With the end of the year fast approaching, the normal tradition I would do for my column is to do a year end award setup. As most other columnists would do. However, since my colleagues have taken me to task somewhat on my information and its legitimacy, I am going to go a different route today with this column, and instead speak of memories that remain with me from the live events I have been fortunate enough to attend throughout the calendar year set to end a week from friday.
The year saw me attend three events, all of them for Ring of Honor. Why just ROH? Simple. For the same amount of money for a general admission ticket to ROH as it would be to buy a back row seat for a bigger arena for WWE, you’re insanely closer to the action, and a lot more free to not be pinned to one seat for umpteen hours at a time.
Anyways, the first event, in the Manhattan Center, actually, the last show to be held in the Hammerstein Ballroom in the Manhattan Center, was the 7th Anniversary Show in February.
During that show I had the privilege to see Mike Quackenbush perform. His skills are impeccable inside the ring. His match with Jerry Lynn was very solid. As I am not a huge Lynn backer, I was a little miffed when he went over, but I understood all the hype on the message boards as to how good the NWA Jr. Heavyweight Champion truly is.
The 7YA show saw the new booker of Ring Of Honor, Adam Pearce, step out from behind the desk and compete in a match with Bobby Dempsey. This was part of the embroiled saga that saw the end of Sweet N’ Sour, Inc., and eventually, Larry Sweeney for the bulk of 2009. Dempsey winning was a shock to me, and I personally found it to be a little disconcerting to see a former NWA World Heavyweight Champion lose a match in such a short period of time to a worker like Dempsey. I guess I can’t disparage Dempsey, however, even though he looks like the Pillsbury Doughboy, he’s got the tamarity and the cohones to get in the ring, and take bumps, and that’s more than what can be said for a dumbbell like myself.
The Revolution Rules match, 6 man tag between the Age of the Fall and Austin Aries against Tyler Black, Delirious and the Necro Butcher. Always fun to see Necro compete, as you never know what’s going to happen, as prevalent in this match as Necro cut his foot open bad, and ended up brawling with Brodie Lee all the way backstage to a double count out after a few minutes of wondering what to do. It ended up being Aries & Jacobs, who took out Delirious, and then fell victim to the enigma that is Tyler Black. Aries repeatedly seemingly was en route to turning on Jacobs, but eventually, it didn’t come out the way the fans probably wanted, although Tyler did get the dupe.
Can I tell you, by the way, those Revolution rules, were about as confusing as TNA’s predilection for reverse battleroyales.
The highlight of the show was the Danielson Bison Smith encounter, a tag match that saw two returns to Ring of Honor. The first being Jimmy Rave, the Crown Jewel of the Em-buh-see, with Prince Nana. His pop was enormous when he came out, gotta admit, I marked out too like a little school girl. But, then the fun exploded in the building. Danielson came rushing out and attacked Bison, only to be followed by the toothpick lumberjack, Grizzly Redwood, who got thrown like a lawn dart out of the ring, and nearly in to the second row. Well, the stage was set, and the return occurred of “Scotty Goldman”, Colt “Boom Boom” Cabana! I went ballistic.
I was so disappointed as to how WWE used Cabana throughout his tenure with the company. I thought, because of his relative success in OVW, that he would stand a chance in WWE. Boy, was I wrong. He ended up being everybody’s tackling dummy. Being a strong ROH supporter, that bothered me immensely. Nevertheless, seeing him return live to a ROH ring was a memory I won’t soon forget.
Obviously, the match was a beautiful thing to see, and a babyface win for Dragon and Boom Boom.
By the way, I’m only using the nickname Boom Boom, because it’s his legit nickname. In my opinion, the only true Boom Boom is JJ Sexay’s better half. 🙂
Cabana’s promo at the end, demanding to hear the Final Countdown played in the building was also something to remember. I’m sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but if you haven’t had the pleasure of the feeling of 1200 people singing Europe’s “The Final Countdown” in unison, well, you’ve missed an experience. Believe me.
D’Lo Brown. A man who’s tenure in wrestling needs to be commended. He’s had moderate success in WWE, he’s been a GHC tag team champion in Pro Wrestling NOAH, but perhaps his true role is backstage, because his time in ROH was not very memorable, by any stretch. His match with Jay Briscoe wasn’t one to write home about in my eyes, but it’s always fun to see the Briscoes compete, and man up, if you will.
Then we come to the title match. I didn’t forget the Albright/Claudio match. It was the typical Brent Albright intensity laden war. Good, entertaining stuff. One man stands in front of another man, hits them as hard as they can, and whoever is standing last, wins.
But, like I said, the title match. Nigel McGuinness vs. then GHC Jr. Heavyweight Champion KENTA. KENTA, who had two reigns as GHC junior champion in the beginning of 2009, ended it sourly by getting hurt, but this match, prior to his injury, was one shining moment and a half, if you ask me.
First, it looked like Nigel McGuinness was the victim of malpractice when he came out to the ring. He came out in his usual manner with his swagger and cockiness, but when you saw his shoulders, he looked like a man who was stuck in an invisible trash can for the entire match.
The rigors of being ROH World Champion for as long as Nigel was were heir apparent in this match, as Nigel basically was a combatant without arms. KENTA spent the majority of the match beating on Nigel, as every single solitary movement with his arms brought him screaming agony. It was and still is a testment to Nigel that he even competed in this match, and a miracle he won. It’s obvious his time was ending as ROH champion, as he dropped the belt at the next card, Supercard of Honor IV during ‘Mania weekend in Houston.
However, no question, this performance the World Champion had against a talent as superb as the GHC Jr. Champion, this performance has made me a Nigel fan for life.
I’m disappointed Nigel didn’t sign with WWE, but I understand why. I’m disappointed he’s taken a new identity, but I understand why. All that aside, this man has my ultimate respect, because anyone who would be able to take the beating he took, feeling like he did, and came out with the World Championship, that is the true definition of a gladiator, a warrior, and a veteran of many wars. Nigel McGuinness is one tough bastard, and one of the main reasons I have been an ROH fan from day one when I first saw him, I believe back in 2005. I thought he looked like a Heidenreich clone back then, but boy was I wrong.
The second ROH show I attended was Manhattan Mayhem III. On June 13th, the ROH ring was brought back upstairs to the Grand Ballroom. Although it’s an experience to see a show in Hammerstein, the Grand Ballroom has always been my favorite, because there is more standing room available, and there’s really no bad angle in the building. One thing to note about Hammerstein, we sat 2nd balcony, and those seats are so freaking small, if you’re close to my size, you’re not going to fit one ass cheek in them, I kid you not.
Anyway, back to the memories. First up here was the Young Bucks. As God as my witness, these kids are tag championship material. It’s no wonder PWG has their tag division stacked around these guys. Yes, they look a lot like young Matt and Jeff Hardy, but damnit, these kids are talented, they’re charismatic, and they can fight. I’m not at all surprised TNA has them on a tryout, and I suspect they’ll get swooped up by the big machine pretty quick. One thing I gotta say, if the Bucks do go to TNA, and they can’t drink the Russo Kool Aid, WWE better swoop these kids up pretty damn quick, they are that damn good.
Necro Butcher and Jimmy Rave. Necro was enjoying success from his movie role in the Wrestler, and Nana made it a point to make fun of that, and that was hysterical. Rave played the heel role to perfection, and Necro, although he won, took a beating after the match. Bad. I don’t remember how long he was out, but he definitely had a bad wheel when Nana, Osiris, and Rave were done with him.
In a match that was definitely over – hyped, Jimmy Jacobs beat Tyler Black in a first blood match. Jacobs used the spike, and Tyler basically no sold it after getting bloodied. What bothered me is this. Black cashed in his “in his pocket” title shot, and made the main, scheduled for ROH World Champ Jerry Lynn vs. Austin Aries, a three way match. I got zero issues with three ways, but cashing in any title shots need to be done a little more spur of the moment than how it was done here. Looking back at it now, I understand exactly why it was done, and what ROH was trying to accomplish, but sitting there at the show, I wasn’t too pleased, I gotta be honest. I also expected this match to be a lot more violent, and it was anything but, especially for the stipulation.
Sonjay Dutt. Dutt came out with a do rag on to hide the bald spot on his head. He played a heel, although truthfully, I really think he was pissed off, since he recently had been released from TNA. He got some hell of an ass whooping from Roddy, though, and as God as my witness, Roderick Strong is the hardest chopper in wrestling. His chops make Ric Flair’s look tame. There, I said it.
Colt vs. Dragon vs. D-Lo vs.Castagnoli in four corner survival. Never really understand the logistics of a “four corner survival” match, but this match really had only one bright spot, and that was the comedy between Dragon and Cabana. Cabana won beating D-Lo, (no surprise there), and there really wasn’t much else to talk about throughout this match.
The Wolves vs. Steen & Generico in a submissions match. This feud is about as hard core as it gets. Steen & Generico are an amazing tag team, or should I say, were an amazing tag team. Their matches with the Wolves, second to none, and this one got upped, and upped in a big way come Glory by Honor 8. Honest truth, if you see an ROH DVD, and these four men are competing against each other, pay your money. It’s worth every damn penny.
Jay Briscoe and Guido Maritato. Guido, for a small competitor, is built really tough as nails. I’d like to see Guido compete more often, but his showing here was admirable, and worthy of notice. Not a memorable match compared to some others, but not a bad showing at all.
The three way world title match was unique, as it saw the champion eliminated first. Never would’ve guessed that the main event for Final Battle would’ve been previewed at Manhattan Mayhem III, but it did happen, with Aries becoming the first ever two time ROH World Champ. I’ll be honest with you. I’d love to see Aries in WWE. I know it’s a pipe dream, but Aries needs to be seen by the world on television, and I’d love to be able to see Aries go after Punk on the grand stage.
I’d also like to mention that this was yet another ROH title change I have been in attendance for. I was in attendance when Danielson beat James “Jamie Noble” Gibson for the strap at Glory By Honor IV, and I was in attendance for Homicide’s win over Danielson at Final Battle 2005. I feel pretty damn lucky to have the privilege to say I have seen three ROH World championship title changes.
We move forward to the final show I attended this year, September 26th, Glory By Honor 8. This has become the best show I have ever attended for professional wrestling, no matter what company. This had a big match feeling from bell to bell, and it was a privilege to have had the pleasure to be in attendance.
Although the proof is not very legible, I met Bryan Danielson prior to the show, and I am happy to say the man is a class act. He knows where the bills are paid, and he has my eternal respect. Not because he’s an amazing talent in the ring, and is as close to a complete performer as there is in this industry, but also because he’s humble, and he knows that without the fans, there would be no American Dragon.
There were four moments in this card I will never forget. During the Claudio Castagnoli vs. Kenny Omega match, Claudio had Omega in an airplane spin, and literally turned him about three times WITHOUT HOLDING HIM ON HIS SHOULDERS. He did it no handed. I’ve never seen that done before, ever.
Second, Ladder War II. Look, I don’t care what you say about ROH, or anything else that I spew. Buy this DVD for this match alone. I’m buying it the first chance I can. This match was insane. It’s not about psychology or storytelling in this match. It was about who was the best athlete. And an AMAZING kudo has to be given to Eddie Edwards for competing through this war with a severely broken elbow. His arm was motionless in a cast bent at the elbow, and he looked like he should’ve been in a hospital bed, but instead, he’s taking sick bumps off the tops of ladders.
And people, when I say tops of ladders, I’m not talking the six foot WWE jobs. I mean BIG ASS LADDERS, I don’t want to speculate how high, but they are DEFINITELY higher than what WWE and TNA use, without question. It’s unreal none of these men were seriously hurt in this match. I am PROUD to have the honor of saying I saw this match live. It was amazing.
Eddie Kingston, I need to know what is so good about this guy. I just don’t see it. His match with Chris Hero wasn’t anything to spew about, but the temper tantrum Kingston threw afterwards made him look like a crybaby of epic proportions.
Aries vs. Petey Williams for the ROH World title. Well, let’s see. I can tell you, I know why TNA let Petey go. This was the low point of the show. IT WASN’T BAD, let’s get that straight, but neither of these matches stood a chance, even after intermission, after the exhaustion felt by all parties involved, including the fans, following Ladder War II.
Jim Cornette is an amazing promo artist. His words are golden. I hope he’ll stay on with ROH for the forseeable future, because I THINK he can be good for the company. His return got an amazing pop that night, and has made me an Alice Cooper fan. The theme song has become my creedo. “No More Mr. Nice Guy.”
You have had the Rock N’ Roll Express vs. the Midnight Express. You’ve had the Bulldogs vs. the Hart Foundation. You’ve had the Horsemen vs. the Road Warriors. You’ve had the Freebirds vs. the Von Erichs. Well, soon, very soon, I believe you’ll be able to put the same value on the budding rivalry between the Young Bucks and the Briscoes. Together, they’re just unbelievable to experience in a match against each other.
Bryan Danielson vs. Nigel McGuinness. Nigel bled like crazy in this match. “I had quite a lot to say, but this clamdigger just knocked me out!” That was Nigel’s quote after the match, and it was so true. This was a war. Both men brought their five star game to the table, and left nothing behind. Their heart and souls were poured on to the ROH canvas this night. The match was epic. The post match, moving. The locker room comes out, and gives both men standing ovations, and to hear the Final Countdown played one last time, and the sold out crowd screaming the lyrics, well, I am getting goose pimples right now typing about it, so you can imagine how it must have felt experiencing it first hand.
It’ll be a long time before I hold a live show in as much esteem as I hold Glory By Honor 8. The last show I put in this eschelon was Final Battle 2006, when Homicide won the belt from Bryan Danielson. It think it’ll be another few years before any wrestling show tugs at my heart strings the way Glory By Honor 8 did.
If I come up with any ideas for another year end column, I’ll do it. If you have ideas to submit for a ‘themed’ column for the end of the year or the start of the new year, let me know. My email, for feedback, criticisms, or to tell me I suck, is Klac1102@aol.com..
That’s all for now. Be sure to check out the Pro Wrestling Rewind this weekend. A new episode of Version 2.0 will air on sunday morning on Wrestleview.com/rewind, and also on iTUNES! Stay tuned, and BE HEARD!
If you’re on facebook, I invite you to become a fan of the Rewind. All six episodes of Version 2.0 are archived there. If you’re interested, you can click here to check it out, and become a fan of the Rewind.
Thanks for reading.