fights back with a running clothesline. Both men are down briefly, and when they get up Aries is firmly in control. Aries throws Hero over the top and Hero tries to skin the cat, but Aries dropkicks him down to the floor and this time hits the Heat Seeking Missile. Back in the ring Aries hits a slingshot corkscrew press for two. He tries a quebrada but Hero gets his knees up. Hero hits a cravat slam for two. Aries catches a boot and hits the shinbreaker/back suplex combo but misses the IED. Hero hits the release vertical suplex for two. He hits a roaring elbow and Aries hits one of his own before they both fall down. Back up they trade strikes and Hero catches Aries with a cravat suplex. Hero hits a big boot and goes for the Hero’s Welcome. Aries blocks it and tries a backslide. Hero reverses that backslide for two, and then Aries rolls through and kicks Hero in the head. Aries hits a brainbuster and then locks on the Last Chancery, or as Prazak calls it, “that bridging submission.” Sweeney sneaks into the ring and tries to pull Hero to the ropes, but Castagnoli comes out to chase Sweeney off. Meanwhile Aries hits Hero with repeated knee strikes and wrenches the Last Chancery to get the win at 16:06. Like Hero’s other match tonight this felt really long and they never really got into a good flow. They could have saved this match for Reckless Abandon or Unscripted III rather than have two guys work twice on a three-hour plus show.
MATCH #10: GHC Heavyweight Title Match – Mitsuharu Misawa vs. KENTA
Misawa has been the champion since 12.10.06 (his third reign) and this is his seventh defense. It would also turn out to be his last before dropping the belt to Takeshi Morishima in March. Oops, SPOILER ALERT! This is the second time the belt has been defended in ROH.
They immediately trade forearms and kicks. KENTA gets an armdrag and Misawa reverses to a headscissors and KENTA escapes. They standoff as the crowd goes banana. KENTA goes after the arm and then takes Misawa down for a chinlock. Misawa powers up and fights back with a hard forearm. KENTA fights back with slaps and that just angers the legend, so he strikes KENTA down with great vengeance and furious anger. Misawa hits more forearms and KENTA fights back with a series of kicks. KENTA drapes Misawa over the top rope and hits a knee drop to the back of the neck. He hits a back elbow and then takes Misawa down to the mat for a headscissors. Misawa rolls to the ropes to break the hold. Back on their feet they trade forearms, and KENTA takes Misawa down for more kicks. KENTA uses a reverse chinlock to wear Misawa down and gets a two-count of it. Misawa reverses a whip and forearms KENTA down to the floor. He follows KENTA out and whips him into the barricade. Back in the ring Misawa kicks KENTA down and hits a senton for two. Misawa wears KENTA down with a variety of strikes. KENTA fires back but Misawa cuts him right down. Misawa charges into him and KENTA hits a powerslam and both men are down. KENTA gets up first and hits a leaping forearm and more kicks. He goes up for a springboard missile dropkick for two. He goes for another springboard maneuver but Misawa knocks him to the floor and hits a dive. Back in the ring Misawa hits a Tiger Driver for two! Misawa goes up top and KENTA pops up and kicks him in the face. KENTA goes for the Falcon Arrow, twice, but Misawa forearms him down both times. Misawa jumps off the top rope but KENTA gets a knee up in his gut. KENTA follows up with a running knee strike and a Tiger Suplex for two. Misawa comes back and tries a Tiger Driver but KENTA counters with Go 2 Sleep but it only gets two! KENTA goes for another one but Misawa elbows his way out. They trade strikes and Misawa hits the Emerald Flowsion but KENTA kicks out at two! KENTA comes back with the Busaiku Knee and both men are down. They get up and Misawa hits a combination of elbows for a two-count. Misawa then hits a modified Emerald Flowsion to retain the title at 18:31. That was better than I remembered it. It was hardly a classic, but they worked a solid story and having great heat always helps make a match more entertaining. I probably should watch more of Misawa in his prime.
MATCH #11: No Disqualification ROH World Tag Team Title Match – The Briscoe Brothers vs. Necro Butcher & Jimmy Jacobs
Here’s a question for everyone. ROH’s website only lists one title defense for the Briscoes on this day, even though both matches with Jacobs & Necro were labeled as title matches. I thought maybe the first one wouldn’t count because it was a no-contest, but ROH says “Jay & Mark Briscoe vs. Jimmy Jacobs & Necro Butcher went to a Double DQ in New York, NY on 11/3/07.” If we count only one title defense, they tie with Aries and Strong for most title defenses, but if they get two on this day they actually hold the record, so that’s why this matters. What do y’all think?
The champions charge the ring and the fight is on. It gets to the floor pretty quickly and Mark hits the shooting star press on both Jacobs and Necro. Jay takes Jacobs in the ring while Mark works on Necro on the floor. Jacobs comes back on Jay but then gets taken out by Mark’s karate. Necro gets back in and throws a chair at Mark. He hits the chair slam for a near-fall. Jacobs tries a dive to the floor but Jay moves out of the way and Jacobs crashes into the barricade. The Briscoes bring Jacobs back in the ring just to throw him back outside and into the barricade again. Lacey gets involved and Haze takes care of her just like she promised to do. Haze then goes up top and wipes out the entire Age of The Fall with a dive. She and Lacey fight to the back. The brawl continues both in and out of the ring. Necro traps Mark under the ring mats and dives off the top rope onto him. Jacobs is busted open, but that doesn’t stop him from delivering a senton from the top rope to the floor on Jay! In the ring the challengers double-team Jay, suplexing him onto a pile of chairs for a two-count. Jacobs locks Jay in the End Time and Mark makes it back in the ring to break it up. Now the Briscoes take control with some creative brutality. The crowd is kind of listless as the Briscoes continue to work Jacobs and Necro over. The Briscoes hit Jacobs with a springboard blockbuster onto some chairs but Jacobs kicks out. The champs slam Necro off the top rope onto a chair, and then throw Jacobs from the top rope through a table on the floor. They blast Necro with sick chair shots and then Jay hits the Jay Driller for the pin at 17:44. After the long show the crowd just couldn’t get engaged more than popping briefly for the sick spots. This was disappointing.