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The following report was originally published ten years ago on PWTorch.com…
Ring of Honor event
February 23, 2008
New York City, N.Y.
Report by Cal Henderson, PWTorch reader
I went to the ROH show at the Manhattan Center last Saturday. Here’s the results and some of my comments. I went with my girlfriend (not an ROH diehard or hardcore wrestling fan but a big HBK and Taker fan).
Dark Match: Zack Gowen defeated Pelle Primeau. An okay match, nothing too exciting. Pelle botched a springboard move and Gowen almost botched the moonsault.
(1) Delirious vs. Human Tornado: Delirious is back to the ol’ green and black… no more Wolfpac Delirious like at Final Battle. Tornado was good and was very over with the crowd. Age of the Fall interferes two minutes into the match, leading to…
(2) Jimmy Jacobs & Tyler Black defeat Delirious & Human Tornado. OK match, nothing special. Zack Gowen came out with them and when the match was over he tossed his cane in the air in celebration… only for it to drop on Black’s head. Jacobs taps Tornado out with the End Time.
— At the end of the match, Nigel comes out to the ring and was booed from the outset. Some guys tried starting a positive Nigel chant but it got drowned out. Nigel announced that he was 100 percent and was in great shape (save for a nasty bruise where his left bicep was torn). But since he was going against someone who elbows and stomps people in the head, he wasn’t going to defend the title out of fear for getting another concussion and missing the PPV taping in March. Bryan Danielson storms out and cuts a huge promo about the prestige of the ROH World Title and how much it meant to the the men that won the title (Joe, Punk) and the men who hadn’t (Christopher Daniels, Roderick Strong) throughout ROH’s six years and that not defending the title would be a disgrace to the belt. Dragon then goes on to promise that he wouldn’t use any stomps or elbows to the head if it meant the match was still on. The Dragon/Nigel promos were really good with Dragon becoming the huge babyface in defense of the company and Nigel booed by almost everyone in the building, which was interesting especially with everything about concussions going around. I didn’t think Nigel would turn completely heel like he would later and that Gabe would go more for a Bret Hart-like turn where Nigel was only a heel to the NYC fans because of him protecting himself from concussions but that wasn’t the case.
(3) Brent Albright defeats El Generico: Good match but the crowd didn’t respond to it too well. Some fans chanted “Toga” and “Jim Belushi” at Albright which were pretty funny. What was ironic about it was that my girlfriend was just starting to talk about his hair when the chants started. I guess some NYC fans can’t tell the difference between John and Jim Belushi but you didn’t hear that from me.
— Larry Sweeney comes out with Bobby Dempsey for his talk show. He brings out Alison Danger as his guest and proceeds to level accusations that she’s a slut and that she has a whole locker room full of new guys just waiting for her. Danger says she doesn’t need to hear that crap from Sweeney but as she turns to leave, Sweeney hits her over the head with the mic. Then he turns to Dempsey and says that it’s time for him “to be a man” and feel her up. When Dempsey refuses, Sweeney hits him over the head with the mic and Dempsey lands right on Danger, face-down. Sweeney kicks Dempsey to make it seem like he’s having sex with her and then goes on to say that Sweet and Sour Inc. is going to begin a hostile takeover of ROH. The girlfriend did not like the Larry Sweeney segment at all. She’s not a feminist but she’s sensitive to assault on females and Sweeney encouraging Dempsey to have sex with Danger almost completely turned her off to ROH. I thought it was typical Sweeney, who was great in his role as usual — I’m intrigued by this “hostile takeover” he was talking about — but it was a little over the top. To make things worse, the crowd wasn’t really booing Sweeney and was in fact encouraging Dempsey. NYC was a little rowdier than usual, more on that later.
(4) Kevin Steen defeats Joey Matthews: Arguably the worst match of the night but it might come off better on DVD. Joey Matthews did not go over well in NYC, maybe a worse reaction than Pac. One guy started singing Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab” to him at one point –I was ringside in front of the hard camera and my section was ridiculous as far as chants go. Steen was over and redeemed the match.
(5) Austin Aries defeats Go Shiozaki: Very good match with an exciting final few minutes, but again, the crowd did not really get involved until the end. There was this one chick in the balcony above me who kept clapping through the entire match. I have no idea why but it really distracted from it. Aries had eyeliner on — I don’t get that either but my girlfriend and I were both close enough to see it.
— After the match, the lights go out and Jacobs, Black, and Lacey from the Age of the Fall appear in the balcony and cut individual promos trying to convince Aries to join the AOTF. Suddenly, Tammy Sytch comes out and tells Aries that he doesn’t need them but that she could help him out with his career. Aries says that he has a few offers to think about and leaves the ring. Lacey and Sytch trade barbs back and forth afterwards.
(6) Sara Del Rey defeats Daizee Haze to retain the Shimmer Championship. After intermission match. Pretty good but nothing too special. It’s angles like the Sweeney/Dempsey/Danger one earlier in the night that pretty much defeat interest in women’s wrestling like Shimmer.
(7) Davey Richards & Rocky Romero (c) defeat Jigsaw & Ruckus to retain the ROH World Tag Team Championships — Romero and the Vulture Squad were over with the NYC crowd, considering there were a lot of black and Hispanic people in the area. Plus the Vulture Squad’s style really worked with the NYC crowd as everything else up to that point with the exception of the end of Aries/Shiozaki didn’t get nearly as big a reception. Very exciting match and Richards and Romero work excellently as a tag team. Richards won with the running powerbomb on Jigsaw, which was weird because he never wins with that. Jigsaw ran out instead of unmasking with the rest of the Vulture Squad chasing after him but maybe that’ll be a backstage thing.
— After the match, Kevin Steen and El Generico show up on the stage. Steen says that the last time they were on the stage in Manhattan (Respect is Earned last May), they called out the Briscoes for a fight and they manned up so they wanted to know if Richards and Romero would do the same. As soon as Steen and Generico came to the ring, the NRC bailed to the back but Steen and Generico followed suit and fought up the ramp.
(8) Roderick Strong (c) defeats Erick Stevens and Necro Butcher to retain the FIP Championship — The FIP title match was my favorite of the night and the match the crowd really came alive for. Necro came out of it a much bigger star. It was like watching a homeless, balding Mick Foley with some of the bumps and shots he took, including two unprotected chair shots from Roderick. Stevens and Strong also carried their end and if anything, I thought Roderick came out of this match stronger, since Richards and Romero have seemingly stepped over him with the ROH tag titles. A lot of crazy spots and chop-fests among the three. Roderick pins Necro after a Gibson Driver through a table on the outside. Necro leaves to a huge ovation.
(9) Nigel McGuinness (c) defeats Bryan Danielson to retain the ROH World Championship — Definitely not a MOTY but it was still very good. Some fans started a dueling “Let’s Go Dragon/Let’s Go Nigel” chant but it turned into “Fuck You Nigel” like right after. Nobody in NYC liked Nigel Saturday night. CM Punk was also in the house. Since he was doing a autograph signing in Milford, CT, he was only about an hour and a half away. He was ringside for the Dragon/Nigel match. As soon as one guy told me that Punk was on the stage — he was in the sound booth for the entire match with his hood on — I missed Nigel hitting the ref to get DQ’ed. Nigel then tried to leave, saying that “You wanted your title match, well you got your title match,” only for Austin Aries, Kevin Steen and Delirious to greet him at the entrance. Aries then tells Nigel to get back in the ring and defend the title with honor or he’d have to go through the entire locker room. McGuinness returned to the ring. The match really picked up after then. At one point, Dragon was going to start his elbows to the head but stopped, remembering his pre-match promise. However, Nigel would later head butt Danielson repeatedly ala their match at Driven… this coming from the guy who was concerned about getting another concussion pre-match. McGuinness would later use Dragon’s Cattle Mutilation and then uses Dragon’s elbow spot, knocking out Danielson before putting him in his new arm submission for the victory. Nigel leaves to a chorus of boos; the heel turn of Nigel has begun… should be an interesting ride. Speaking of getting hit in the head, some time in the match some guy who was standing on a chair behind me landed on my girlfriend — I don’t know if his chin or his hand hit her — and had her dizzy until we got on the train home. She’s all right, though thank god.
All in all, a good show, but the crowd took some fun out of it. A lot more wilder than usual, almost bloodthirsty if you will.The next Manhattan show will take place in the Hammerstein Ballroom, which in case you don’t know is in the Manhattan Center, just on the 3rd floor whereas all the other shows have been in the Grand Ballroom on the top floor so ROH really isn’t going anywhere differently, just a different floor.