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Column of Honor: 02.16.08: Reckless Unscripted Battle

February 16, 2008 | Posted by Ari Berenstein

Hey everyone and welcome to the Column. This week’s edition is going to be a lot shorter than usual, owing to the fact that right now I’m sick as a dog and am barely coherent (or in the case of Delirious, incoherent). In addition, my throat feels like it’s been punched in fifty times by Muhammad Ali after teaching for three days in a row with it in rough condition. Or stomped on by a herd of elephants. Or…well, make up your own comparison. Let’s just say I’ve lost my voice and it really, really sucks.

But enough of my complaining about my health, there’s complaining about wrestling to do!

Ring Toss
-Honorarium: Thoughts on new DVD releases
-ROH Call
-ROH News
-Hero’s Sandwich
-ROH Preview: 2/22/08 in Deer Park, LI
-My Two Cents with Chris Miccio
-Name That Tune
-ROH @ 411
-Honor Bound Links

Honorarium: Reckless Unscripted Battle!

Reckless Abandon:

-These were the last day of November / first day of December shows and getting to them four months later it still actually doesn’t feel like we’re worlds away from what’s going on at this point in ROH continuity. I don’t know if that’s a positive sign to help fans keep their continuity with ROH, a negative indicator about the status of stasis ROH may be in right now or both.

-While the Dayton Oven has been a long standing and large part of ROH history and many shows have been played here, I do have to say that the building is showing its age on video, as the picture quality of the show is not where I expect ROH to be at right now. Take into consideration that I watched this show as my first ROH DVD in months and my first ROH show on a TV screen since the Undeniable PPV. The faults in the video were glaring, especially the entrances. When ROH still captures complete pitch black darkness during entrances for a good fifteen to twenty seconds such that you can’t even make out who is coming down the ring, that’s a MAJOR problem. You might as well just cut the entrances then. This is a problem that repeats throughout the first half of the DVD and improves later on in the show, but still, we’re talking about technical issues that should have been solved by now. Maybe it’s the layout of the venue, or the amount of captured light, but its 2008 and those issues should be negotiated through. Its one of those problems that makes this DVD, which is a B-show in overall quality, stand out as such.

-After the Claudio Castagnoli vs. Seth Skyfire match, my DVD starts to freak out. It gets those lines all around the screen like old NES Nintendo games used to do when they would start to malfunction. I start to seriously freak out, thinking I was sent a defective DVD and its melting or something, but I hit the “reset” button and everything is alright after another try. Turns out my DVD player just hates Seth Skyfire.

-Ouch. That was a bit harsh, sorry about that. I blame my cold. Skyfire isn’t terrible at all, but it’s just that he didn’t really do much to make an impression on the fans. Just average I guess, which is a disappointment since I saw that he was capable of better on OVW shows.

-Danielson vs. Necro Butcher is a fun contest and as good a fight as you should expect it to be. Actually I was a bit surprised at how dominant Danielson turned out to be in this particular match, but it does make sense since it pushes the storyline point of training for Morishima. The skit with Necro and Age of the Fall and poor down on his luck Charlie Necro Brown not being able to pay for a doctor in the hospital would have made more sense if it came after this match. Danielson made it a point to attack the arm and shoulder, which is what Necro complains about on the video. Plus the skit was filmed at night, and you’d think that means after the show.

-Speaking of that skit, I now officially have something legitimate to complain about as far Age of the Fall goes. I initially liked the idea of adding another woman and I love the name “Allison Wonderland” (great pun, great idea) but do I EVER hate how she was included into the group. She is basically “into” Tyler Black and offers “to show” Jimmy Jacobs “exactly how much I’m into [Age of the Fall].” SO basically what is implied is that she wants to jump Jimmy’s bones. Jacobs, decked out in a decadent fur coat (apparently the revolution he fights is NOT one for animal rights) takes her and arm-in-arm they walk off. Lacey doesn’t look happy, but then Jimmy calls after her…and SHE FOLLOWS HIM WITH A SMILE. Then Lacey calls to Tyler…and HE joins in.

WHAT…the…FUCK did I just see?

Did I just see an invitation, acceptance of and a call to arms…for a sex orgy?

Wow. That may be the most blatantly antithetical moment to ever happen thus far in the build to Age of the Fall. Essentially, what this skit shows is that Allison is nothing more than a groupie, like one of those “band aids” that follows around the in band and hopes to get enough attention to sleep with the lead singer, but will settle for the drummer who has been smashed after drinking all night. Once again, Lacey’s character shows her complete hypocrasy as far as “women’s lib” goes (not the first time) and goes along with whatever Jimmy says of her, happily so.

-Jigsaw, royal blue is not your color. Stick to the red and black, invert the colors if you have to. Royal blue makes you look like a Power Ranger…and that’s no good.

-By the time we get there I was REALLY glad to see Nigel get in some ring time. Silas Young gets another look here and it is a shame for ROH (but probably not for him I’d assume) that he got picked up by WWE so quickly. A few more appearances and Young would have really been onto something here and could have become very successful here. He and Nigel are not new acquaintances, so that leads to a good “jobbers to the stars” type match between the two, but Silas actually gets in some good offense and looks very good in the ring.

One of the better outcomes to happen because of ROH releasing all of the winter shows in a row is that you do get to see the progression of the McGuinness story and his injury. His rivalries with Chris Hero and Bryan Danielson take front and center.

The Hero rivalry especially is effective and erases any doubts I had about how Nigel gets over as a face in this feud. The fan reactions to it here and in Chicago come across as a majority in support of Nigel. There are lots of boos when Sweeney and Hero lay out McGuinness. Nigel is given very good support by the crowds in this rivalry. They remain a bit more mixed of course with the McGuinness-Danielson rivalry, but perhaps it is a bit surprising to me when Nigel ranks out Danielson at Unscripted III he is very well received by the crowd.

-Another feud that really comes together when you watch it in order is the Delirious vs. Hangmen Three feud. Sure, it’s not going to light everyone’s world (and we’ve seen Delirious vs. Pearce for the better part of two years now), but everything makes sense in the progression of the feud. PLUS, one of my main worries was always how Delirious had been constantly made to look bad in the feud by taking more lumps than anyone else. However, this match against Pearce goes to show that Delirious DID get his licks in and that he actually got a few over on the HM3 along the way.

-Erick Stevens cuts a generic, slightly bobbled promo here (he would go on to cut a much better one at Final Battle ’07) but his match against Richards and Tornado is tons of fun, although in large part that is owed to Human Tornado. H-Tizzle becomes the x-factor in the match, as he wants to fight but Stevens has no beef with him. Tornado is puzzled as to what to do and how to negotiate through this, but that creates a fun alliance between he and Stevens as thy attack Davey Richards. Some great comic moments follow, including the awesome launching splits. That one looked like it hurt Tornado legit, but the moment was certainly worth it because it is captured EXCELLENTLY well on DVD.

-Roderick Strong v. Austin Aries in an iron man match: I like that they built up the first loss for over half of the match and then how each fall after that was the result of that first fall and the events that occurred afterwards. That said, seven falls in 30 minutes does seem a bit extreme, even if several of them happen in quick succession. The crowd, as previously reported, was indeed not as much into this as you would think, and it makes sense to me that this would be filed under the “crowds for iron man matches suck” rule. However, Prazak makes no favors for the crowd at home by dismissing the bitter aspects of the Strong-Aries rivalry. He claims this is merely about who was the better wrestler in Generation Next. REALLY? You mean it has NOTHING to do with Strong betraying Aries after an injury, starting his own faction to dominate ROH or constantly taking out Aries and The Resilience? That was a rare mistake on Prazak’s part to no sell the real stakes in this pairing. EVEN if Aries and Strong didn’t wrestle a heated match (and in a way they didn’t, which I feel was also a mistake), you can’t just dismiss a year’s worth of rivalry and hatred by going the “better wrestler” route.

The match itself was a beaut. It was ring science and psychology in action, with reverses, dodges and counters all throughout. It was excellent because of the long standing connection both wrestlers had with each other in ROH. There was no doubt a bobble with the finish in the last thirty seconds, but I place the blame on the ref for this one. There should have been a lot more decisiveness and confidence in making the final call that Strong had submitted and it should have happened right before time expired, not right at the bell. It’s still a match worth watching, but under better circumstances this would have been an outright classic instead of just a good match.

-Not much to say about the tag team scramble main event aside from that everything was hit cleanly for the most part and everyone got to shine and that is was good to see The Vulture Squad pick up the win and some momentum in the process. Good match.

Unscripted III:

-Yes, the card had to be changed because of the winter storms, but after watching this one with a lot of doubt and worry, I have to say that this show turned out just fine. In fact of all the ways it could have turned out, this was a good selection of matches and booking.

-Aries and Black started off and that turned out to be a good move because it was two athletic guys going out there and getting the crowd pumped up after a disappointing announcement that the Trios Tournament had to be canceled. These two tore it up in the ring and went fast and hard for fifteen plus minutes. This begins Tyler Black’s breaking out process, as I think heads will be turned for his showing in this match and in the tag title win during Final Battle. For instance, the back flip he does early on was very impressive, sending me into flashbacks of the one AJ Styles performed against Roderick Strong at Fate of an Angel back in ’05. Aries is particularly motivated in this one (he’s on the march towards his title shot) and he helps to get the show off on the right foot.

-Someone needs to create an “In Tyler We Trust” T-shirt right away. Hey, if Age of the Fall is going to be doing marketing, they need to do it right.

-Every time I hear Sara Del Rey’s entrance in ROH as she comes out to the classical piece Ride of the Valkyries, all I can think is “kill the waaabit, kill the waaabit, kill the waaaaaaaabit, kill the waaaabit.” Elmer Fudd Del Rey is not, but still, you’d think ROH could find something more appropriate for her, even if she can’t use “Final Countdown”.

-DINGO. Fantastic gimmick. Too bad he’s shorter than Spud.

-I absolutely love Chris Hero vs. Claudio Castagnoli matches. I loved the back and forth and tit for tat shenanigans they do against each other in their match here (Dunn referred to it as Bugs Bunny vs. Daffy Duck and I think that’s as apt a comparison as can be). That said, I can understand the contingent out there who are upset that Hero didn’t get at least one win in a singles match against Castagnoli during this series. If anything this would have been the perfect time for it, because it’s a set up into their PPV match AND it works well in that Sweeney negotiated from out of nowhere to transform the match into a two out of three falls match. The rug would have been swept under from Claudio and his hard earned win here would have been erased, thus drawing even more of his ire and making him drive towards fighting that much harder against Hero in the match on PPV. As it is, Hero got over on Claudio after the match, so why not just have him win it outright?

-Brent Albright’s match against Jigsaw just makes me sadder that Albright hasn’t been more closely positioned as a main event talent over the last few months. There is still time thought and likely a need for Albright (or even Steen) to come up to the main event by Summer of ’08, so hope remains that Albright can make it to the top in ROH.

-BJ Whitmer cuts the same promo as Albright. I mean exactly down to the format of the challenge. Yeeesh.

-Now, normally I might have something to say about a No-DQ match ending in a non finish, but here I like it that Delirious doesn’t lose the match and more like its stopped because of the Hangmen 3 have just swarmed him and dominate him with the chain. Now, I loved the part where they take out Delirious and rip his mask but…CONTINUITY ALERT! On the Rising Above PPV, Albright is wearing the Delirious green mask. HOWEVER, at no time did Albright or anyone from Hangmen 3 actually take the mask! Delirious is helped out by the refs and he still has the mask on, ripped and bloody as it is. SOOOOO…how did Albright get the mask?

-Jacobs spears Daizee Haze, but unfortunately this time it’s not out of her shoes. Always a fun spot though and they must like that one because they get to do it more often that you’d expect.

-Ah, remember when Bryan Danielson and Jimmy Jacobs were allied together at Chicago Spectacular and how they shared that wonderful moment where Danielson expressed frustration because his watch was broken? Ah good times. Now we come full circle and Danielson is fighting Jacobs in Chicago. It’s a very good match, probably the best from the show, and certainly goes a long way towards making this DVD a pick up. The hidden spike in Jacob’s cane is AWESOME and adds an incredible and appropriate depth to his character. THAT is something that needs to be brought out again at the right time. The DDT from the top rope into the End Time is certainly quite the finish and the match itself is more even that you’d expect, thus cementing the upset win for Jacobs.

-The main event six man tag is more about making the fans happy at the end of the night and it feels a bit repetitive and “been there done that” than anything else. I did like that Stevens and The Briscoes were able to team up well and get some nice tag chemistry going. The triple finish at the end also was the right way to go about ending the match on an up note.

So in conclusion, Reckless Abandon and Unscripted II are the “in between” shows and thus probably not must sees, but I’d say of the two, take a chance on Unscripted III and you’ll likely enjoy what you see. I should also remind everyone that ROH did in fact go through a similar slump of “average” at this same exact time in the late fall /early winter of 2006 and they recovered from it with a strong Final Battle card. I just think that this falls under the “rhythm” of the ROH year and is a general pattern we have to get used to as the years go on.

Final Battle 2007 on DVD:

-We start with Aries being speechless after losing to Nigel McGuinness at Rising Above and walking out of camera range. Well, it’s a good moment and a believable one too, but it’s a bit of a harsh open considering that PPV isn’t available and the DVD won’t be released until April, so no one who wasn’t there for the tapings really knows the extent of Aries’ frustration and why he is acting like that. The same thing happens later when Bushwhacker Luke comes in to get revenge on Hangmen 3. Why the hell is he there? Prazak let’s you know, but you won’t truly “get it” until you see the PPV / DVD. This is another one of the disadvantages of the PPV taping formula.

-Then we get opening match with Ruckus and Jigsaw vs. the Beard Brothers (or DogFish, or FishDog, whatever you prefer) of Matt Cross and Bobby Fish. Unfortunately this match comes across on DVD as a lot more sloppy and off balance as opposed to how it appeared live. I still like the match as an opener and I definitely like the team of Cross and Fish. They have potential and could be a very good low to mid card team to help fill out the tag division. Jigsaw finally gets in a Jig and Tonic (his finish) on an ROH DVD for the win.

-Necro Butcher vs. Jack Evans is fun, fun and FUN. It’s a good thing that camera angles and such help to increase the realism of Evans strikes and movements here, but don’t let that get you down on the match. It’s non stop back and forth and Evans is awesome here in using corners and different areas of the ringside to attack Butcher. The ending of Evans using a roll up of all things to win was a very nice counter point to the flying around he did during the match.

-Mercedes looks good with the hoodie and sweatpants style. Maybe she should get some Juicy apparel and really sell the “booty” gimmick.

-Marufuji vs. Richards is just as good as I remember it. THIS is a match everyone should watch as it is a great and entertaining showing from both men. I’m upset that ROH edited out the Japanese girl freaking out from Richards embracing her after successfully performing his flip dive, but I guess I can understand why ROH wouldn’t show that moment after all (we get a replay in replace of it). The finish with both men maneuvering in and out of the Shiranui position is well played and makes for a memorable ending.

-Kevin Steen remains great at doing the small things during a match that help to sell he is a real person involved in a wrestling match, as opposed to just a wrestler going through the motions. His firing up of Delirious by screaming at him in Delirious-ese is just one moment where his personality shines though.

-I love that Albright ONCE AGAIN snapped at a table and just destroyed it…this time for the hell of it, not even because it was giving him trouble. Then he just wallops the hell out of someone (I forget who) with the large remainder piece. New match axiom: BRENT ALBRIGHT DOES NOT LIKE TABLES.

-Red mist! Woot!

-Pelle Primeau’s run in and excellent hurricanrana on Hagadorn through a table was fun, but looking back on it now, the two babyface run ins telegraph that the heels would win. After all, we must restore balance to the force Bushwacker Luke.

-The jumping piledriver from Pearce onto Delirious remains a sick as hell spot, right up there with when the Carnage Crew dumped Izzy through two tables from the top of Scramble Cage with a piledriver.

-Rocky Romero has finally found the right theme song “Lo Que Paso Paso” by Daddy Yankee. Its fits him like a glove. Meanwhile I wish Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” could be someone else’s theme song, because Ernie Osiris as quickly as he is improving just doesn’t have the intimidation factor for a song like that.

-I’ve said my piece about Nigel and the controversy with the fans elsewhere, but I’ll reinforce that this was a hell of a promo and a hell of a moment for Nigel. This may indeed be the turn around moment he needed live and in person (although as I said earlier on the DVDs with the exception of Glory By Honor VI Night 2 he comes across like the fan favorite hero he should be and is).

-Strong vs. Stevens was pretty much exactly like I remembered it and exactly like I described in my live breakdown of the matches a few weeks back. The chops and strikes are eye dilating moments. The crowd is quiet but builds up and goes bezerk by the finish. This is a match that puts Stevens over big time and he did a good job in the post match promo putting over his honor and his respect and becoming the new FIP champion.

-The Four Way Elimination match is AWESOME. Every moment of it is a treasure, every wrestler in it benefiting from their involvement in the match. Chris Hero goes from 50-50 cheers and boos to 95 percent, maybe 100 percent cheers because of his antics closing out the elimination of Takeshi Morishima. It’s awesome. Even better is how he lulls Aries and Dragon into false sense of security. Surely they should have seen it coming, but Hero is just so far and beyond them at that moment that it makes sense he could get the upper hand. Plus Danielson and Aries retaliate soon after so its all good.

-Bobby Dempsey is a hero for his interaction with Morishima here.

-The last two remaining give us an encore of the Aries-Danielson series and its everything great about these two in the ring together. The finishing sequence of submission and maneuverings out of the MMA elbows and the Horns of Aries is breathtaking. This is the first match where Prazak and Leonard call the Horns of Aries by name (well they probably also do it on PPV). It should also be noted that Austin Aries DID in fact shake Bryan Danielson’s hand before they faced off as the final two men, its just that he did not acquiesce to a post match handshake and that’s what the fans got on him for.

-I had major nausea and a headache during the tag team title match main event so live I didn’t get to enjoy it or get into it much. I was very happy with how the match turned out on DVD. It was a well told story of the two on one advantage. Each time had their time to take out a member of the opposing side and when it was two on one, their team dominated. It made sense and it led to some HUGE moments during the match. I actually don’t think the Springboard Doomsday Device to the floor was sold enough by the announcers (AND that should have been given a replay) because it was something so sick and twisted. I’d never seen it before live and as far as I’m concerned it was move of the night for me.

Looking back, I can see why some fans reacted positively to Age of the Fall at the finish (how they came back and won the belts and the breathtaking twisting Phoenix from Black) but I’m glad that what did get through in the sound mix was a number of fans booing and being audibly pissed off that The Briscoes lost.

I did fast forward through the end of the DVD because NO WAY IN HELL did I want to hear that screaming soundtrack end the night again. I think I may have an aversion reaction to that from now on.

Final tally: if you’re going to choose, pick up Unscripted III and Final Battle 2007.

ROH Call

ROH Champions—As of 02/16/2008

ROH World Champion—Nigel McGuinness (champion since 10/06/07, 6 successful defenses)
defeated Takeshi Morishima in Edison, New Jersey to win the championship.

Next Defense:: vs. Bryan Danielson, New York, NY, 02/23/08

V.1 defeated Jay Briscoe, wristlock submission (10/21/07 San Francisco, CA)
V.2 defeated Chris Hero, wristlock submission (11/02/07 Philadelphia, PA)
V.3 defeated Austin Aries, Jawbreaker Lariat (12/29/07 Manhattan, NY)
V.4 defeated Go Shiozaki, London Dungeon (wristlock submission) (01/20/08 Tokyo, Japan,)
V.5 Steel Cage Match: defeated Chris Hero (01/25/08, Dayton, OH)
V.6 defeated Roderick Strong, Jawbreaker Lariat (01/26/08, Chicago Ridge, IL)

ROH World Tag Team Champions—The No Remorse Corps (Davey Richards & Rocky Romero) (champions since 01/26/08, NEW champions)
defeated Age of the Fall (Jimmy Jacobs & Tyler Black) in Chicago Ridge, IL to win the championship.

Next Defense: vs. Ruckus & Jigsaw, New York, NY, 02/23/08

Sweet & Sour Incorporated Presents The Intergender Heavyweight Tag Team Championship Of The World —Chris Hero & Sara Del Rey (champions since 01/12/08, 2 successful defenses)

Next Defense: TBA

V.1 defeated Ernie Osiris & Alexa Thatcher (01/12/08, Edison, NJ)
V.2 defeated Kyle Durden & Alex “Sugarfoot” Payne (01/26/08, Chicago Ridge, IL)

FIP Heavyweight Champion: Erick Stevens (since 12/30/2007)
SHIMMER Champion: Sara Del Rey (since 6/2/2007)
Top of the Class Trophy (For ROH Students): Ernie Osiris (since 11/02/2007)

Top Feuds & Pairings:
-Bryan Danielson vs. Nigel McGuinness
-The Age of the Fall vs. The Briscoes
-The Vulture Squad vs. The Age of the Fall
-Delirious / Kevin Steen & El Generico vs. Albright, Whitmer and Adam Pearce (The Hangman’s Three)
-Claudio Castagnoli vs. Larry Sweeney

ROH News
(via the ROHnewswire… and other sources when attributed

Heyman Comments on ROH

The Sun released an interview with Paul Heyman as he prepares for his Heyman Hustle show, during which he commented on many topics like WWE, TNA and he had these interesting comments to say about ROH:

Ring of Honor: I am very proud of Gabe [Sapolsky]. He has learned from all of the strengths of ECW and also our weaknesses. He’s developed a niche audience that is loyal to the Ring Of Honor product. With no resources, Gabe has branded Ring Of Honor far better than the multi-multi-million dollar TNA product. When you see Ring Of Honor you know what you are watching. When you see a certain style you know it’s the ROH style. On Ring Of Honor’s worst day he still delivers more bang for your buck than most people do on their best. Do I think that ROH will ever be a global corporation? No. It’s not designed to be. It’s designed to be a boutique promotion to cater to a fan that is looking for a certain product. He has cornered that market and done a brilliant job in doing so.”

The idea of Heyman in ROH: “I don’t think I’d be helping Gabe out at all if I showed up. I don’t see how I can contribute to what he is doing. I neither want to be a nostalgia act — which is why I don’t go to any conventions or do any shoot tapes, no matter how much they keep offering — nor do I want to be the guy who comes in and upsets the formula that has worked for Gabe and his company just fine. Paul Heyman in Ring Of Honor doesn’t add to Ring Of Honor. There’s nothing I can tell his audience that they don’t already know. Gabe doesn’t need my endorsement from me, he needs the endorsement of a 16-year-old kid who goes to school on a Monday and tells all of his friends: “Man, I went to a wrestling show this weekend and had the greatest time of my life. They’re back next month – let’s all go.”

Well, Heyman has some very smart and insightful comments here. First of all, its great to hear the sobering truth about ROH-it IS a boutique promotion. Of course I and many others have always maintained that THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT. I’m hearing a lot now about how ROH is growing to big to be indy and too small to be big time, which was ECW’s major fault. I don’t know about all that (in fact I think as has been shown as of late, ROH isn’t too big to be indy at all), but the point stands ROH as long as it remembers what its about should be fine and remain a presence.

Heyman is also right about Gabe and company learning from ECW’s best and avoiding its worst mistakes. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that ROH isn’t in time susceptible to its own missteps. I also think that a Heyman appearance would be a fun deal for ROH, but ultimately Heyman is right in stating that his appearance in ROH isn’t what’s really necessary or important in the grand scheme of things. ROH should work towards as he said, appealing to the wrestling fans to help increase attendance and the bottom line.

Nigel McGuinness to defend ROH Title in Ohio

An independent wrestling show being held on March 6th in Circleville, Ohio is advertising an ROH World Heavyweight Title defense by Nigel McGuinness.

It wouldn’t be the first time at all that an ROH champion defends the belt outside of ROH and on other independent promotions. Samoa Joe, Austin Aries, Bryan Danielson and Takeshi Morishima have done so in the past. Nigel’s adopted hometown in the U.S. is the Ohio area considering his initial training was from Heartland Wrestling Association, so it would make sense for Nigel to want to do a booking here where he defended the title. Of course, this is all assuming he makes it past Bryan Danielson at the Sixth Anniversary Show next week in New York City.

Pass the Booty on the Left Hand Side

In an interview with Dr. Keith Lipinski, Jack Evans revealed that his facial injury was caused by a kick from Human Tornado in Japan, not off a botched flip dive as had been reported elsewhere. The kick smashed his face in and he had to have surgery for it. He wants to return as soon as possible, but pegs late April or early May as his return point.

In addition Jack revealed some details about how Mercedes Martinez became known as “Booty Vulture.” Apparently it was completely off the cuff, as he and Julius Smokes were trying to come up for a name for her backstage but came up with nothing. As Smokes passed him the mic live and on stage after Mercedes returned, Evans improvised the line about Mercedes being the Booty Vulture.

Now, as long as we don’t get the return of “The Booty Man”, I’ll be fine with that.

Chris Hero Goes Kaiju!

In one of the more “out there” stories of the week, Sweet & Sour Incorporated’s own Chris Hero made a surprise run in and debut for Kaiju Big Battel during a show they ran at Webster Hall last week in NYC. Kaiju is a “monster wrestling federation” where huge costumed characters duke it out in a wrestling ring complete with props such as buildings and city architecture. Think the Power Rangers huge battles against monsters when they would grow to be like 50 stories tall. Damn the second PR reference in this week’s column, what the hell is happening? Anyway, its very over the top and very fitting of Chris Hero.

Apparently Hero got into a big fight with Louden (who I believe is the emcee and one of the only other humans in the promotion) and was escorted out. Later on of course Hero returned, ran in and gave a big boot to huge fan favorite Dusto Bunny (A bunny obviously adorned with dustballs). Hero, being a rare human participant in the promotion claimed he had superpowers than separated him apart from any mortal fan. So apparently the Superman gimmick is now FOR REAL.

Anyway if you want to check out pictures of Hero’s involvement and the entire event, you can check out this link for more.

Number One Contender’s Tournament to Decide Title Shot in Philadelphia

Who will get the ROH World Title shot when ROH tapes its 6th PPV on 3/16 in Philadelphia? There is no clear cut challenger as to who will challenge the Nigel McGuinness vs. Bryan Danielson 2/23 World Title Match winner. ROH officials have decided to set up a mini-tournament throughout the big triple shot weekend that will see shows on 3/14 & 3/15 in Dover, NJ with the PPV taping on 3/16 in Philadelphia. The format is very simple. There will be two single matches on each night in Dover. The four winners will then open up the PPV taping with a Four Corner Survival. The winner of this match will then challenge for the belt later on the 3/16 taping. The single matches and participants in the tournament have been signed. Here is how things are shaping up:

3/14 Dover, NJ:
-Delirious vs. The Necro Butcher
-Brent Albright vs. Go Shiozaki

3/15 Dover, NJ:
-Davey Richards vs. Claudio Castagnoli
-FIP World Heavyweight Champion Erick Stevens vs. Tyler Black

3/16 Philadelphia, PA:
-The four winners of the above matches will compete in a Four Corner Survival that will open up the show.
-The winner of the Four Corner Survival will challenge for the World Title later on the show.

ROH needed a selling point for the Dover shows, and this will certainly help. Its true that there is no true number one contender for the title after the matches this weekend, so a tournament such as this one, especially spread out over three days and having a good presence on the PPV, will help to add depth and interest to these shows.

Immediately stepping to the forefront from these brackets as favorites are Brent Albright, Claudio Castagnoli and Go Shiozaki. Albright has been on a tear on PPV matches, including a massive squash against Pelle Primeau at Driven and laying heavy hands on Steen & Generico at the Undeniable PPV. Castagnoli has been a VERY featured part of every pay per view thus far and it would stand to reason following the events of the Rising Above PPV and the Chris Hero feud that he could step up and be the next challenger. Shiozaki would be making his first appearance on PPV, but ROH seems to be high on using him in matches while he is here and it’s a distinct possibility they could build him up huge in one night as an international challenge to Nigel’s title run.

More from Dover

We have even more news for the doubleshot in Dover, NJ. Jay & Mark Briscoe will return to ROH from their NOAH tour on that weekend. They have already signed for two big matches in Dover, NJ. 3/14 will see The Briscoes vs. Tyler Black & Joey Matthews. 3/15 will have The Briscoes vs. BJ Whitmer & Brent Albright. Jay & Mark are sure to be tested with these two bouts.

The Briscoes will be brought back into the mix as they try to climb back up the tag team ranks. These matches scream mid card to me, but that’s just fine because I think The Briscoes could use some time away from the main event scene and let themselves build back up to that title match.

PPV and Orlando? You Don’t Say!

ROH will be taping PPV in Orlando!!! We have a special treat for the fans on 3/29 when ROH presents “Supercard Of Honor III” in Orlando. ROH will tape one match for its sixth PPV in Orlando on 3/29.

This will make it the third out of six PPVs that had one match from another location. Its an interesting pattern to see emerge, but I don’t know for better or for worse overall. I think in this case the Wrestlemania crowd and added atmosphere will help add to the PPV as opposed to take away from it.

Steenerico vs. Speed Muscle

We have another match to add for 3/28 “Dragon Gate Challenge II” in Orlando, FL. In a ROH vs. Dragon Gate bout Kevin Steen & El Generico will take on Naruki Doi & Masato Yoshino.

This is a dream match for the international enthusiasts who like the combo of Doi and Yoshino (collectively dubbed Speed Muscle). Generico and Steen have already experienced Yoshino in the ring during PWG’s Battle of Los Angeles 2007 weekend, but Doi is a compact powerhouse of a wrestler who will likely focus on Steen to even things out. Its two capable tag teams doing what they do, so its should be a good one.

Dear Deer Park

A big tag team contest has been signed for 2/22 in Deer Park, NY. Jigsaw & Ruckus are looking to get momentum going into their 2/23 ROH World Tag Team Title Match. The Age Of The Fall want the belts back. It will be Jigsaw & Ruckus with Julius Smokes & Mercedes Martinez vs. Jimmy Jacobs & The Necro Butcher with Lacey in Long Island!!!

I like the Jigsaw & Ruckus tandem and they have good potential to provide a good match against Age of the Fall

Unfortunately it doesn’t look like ticket sales are doing so well for ROH in the Deer Park location, as ROH has offered up sales on reserved seats and is even giving away a number of tickets on their message board. This isn’t usual standard protocol, so I’d have to infer that something is up with tickets such that they have to give some away. This is not good news, especially when coupled with the news bit that TNA has sold out its Webster Hall show (smaller than Grand Ballroom but impressive enough) and is also at a near sell out for its Long Island show taking place on the same day as (and just miles away from) the ROH show.

I said wrote a few weeks back in the column that ROH would probably do well in Dayton and not so much in Long Island. Looks like that thought has unfortunately come to fruition.

One More for 6YS

We are only 1 1/2 weeks away from ROH’s biggest birthday bash ever. The 6th Anniversary Show will take place at the Manhattan Center in the heart of NYC on February 23rd. El Generico vs. Brent Albright has been signed for this huge event.

If you’re going to add another match, this one sounds fine by me. Big man vs. Little man match up for sure, but it’s a good one. Maybe Albright will being to stand apart from the pack here.

Hero’s Sandwich

As a man of my word, I, Chris Hero, the greatest and most benevolent wrestler alive today am checking in with a special edition of the Hero’s Sandwich from the Far East, and therefore, this week’s column will be called The Hero’s Journey. I have been in Japan since Tuesday of this week, and what I will present to you are my personal diaries since my arrival here in this beautiful country. So, enjoy!

Tuesday, 12 Feb, 2008: I am writing this entry as I prepare to lay down for a good nights sleep. I am exhausted from the flight, even though I had some amazing seats tickets for the journey. Larry sure worked over the people at Pro Wrestling NOAH this time for my trip. Last time, it was business class all the way, both on the flight as well as in my accommodations. So far, this trip seems to be 100% first class, and that is what a talent of my level deserves. I can only imagine what kind of places the other ROH talents are staying at. I know that Castagnoli is extremely cheap (that’s how he makes all that money), so I’d figure he’s in one of those sleeping pod hotels, and who knows where the Briscoes would stay while here in Japan, what with the lack of double-wides and trailer parks. All I know is that the massage girl is knocking on the door, and that means I’ve said enough for one night. More to follow.

Wednesday, 13 Feb, 2008: I am about to venture to the NOAH Dojo for a spirited training session with the locals, as well as to meet and discuss my NOAH future with Mr. Misawa. From what Larry has told me, Misawa sees the greatness in me that the simpletons in ROH miss, and is even considering signing me to a long term, exclusive contract to stay here for an indeterminate period of time. In some ways, I would love to have that opportunity, but I would also still love to come back to the states at some point and claim what is rightfully mine, which is the ROH World Championship. Sure, having a nice long run as the GHC Heavyweight Champion would kick ass, but let’s be real here for a second. Not all wrestling fans know what the GHC Title is, but they do know what the ROH Title means, so, I think it behooves me to wear that strap at least for a period of time. Nevertheless, it is flattering that Misawa and the NOAH powers that be want me to become the 21st century version of Stan Hansen or Terry Gordy, the unstoppable American force in Japanese wrestling. It is an offer that I will have to strongly consider. The competition here in Japan is just so much better than in the USA. Think about it. I had to take a booking in the Kaiju Big Battel to try to find some competition. I almost felt bad kicking the bunny man in the face like that. ALMOST. Work calls. More to follow.

Wednesday, Feb 13, 2008: Late entry. I’m just getting in from a night of sushi and sake with Mr. Misawa and Mr. Kobashi. I had always been told that Misawa is seen as the single-most handsome man in all of Japan, and after tonight, I know that he sure gets plenty of female attention, if you know what I mean. Misawa is a PIMP!!! Time to sleep off the food and drink. More to follow. Don’t miss me too much, you hear?

Thursday, Feb 14, 2008: Just wishing a Happy Valentine’s Day to that special lady I have back stateside. I’ll be home soon, and I hope you enjoyed the gifts that I sent. Now, onto what’s really important, which is me. Today, I will take my sometime friend and sometime enemy, Castagnoli to visit a Shinto Temple so that he can get some culture, and maybe even get a good luck and great fortune blessing from a monk or something. We all know that that loser needs all the help that he can get, considering his horrible win-loss record over the last year. I still look back at the end of our tag team at Final Battle 2006 with mixed emotions. Claudio is a nice enough guy and a fairly decent tag team partner, but he just lacks that “je ne sais croit” to take the step to the next level. I just couldn’t afford to keep carrying him each and every night, so it was necessary to split. I’m taking him back under my wing here in Japan because if I didn’t, he would be like a blind man in a round room, lost. Maybe this time we spend together will benefit him in a positive way, and he will see what it takes to become the hottest talent in the industry today. One can only hope.

Thursday, Feb 14 2008: — Late Entry –I have a bad feeling about tomorrow’s match with Akiyama and Shiga. When we were at the Shinto Temple, Castagnoli, being the miser that he is, didn’t leave a donation in exchange for the blessing. Bad vibes, man, bad vibes.

Friday, Feb 15 2008: — Early Entry — I am writing this on the NOAH bus as we travel to the venue for tonight’s match. I feel confident in my abilities, but I am still questioning Castagnoli. I don’t know what he was up to last night, but he sure looks haggard. This is why he’ll never take that next step towards greatness. He doesn’t take good care of himself at all. Sure, he looks like a million bucks, but it’s the mental and spiritual preparation that I’m talking about. He just doesn’t get that wrestling is only 50% physical. Until he realizes this, he will never be as great as yours truly. Akiyama is sitting a few rows in front of me right now, and let me tell you this. His head is just HUGE. It’s like an orange on a toothpick! I don’t know that I could withstand a blow from that “thing”. Back after the match.

Friday, Feb 15 2008: Late Entry — DAMN THAT CASTAGNOLI!! If he wasn’t such a buffoon, I wouldn’t have been defeated in tonight’s match. You might hear some reports of what happened tonight, but let me tell you what REALLY happened. Castagnoli’s miserly ways cost us the match. This loss was dictated by fate or karma or whatever you want to call it. It’s all because he didn’t make the freaking donation at the temple. And on top of that, there was this hot little number sitting ringside, dressed up like a schoolgirl and holding a big fistful of Yen, and Castagnoli just couldn’t take his eyes off her all night. Basically, I had to work this match as if it was a handicap match because of that loser. I swear that I will not tag with him again in the foreseeable future. That’s it. I don’t want to say something I might regret.

Saturday, Feb 16 2008: I’m still steamed about last nights loss, but Mr. Misawa has just called me and reminded me that tomorrow is a new day, and that he is confident that I will be victorious in my next match, even though it is against him and his long time partner, Yoshinari Ogawa. What does that say about that relationship, huh? I even think I got an overture from Misawa to replace Ogawa as his traditional partner. Wow. That’s huge. Enough for now. I’m headed out to a “stress relief specialist” to make me feel better, so that is all.

Until my next missive, enjoy. Sayonara, suckers!!

ROH Preview: 02/22/08 in Deer Park, NY

8pm start
Deer Park Community Center
41 Homer Avenue
Deer Park, NY 11729

Main Event #1- Tag Team Challenge
Roderick Strong & Davey Richards vs. Kevin Steen & El Generico

Steen has guaranteed that he will win some title or another at some point in 2008. He can start to make good on that prediction by taking out one half of the current ROH World Tag Team champions in Richards and the leader of the No Remorse Corps in Strong. A win here would put them in position to challenge the NRC in a tag title situation. Strong and Richards is a tight knit tandem, the very core of the No Remose Corps, so to speak. It will be very hard to knock them off here. Steen and Generico will have to try to unbalance Strong or Richards and maybe even throw in some new moves to do so. Steen called his shot, but now he and Generico have to prove they deserve another run at the top of the division.

Main Event #2- Bryan Picks Nigel’s Opponent – Non-Title
Nigel McGuinness vs. Brent Albright

On a recent ROH video wire McGuinness and Danielson were given the opportunity to pick the other’s opponent. Danielson went with a very smart call here in picking Albright, well known as a hired gun and someone he has done business with in the past. Not only that but Albright’s specialty is using the Crowbar and dealing damage to an opponent’s arm and shoulder. What injury is Nigel still recuperating from? That’s right, a shoulder and arm injury. McGuinness is going to be in the lion’s den here and will have to be smart in avoiding any extra wear and tear coming into the title match. Furthermore, should he lose to Albright here, I would think that Albright immediately vaults into title contention regardless of who is the champion. In real simple terms, this is everything to gain for Albright and everything to lose for Nigel.

Main Event #3- Nigel Picks Bryan’s Opponent
Bryan Danielson vs. Rocky Romero

Romero at first seems like an odd pick to go against Danielson, but if you saw the match these two had at Steel Cage Warfare back in 2005 then you know that Romero is a very good stylistic match against Danielson. This was hyped up on the ROH website as a battle that will involve an more MMA style, involving grapples, strikes and submissions. It’s an interesting match call (as well as a booking one) and I’m unsure as to how the picky Long Island crowd will react to it. If any two wrestlers can do that style of match right it would be Romero and Danielson.

Non-Title Match – Shiozaki’s US Debut
FIP World Heavyweight Champion Erick Stevens vs. Go Shiozaki

Erick Stevens has been barreling down the tracks of Ring of Honor like an unstoppable freight train, but he may have run into barricade right here in the form of Go Shiozaki. This being Go’s debut and a non title match AND knowing how he’s been hyped so far and how much ROH loves to bring in and put over Japanese talent, it all adds up to a not so hot night for Stevens. I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised and that Stevens uses his strength and power to out power Shiozaki and get the win.

First Time Ever
Austin Aries vs. Joey Matthews

Joey Matthews is a very talented wrestler, but if any man is capable of stopping Matthews on the ground or in a move for move battle it would be Austin Aries. This should be a very defensive minded match in the beginning and then someone is just going to go on the attack and it should be all out warfare from there. The big intangible is just where Aries’ head is at—is it in the match or are his frustrations getting to him? The Age of the Fall have been actively recruiting him to join their group and their mind games may have an impact before, during and after the match. In fact a loss to a member of that faction could send a message to Aries that if you can’t beat them, join them.

Special Attraction Match
Tyler Black vs. The Human Tornado

Tornado is all about the women and having a good time, so look for him to make a play for Allison Wonderland or Lacey depending on who is at ringside. That should rile up Black something fierce and you know if anything that you don’t want Tyler Black angry. Tornado’s speed and dexterity should be the key to a win here, but look out for Black’s power and his Small Package Driver that has deadly impact and can change the game in an instant.

Tag Team Bonus Match
Jigsaw & Ruckus with Julius Smokes & Mercedes Martinez vs. Jimmy Jacobs & Necro Butcher with Lacey

The Vulture Squad gives it another go against Age of the Fall and hopefully can start to separate themselves from the pack here. Unfortunately Jacobs has a lot to prove again after losing the tag titles so quickly after winning them. He and Necro are a good speed / brawling combination and that has its advantages. There are lots of people involved here, which means chaos is almost a guarantee. Expect Smokes and Lacey to interact in some hilarious ways, while Martinez’s forearm should interact with Lacey’s face.

The debut of Larry Sweeney’s talk show segment plus more!!!

I’m hoping for Andrea True Connection’s “More More More” as entrance music, a good name for the show and a decent prop (like a tanning bed or something) to help sell the talk show segment.

My Two Cents with Chris Miccio

This is great. Another week, and not too many huge wrestling stories, so I figure I’ll plumb the depths of the wrestling world yet once again to find something to rant about, so here we go. Let’s get it!

1. ROH’s involvement with the making of the movie ” The Wrestler” — Now don’t get me wrong, but I’m not exactly sure how this will help sell the ROH product. I totally understand the idea of creating cross over’s into other areas of media, but I doubt that ROH will even get name checked in this feature. Maybe they’re doing all of this to get some extra money to help in that department, which would kind of clarify all the debates about their financial situation (and I didn’t even mention the 36 PPV buys in the “Great White North”). I’m glad that I’m not going to be attending the shows where they are doing the film work, because from what I heard about how it impacted the CZW show they shot footage at, I wouldn’t want to be part of a debacle like that. In addition, I could only imagine how my partner in crime, Ari, would be at the end of show that went on for 6 hours. That kid can’t even take a 4 hour show! [Ari’s note: come on dude, you know that’s not fair! It was the Cold Stone that did me in!] On an artistic note, I am looking forward to seeing this film, as I really enjoy the work of Darren Aronofsky, and that’s not just because he’s a Brooklyn boy like me. Pi was a mind-blowing experience and Requiem for a Dream was unreal. I can only imagine what he could do with the wrestling footage in a film. I also like the choice of Mickey Rourke instead of Nic Cage to play “The Wrestler” himself. I would NEVER buy Cage as a wrestler. Rourke, after his turn as Marv in Sin City? Well, that’s a totally different story. Thumbs up on that, but thumbs down on punishing the fans with marathon, stop and start shows.

Moral of the Story—any kind of publicity is good publicity, even if you don’t get named in the story. Do whatever it takes to stay afloat, so that I’ll have something to do with the little spare time I have in my life, okay?

2.The WWE’s recent statements on the Benoit Tragedy — This is something that I think we all knew would happen, as the E is trying to protect itself in any kind of legal situation, but in my estimation, its beyond bad taste and bordering on criminal. To say that the tragedy happened because of a supposed threat of a break-up, well, that’s just another example of Vince trying to do a little revisionist history. How does he know what was going on in the Benoit home leading up to that terrible day? Was he there? Did he have the place bugged? Why is he saying this now? Well, as we all know, that’s simple. Vince is afraid that the Benoit family, as well as Nancy’s family, will blame him for what happened, and hit him in the worst place, his wallet. To have Brian Hildebrant’s widow make a statement like that, well, in my estimation, that’s like spitting on someone’s grave. Vince, you know that you are at fault at least on some level, so make it right. Chris sacrificed for you and your company and helped you make millions of dollars, and now you want to act as if it meant nothing. I think that the disposition of this situation will have a huge impact on how I look at Vince and the E. If they try to weasel out of their partial culpability in this matter, I don’t know that I’d want to be a part of their fan base anymore. Treat the talent the right way, Vince, whether in health, in a state of injury, or even worse, after their deaths. According to Jake Roberts, you do have a heart and some kind of conscience, so do the right thing here, and make it right for these people who have lost so much. It’s only money, and you’ll make it all back on Wrestlemania weekend anyway.

Moral of the Story — When you try to defame the dead, people will get pissed off. When you do the right thing, people will think you’re a good person. Don’t we all want to be loved? Write a check, Mr. Money. Show the world you aren’t who you play on TV. Be Classy for a change.

3. The Bonus Third Penny Drops: TNA’s supposed pledge to make Samoa Joe the focus of the show: Umm…isn’t this a bit late? I guess this is a great example of better late than never. I know that I have always thought that TNA has “shit the bed” with Joe repeatedly, and passed him over for guys who don’t bring a fraction of his abilities into the ring. In all honesty, this should have been the plan for TNA since 2006. Joe can have a good to great match with almost anyone, maybe even Kevin Nash, so why wouldn’t you want to make him the face of the company? Book Joe right, and mark my words, your ratings MIGHT go over a 2.0 share. There are plenty of guys to put him in with, so make it happen, Dixie, Russo and Jarrett. If you want to MAKE MONEY, make Joe the champ, give him an ROH-esque title run, and create the next superstar in the wrestling world, and by superstar, I mean household name superstar. Joe has everything necessary to become one of the greats of all time, right up there with Hogan, Flair, Rhodes, Hart and Michaels. Do it TNA. Make it happen soon, and maybe, just maybe, I’ll go back to ordering a PPV from time to time.

Moral of the Story — When you have something good, don’t fuck around with it, just go with it, and get the best out of it that you can. Samoa Joe is the best, so, let him BE the best.

Well, that’s just my two cents for this week. If you liked what I had to say or not, feel free to let me know what you think… Email me at [email protected]. Have a great week, and I’ll catch you next time.

Going Home

Name That Tune Week 22

Clue: barry
Lyric: “She’s from Birmingham / way down in Alabam'”
What’s the name of the song and the artist?

It didn’t take a lot of bam-a-lam to guess that this was Ram Jam’s “Black Betty” and Adam Pearce’s theme song. Let’s take a look at who knew a betty when they saw one. By the way, the clue, well, Demolition Smash would be kicking you’re stinking rotten teeth in if you didn’t know the connection between Pearce and Barry Darsow.

This week’s winners (by order of receipt):
Soulpower—first again this week (dude’s a first ballot NTT hall of famer) and thinks a lot about Adam Pearce’s promo skills.
Holski– One of my favourite entrances in ROH history was from “In Your Face,” when Adam Pearce came out for his match against then-CZWite Claudio Castagnoli. The crowd was bangin’ along and Pearce looked as fired up as any wrestler I’d ever seen. He hasn’t been able to capture that magic again since.
Jeremy Sexton

Thanks to those who wrote in to answer. Now its time for Name that Tune! for this week, February 16th, 2008!

Clue: Shakespeare play
Lyric: “I represent New York / I got it on my back.”
What’s the name of the song and the artist?

Send in your answers here and if you’re correct I’ll list your name in next week’s column!


1. CIRKE SSNETVE – Erick Stevens

2. SAIUNT RIASE – Austin Aries

3. RABNY OSNNDILEA –Bryan Danielson

4. LVEUTRU DASQU – Vulture Squad

5. ERBTN GLITBRAH –Brent Albright

6. SORNGRESUDRSAR! – Dangerrrousss!

Everyone seemed to have an easy go of it for the first five answers and then that sixth one caught ya! Heh, just as planned. Hope you enjoyed the extra game last week, it may come back in the future.

ROH @ 411

Arnold Furious (ask and ye shall receive!) is flashing back to 2005 Ring of Honor reviews with two important shows, Death Before Dishonor III and Fate of an Angel.

J.D. Dunn has all the breakdowns (and a bit of controversy that came with it) for shows I talked about this week: Reckless Abandon, Unscripted III and Final Battle 2007.

Mike Campbell reviews some SHIMMER wrestling from last year, with Volume 6.

Samuel Berman has an opinion piece on ROH in this week’s Up and Under, discussing some of the lesser qualities of ROH booking and business in the last year and why its important to be loyal but not blindly loyal to ROH. Its certainly a provocative piece and while I have my own take on things discussed in the column, I certainly consider it a must read among this week’s columns.

Sam also covers the Takeshi Morishima vs. Kevin Steen match from Honor Nation in this week’s Independent Buy In.

Honor Bound Links

Buy Or Sell covers CHIKARA, ROH and the rest of the independent wrestling scene.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, Sforcina looks at WWE weddings.

The 411 Roundtable for No Way Out ’08.

Truth B Told discusses what it takes to introduce a new wrestler into a promotion.

Okay kids that about it for now. Looks like as usual, I say it will be a short column and it turns out to be the opposite way. I’m going to go cough out a lung now, but I’ll be back next week with a full preview for ROH’s Sixth Anniversary Show and Danielson vs. McGuinness!


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Ari Berenstein

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