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By Jason Detrick, Torch Contributor
Driven begins airing tonight on the TVN and Dish networks and on Indemand on Sept. 28.
Below is my SPOILER-FREE guide for ROH's 2nd PPV - Driven. My goal is to give viewers who upon watching the PPV will get their first (or one of their first) exposures to the ROH product with some background on the competitors and feuds.
The No Remorse Corps. (Roderick Strong & Davey Richards & Rocky Romero) vs. Delirious & Matt Cross & Erick Stevens. Roderick Strong (heel) has been in ROH the longest of anyone in this match. He debuted in early 2004 and was known for being the “Messiah of the Backbreaker”. His offense primarily consisted of a very wide variety of effective and innovative backbreakers. He eventually became known for his feared chops which have bloodied the chests of opponents at times. In late 2005 and early 2006 he improved dramatically in both his physique and skills. When Matt Hardy went on a 3 show tour of Ring of Honor, Roderick got the elusive victory over him. That win skyrocketed Strong to numerous great title shots vs Bryan Danielson. His finishers are the Tiger Driver (which he calls the Gibson Driver in honor of his mentor James “Jamie Noble” Gibson) and the Strong Hold (Liontamer).
Davey Richards (heel) came into ROH in mid 2006 as a silent, intense babyface. His stiff kicks, suplexes, and intensity fell right in line with the ROH style and he soon became a popular upper mid-carder. He turned heel in 2007 and has slowly come into his own as an arrogant heel. His finisher is the “DR Driver” (a double arm brainbuster)
Rocky Romero (heel) started in ROH as one half of the Havana Pitbulls tag team with Ricky Reyes. He left ROH for a tour of Japan and came back in early 2007 as a singles wrestler. He has a kick based, almost MMA style submission offense. For those who saw his Respect Is Earned match vs. Marufuji, you know how great he is in the ring. His finisher is the Buzzsaw Kick.
Delirious (face) has a gimmick that is unique to say the least. He wears a mask and speaks his own unique language where there are bits of English sprinkled in with his trademark gibberish known to some as "Deliri-ish". Delirious is beloved by ROH fans for his bizarre behavior, but also for his really good skill in the ring. His style usually consists of a lot of comedy spots, but he can also have straight up matches as well. Recently, Delirious has grown a beard. Finishers include Shadows Over Hell (top rope backsplash to a standing opponent) and the Cobra Stretch
Matt “M-Dogg 20” Cross (face) is an exciting high flier who debuted in ROH in early 2007 and was the first wrestler selected by Austin Aries to be a part of his “Resilience” faction. Some may remember him from the tag team “The Fast and the Fury” along with Teddy Hart on Wrestling Society X. His finisher is a Phoenix Splash. He has also been known to use double stomps as well as variations of the Sasake Special.
Erick Stevens (face) was trained by Roderick Strong and is the biggest man in this match. He has a power style that stands out from most other movesets in ROH. He is still paying his dues with the ROH fans, many of whom have not taken to him well in his first few months of ROH competition. His finisher is the Doctor Bomb.
Roderick Strong, Austin Aries, Alex Shelley, and Jack Evans made a name for themselves in ROH in mid 2004 as a heel faction known as Generation Next. While the group eventually broke up, Aries & Strong continued to team together and were the longest reigning tag team champions in ROH history to much critical acclaim. In February of 2007, Strong and Davey Richards attacked Aries and announced themselves as “the No Remorse Corps. Aries quickly formed his own stable to feud with Roderick called “The Resilience”. The feud was just getting going when TNA pulled their contracted talent, including Aries, off of all future ROH shows. This left the Resilience without a leader. However, Delirious already had issues with Roderick Strong and decided to lead Cross & Stevens into this match with the NRC.
Claudio Castagnoli vs. Matt Sydal. Claudio Castagnoli (face) was seen on the previous ROH Pay-Per-View as a bit of a tweener. The fans have now fully embraced Double C again, and Castagnoli has really stepped up his game in the ring. His trademark “Hey!” he shouts during matches is very catchy. He likes to utilize a lot of European uppercuts and the giant swing in matches. His finisher is the Ricola Bomb (cross arm sitout powerbomb)
Matt Sydal (tweener) was also a tweener on the last PPV and not a lot has changed. Half the fans cheer him and half boo him, but no one can doubt his athleticism. His shooting star press finisher is the best in the business as he gets great hang time. He also has a number of high impact moves like the Here It Is Driver and a top rope belly To belly suplex.
On ROH's first PPV Respect Is Earned, Matt and Claudio teamed up to try to win the tag team titles. Now that they lost, they want to either take their aggressions out on each other and perhaps blame the other for the loss, or they simply want to prove who was the better half of that particular tag team.
B.J. Whitmer vs Naomichi Marufuji. BJ Whitmer (face) is a solid wrestler who has been in ROH longer than anyone on the current roster. He has had a number of memorable matches but really no character or charisma to show for it. He generally gets a respectable amount of cheers, but he is not someone ROH fans are passionate about. He employs a brawling style and also uses the exploder suplex. In fact, his finisher is a wrist-clutch exploder.
Naomichi Marufuji (face) is a standout talent from the Pro Wrestling NOAH promotion in Japan. He is one of the brightest young stars in the business and has slowly been working more US dates. He is fluid in the ring with his technical wrestling, but he can also fly and throws some dazzling kicks as well as a coast to coast dropkick. His finishers include the Shiranui and the Perfect Inside Cradle.
Whitmer is coming off a crushing defeat at the hands of Takeshi Morishima in the very first match of the first ROH PPV. Also on that PPV, Adam Pearce approached a distraught Whitmer and appeared to be consoling him. It should be interesting to see where his head is at. Marufuji is coming off a huge PPV win in a great match with Rocky Romero and is looking to get another win or two to get a shot at the World title.
ROH World Tag Team Champions The Briscoe Brothers vs. El Generico and Kevin Steen. The Briscoes (faces) are thought by many to be the best tag team in the world right now. They have put on outstanding match after outstanding match during their current reign. They have a great number of high impact double team maneuvers and are basically Southern ass kickers who are a little out there mentally. Mark Briscoe's finisher is the Cutthroat Driver (modified Burning Hammer) and Jay Briscoe ends matches with his Jay Driller (double underhook piledriver). Their tag team finisher is the Springboard Doomsday Device.
Kevin Steen (heel) had originally come in to ROH for a handful of shows in early 2005 and showed some flashes of talent but overall did not get over with the crowd and was somewhat bland. He resurfaced in ROH as a tag partner to El Generico in 2007 and was a drastically improved performer. He is a very unlikable heel and has some brutal offense. His “Package Piledriver” finisher is devastating.
El Generico (face) had a very similar ROH career path as Steen. He was brought in around the same time in 2005 and had some good performances and was relatively over as comedy act, but didn't quite take off and stopped being booked. He returned as Kevin Steen's tag partner in 2007 and came in as a serious wrestler. Unlike his partner, Generico is a fan favorite, though there is sometimes some guilt by association reaction from the crowd. Generico finishes opponents off with a running mafia kick in the corner and the Brainbuster.
On the first PPV, The Briscoes successfully defended the belts but then were called out by Steen & Generico. The two teams had a pull apart brawl that spilled backstage until Steen hit the previously concussed Mark in the head with a chair and knocked him out. This went over the line in the minds of the Briscoes and this tag team title match was signed.
ROH World Champion Takeshi Morishima vs. Jimmy Rave. Takeshi Morishima (tweener) is a no nonsense, straight ahead killing machine who no one in ROH other than Samoa Joe has been able to stop in a singles match to this day. His stiff strikes, missile dropkick, lariats are the prelude to the devastating Backdrop Driver finisher.
Jimmy Rave (heel) is one of the most hated men in ROH history dating back to his days in the Embassy, but fans have actually begun to throw some support around this time. That combined with the desire to see a title change might lead to Jimmy being cheered here. Rave's finishers are a Greetings From Ghana (Pedigree) and his Heel Hook submission.
With Rave coming off a win (sort of) the previous night and Morishima coming off a rare loss (in a tag team match), this is as good of a chance as Rave will have to unseat the champ. It's going to take a lot to stop Morishima though.
”American Dragon” Bryan Danielson vs. Nigel McGuiness (#1 contender's match). American Dragon (tweener) came back from injury after 5 months at Respect Is Earned in impressive fashion. It looked like he hadn't missed a beat and is still the Best Wrestler In The World. His technical prowess is matched perhaps only by Nigel in ROH. His ring savvy, striking, and counters are what put him ahead of most, but Nigel is neck and neck with Dragon in these categories. Danielson has been working a more MMA style since coming back from injury, including utilizing a triangle choke. Danielson's finisher is the Cattle Mutilation submission.
Nigel McGuiness (face) has come close to defeating Morishima twice but couldn't quite put him away. His lariats are among the most brutal in ROH. His European wrestling throws a lot of people off their games, but it won't throw Danielson off his. Nigel & Danielson match up very well, and Danielson is going to have to look out for Nigel's Rebound Lariat/Jawbreaker Lariat.
These two have had quite a storied rivalry in ROH. The two have had many matches, and the results are always great. It is important to note that this match was actually taped on a separate day in a separate venue from the rest of the PPV (6-9-7). Dragon is coming off a win the previous night, while Nigel is coming off of a loss. That, combined with his win-loss record over Nigel should give Dragon the distinct advantage in this one. This match has been hyped quite a bit, and the action should speak for itself.
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