The ROHport: Ring of Honor – Respect is Earned
|Ring of Honor — Respect Is Earned
by J.D. Dunn
They trade power moves early with Morishima walking right into an Exploder while going for a clothesline. Whitmer hits a lariat for two and a frogsplash for two more. Whitmer runs right into a lariat, and another one gets a close two count. The Backdrop Driver finishes Whitmer moments later at 2:52. Whoa! If nothing else, it put Morishima over as a hard-hitter. *
Each guy gets brief video packages during their intros in the absence of a Titantron. Feeling out process to start, and Rocky busts out the Octopus Stretch. He rolls it into a Crucifix for two. Marafuji comes back with a Cobra Hold. They try to trade strikes, but each guy is too quick. Rocky gets the first real advantage with a cross armlock. He mounts Marafuji and lays in palm strikes (or “slaps” if you’re a layman). Marafuji springboard dropkicks Romero off the apron. Romero appears to mess up his knee, so Marafuji targets it with a Dragon Screw in the ropes. Romero blocks a charge and goes up, but Marafuji legdrags him off. FIGURE-FOUR LEGLOCK! Romero makes the ropes and hits a reverse kick. He follows up with a Satellite DDT that PLANTS Marafuji on his head. Romero goes for the Tiger Suplex but has to settle for a Springboard DDT. Marafuji gets a flying jawbreaker and a stacked powerbomb for two. He goes up, but Romero catches him and takes him off with a FLYING CROSS ARMLOCK! Fans chant, “Please don’t tap!” Marafuji…just…makes the ropes. They trade kicks, and Romero absolutely PASTES Marafuji with a roundhouse. Marafuji recovers and powerbombs Romero into the buckle. Romero is out of it, so Marafuji puts him in the tree-of-woe and springboards into a Van Terminator! ONE, TWO, TH-NO! Marafuji sets up for the Shiranui, but Romero counters to a Tiger Suplex. They trade kicks again, and Marafuji NAILS Romero with a kick to the head. That sets up the Shiranui at 16:04. Excellent way to introduce the audience to a different style than they’re used to. There were a few weak spots, like both guys going 3/4 speed on some spots so as not to screw them up and Romero kind of forgot about the legwork when he was doing those springboards. For the most part, though, this was a fine real opener. ***1/4
The Briscoes actually get Skynyrd for their entrance. Claudio and Sydal have their entrances cut off, which is just fine by me in Sydal’s case. Castagnoli outwrestles both Briscoes early and offers a tag to Sydal, but Sydal wants to come in when they have the advantage. The Briscoes come back with their usual series of awesome doubleteams, including a bulldog/Flatliner combo. They one-up that with a slingshot corkscrew Demolition Decapitation. Finally, Matt backdrops Mark to the floor and ranas Jay off the top. Claudio gets the hot tag and hits a…Gran Naniwa Crabwalk Elbow?!!! What’s next, the Delfin Clutch? Mark crawls back in, and the Briscoes hit a pair of big hiptosses. Claudio comes back with a flying uppercut and a Fisherman’s Suplex for two. The challengers hit a few doubleteams, and Castagnoli busts out the Giant Swing on Jay. Matt springboards in with this Redneck Fu. Claudio gets monkeyflipped to the floor, and Jay follows him out with the tope con hilo. The Briscoes hit the Death Sentence on Sydal, but Claudio makes the save. The Apomari Waterslide gets two. Mark MANS UP and tags out, though. The Briscoes get cleared out of the ring, and Sydal springboards off Claudio’s shoulders into a plancha. The Ricolabomb gets two. The SSP gets two more. Mark makes the save and sets up for the Cutthroat Driver. Sydal makes the save but winds up taking a DVD. Jay goes for the Jaydriller, but Sydal snaps off a rana for two. Jay catches Sydal on his shoulders, and Mark adds a springboard clothesline to complete the Doomsday Device for the win at 20:07. Some live reports were calling this a MOTYC. I wouldn’t put it up there with Jacobs vs. Whitmer or even Briscoe vs. Briscoe, but it’s a pretty damned good tag match. ROH would do well to put as much effort into marketing the Briscoes as they do their singles stars like Danielson and Nigel. ****1/4
Delirious nearly cracked his head open the last time these two met, and Roderick continued the match with NO REMORSE, endangering Delirious’ health. Hence, “grudge match.” Roderick goes for the Stronghold early, but Delirious catches him with a flying rana off the top. The fans get on Roderick early, so he takes it out on Delirious with a CHOP! Delirious misses a charge to the corner and comes out right into a swinging backbreaker. Delirious comes back again with clotheslines like he’s the Ultimate Warrior and Roderick is the Honky Tonk Man. The Bizarro Driver gets two. Roderick blocks the Cobra Stretch and tosses Delirious across the ring with a Blockbuster Slam. Delirious comes back with the SHADOWS OVER HELL! ONE, TWO, TH-NO! Roderick kicks out, so Delirious segues to the COBRA STRETCH! They exchange rollups, and Roderick comes out of it with a powerbomb backbreaker. To the outside, Delirious flips into the ring to avoid a backdrop, and he dropkicks Strong to the floor. Strong is persistent, though, and hits that backdrop on the apron. ONE, TWO, THR-NO! The Press Gutbuster gets two, and Strong immediately locks in the Stronghold. Delirious makes the ropes and flips Strong over with the Chemical Imbalance for two. Delirious goes for the Cobra Stretch again, but Strong blocks. Delirious has to settle for the Cobra Clutch Suplex for two. Delirious “hits” a kick to the face, which looked like it missed by a mile. Roderick comes back with a running boot to the chest and finishes with the Tiger Bomb at 17:06. Good match, but it was a little to frenetic without any letup. To have an emotional rollercoaster, you have to have peaks and valleys, not just a straight line only higher. The action was fast-paced, though, so it never really got boring. Plus, I wanted more brawling for a “Grudge Match.” ***
Danielson and Kenta pick up where they left off last year. Danielson tries a leapfrog but gets booted right in the chest. McGuinness and Morishima tag in. Morishima’s in-ring resemblance to Terry Gordy is uncanny. He does about two moves and tags out again, giving us McGuinness versus Danielson. They trade a few moves before Nigel sets Dragon on top. Takeshi comes in to stir up trouble, triggering a four-man brawl. Things calm down with Morishima standing on Nigel’s throat. Danielson helps out and reminds the ref that HE HAS ‘TIL FIVE! Danielson continues the punishment with a Dragon Sleeper. Nigel comes back with a boot to Dragon’s face and a rebound lariat to Morishima. HOT TAG TO KENTA! Kenta hits Danielson with a missile dropkick and boots him in the face. Danielson catches him with a backbreaker and tags Morishima. Morishima hits the FAT-ASSED CARTWHEEL AVALANCHE! He follows up with a missile dropkick, but Kenta catches him with a powerslam. Nigel tags in but gets hit with a missile dropkick from Morishima. He bounds right back up with a lariat. Morishima tries the cartwheel avalanche again, but Nigel is waiting for him with the SHAGADELIC LARIAT! Danielson helps Morishima block a powerbomb, and Morishima squashes Nigel’s chest. Nigel rebounds for a lariat, but this time Morishima is waiting for him with a backdrop driver. ONE, TWO, THRE-Kenta makes the save. Nigel puts Morishima on top and hits the TOWER OF LONDON (rope-assisted Stunner). Both guys tag out. Kenta hangs Danielson on the top rope and drops the flying knee. Kenta runs right into a roaring forearm. Danielson gets two off a Tiger Suplex and locks in the CFCW. Kenta pulls a Bret Hart and gets two. Danielson sets up for a belly-to-back superplex, but Nigel powerbombs him. Nigel knocks Danielson out of his gourd with a lariat. Takeshi and Nigel brawl to the floor where Nigel hits his rebound lariat and a crossbody into the crowd! Back in, Nigel and Danielson trade forearms until Danielson uses the Malenko Arm Snap to take Nigel out of it. Meanwhile, Kenta has to go it alone against Danielson and Morishima. It’s just like All Japan! Nigel finally returns and crotches Danielson on top. He hits a rebound lariat against his better judgment. Meanwhile, Kenta bounds up to the top and hits a SUPER FALCON ARROW! ONE, TWO, THRE-NO! Danielson hits his belly-to-back superplex and locks in Cattle Mutilation. That segues to the elbows as Danielson tries to put Kenta out. Kenta powers up into the Go2Sleep, but Danielson blocks and takes Kenta down for CATTLE MUTILATION! Nigel comes in to break it up, but Morishima intercepts him and SMASHES his injured arm. Kenta has no choice but to tap out at 24:44. Just an incredible finish down the stretch with counters and counters of counters. After the match, Danielson picks up the belt, so Morishima immediately gives his own partner a backdrop driver. DON’T TOUCH MY TOYS! Nigel then picks up the belt, trying to hand it over, but Morishima turns into Eazy-E. Bitch, shut the f*ck up! He nails him with a lariat and stands tall with his belt. Excellent way to finish the first show. ****
The 411: While I think Backlash is still the best overall PPV this year, this one definitely has the best quality per match of any PPV this year. There were some things they could have done better, like explain who the No Remorse Corps was and why they hate the Resilience, or work in part of the Jacobs/Lacey storyline, since that has been their best storyline all year. Other than those minor complaints, the PPV came off as outstanding, and I’d rank it right behind Backlash and WrestleMania for the year. It was nice to watch wrestling that feels innocent again after the week the wrestling world has been through.
Easy thumbs up.