ROH had a banner year in 2007. 2008 got off to a great start as well, but was bolstered by the arrival of Kota Ibushi. Ibushi was still a bit of a baby in the industry, having debuted about four years prior. His short stint with ROH in the Spring of 2008 marked his first appearances in the United States. He suffered losses to Davey Richards and Claudio Castagnoli before this match. Not much else of a backstory here, as it was just the best tag team in ROH at the time against a singles ace in Austin Aries and an international star.
The early portion of this match felt rather pedestrian. Not that they were bad, but it felt like the fans, and myself, were just waiting for things to get out of hand. The Briscoes picked up the pace, working a heat segment on Ibushi and reminding everyone why they were the best team in the world at the time. That heat segment was great. It was perfect for the Briscoes, because they got to show off their skills and do it at a crazy quick pace that wowed the audience. With Kota struggling early, you could sense some fans wondered if Aries would remain a loyal partner. He was in the midst of a storyline where he may or may not join the villainous Age of the Fall.
When Aries got the hot tag, it got even better. He had a rather lengthy history with the Briscoes and it showed. Kota got to bust out his double moonsault, which is honestly a contrived spot, but worked here because the fans weren’t used to it and popped big time. The traditional tag formula went out the window by that point, with no more tagging and guys coming in and out for spots. Yet, it doesn’t fully become a spot fest. There’s a reason behind stuff and the underlying stories of Aries being the strong link against the Briscoes and Kota desperately wanting to return home with a win, remained evident. The Briscoes managed to finally hit Aries with the Doomsday Device, leaving Kota alone. He fought valiantly, but fell victim to a spike Jay Driller to lose in 17:36.
Great tag team acting. Ibushi got to shine and showcase his stuff in his first trip to the States, while the Briscoes were allowed to be the great team that they are. The inclusion of Aries could’ve felt like an afterthought, but his history with the Briscoes and past as an ROH World Tag Team Champion were key factors. They weaved that into the story of the match brilliantly. The desperation of Kota, the upper hand of Aries (and his AOTF questions) and the overall excellence of the Briscoes. It made for quality TV.
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