THE RETURN OF TWO RING OF HONOR, dare I say, ICONS

Two men, who were dominant forces in Ring of Honor’s first seven years of existence, returned to their roots, and their home last night in Manhattan at the Hammerstein Ballroom for ROH’s Seventh Year Anniversary.

And Goddamnit, I haven’t had this much fun at a wrestling show in a long time.

It’s been well over a year since I have attended a Ring of Honor event specifically, and a pro wrestling event in general. A combination of economics, reluctance, skepticism, pessimism, and emotion had stopped me from making the committment to return to the Manhattan Center to see ROH in its new home, the Hammerstein. The last time I was in ROH’s world was the Sixth Anniversary Show, the last show run in the Manhattan Center’s Grand Ballroom.

Before even getting in to the show at first, I have to do two things. First, to my dear friend and colleague, Georgie, who was the individual responsible for allowing me this opportunity, I say thank you. (I can’t do the plug, I think I’ll get yelled at, I’m sorry.) And secondly, I sat in the second balcony of the Hammerstein with my eldest son.

Damnit, those seats are UNcomfortable.

Ok, now the lineup. First, the quick list.

Erick Stevens & Roderick Strong defeated Kenny King & Rhett Titus when Stevens pinned Titus.

Brent Albright and Claudio Castagnoli went to a time limit draw. 5 minutes were mutually agreed to, and ended very quickly afterwards as Claudio hit a low blow on Albright to give the Shooter the iwn via DQ. Claudio then used a chair to decimate Albright after the match.

In the Sweet N Sour Challenge match, without Larry Sweeney, for reasons unknown to this writer, ADAM PEARCE returned from his role as the booker of Ring of Honor, (which is something I’ll get to later), and LOST to Bobby Dempsey, who pinned him in less than a minute.

Oh, and someone needs to tell me why George Oliphant from First Look NY on NBC was there, because frankly, I don’t have a clue why. Pearce making fun of his bowtie though was freakin’ classic.

Jerry Lynn defeated Lightning Mike Quackenbush in a classic encounter with the cradle piledriver.

Ultimate Endurance saw Delirious get eliminated first.

Necro Butcher hurt his foot on something, I didn’t catch what, but he sat on the ramp and taped up his foot, and later on ended up fighting with Brodie Lee literally out of the Hammerstein Ballroom to get himself and Lee eliminated.

Austin Aries turned on Jimmy Jacobs briefly during the two on one advantage the Age of the Fall team had against Tyler Black, but Black was able to get Aries to submit, and pinned Jacobs to win Ultimate Endurance. The spike was almost used, and left sticking out of the turnbuckle.

In what had to be the highlight of the night, until the end of course, the mystery tag match involving the Embassy of Prince Nana, who brought his mighty Bison Smith to team with the returning Crown Jewel, Jimmy Rave only to lose to the American Dragon Bryan Danielson, and the returning Colt “Boom Boom” Cabana, with Cabana pinning the Jewel of the Embassy.

D’Lo Brown defeated Jay Briscoe with a tights pull, and some underhanded tactics.

Kevin Steen & El Generico defeated the American Wolves of Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards in a wild, out of control No DQ match to retain the ROH World Tag Team Championships. Steen took a tough price at the end of this match, getting beat down and beat down badly enough that he was bleeding bad, and his knees were shot. Mr. Wrestling had to be carrried out of the Hammerstein Ballroom.

In an absolutely emotion packed main event, GHC Junior Heavyweight Champion KENTA fell to the ROH World Champion Nigel McGuinness via armbar submission.

Ok, so the results weren’t as quick as I had originally anticipated.

Some thoughts about the show.

First, the opening tag team match between Strong & Stevens vs. King & Titus. Rhett Titus’s gimmick is something to experience, live. I have to admit that right off the top. The match was fun, intense, and some of the hardest chops I have heard in a long time. There seemed to be some major league missed spots though,as King went and chased off Strong when Stevens had Titus pinned, that was definitely weird to me. Outside of that, the remainder of the match was pretty standard, but very enjoyable to watch.

Brent Albright & Claudio Castagnoli had an all out war. It was pillar to post war from bell to bell. Some decent reversals by both competitors, and a hell of a lot of intense action throughout the fight. This wasn’t a wrestling match. It was a fight. What bothered me though was the finish. Claudio was the first one to ask for the five minutes, Albright quickly accepted, and then the DQ finish was kind of lame, but it does lead for this feud to continue with more matches, and potential stipulations to be added down the road.

The Sweet n Sour Challenge had Bobby Dempsey taking on the booker, Adam Pearce. What I couldn’t figure out is why ROH brought in a television personality from First Look New York on NBC, George Oliphant. I loved how Adam Pearce dressed down Oliphant with the bow tie he was wearing. Bobby Dempsey won this match in under a minute, which surprised the living hell out of me, to see Adam Pearce reduce himself to a jobber to of all people, Bobby Freakin’ Dempsey.

Why Larry Sweeney wasn’t at this show is beyond me. I wonder what has transpired to cause that, and that whatever it was, it damn well had better have been pretty significant to get him off a show like this.

Next was a clinic. Jerry Lynn vs. the NWA Jr. Heavyweight Champion, Lightning Mike Quackenbush. It’s my first time seeing Quack compete, and damnit, he can wrestle. He knows his ground game, he knows how to high fly, and he can brawl. Sounds to me like he’s a complete package. Sad part about it is, he doesn’t have the experience of a Jerry Lynn, who won this match the cradle piledriver. I have to say I’m a little torn by Lynn’s apparent push in Ring of Honor, as I would prefer to see the younger guys get the rub instead of someone with as much experience as Lynn, but perhaps there’s an ulterior motive here. None the less, I was INCREDIBLY impressed with Quackenbush, and will be looking forward to future things from him in Ring of Honor.

Ultimate Endurance was the last match before intermission, and it was a cluster bomb. Not in a bad sense, but it was all over the place. Delirious was back in his green and black, and got eliminated from the contest pretty quickly. Not quick enough to see the Haze try and get involved with a splash on the talent outside the ring, only to be stopped and nearly killed by Aries, but Delirious did make the save only to fall shortly thereafter.

I don’t know how, but somehow Necro Butcher hurt his foot, and my son saw him on the rampway on the ground taping up the bottom of his foot, almost his heel area. For a while, Necro continued to compete, showing an awful lot of heart, ending up fighting his way through the crowd with Age of the Fall brawler Brodie Lee. They ended up fighting clear out of the Hammerstein Ballroom which resulted in both men being eliminated from the match, and having most of us in the seats scratching our heads, because the second fall was supposed to be by submission only.

During the period of time Austin Aries and Jimmy Jacobs had Tyler Black 2 on 1, Aries teased and turned on Jacobs briefly, only to have Black regain the advantage and get Aries to submit. It was down to Black vs. Jacobs, the implosion of D.I.F.H. (Wrestling Society X lives again!) This was the first time I have seen the infamous spike. Although it didn’t end up in anyone’s head, (it was stuck to the turnbuckle at the end of the match), it was a sight to experience. Black came out the winner, to continue his push to an eventual rematch with the World Champion. It has to be this way, nobody gets this big a push without getting the carat at the end of the rainbow. Nobody should have been able to survive the beating Tyler Black endured and not get a prize waiting for them, some day, some way.

The second half of the show was incredible. Prince Nana came out with his Bison, and the beginnings of the reformation of the Embassy. I’ve seen Bison Smith compete on the Pro Wrestling NOAH DVDs. I know he’s a brawler. I know he’s not a scientific specialist. But this guy has less wrestling skils than the Great Khali, and that’s saying something. It’s also saying something since at present, Smith is one half of the GHC Tag Team Champions. Anyway, Nana goes off and rants on the crowd, which gets the usual reaction before announcing the mighty Bison’s tag team partner, the CROWN JEWEL OF THE EMBASSY HIMSELF, JIMMY RAVE.

Now, let’s be honest ladies and gentlemen. Jimmy Rave in TNA was useless and a waste. Jimmy Rave in Ring of Honor was a talented individual who could draw heel heat out of a dead crowd just by leering at them. The pop this man got for his welcome back was enormous. I myself was jumpin’ up and down like a madman, remembering back to the legendary feud in ROH between the Crown Jewel and the Phenomenal One. Never did I expect what was going to happen next.

Before I continue, my son got such a kick out of Rave’s use of the human stepstool. I’m just glad it wasn’t a woman this time. Smart of ROH not to repeat that mistake.

Danielson runs out like a bandit, and gets double teamed, and the crowd anxiously awaits his partner. GRIZZLY REDWOOD!?!?!?!? I nearly lost it. And so did Redwood, as he was press slammed to the floor by Bison in less than 10 seconds. Next thing you know, Copa Cabana is playin’ in the Hammerstein, and out comes BOOM BOOM, COLT CABANA. I went INSANE.

Colt Cabana in ROH was and is a complete talent. Comedy matches, hardcore matches, scientific matches, you name it, this guy could do it, and he LOVED every single minute of it. He went to WWE, got misused like a two dollar sandwich, and paid for however many months of his career he’ll never get back. Question remains here, do you want to be a little fish in a big pond, or a big fish in a little pond. In Cabana’s case, I got a feeling he’ll take the big fish, because damnit, I haven’t heard a pop like this since back in 2006 when Homicide won the title from American Dragon.

The match was second to none. Cabana won with the roll up, and the celebration was on. I loved every minute of this match, especially the part where I yelled to Bison, “I’m surprised you know a wrestling hold!”, and someone else yelled back, “He doesn’t, he learned it from copying Jimmy!” My son Nick was hysterical laughing. Great line.

Post match, Cabana took the mike, and said although hearing Copa Cabana was music to his ears, he needed to hear only one song, and it belonged to his tag team partner. Ladies and gentlemen, you all know this, but when you’re in an ROH arena, and listening to 2,000 people sing the Final Countdown, it’s an experience second to none. I kid you not.

I felt for the next match. Jay Briscoe with his oft injured brother Mark taking on D’Lo Brown. D’Lo talks about how he thanks “them up north” for future endeavouring him, and that his future begins tonight in ROH. He then goes heel, and provides a lot of heel spots in a win over Jay in a match that nobody cared about. Adam Pearce needs to be shot for putting this match between the next matches and the tag match with Dragon and Bison. He should’ve known this match was doomed from the start.

The next match was insane. Off the charts. World Tag Team Title. No DQ. The Wolves vs. Steen & Generico. Steen fighting on one leg, figuratively speaking. A war. Plain and simple. Not to the level of Man Up, and the Ladder War with the Briscoes, but a war none the less. I was impressed with the team of the Wolves, this being my first time seeing them compete. Eddie Edwards looks an awful lot like Matt Sydal, doesn’t he? Question here is this. Although the champs retained, is it possible that due to the after match beatdown that forced Mr. Wrestling to be carried out of Hammerstein, are the titles on the brink of being vacated? I gotta admit one thing, Richards and Edwards sure do know how to do a con-chair-to. Can you say Excedrin headache number 929?

I read the reports of Nigel being injured. They weren’t lyin’. His arm looked like it had been through a war. And with KENTA’s kicks, and Nigel’s screams in pain, one of two scenarios was apparent. Either Nigel is one of the best sellers on the planet, or his arm is killing him. This match had so many false finishes, it was unbelievable. So many near falls, so many counters, so many close calls, it was amazing. I honestly thought the GTS KENTA hit won him the title. KENTA did fall to the armbar submission of Nigel’s when he leaned back, and nearly pulled KENTA’s arm out of his body. I don’t envy Nigel in the future though, because that shoulder looks like it’s not gonna heal up overnight, his reign as World Champion maybe coming to an end, soon.

Ladies and gentlemen, I had a blast. This was so much fun from pillar to post, I spent the cash for THIRD ROW TICKETS for June 13th. I’ll be back in the Hammerstein Ballroom for the next installment of the hard hitting WRESTLERS from Ring of Honor. In the meantime, I’ll be catching up on my japanese puroresu from watching Dragon Gate Challenge II, The Tokyo Summit, and Battle of the Best. And for kicks, I’ll check out Danielson vs. Morishima’s fight without honor from Final Battle. That oughta keep the home fires burnin’ for a couple of months.

I’d love to hear your reviews. Drop me a line at Klac1102@aol.com.

Thanks for reading.