Monday, June 27, 2011

ROH Best in the World iPPV (06.26.2011)

ROH Best in the World iPPV 2011
June 26th, 2011
Hammerstein Ballroom, New York City, New York
Attendance: 2,500+

As usual there are some impossibly high expectations for the latest ROH iPPV offering here, but from what I can gather so far those expecations were more than met to some. The big match and main selling point of the show is the ROH World title match between former partners Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards, but there's also some good stuff on the undercard with a four-way dream tag match and Christopher Daniels defending the TV title against El Generico. Enough talking though.

We open the show with Jim Cornette, Kevin Kelly, and Dave Prazak in the ring. They welcome the crowd and say that tonight's show is the highest attendance for an ROH ever, which very well could be true from the look of things. This place is freaking packed just like in the old ECW days. Cornette says that ROH enters a new era tonight since the SBG deal,and he finishes hyping the crowd up and we're off and running into the first match.

Your hosts are Kevin Kelly and Dave Prazak

Tommaso Ciampa vs. Colt Cabana

ROH seems really keen on pushing Ciampa it would appear, but I can't say I've ever been really impressed with his work. Colt is doing his usual opening jobbing duties methinks. No RD Evans at ringside tonight? Blasphemy! Lock-up from both men to start. Colt works his usual comedy match here while Ciampa starts getting fed up of his antics. Cabana stomps on Prince Nana's hand at ringside much to my amusement, but then gets dropkicked by Ciampa moments later. Ciampa hits a running knee into the corner and gets a two count. Ciampa blocks a quebrada attempt with his knees but winds up taking the old flip-flop-and-fly punches from Colt. Cabana hits a stiff butt bump (that's a weird sentence to type), but the younger Ciampa seems to have his number. German suplex from the second rope gets Ciampa another close two. Cabana blocks another German and tries for the Billy Goat's Curse, but Ciampa gets to the ropes. Ciampa finishes him off with his finisher, a powerbomb into a lung-blower combination at 7:38. Not a bad opener by any means, but this is pretty much the same Cabana match you could see on any ROH DVD or show that you've watched in the last year. **

Jay Lethal vs. Mike Bennett

This is Lethal's first show since returning to ROH after TNA let him go, and the first ROH show he's wrestled on since August of 2006. Lethal gets a huge pop from the New York crowd and he looks genuinely happy to be here. The fans get their usual "Fuck TNA!" chant in right before the bell rings and even a "Thank you Savage!" chant as Lethal mimics a few of Macho Man's signature mannerisms while Prazak does an awful Savage impression. Bennett gets a ton of heat from these ROH crowds so he's good in that respect. A nice headscissors sends Bennett to the floor and Lethal follows him out with a lightning fast tope. Bennett distracts the ref so Brutal Bob can slam Lethal at ringside behind the ref's back. Ciampa hits a nasty clothesline off the apron that sends Lethal inside out and he continues taunting the crowd. Bennett starts getting sloppy, spending too much time jawing with the fans. Lethal fires uip with some clotheslines and a handspring back elbow. Lethal goes to the top but Bob knocks him silly again and Bennett gives him a superplex for a close two count. Bennett takes too long on the top and misses an elbow drop, so Lethal feeds him a superkick and get a huge Randy Savage elbow drop off the top rope for a big pop and the win at 9:44. This was a fun little match and a great way for Lethal to return and look dominant. The crowd was so into everything he did and Bennett played his role well, but it was still an extended (albeit fun) squash. **¾

No Holds Barred Barrio Street Fight Match
Homicide vs. Rhino

This is Rhino's ROH debut here after being cut by TNA several months back, and what better way to introduce him to the ROH faithful than in a street fight match? Homicide has the distinct honor of not only appearing live on this PPV on the 26th, but also on a pre-taped PPV broadcast that aired later on the 26th for the brand new Urban Wrestling Federation, which has an exclusive contract with Homicide for the next few months, so take a wild guess at who's probably going to win here. Homicide gets on the mic before the match starts and calls Rhino Prince Nana's bitch. Rhino comes out to a big time pop as I'd venture to guess alot of fans in attendance tonight probably remember seeing Rhino wrestle for ECW in this same building. Rhino overpowers Homicide to start but Homicide counters and sends him to the floor. Huge tope con hilo from Homicide wipes out Rhino on the floor! Back inside it only gets him a one count before Rhino is fighting back. Homicide gets sent to the floor and Rhino tries for a slingshot plancha over the top rope, but Homicide moves out of the way. I don't think I've ever seen Rhino pull out a plancha like that before! Homicide drags Rhino over to the time-keeper's table and tries a powerbomb, but Rhino back drops him off the apron and through the table! Rhino pulls out a ladder and tosses it into the ring. Homicide bites a chunk out of Rhino and chases Nana around ringside, giving Rhino a chance to launch him into the steel guard-rail and then pounce him with a running knee. Back in the ring Rhino starts slamming the ladder into Homicide's throat. Homicide counters a suplex attempt into one of his own, sending Rhino back-first onto the ladder! Rhino tries hip-tossing Homicide onto the ladder, but only a section of his shoulder connects with it, so Rhino gorilla slams him onto the ladder again, bending it in a nasty manner. Shoulder-block off the top rope gets Homicide a two count. Rhino blocks a lariat attempt and delivers a nasty piledriver to Homicide, but he gets the shoulder up at two. Despite looking awesome so far in this match, the crowd still gives Rhino heat because of his association with Nana, chanting "Fuck you Rhino!". That's more heat than most ROH heels get already. Homicide flies off the top but only connects with Rhino's knees. Rhino looks for the Gore, but Homicide counters into an ace crusher! Somehow Rhino kicks out. Homicide brings a table into the ring and it gets propped up in the corner. Big belly-to-belly suplex from Rhino and he tries for the Gore on Homicide through the table, but Homicide blocks it and then pins him with a sunset flip at 10:18! After the match Rhino Gores him right through the table anyways and Homicide ends up having to be helped to the back by medical staff, selling the Gore like a gunshot wound. This was an outstanding hardcore brawl here with these two using a few weapons in some creative spots and with the crowd in the palm of their hands the entire time. Give this another five minutes even and this could have been incredible, but as it stands it's still a flat out fun contest and the post-match Gore re-establishes the move as a dominant finisher to the fans. ***¼

Steve Corino and Jimmy Jacobs make their way out to the ring next and from the moment they get into the ring, the crowd begins chanting "We want Steen!". Corino cuts a promo about how he's an evil man but he's trying to get better, and now he has Jimmy Jacobs to help him out. Corino says that people deserve a second chance, and then introduces a returning Kevin Steen (who was forced to leave ROH after losing to El Generico at Final Battle last December) who was disguised in the upper deck as a fan. Giant pop for Steen and this has been where this whole Corino angle has been heading for all year. Steen tries to jump the barricade to get in the ring, but ROH refs and officials hold him off. Cornette comes out and Steen offers to shake Cornette's hand, and they do just that. Afterwards Steen leaves the building, disappointing the fans but it makes sense angle-wise.

Michael Elgin vs. Steve Corino

Elgin is a guy who I was initially indifferent about but seem to enjoy more and more with each match of his I watch. He's just a great powerhouse wrestler. High angle Saito suplex from Corino but Elgin just gets right back up. Corino does his usual disgusting "thumb in the butt" spot and Elgin hits the floor for a breather. Corino tries for a tope (probably the first one he's tried in years), but Elgin catches him in mid air and then gives him a tombstone piledriver on the floor! Back inside a northern lights suplex gets Elgin a two count. Corino blocks a package piledriver attempt from Elgin ("You don't do the package piledriver asshole!" says one loud fan in a funny moment) and then drags Corino to the second turnbuckle and applies a Boston crab with Corino tied up in between the second and third ropes! Look at Elgin channeling his inner Jericho. Stiff lariat from Corino, but Truth Martini trips him up at ringside and gets chased off by Jimmy Jacobs. Roll-up from Corino gets two, but Elgin gives him a TKO and a Jackhammer suplex, but he doesn't go for the pin. Instead he powerbombs Corino into the turnbuckle and then finishes him off with a spinning sitout powerbomb at 8:26. Another fun little short match here, but the Steen stuff obviously overshadowed it. Elgin looked impressive again though and this went by quickly. **½

After the match Elgin destroys both Corino and Jacobs in a beatdown. Suddenly Kevin Steen hops the rail though and jumps into the ring to help his friend! Big powerbomb on Elgin from Steen and then it's Truth Martini's turn to eat a superkick. More ROH officials hit the ring as Corino grabs a mic and tells Cornette to wait and let Kevin Steen talk. Steen says that he knows he's not supposed to be here, but he just wants to get the chance to apologize to everyone and try to fix his past mistakes. Steen tells everyone "My name is Kevin Steen...and FUCK RING OF HONOR!". He nails Corino with the mic and then gives him the package piledriver! Ooohhh, swerve. I guess this means Steen is returning as a heel once again, which is probably for the best. Great segment.

Intermission time for the show. We get some video packages to hype some of the remaining matches tonight and a few short backstage promos from Christopher Daniels, Steve Corino, and the Embassy.

ROH TV Title Match
Christopher Daniels
© vs. El Generico

Dave and Kevin acknowledge how the TV title has sort of been put on the back-burner as of late as they were waiting to find a new TV deal. Daniels turned heel back at the Wrestlemania weekend shows and aligned himself with Truth Martini's House of Truth faction, so he plays a great spoil to Generico's always lovable underdog babyface. The action almost immediately spills out to the floor where Generico lays in some big chops. Daniels tries to launch him into the steel gaurd rail but Generico leaps onto it instead and moonsaults onto him! Back in the ring Daniels shakes Generico's hand and then eats a slap anyways. Daniels chokes Generico over the second rope and then does the Nature Boy strut, prompting huge "Fuck TNA!" chants. Daniels snaps him over the top rope, calls out a 450 splash...and then just lightly places one knee over Generico's throat. Daniels gets right back up, immensely pleased with himself and tries to start an "I've still got it!" chant. Where the hell has this incredibly playful and fun Daniels been hiding at? Daniels gets sent to the floor again and Generico gets a ton of air on a huge somersault plancha. Back in the ring a Blue Thunder Bomb gets Generico a two count. Daniels locks him into the Koji Clutch, but Generico fights it off so he tries for the Angel's Wings, which Generico counters with a back drop. Daniels hits the Last Rites, but Generico gets the shoulder up! Daniels blocks a brainbuster attempt but eats a Yakuza kick and a brainbuster anyways for a seriously close two count. Generico ties Daniels up in the tree of woe and then hits a flipping COAST TO COAST dropkick on Daniels! He's too close to the ropes though and grabs one to break the pin up. Both men fight to the apron and Daniels just shoves Generico flying off the apron, into the steel guardrail and a photographer at ringside in a nasty spot. Daniels gives him a suplex on the floor for good measure and grabs his title belt, putting it on in the ring and ordering the ref to count Generico out, who barely makes it back in the ring at a nine count. Generico hits another a Yakuza kick on Daniels in the corner and then gives him the top rope brainbuster for the win and the title at 19:31! Generico had seemingly lost some of his focus initially after the Steen feud ended, but that changes tonight with his first ROH singles title. This was a heated, hard hitting contest that saw Daniels cutting loose and playing up the heel antics like never before while Generico hit him with small bursts of big offense. The final flurry was too much for Daniels to overcome though, and Generico will look to bring the TV title with him to the first set of tapings for ROH's new TV show. ***¾

ROH Tag Team Title Elimination Match
Wrestling's Greatest Tag Team (Shelton Benjamin/Charlie Haas)
© vs. Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero/Claudio Castagnoli) vs. The Briscoe Brothers (Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe) vs. All Night Express (Kenny King/Rhett Titus)

The Kings come out first with a live performance by the rapper that does their entrance theme. I've always liked their theme, but the guy really wasn't very good live to be honest. Haas and Titus start us off but Titus gets fought off quickly and he tags King in. The fans want Benjamin in so Haas obliges. Benjamin and Haas try isolating King for a while until Claudio tags himself in so the Kings can use the same strategy on King again. Finally King is able to tag out to Titus and work some double-team isolation moves of their own in their corner. Titus gets sent to the corner and the Briscoes tag in and go to work on him as everyone starts jumping in the ring. Haas follows Jay Briscoe out to the floor with a pescado and then Titus wipes them all out with a tope con hilo. Meanwhile Mark Briscoe fights off the Kings in the ring and then launches himself off the top rope with a magnificent soaring moonsault that wipes out half of the teams on the floor! Not to be outdone, Chris Hero is next out with a backwards running moonsault of his own over the top, wiping everyone out again. That leaves Kenny King, but Claudio meets him at the top rope. Both men struggle on the top and out of nowhere Shelton Benjamin leaps from the mat to the top rope and suplexes both men off the top with a double exploder suplex! That was just insane. The Briscoes hop in and go to work on Benjamin while Sara Del Rey helps tend to the Kings. Shelton fights off a side headlock and the Kings tag into the match and go to work on Shelton's legs. Haas gets the hot tag and wipes out almost everyone in the ring and on the apron with forearms and suplexes, but Rhett Titus tags himself in quickly and fights off both of the Briscoes. King tries to help him out but eats a big boot and a double team neckbreaker from the Brsicoes.Titus blocks a Doomsday Device attempt but falls victim to a big Falcon Arrow for a close two. King and Titus hit a double-team kneedrop on Jay and that's enough for them to eliminate the Briscoes at 24:16.

The Briscoes leave disappointed as the Kings and All Night Express pair off in the ring. A nice spin kick on Benjamin gets a two count for Titus. Hero blindly tags in and hits a senton on Shelton for another near fall. The Kings continue their isolation strategy with Shelton in their corner, dishing out a serious beatdown. Shelton hits the swinging spinkick and tries to tag Haas in, but Hero pulls him off the apron. King tags himself in and an STO on Hero gets him a two count. He gives Claudio a spinebuster and catches Hero in the middle of a rolling kick, countering into an overhead leg cradle suplex! The ANX trade quick tags, working over Hero. Stiff rolling elbow gets Hero a near fall, and the crowd seems shockingly quiet for some reason despite the great action they've been watching for nearly half an hour. King hits Claudio with an awesome springboard neckbreaker and Del Rey diverts the referee's attention long enough for Hero to strap on the loaded elbow pad of doom and knock Titus out for the pin at 34:34.

Haas grabs the loaded elbow pad from Hero and tosses it into the crowd immediately after the elimination of the All Night Express. Huge German suplex from Haas on Hero gives him the chance to tag Shelton in, who cleans house. He hits a double DDT on both of the Kings and gets a near fall on Hero. Angle slam from Haas, but Claudio breaks the pin up. Claudio delivers the absolute craziest version of the UFO he's ever done on Haas, and as if that wasn't enough, he gives him an incredible Giant Swing with Hero dropkicking Shelton's face for a near fall so close that it has everyone buying the Kings as the new champs for a second. Claudio gets sent to the floor and Benjamin and Haas deliver a double team spinebuster onto Hero to pin him and retain the titles at 40:10. Once again ROH impresses with their incredible tag team division, this time in an epic four way that showed good pacing by taking it's time going into hyperdrive in the first fifteen minutes or so. Perhaps a bit long, but it's still worth going out of your way to see. ****

After the match the Briscoes return to the ring and take out Benjamin & Haas with steel chairs! The Kings join in on the beatdown as well until the All Night Express hit the ring with weapons to clear off both teams.

ROH World Title Match
Eddie Edwards
© vs. Davey Richards

Normally ROH unfortunately tends to drag some of the great angles that fall into their lap out for too long, but for once we've got a match that everyone has been dying to see and it's without a doubt the key and focal point of selling this entire show to both the fans in attendance and those watching on iPPV. I shouldn't have to explain the Wolves past history together, but to suffice to say the journey to this title match between these two longtime tag partners has been simply epic and stands as one of the best builds to a title match I've seen in quite some time. Both men shake hands to start and go into a nice scientific lock up and basic hold exchange. Davey gets a bit more complicated with a high angle Texas clover-leaf submission, but Eddie gets the quick rope break. Edwards hits an awesome gourdbuster variation but it only gets a measly one count. The action spills to the apron and Davey tries a running kick, misses the first one, and then nails Eddie with a stiff second one. He gets right back up and then flies out seconds later with a tope suicida on Edwards into the guard-rail! Back inside Edwards tries for a backpack chinbreaker, but Davey counters right into a nasty cross-armbar. He transitions into a Fujiwara armbar and then delivers a bridging northern lights suplex for a near fall before going into a kimura. Both men climb to the top turnbuckle and begin exchanging headbutts before Davey delivers a superplex, rolls through on the mat and delivers another suplex and then finishes by transitioning back into the cross armbar. Edwards counters into the Achilles lock and I'm just dumbfounded by how smooth all of those transitions were. Eddie catches Davey half-way through a back handspring and slams him with an overhead suplex. Edwards hits a Fisherman's buster for a close two count as an "ROH!" chant breaks out. Edwards hits a lung blower but Davey counters into another cross armbar. Eddie keeps trying to fight the armbar off but Davey is just ferocious. Richards is sent to the floor and Edwards moonsaults off the apron on to him halfway into the first row! Back inside Edwards hits a missile dropkick but he seems to be favoring his leg now. They fight to the apron again and Davey eats a superkick and a 2K1 bomb onto the side of the ring apron! Both men look dead on the floor. But no you see, they haven't killed each other yet. Oh no, instead Eddie guides Davey onto a ringside table and then comes off of the top rope with the deadliest double-stomp I've ever seen right through the table, and possibly his chest! My jaw actually dropped on that spot. Back in the ring Edwards hits another double-stomp to Davey's back, but somehow Davey kicks out. Davey catches Edwards leg in the ropes with a dragon-screw legwhip and then springboards with a double stomp of his own onto Eddie now! Davey keeps working kicks into Eddie's leg like this was an MMA fight and then lays in a flurry of crazy headbutts onto Edwards on the top rope. Edwards gets a dangerous amount of air from an overhead release German suplex off the top rope from Davey and then eats a stiff kick and another German for a near fall. Davey transitions from a powerbomb into the ankle lock and both men take turns trading ankle locks with one another. Both men fall to the outside again, exhausted by this point. They make it back in just barely and a top rope hurricanrana followed by a powerbomb gets Edwards another close near fall. Both men are totally exhausted here, but a huge lariat from Davey seems to awaken some fire in Eddie. Brutal series of kicks to the head from Davey, but Eddie keeps kicking out, refusing to give up. Finally Davey hits without a doubt the sickest kick to Eddie's face that I've ever seen in my life, and that's enough to get Davey the 3 count and fulfill his dream of becoming ROH World champion at 36:01! This was everything that we had been hoping for and more. Both guys busted their asses for thirty six minutes and put on one of the most brutal, hard-hitting and intense matches that I have seen this year or any year. You could literally feel how badly each man wanted to win this contest and seeing Eddie keep fighting through the pain and one brutal kick after another was just incredible and made him look like a tough bastard even in defeat. This was the single moment that ROH had been building up to for nearly a year at this point, and it absolutely delivered everything you could have asked for from this match. This very well could be your match of the year folks. ****¾

After the match Davey is understandably exhausted both physically and emotionally. Both men sell just how crazy that match was by taking a ton of time to get up after the medical staff comes in to check them out. They struggle to their feet and Edwards wraps the ROH World title around Davey's waist and they embrace. Davey grabs a mic and tells Eddie to come back to the ring as he tries to take off, and Davey says that Eddie is one of the best in the world and how he's like family to him, but Eddie says that we've already heard Davey talk about how great everyone else is, but tonight is his night and this is his moment to be the best in the world. Davey thanks his grandparents while looking to the sky and we close out the show with Davey celebrating and basking in a moment that had been building up for many months. What a match and moment.

Bottom Line: ROH delivers yet again on iPPV as they usually do, booking several incredible matches that are well worth the $15 asking price for the show. The first few matches were a bit underwhelming albeit fun (though the Homicide/Rhino street fight was great) but once we got to the TV title match, it was non-stop state of the art wrestling from everyone involved. An intense four team 40 minute war and the best ROH title match since last year's Black/Richards Death Before Dishonor encounter, this show absolutely delivered on it's promise to show you some of the best in the world, and it's an easy Thumbs Up.

Score: 9/10

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I watched this show and I considered it a solid show, although I think you're overrating a few of the undercard matches. The tag team match went way too long and could have used about 10 minutes cut from the first fall. The main event was a solid ****1/2 match and was on par with AJ/Bully and HHH/Taker for MOTY so far. Cut this show down to a 3-hour show by getting rid of a few of the crappy undercard matches (Lethal/Homicide/Rhino? in a 15-minute hardcore 3 way instead and scrap Cabana/Ciampa; also scrap the 20-minute intermission and the excess 10 minutes from the tag match) and you'd have a great show instead of a merely good show. If they had to do a 4-hour show, couldn't they have put Generation Me on the actual card instead of some of their boring rookies?

The big problem I have with Ring of Honor is not so much with their product, but rather with the most vocal segment of their fans. Chanting "F" TNA is never appropriate regardless of whether you like TNA's product (I was disgusted when the announcers for ROH appeared to condone these chants). TNA allows wrestlers who currently work for their promotion (Gen Me, Daniels, Lethal) to appear on this show and this is how ROH's fans express their gratitude? If the fans of ROH had any class, they would be chanting "Thank You TNA" instead. If ROH wants a mainstream audience, they aren't going to get it by alienating fans of one of the 2 mainstream promotions.