Thursday, May 7, 2015
Another Review of Honor and another show that I attended live. This was in the midst of the pretty incredible Nigel McGuinness ROH World Championship run. It is also their second ever show in the Hammerstein Ballroom, after moving there from the Grand Ballroom in the Manhattan Center. Their first show there was a slight disappointment, so this card was pretty loaded in an effort to right that wrong. This was the big show that they should have used for their debut.
We start with Nigel McGuinness cutting a promo backstage about being the best wrestler in the world. Hearing Nigel say what sounds like Tylenol Black and then call Bryan Danielson a clam digger is always fun. Commentary is Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard. Cool note is that I can see myself, my brother and my mother in the crowd.
Mark Briscoe had recently returned from injury, getting a big “welcome back” chant for himself. Unmasked Jigsaw is so strange. Those two start things with one of those indy WRESTLING stalemates. Jay and Ruckus have a nice exchange, with Ruckus doing his flippy stuff. Mark nearly dies on a cross body to the outside, only for Jigsaw to follow with a front flip. Not to be outdone, Ruckus moonsaults out onto everyone. The crowd is MOLTEN. His moonsault leg drop is countered leading to a Briscoe double team. They are really damn good. The spots come fast now as Ruckus hits the John Morrison Moonlight Drive. He and Jigsaw try a suplex/powerbomb double team but it doesn’t come off too well. Jigsaw superkicks Jay, only to eat one from Mark. They wrap this up nicely with a springboard doomsday device.
Perfect for what it was supposed to be. It gets the Briscoes back into the swing of things and they get the crowd red hot. The Vulture Squad were good opponent choices since they can job but also do the crowd hyping flippy stuff. Short and sweet.
The Briscoes’ celebration is cut short by the arrival of Sweet n’ Sour Inc. Larry Sweeney tries to recruit them but the Briscoes want no part of it and leave. Chris Hero wants revenge on Delirious for beating him at the last show. Bobby Dempsey and Eddie Edwards are there too.
Good old Delirious shenanigans kick us off as he hides under the ring, only to appear with a front flip dive outside. This is around the time that Chris Hero started to knock people out. He weathers the storm of Delirious’ crazy based offense to take control. Commentary has fun discussing the Daizee Haze/Delirious relationship that would eventually lead Delirious to a heel run. I must give props to Hero, who was in the midst of going from a bit of a joker to a more serious role. It showed in his ring work as he wears down his opponent here. Delirious counters a slam into a DDT but it still looks like he takes the move so it doesn’t get the crowd reaction they wanted. Delirious goes for his clotheslines but Hero nails the big elbow twice, only for near falls. Delirious blatantly telegraphs a headbutt but when he tries Shadows over Hell, Hero greets him with a roaring elbow to win.
Decent stuff here. After the really fast paced and fun opener, we get something slower but that’s fine. It got Chris Hero’s knockout offense somewhat over.
Larry Sweeney quickly gets back into the ring and calls Eddie Edwards the “top prospect” in wrestling. He is set to face Roderick Strong, who had issues with Sweet n’ Sour for a while.
Who would have thought that a few years later, these two would meet again as Eddie Edwards won the ROH World Title from Strong. Edwards shows more confidence than he really had up until this point. Roderick decides to shut him up with a ton of stiff chops. Sweeney and others get in cheap shots while jawing with the fans. I’d like to give a shout out to the timekeeper, who is ready to ring the bell on every single near fall. Selling it all the way baby. Edwards tries a suplex to the outside, but Strong takes him out and dives off the apron with a forearm smash. Back inside, Edwards blocks a gutbuster but runs into an enziguri. Edwards rolls through a sunset flip with a kick to the chest, but Strong gets two on an interesting rollup. Leaping codebreaker, superkick and sitout bomb get Edwards the closest near fall so far. Strong goes for the Gibson Driver, but Sweeney distracts the referee as Hero clocks Roddy with the loaded elbow pad. Asai moonsault allows Eddie to steal this thing.
Here was the first relatively big match for Eddie Edwards and he pretty much delivered. It wasn’t the most amazing bout but it was hard hitting which I love. Roderick Strong can usually be counted on to perform and he did so tonight, elevating someone who would become a key part of ROH’s future.
Larry Sweeney continues to trash talk after sending Chris Hero and Eddie Edwards to his personal masseuse backstage. He introduces the holder of the “most prestigious” title in the world, Adam Pearce. He comes out with Sara Del Ray and Shane Hagadorn’s stupid face.
Both men were part of the Hangman 3 stable that Adam Pearce sold out to Larry Sweeney. Brent Albright was part of Sweet n’ Sour until turning on them at the first Hammerstein show which got a massive pop. This has old school NWA rules so no throwing someone over the top. Albright slaps the taste out of Pearce’s mouth a few times showing that he means business. Both guys test the rules early on, with Pearce straight up biting Albright and spitting at the official. Pearce wasn’t a flashy worker but the man was a great heel. A headbutt busts Albright wide open. He continues to pound away on Albright, trying to make him bleed even more. Continuing the old school feel, he exposes the concrete under the mat, but Albright slingshots him into the post. Now Pearce is bleeding. Sweeney tries to get Pearce intentionally disqualified with a chair, but Roderick Strong appears to lay him out with the sick kick. Albright is fired up as the crowd is jacked and he fires away. The six point knee hits before Albright removes his knee pads and starts hitting knee strikes. Pearce counters into the Figure Four, which is just perfect for the old school NWA feel we’ve got going. He gets free but is feeling the effects. The Scrap Daddy moves to an STF, drawing “fuck John Cena” chants from New York. Albright manages to reverse it into the Crowbar but Pearce’s foot is on the rope. He climbs up but Pearce knocks him off and through a table at ringside. With the NWA rules, we only have a ten count, rather than ROH’s usual 20. He gets in at nine, but is hit with a JUMPING PILEDRIVER only to kick out! Half nelson suplex from Albright and both men are down. They get up and Albright hits a second but only gets two! They exchange shots before Albright busts out FIVE GERMAN SUPLEXES! Pearce is somehow able to get his shoulder up. Pearce then rolls through a sunset flip and tries the figure four only for Albright to go to an inside cradle, again for only two. Albright then goes back to the Crowbar, forcing Pearce to tap.
Holy hell that was way better than I expected. The crowd was beyond hot for all of this and it had an old school feel in a great way. They utilized old school moves, had just the right amount of interference and two guys just had a match that absolutely clicked. Everything fell into place for this and it’s an underrated classic that you should go check out.
The Briscoes are backstage and celebrating their win before Rhett Titus appears to show off a cellphone video. The Briscoes notice the person in the video is a friend and they send him off.
This was in the midst of the Jimmy Jacobs/Austin Aries rivalry that got pretty heated. With Necro and Jacobs both in the Age of the Fall, this is a glorified handicap match, except that Aries has been getting into Necro’s head about the treatment he receives. They work as a unit early though Aries busts out the heat seeking missile on Necro before taking it to Jacobs inside. In two weeks, Jacobs has to face Necro who was selected by Aries in an interesting angle. Pendulum elbow gets two. Necro comes back in and the Age of the Fall work together again. Jacobs is knocked into Necro, who gets upset about it but does Jimmy’s bidding anyway. However, when Necro tries to cover, Jacobs breaks it up and berates him. He demands that Necro rip Aries’ eye out because he’s fucking nuts. Aries swings the chair at Jacobs, who ducks and it hits Necro in the back. Aries goes all Eddie Guerrero by tossing the chair to Jacobs and falling to the floor. Necro believe Jacobs did it and waffles him. The crowd pops hard because Necro is super over in New York. He lays out Jacobs with the steel chair and exits to “Necro” chants. With him gone, Aries nails a dropkick, brainbuster and 450 splash, earning the win.
Not the best match from a scientific standpoint but we got exactly we should have. They told a great story that has been built up by Austin Aries getting into Necro Butcher’s head. New York was the right place to have Necro turn since he was so popular here. Entertaining throughout.
Daizee Haze cuts a promo backstage about how hard she’s been working to get back, when the Motor City Machine Guns come up and hug her. They straight up try to get her into a threesome. She obviously declines but the Guns are hilarious in this. When she leaves they turn the conversation to Kevin Steen and El Generico. We then cut to a Bryan Danielson promo about the main event backstage. It wasn’t great and shows how far he has come in his ability to cut a promo.
Delirious comes out in a black button down shirt and green tie. He calls out Daizee Haze, or at least that’s what it sounds like. They did this at the first Hammerstein show. He asks her out on a date but is cut off by “Addicted to Love” Rhett Titus. This also happened at the last Hammerstein show because Rhett is pretty much Captain Cockblock. He calls Daizee “used goods” before revealing that his trunks are very Rick Rude-esque as they have her face painted on his ass. Delirious sends him packing like the hero should, but Daizee tells Delirious that she just wants to be friends. With those words, Daizee becomes the biggest heel in New York. To make matters worse, she does the “it’s not you, it’s me” line.
Even though Go Shiozaki and his magnificent hair is part of Sweet n’ Sour Inc. he does shake hands with Naomichi Marufuji. There is no real storyline behind this, though Go has never beaten Marufuji. Their opening exchange is pretty fantastic as they seem to know each other’s moves very well, dodging and countering everything. Go has some of the hardest chops in the business and he utilizes them throughout with each louder than the last. Marufuji tries to quicken the pace but the bigger Go continues to stop him at every turn. Marufuji gets tied up in the tree of woe, so Go slides at him and chops him, which is pretty cool. It plays up the “chop you at all positions” thing. Marufuji finally gets in something big, hitting a fucking BRAINBUSTAAA onto the apron. It does kind of diminish the one Aries did in the previous match though. It’s all to set up the Shiranui finisher. Marufuji just continues to work over Go and even pokes him in the eye to a chuckle from the crowd. From out of nowhere, Go hits a hurricanrana and another stiff chop. A frog splash knee drop gets Go a near fall. Marufuji fights back with a knee to the back of the head before a neckbreaker gets two. Superkick nets the same result. Shiranui countered into a fisherman buster but it’s still not enough, so Go goes to a dragon sleeper. Marufuji kicks him right in the face to break it. His chop combo is blocked so he goes back to the dragon sleeper. Marufuji reaches the ropes to break this before hitting the Shiranui to the outside! Fans chant “NOAH” in honor of Pro Wrestling Noah as they get inside. VAN TERMINATOR from Marufuji only gets two! Shiozaki hits the Orange Crush and that’s not enough. Go Flasher now gets reversed into Shiranui and both guys are down. They trade lariats when they get up and Naomichi hits the Seth Rollins curb stomp for two. We now get a battle of chops vs. superkicks that Marufuji wins before the Pole Shift wins it.
That featured stiff shots, crisp wrestling, sweet counters and a great effort form both guys. I can’t fathom how these guys do all of the travel they do and never mail it in when they get to ROH. High quality match that could have headlined most shows.
Tyler Black cuts a promo as he believes he’ll win the title because he wants it more than anyone. It was clear that he was heading towards a face turn and away from the Age of the Fall.
In other words, ROH said here are two of the best tag teams in the world, enjoy. All four guys are super over, though I’d say Alex Shelley tops the list by a slight margin. Both teams feel each other out for a while, with neither gaining a clear advantage. The Guns comically both bite Generico’s hands shortly before the tag comes to Steen. He and Generico work a cool drop toe hold/front flip leg drop double team for two. Shelley and Steen get into a fucking snot blowing battle. It’s gross. The Guns fire back with great double team work that overwhelms El Generico. “Fuck TNA” chants break out during all of this. I don’t know if I’ve seen a team with crisper double team moves than the Guns. Steen finally gets the hot tag and goes nuts. He gets Sabin on his back and does a senton onto Shelley, hurting both guys. Steen applies a sharpshooter on Sabin as Generico dives out onto Shelley. Sabin reaches the ropes and then we get a pretty crazy spot combo. Shelley hit a super jawbreaker on Steen off of Sabin’s back, before Sabin powerbombs Generico into Seen in the corner. They hit a series of superkicks on Generico but can only get tow. Superkick parties before they were “cool”. Generico nails a Michinoku Driver and two Yakuza Kicks before Sabin returns the favor. Cradle Shock is stopped by Steen who hits the pump handle cradlebreacker. Steenton Bomb is stopped by knees and the Air Raid Crash gets Shelley two. The action is fast and furious. Generico wants the BRAINBUSTAAA but takes a super rana that lands him on Steen. Frog splash from Shelley but Steen gets his shoulder up. The Guns try the assisted Sliced Bread #2 but Generico fight sit off. Steen hits the cannonball in the corner on Sabin and lock shim in the Sharpshooter. Generico this time connects with the BRAINBUSTAAA and Sabin taps out.
Two teams that are always on their game and show how great tag team wrestling really can be. The crowd was mental, they built to the finish well and the action was pretty much non-stop. I’ve seen each team do better but this was great stuff.
Some backstage stuff where the Briscoes are awkward around Daizee Haze because she was the one in those videos Rhett Titus was showing off. Kevin Steen also yells at Generico and tells him that he needs to become a killer for them to win the gold.
There was serious intrigue here as anyone could win. Bryan Danielson is pretty much ROH, Black and Castagnoli were on fire and Nigel was the champion in the midst of a PHENOMENAL run. Despite being a face, a fair amount of fans here are anti-Claudio since he’s come up short a bunch of times. This match is contested under elimination rules. Things start calmly enough as Claudio and Danielson go at it, but after blind tags by Nigel and Black, things pick up. Black does a front flip dive outside just prior to Claudio suicide diving into Nigel. Black and Nigel do battle now, as commentary reminds us that at a PPV in March, Black had a star making performance when he came within a hair of dethroning Nigel. For a while, everyone gets into some sort of exchange, giving everyone a chance to work with each other. Nigel is great here, tagging out anytime he’s in trouble. It eventually backfires as Bryan backs off the apron, leaving him to get worked over by Claudio. While I’m not doing play by play, all of these exchanges between everyone is entertaining as hell. Danielson hits the missile dropkick on Nigel but gets caught in a backbreaker by Claudio. Black kicks Claudio, but is taken out with a DDT from Nigel. All four guys are in the ring, and Danielson goes to Cattle Mutilation on Nigel. Black hits Claudio with a cross body as Danielson moves to the MMA elbows. Claudio gets booed as he breaks the move, which admittedly is a dumb move. He does hit a sweet kick on Black but ends up in Bryan’s triangle choke. It’s hilarious to see Nigel just sit back as Claudio breaks free. Nigel nearly kills Black with a lariat before trading big blows with Dragon. He sends the champion into the front row and springboards dives out onto him! He gets back in the ring and is caught in Claudio’s BIG SWING! They trade Europeans before Claudio hits the popup European. He covers but Dragon rolls over and eliminates Claudio at 16:12.
Claudio is shocked at the elimination and doesn’t want to leave. “Get the fuck out” chants rain down so he DESTROYS Bryan with a bicycle kick and Ricola Bomb. He gets a steel chair and STOMPS IT ONTO BRYAN’S SKULL! Nigel is filled with glee outside watching this. Jobbers run out to haul him away so Nigel hits one huge lariat to get rid of Bryan at 19:37. Some fans throw garbage as the favorite is gone. Black is now a MASSIVE BABYFACE as he gets a huge pop when he springboards in. His flurry continues, getting two on a neckbreaker. “Tyler Black” chants ring out as he goes up top and misses a big frog splash. Naomichi Marufuji appears in the entrance to watch. The camera focusing on that takes away from the action I think. Nigel is hitting Black very hard but he comes back to hit the frog splash this time for two. Nigel hits a shortarm lariat, his second on Black so far, for two. Tower of London also only gets two. Black counters the Jawbreaker Lariat into a fucking Buckle Bomb somehow! It was insane. The crowd bites EXTREMELY HARD for this near fall. Out of desperation, Nigel goes up top. It’s a mistake as Black is comfortable up there. He meets him with a superplex that he rolls through into PAROXSYM! Another very close two count. Black hits a sick superkick while Nigel is on his knees for two again. The atmosphere is nuts. Lariat from Nigel hits but Tyler gets the shoulder up again. Jawbreaker is again countered into GOD’S LAST GIFT but Nigel kicks out. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a crowd fall for a false finish in ROH that hard before. Phoenix Splash misses and Nigel hits another massive lariat. Cover but AGAIN Tyler kicks out. Nigel hits Tower of London, a running European and ANOTHER lariat but someone that still isn’t enough. Black ducks a lariat, but springboards into one anyway, yet still kicks out. This is unbelievable. The London Dungeon submission is locked in, which is what did Black in at the PPV in their first meeting. Black counters into a rollup for two. Black hits a Pele but runs into a lariat. One more for good measure and finally Black stays down.
Fuck that was insane. It’s like ROH took the formula that made Black a big deal from the PPV and applied it times five in front of the New York crowd. Everything was masterfully done. From the solid opening work to Claudio’s elimination to the frustration that boiled over when he attacked Dragon to Nigel being cunning to Black’s resiliency. It all just clicked here.
Nigel McGuinness brags that there is no one left to beat but the crowd chants “Marufuji” at him and pelt the ring with trash.
Overall: Of all of the Ring of Honor shows that I went to live, this is up there among the best. I only gave one match less than three stars which is impressive. This has everything. The NWA World Title match is a surprisingly great old school brawl, you get your puro fix with Marufuji/Shiozaki, the Briscoes give us a short and fun tag opener, the Machine Guns match is just excellent tag team wrestling, the Triple Threat is fine storytelling and the main event is as dramatic as they come. Seriously, go see this show now.