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By Sean Radican, Torch Columnist
RADICAN’S ROH “RISING ABOVE” PPV REPORT
March 4, 2008
TAPED FOR PAY-PER-VIEW IN DECEMBER
”Rising Above” debuts on Indemand, TVN, and The Dish on March 7.
-Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard introduced the show from the crowd. Adam Pearce & Brent Albright were already inside the ring behind Prazak and Leonard. Leonard said there were cameras all around the backstage area tonight. Kevin Steen and El Generico ran into one of the backstage cameras. Steen said the gritty locker room is home for them. Steen told the Hangman 3 that they wanted to get their hands on them. Pearce interrupted him from inside the ring. He cut a promo on Delirious. Pearce said that because Delirious had bitten his ear, he had signed his death warrant. Pearce challenged Delirious to face Brent Albright. Albright took his hood off and revealed that he was wearing Delirious’s green mask.
-The introductory video package aired with highlights from ROH’s last PPV.
-Delirious charged the ring dressed in new red and black attire. He blew mist into the face of Pearce and a ref ran down and signaled for the bell.
1 - - DELIRIOUS vs. BRENT ALBRIGHT (W/ADAM PEARCE)
Delirious dominated the action early and ripped his green mask off of Albright’s head after hitting a big lariat off the top rope. Albright hit a big powerslam, but Delirious got right up and nailed Albright with a series of chops and forearms. Albright hit a series of backbreakers and a dragon suplex, which ensured Delirious would not fire up again. Delirious attempted a comeback, but Albright cut him off with an overhead suplex into the turnbuckles. Albright missed a diving headbutt and Delirious nailed him with a huge panic attack in the corner. Delirious then hit shadows over hell and locked in the cobra stretch, but Albright escaped and locked in the crowbar, but Delirious rolled him over into a pinning predicament for a nearfall. Albright hit a running knee strike on Delirious against the ropes and picked up Delirious for a slam, but Delirious slipped out and rolled him up for the pin.
STAR RATING: (**) – The finish of the match brought things to an abrupt hold, as the match seemed designed to go longer, but the action was good while is lasted and I really like the overhaul of Delirious’s character with a new ring attire and a more serious attitude.
-Pearce, Whitmer, and Hagadorn jumped Delirious immediately after the pinfall. Steen and Generico then ran in to clear the ring.
-The Age of the Fall came out and got into the ring. Jimmy Jacobs got on the mic and said the revolution was alive in NYC. Jacobs said they were looking to get the tag belts to gain power, as the brawl continued on the outside. Jacobs called the New York fans conformists, but the battle cry of the Vulture Squad interrupted him and The Age of the Fall bailed to the outside. Julius Smokes got on the mic and said he wanted a Tag Team Scramble match and Jigsaw hit a dive to the outside onto Necro butcher.
2 - - The AGE OF THE FALL (JIMMY JACOBS & TYLER BLACK) vs. KEVIN STEEN & EL GENERICO vs. THE VULTURE SQUAD (JACK EVANS & RUCKUS) vs. THE HANGMEN 3 (ADAM PEARCE & B.J. WHITMER).
Whitmer and Generico when at it inside the ring as the crowd chanted Generico’s theme song. Generico hit a big splash off the top and Whitmer rolled to the outside. Steen and Pearce went at it inside the ring. Pearce raked Steen’s eyes to get the upper hand, but Steen fired back and crotched him on the ropes. Steen went up top, but Jacobs & Black cut him off and hung him upside down in the corner. Jacobs & Black then hit dropkicks on Black in the corner. Evans and Ruckus then ran in and took out the Age of the Fall. Steen hit a double Samoan drop on Jacobs and Generico who were stacked up in the corner and the crowd roared.
The action was non-stop with everyone hitting moves on each other. Pearce hit a piledriver on Jacobs and then did the Flair flop and everyone was down. Whitmer hit a frogsplash on Generico, but Ruckus made the save. Evans took out Whitmer with a running knee strike on Whitmer and followed up with the 630, but Steen was right there when he got up. Steen went for the package piledriver on Evans, but Jacobs speared him. The finishing sequence was great. Generico fought off Jacobs & Black. He then went for a tornado DDT on Black and knocked Jacobs to the outside as he climbed the ropes. Steen & Generico then hit the package piledriver/brainbuster combination for the pin.
WINNERS: Steen & Generico
STAR RATING: (***) – This was an awesome scramble match with all teams showing what they can do. The high-flying and double team moves were pulled off seamlessly. It was hard to keep track of all of the action. The crowd heat for this match was great throughout and this is the type of match that can jump-start the rest of a card for ROH.
-Highlights from the scramble match aired.
-They went backstage and the Briscoes cut a promo. They said tonight they were going to defend the titles and go 5-0 on PPV. Then they were going to go after the Age of the Fall. Jay said they go to bars and drink and then start a big fight just for the hell of it. Good promo.
3 - - LACEY vs. DAIZE HAZE vs. SARA DEL REY – One Fall Three Way match
They cut right to the ring for the start of this match. Del Rey sent Lacey outside with a backbreaker and then went to work on Haze, who nearly got the win with a pinning combination until Lacey broke it up. Haze took Lacey and Del Rey down with a headlock/headscissors combination. The cameras showed Tammy Sytch sitting at ringside watching the match. Lacey went for a move on Haze in the corner, but Del Rey booted her to the mat and locked her in a nasty submission. Haze then got a submission on Del Rey and Lacey at the same time and the crowd roared. Haze countered a Del Rey power move and drove her face-first into the canvas and all three women were down.
Haze took down Del Rey and Lacey with a missile dropkick and then hit a back senton of both of them for a 2 count. Del Rey got a double royal butterfly on Del Rey and Lacey, but Lacey slipped out and hit a lung blower. Haze hit a mind trip on Del Rey, but Lacey cut her off. Haze went for a yokuza kick on Lacey, but she got out of the way and Haze connected with Del Rey, who went flying to the outside. Haze then hit a mind trip on Lacey for the pin.
WINNER: Daizee Haze
STAR RATING: (**1/2) – This was a short match, but it was really good and all three women worked well together to keep the match flowing smoothly. Lacey, Del Rey, and Haze deserve a lot of credit for pulling off some really nice spots that had the crowd reacting in amazement.
-An ad for ROHWrestling.com aired featuring several stars that have appeared in ROH in the past.
-Footage from a couple of months ago in Edison, NJ featuring the NRC taking on Matt Cross & Erick Stevens aired. Prazak said the NRC had intentionally injured Stevens’s arm and mentioned the Resilience had been disbanded. A box appeared in the corner of the screen that showed Stevens making his entrance for his grudge match against Davey Richards. This set up the Richards-Stevens match nicely. They interrupted the highlight package to cut back to live action inside the ring.
4 - - ERICK STEVENS vs. DAVEY RICHARDS
Stevens hit a powerslam early and then mounted Richards and punched away at his head. Stevens chopped Richards in the corner and Richards crumpled to the ground. Stevens held the advantage for several minutes and continued to pound on Richards, but Richards finally cut him off with a dragon screw. Richards hung Stevens upside down in the corner and ran at him, but ended up pulling up short and just punched him in the crotch, which drew some boos from the crowd. Richards took Stevens down and locked in a head scissors submission, but Stevens was able to reach the ropes. Richards got right up and attacked Stevens with a hard kick to the back. Richards went for another kick, but Stevens caught his leg and lifted Richards up before slamming him to the crowd. Prazak wondered who had come into the building and said someone was signing autographs.
The cameras showed Daniel Puder sitting in the crowd with a smoking hot girl. Stevens got distracted by Puder as Leonard said you never know who is going to show up in ROH. Richards hit a chin breaker on Stevens and then charged at him, but caught with a belly to belly suplex. Stevens then hit the Choo Choo in the corner and then laid him out with the polish hammer. Stevens then hit a sitdown pump-handle slam for a 2 count. Stevens glared at Puder as he continued to work over Richards. Both men battled on the top rope, but Richards fought Stevens off and hit a sunset bomb. Richards followed up with a big running kick to Stevens’s chest of a 2 count.
Richards locked in the kimura, but Stevens lifted Richards, who slipped out and rolled him up for a 2 count. Richards then came off the ropes, but Stevens caught him with a big elevated powerslam for a 2 count. Stevens got to his feet and jawed with Puder. Richards went up top and hit him from behind with a missile dropkick and locked in a kimura for the submission win.
STAR RATING: (***) – Stevens has really improved and it shows just in the way he carries himself in the ring now. He reminds me a bit of Roderick Strong with his power, but carries himself better than Strong did a couple of years ago during his feud with Danielson in terms of his level of charisma. The crowd was hot for the match and Daniel Puder’s involvement added even more electricity as the crowd reacted to his presence in the building.
-Erick Stevens got on the mic after the match and addressed Puder. Stevens asked Puder where he got off disrespecting him. Stevens said he was impressed by Puder’s credentials, but this was ROH and he hadn’t proven anything to the company or the fans. Stevens asked him if he was looking for a fight and said he wasn’t hard to find. The crowd chanted “You’re not welcome” at Puder. Stevens told Puder all he had to do was come over the guardrail and he’d face him right now.
Larry Sweeney and Sara Del Rey interrupted Stevens and went into the crowd to talk to Puder. They shook hands as Sweeney complimented Puder. Sweeney said he knows Puder doesn’t do anything for free. Sweeney told Puder to let Del Rey take him back to their private dressing room so he could watching the show without being surrounded by the scumbag fans. Sweeney then told Puder they would have a meeting later and Puder walked away with Del Rey. Sweeney then told the crowd they would see Chris Hero take out Claudio Castagnoli later and he would have Castagnoli’s contract. Sweeney said he would sell Castagnoli’s contract to the WWE just like he did with Sydal. Castagnoli then chased Sweeney down to ringside, but Tank Tolland and Bobby Dempsey jumped Castagnoli from behind.
Castagnoli cut them off and slammed Dempsey. Sweeney tried to hit Castagnoli from behind and was about to lay him out, but Hero ran out and jumped him from behind and the bell rung.
5 - - CHRIS HERO (w/SWEET & SOUR INC.) vs. CLAUDIO CASTAGNOLI
Prazak said Sweeny would own Castagnoli’s contract if Hero won the match. Hero did his flips and arrogant poses around the ring early on, but failed to continue his attack on Castagnoli, who backdropped Hero once he turned around out of the corner. Hero cut off Castagnoli on the apron and pulled him across the second rope in a cravat before driving him into the mat. The announcers pointed out how Ridiculous Hero looked with his green and purple outfit, which I have to agree with. Castagnoli fired back with a diving European uppercut off the ropes. Castagnoli then forearmed Hero off the apron, but he landed on Dempsey. Castagnoli then hit a tope to the outside that took out both Hero and Dempsey. Hero’s facial expressions were great while he was sitting on Dempsey’s shoulders as Castagnoli came at them with his dive.
Castagnoli hit a diving European uppercut off the rope for a 2 count. Hero blocked a bicycle kick from Castagnoli and hit a discus elbow. Hero hit a cravat suplex on Castagnoli for a 2 count. Castagnoli fired back on Hero and hit a German suplex with a bridge for a 2 count. Hero fired back quickly and caught Castagnoli with a big boot as he came off the ropes for a 2 count. Castagnoli came back quickly and took Hero off the top rope with a nice step-up headscissors takedown. He followed up with the giant swing and a big bicycle kick, but Hero kicked out at the last second. Castagnoli went for the Ricola bomb, but Hero turned it into a hurricanrana for a 2 count. Castagnoli blocked the Hero’s welcome and hit the modified angle slam, but Hero came down and locked Castagnoli in the cravice. Castagnoli managed to get to his feet as Hero held on and turned the submission into the Ricola bomb for the pin. Awesome finish.
WINNER: Claudio Castagnoli
STAR RATING: (***1/2) – Castagnoli and Hero put on a really good back and fourth contest full of counters and good exchanges, which made sense since they’ve faced off numerous times in the past and as former tag team partners, it makes sense that they would be able to counter each other. The crowd heat was good for this match and Hero does a great job of playing the arrogant jerk. I really liked the final minutes of the match, as there were some nice exchanges.
-The announcers said Claudio had gone to go to 2-0 on PPV as highlights aired from the Castagnoli-Hero match. I like how they focus on the importance of wins and losses.
-The Briscoes were shown warming up backstage. The screen split and an Age of the Fall video appeared on the screen. Jacobs said you could find the Age of the Fall in the dark and dirty basement. He said they were more comfortable in the basement and didn’t care to be in NYC. Necro said the Age of the Fall was going to get them West Virginia style.
-Takeshi Morishima made his entrance for his match against Bryan Danielson. The announcers said his goal tonight was to injure Bryan Danielson after Danielson stomped on his groin repeatedly during “Glory By Honor” weekend. A graphic aired for both men that informed the audience what to look for out of both men. Morishima’s list included the backdrop driver, size and agility, and anger factor. Danielson’s list included cattle mutilation, elbow strikes, and thirst for revenge.
6 - - TAKESHI MORISHIMA vs. BRYAN DANIELSON –Relaxed Rules match
Morishima jumped Danielson as he made his entrance and whipped him into the barricade at ringside. Leonard said this match wasn’t about winning; it was about taking your opponent out of the business. Morishima threw Danielson head-first into another barricade and then turned over the time keeper’s table on top of Danielson, who came up bleeding from the forehead. Danielson stumbled to the apron and Morishima got a running start and clotheslined him into the barricade at ringside. Danielson’s cut looked to be fairly deep and the blood spilled down his face and chest. The crowd tried to rally Danielson, but he was unable to avoid a missile dropkick from Danielson. Morishima tossed Danielson into the corner, hit an avalanche, and then punched away at Danielson’s cut.
Danielson struggled to get to his feet as the ref administered the ten count, but Morishima laid him out with a big kick. Danielson got a boot up to cut off Morishima’s charge in the corner and followed up with a flying knee strike. He then kicked Morishima very hard in the chest and back several times before locking in the triangle choke. Morishima stood up and Danielson slipped off. Danielson hit several elbow strikes and bounced off the ropes, but Morishima sent him to the mat with a huge lariat. Morishima hit a backdrop driver and Danielson stood right up, but ate a huge lariat for a nearfall. The announcers wondered how Danielson was able to kick out as a replay of Morishima’s big clothesline aired.
Danielson trapped Morishima’s arm and laid into him with a series of elbows to the side of the head. Danielson then mounted Morishima and pounded on his head with forearms. Morishima turned him over and landed several blows, but Danielson shifted his weight and got back on top of Morishima. Morishima fought back and blatantly kicked Danielson in the groin, which drew a warning from the ref. Morishima lifted Danielson’s legs and stomped on his groin over and over. The ref tried to stop him, but Morishima shoved him to the mat and got DQ’d.
WINNER: Danielson via DQ
STAR RATING: (***1/4) – This match only lasted a little more than 8 minutes, but it was excellent while it lasted. Both men were great in their roles, as Morishima played the dominant monster and Danielson played the injured, but valiant challenger. The finish logically sets up another match between Danielson and Morishima, which should be great.
-After the match, several people came out from the back to stop Morishima. Morishima gave one of the referees in the ring a backdrop driver. Danielson recovered and got the timekeeper’s hammer. Danielson drove the handle into Morishima’s eye as the ROH officials tried to separate them. The crowd chanted “Let them fight.”
-The Hangmen 3 were backstage. Albright told Pearce and Albright he was mad they hadn’t one the Tag Team Scramble match. They then shifted to a split-screen and showed the Vulture Squad in their locker room as Albright continued to browbeat his stable mates. Albright and the Hangmen 3 then went to confront the Vulture Squad. Ominous music played as the Vulture Squad was shown talking in their dressing room.
7 - - THE BRISCOES vs. THE NRC (RODERICK STRONG & ROCKY ROMERO) – ROH World Tag Team Titles 2 out of 3 Falls match
There were no entrances for this match, as they went right back to the ring. The crowd chanted “2 straight” before the opening bell. The announcers mentioned the Briscoes hadn’t lost a fall in a 2 out of 3 Falls match since 2004. Romero hit a kick on Jay and tagged in Strong, who went to work on Jay’s arm. Jay fired back and took Strong down with an elbow. He charged Strong in the corner, but strong got his foot up and hit a dropkick off the second rope. Romero tagged in and kicked Jay across the leg. The NRC isolated Jay in their own corner and tagged in and out to work him over, but Jay got a blind tag from Mark and the Briscoes hit a double team shoulder block on Strong. The Briscoes tagged in and out and hit some nice double team maneuvers on Strong. Jay pushed Strong into his own corner and put the boots to him. Strong fired back on Mark and tagged in Romero, but Mark cut him off right away and hit a nice delayed suplex for a 2 count.
Strong grabbed Mark as he bounced off the ropes and Romero hit a springboard DDT. The announcers mentioned that the NRC had taken a shortcut to gain the advantage. Mark fired back on Romero and crawled towards his own corner, but Strong knocked Jay off the apron to the outside and the NRC maintained the upper hand. Mark fired back again and hit a moonsault onto Strong and Romero before tagging out to Jay, who ran wild. Mark went for a doublestomp on Romero, but he rolled to the outside and pointed to his head. Mark then hit a great looking twisting springboard splash on Romero to the outside and the crowd popped. Strong went to check on Romero, but Jay hit a rolling senton over the top to the outside to take out Strong and Romero at the same time.
Jay hit a military press into a DVD on Romero, but Strong made the save and hit a huge backbreaker on Jay for a 2 count. Strong tried to attack Mark on the apron, but Mark fired back and the Briscoes a double team backbreaker/springboard knee drop on Strong. The Briscoes set up Strong for the doomsday device, but Romero cut Mark off. Strong then hit a flying kick to Jay’s face. Strong put Jay up on his shoulders and Romero came off the top with a knee strike. Strong then hit the Gibson driver on Jay for the pin to give the NRC a 1-0 lead. The announcers made a big deal of the NRC ending the Briscoes streak in 2 out of 3 Falls matches.
The crowd chanted “Man up” as Romero laid into Jay with a series of kicks. Romero trashed talked Jay as he continued to nail him with stiff kicks before tagging in Strong. The announcers wondered if looking ahead to the Age of the Fall had cost the Briscoes the first fall of the match. The NRC hit the Briscoes’s trademark shoulder tackle for a 2 count on Jay. Jay blocked a DDT and hit a falcon arrow on Romero. Mark tagged in and missed a springboard strike, but hit a dropkick on Strong. He then laid into Romero with a series of karate thrusts. Strong and Mark both went for their finishers, but Mark was able to reverse a Gibson driver into a rollup to get the pin and tie the match 1-1.
The crowd chanted “Let’s go Briscoes” to begin the third fall as both teams faced off in the center of the ring and then began exchanging blows. Romero and Mark then went at it and exchanged blows. Romero went for a kick, but Mark hit a dragon screw and hit a fisherman’s buster a short time later for a 2 count after he was slow to cover Romero. Mark went for a moonsault, but Romero moved and hit a huge running knee strike to his head for a nearfall. Strong ran in and sent Jay to the outside and the NRC double teamed Mark, but only managed to get a 2 count after Romero hit a running knee strike to his chest. Mark cut Strong off and hit an inverted DDT before tagging out to Jay. Jay and Strong exchanged strikes in the center of the ring. Strong went up top, but Mark caught him with a springboard ace crusher for a nearfall. The Briscoes then set up the springboard Jay-driller on Strong and got the pin after Romero was unable to make the save.
WINNERS: The Briscoes
STAR RATING: ****1/4 – This was an awesome display of tag team wrestling from both teams. I really thought the NRC presented a real threat to the Briscoes here, which I hadn’t felt when watching a Briscoes match in a long time. The match was made even more compelling when the NRC got the first fall and the Briscoes had to come from behind to win. The Briscoes come off like stars and this match was another great example of why they’re the best tag team in the business right now.
-They went to a 4-way split-screen shot of the backstage area. The Vulture Squad was still in their locker room and the Hangmen 3 were shown walking down a hall. The Briscoe were shown walking down another hall, as the Age of the Fall walked down another hall holding metal pipes. Heavy metal music played in the background. Todd Sinclair was then shown backstage talking to Aries and McGuinness.
-The announcers talked about Aries wanting to become the first 2 time ROH World Champion. A graphic for Aries said to look out for the 450, brainbuster, and horns of Aries. The graphic for McGuinness said to look out for the jawbreaker lariat, arm submission, and survival instinct.
Bobby Cruise did the introductions from the center of the ring for both men. Aries got a nice ovation. McGuinness got a mostly positive reaction, but also a small amount of boos. The pre-match atmosphere is tremendous, as the crowd is chanting for both men.
9 - - NIGEL MCGUINNESS vs. AUSTIN ARIES – ROH World Title match
A small amount of fans chanted “F--- you Nigel.” Then a larger group of fans began chanting “Lets go Nigel” and dueling chant started between the two factions of fans. Aries took McGuinness down to the mat during the early stages of the match and went to work on his arm with a submission. McGuinness jawed with the fans in the crowd that were heckling him, which angered Aries who confronted McGuinness and told him to focus on the match. McGuinness didn’t seem to like that much, as he slapped Aries across the face. Aries fired back with a slap of his own and McGuinness bailed to the outside. McGuinness had his back turned to the ring and Aries hit a tope through the ropes and McGuinness collided with the guardrail and came up with a huge cut above his eyebrow. The ref checked on McGuinness, who looked dazed. Aries yelled at McGuinness and told him he should have paid attention to their match.
A replay aired of McGuinness going head-first into the guardrail and it looked pretty bad in slow motion. Aries threw McGuinness back into the ring, but he bounced off the ropes and hit a lariat. McGuinness continued to stumble around the ring, which allowed Aries to cut him off once they got back inside the ring. They exchanged blows from the mount, but Aries gained the upper hand once he targeted McGuinness’s arm. McGuinness blocked a dropkick from Aries and tried to gain his bearings in the corner. Aries went for a brainbuster, but McGuinness reversed it and drove Aries head-first into the mat. McGuinness then drove Aries’s shoulder into the ringpost and posed for the hard camera. McGuinness locked in a nasty top wrist lock with his leg on top for added pressure. Aries rolled out of the submission and McGuinness got him in a headscissors. Aries popped out, but McGuinness blocked it again and flipped Aries off. Aries responded by nailing McGuinness with a big kick. He then mounted McGuinness and elbowed McGuinness’s cut and locked in an arm submission, but McGuinness got the ropes. McGuinness reversed an Aries submission and hit a hammerlock divorce court. The crowd continued to be hot for the action. The crowd began chanting “USA, USA” at McGuinness who continued to react to their taunts. Aries hit a couple of big chops, but McGuinness measured Aries and hit a huge clothesline. Aries immediately crawled to the ropes so McGuinness couldn’t cover him. That was a nice touch that put over how devastating McGuinness’s lariats are.
McGuinness drove Aries into the corner and he bounced off the turnbuckles and went down to the mat. McGuinness then looked out to the crowd defiantly. The crowd chanted for both men as McGuinness drove Aries’s arm down into the mat several times. Aries reversed the submission and grabbed an arm submission while kicking down on McGuinness’s head. McGuinness managed to get his foot on the ropes to break the hold. Aries continued to attack McGuinness’s arm and locked in another arm submission on the mat, but McGuinness fought to the ropes. McGuinness hit an elbow on Aries and went for a headstand in the corner, but Aries kicked him to the outside.
Aries went for a suicide dive, but McGuinness hit a European uppercut to cut him off, dragged him to the apron, and hit the Tower of London on the floor. That was a great exchange and the crowd roared at the spot. McGuinness posed for the fans as they chanted “ROH, ROH.” McGuinness shoved Aries into the corner and laid into him with a series of strikes. McGuinness then hit a big running European uppercut and a big lariat for a nearfall. McGuinness sold his arm after hitting the big lariat. McGuinness went for another Tower of London, but Aries pounded away at his arm and forehead. Aries then hit a big missile dropkick on McGuinness and both men were down.
Aries went for a dropkick in the corner, but McGuinness got his boot up and hit the Tower of London for a nearfall. McGuinness went for an arm submission, but Aries hit a chin breaker. McGuinness went for a jawbreaker lariat, but Aries cut him off on the apron and hit a springboard kicked that sent both men down to the floor. Aries sent McGuinness into the barricade and hit a running knee strike. The announcers wondered if Aries would make history tonight and become the first 2 time ROH World Champion. Aries nailed McGuinness with a series of elbows in the corner and went for the brainbuster, but McGuinness cut him off and dropped across the ropes. McGuinness then came off the second rope and hit a lariat that sent Aries head over heels to the outside. Wow!
Aries cut off McGuinness on the outside and hit a brainbuster on the guardrail. Aries threw McGuinness back to the ring and relentlessly pounded on him in the corner. Aries hit a dropkick in the corner and then hit the brainbuster. He then went up top for the 450 as the crowd roared, but McGuinness got his knees up. McGuinness locked in another arm submission on Aries, but he rolled through and got a nearfall on McGuinness. Aries hit a kick to the head and another brainbuster. He then locked in the horns of Aries, but McGuiness reached the ropes. Aries held on and drove his knees into McGuinness’s head. Both me got up and exchanged strikes. McGuinness went for the jawbreaker lariat, but Aries cut him off with a stiff clothesline for a great nearfall.
Aries nailed McGuinness with a series of knees to the head. McGuinness hit a northern lariat to the back of Aries’s head and locked in his arm submission again, but Aries kicked him in the head. McGuiness bounced off the ropes and hit the jawbreaker lariat for the pin.
WINNER: Nigel McGuinness.
STAR RATING: (****3/4) – There was a scary moment early on when McGuinness went head-first into the guardrail, but he seemed to recover nicely and went on to put on an excellent match against Aries. The submission work and the atmosphere for this match were downright incredible and this is an early contender for match of the year. I really like the direction ROH booker is taking with McGuinness’s character, as it felt like he needed a new direction after winning the title. This is a must-see match.
-The crowd was on their feet chanting “ROH, ROH” as Prazak plugged the next round of live events. The crowd then chanted for McGuinness as the ref handed him the ROH World Title.
-They went to the cameras in the back with the heavy metal music playing. The Briscoes were shown brawling with the Age of the Fall. The Hangmen 3 and the Vulture Squad then ran into the picture and everyone was brawling. Generico & Steen then ran in and joined the fracas.
-They cut to a shot of McGuinness sitting backstage covered in blood to end the show.
Recommendation: (10.0) From start to finish, this was a great show. The first hour let everyone have a chance to shine, as ROH presented several short, but good matches. There was a lot going on, but there was definitely a clear focus on the feuds that were spotlighted including Delirious vs. The Hangmen 3, the faction wars during the Scramble match, the women’s division, and Castagnoli-Sweet & Sour Inc. I thought the show was given a nice boost of star power as well with Tammy Sytch, who looks great, watching from ringside during the 3 Way Shimmer match and Daniel Puder appearing during the Stevens-Richards match. It also didn’t hurt that the fans in the Manhattan Center provided a red hot atmosphere throughout the night.
There was also a great storyline thread that was carried out backstage leading to the finish. I loved the locker room cameras and how they showed the various factions talking backstage, which set up big brawl at the end set to some heavy metal music. I thought this PPV went a long way in making the faction wars seem important and all of the participants involved were given a chance to get their personalities and stake in the feud over. The first hour was the best paced hour of an ROH PPV in terms of getting over characters and storylines without sacrificing much in terms of match quality, as there were some short, but very good matches thrown in the mix.
The second hour is where you’ll get your great match fix. The Castagnoli-Hero, Danielson-Morishima, NRC-Briscoes, and Aries-McGuiness matches ranged from very good to excellent in quality, but it’s the last three matches that put this show over the top in terms of getting a perfect score.
Danielson and Morishima only fought for 8 minutes, but it was the best 8 minute match you’ll ever see. Danielson’s facial expressions were great. His face was covered in blood and the monster Morishima was pounding him into oblivion, but he kept finding a way to fight back over and over until Morishima got so frustrated that he got himself DQ’d for attacking a ref. The post-match angle really set the crowd on fire and I can’t wait to see these two face off again.
The Briscoes 2 out of 3 Falls match against Strong & Romero once again proved why they are the best tag team in the world today. Their teamwork, star power, and overall charisma were showcased and the Manhattan fans gave them the rock star treatment as they made their comebacks. The match itself was dramatic and the Briscoes really seemed to be in danger of losing after they dropped the first fall to the NRC. This was another great title defense for the Briscoe, who helped carry ROH for most of 2007.
The main event was excellent and will go a long way in establishing McGuinness as an iconic figure in ROH, although his head-first collision with the guardrail during the early stages of the match was very scary. The match turned into a great battle and McGuinness continued to redefine his character as he responded to the hecklers booing, which continually cost him throughout the match. There were so many great little exchanges on the mat and the announcers did a great job of highlighting why those exchanges were important. Aries’s impressive ascension back to the top in ROH can’t be ignored either. He’s been incredible during the final stages of 2007 in ROH.
This show gets a big thumbs up from me. You won’t get better value for you dollar from any other promotion given ROH’s price point. ROH really pulled everything together from a production standpoint as well and the show really has great underground feel without looking cheaply produced. This PPV is the complete package and everything tied together nicely in the end with the dramatic main event and footage backstage. If you’re on the fence about ordering one of the ROH PPVs, don’t hesitate to purchase this. If you don’t enjoy this PPV, than ROH just isn’t for you.
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