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Kevin’s Random Reviews: ROH Better Than Our Best

December 28, 2018 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
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Kevin’s Random Reviews: ROH Better Than Our Best  

ROH Better Than Our Best
April 1st, 2006 | Frontier Fieldhouse in Chicago Ridge, Illinois | Attendance: 1,500

Indy companies running shows over WrestleMania weekend is commonplace these days. In 2006, we got one of the earlier incarnations of this with ROH running this event the night before WrestleMania 22 in Chicago. The big event featured Dragon Gate stars, the culmination of a lengthy feud with a Street Fight, and the in-ring return of Lance Storm.

The show opened with Colt Cabana walking out to the ring to interrupted the pre-show following what looked like a SHIMMER tag match. It seemed to be Daizee Haze, MsChif and Allison Danger against the Minnesota Home Wrecking Crew and Cheerleader Melissa. They left the ring and Cabana, selling a head injury from a night earlier, called out Homicide, who promised to kill him if he showed up tonight. However, Homicide hadn’t shown up yet, so Cabana had to leave.

Ace Steel vs. Dave Crist vs. Jack Evans vs. Jake Crist vs. Jimmy Jacobs w/ Lacey vs. Matt Sydal
During Jacobs’ entrance, you clearly hear Lacey interacting with the fans and it’s outstanding. She was incredible. Ace Steel go the hometown pop, while Evans and Sydal represented Generation Next. The Crist brothers were known as Irish Airborne at the time. Though there were a handful of talented individuals in this one, it totally felt like they booked these guys for this show and had nothing for them, so they got thrown into this. We got a fun spot of a three-way chicken fight in the middle of the ring, capped by Evans moonsaulting off Steel’s shoulders and to the outside. In fact, Style and Evans were used for several fun spots. Steel had a highlight when he hit an Ace Crusher, modified Widow’s Peak, and leg drop off the top on three guys at the same time. Sounds wild because it was. Lacey distracted the referee, which brought Steel over to her. That set up Jacobs to attack him and Evans hit Jake with the 630 to win in 10:08. That win sent him off for a run with Dragon Gate. Anyway, this was a fine little opener. It was kind of a mess, but they were creative and had some fun with it. Can’t ask for much more. [***]

ROH Commissioner Jim Cornette came out to thank the fans for coming out this weekend. He spoke about CZW invading last night’s show, including calling Chris Hero “Chris Zero” and mentioning hitting Necro Butcher with his tennis racket. He deputized Adam Pearce to handle security and prevent CZW from showing up. Colt Cabana came out to a huge pop and requested Cornette to sanction a match between himself and Homicide to end their rivalry. He doesn’t just want any match, though. He wants a CHICAGO STREET FIGHT! Cornette reminded him that he has a concussion, but agreed to book our main event. When Cabana left, Cornette brought Delirious out and wanted to see more from him. Just don’t let Delirious book a wrestling show. Anyway, Cornette said the fans love Delirious, but he’s a loser. He can pick his opponent now, and he must win to stay with ROH. Delirious cut one of his rambling promos and seemed to select Ricky Reyes.

Delirious vs. Ricky Reyes w/ Julius Smokes
Crazy to think that one guy is poorly booking ROH in 2018 and the other played an undercover cop in Lucha Underground. Delirious jumped Reyes before the bell since so much was on the line. It was a more aggressive Delirious than usual. Commentary hyped how Ricky’s dragon sleeper had never been broken. Smokes interfered to help Ricky gain control. Surprisingly, Reyes kicked out of Shadows Over Hell. He tapped to the Cobra Stretch, but Smokes was on the apron. However, the one smart ref in wrestling history turned back to the ring and saw the submission, giving Delirious his first singles win at 6:19. It told the story it needed to and they kept it short. Fine wrestling. [**]

Do FIXER (Dragon Kid, Genki Horiguchi, and Ryo Saito) vs. The Embassy (Alex Shelley, Jimmy Rave, and Masato Yoshino) w/ Prince Nana
Yoshino with the Embassy is fantastic. A night earlier, the infamous Dragon Gate Six Man stole the show and kind of put the company on the map in the US. If you’ve never seen Yoshino wrestle before, you need to. He’s probably the fastest guy in the ring I’ve ever seen. His interactions with Dragon Kid here were breathtaking. To be fair though, most of this came at a ridiculous pace. Yoshino and Shelley pulled out offense we wouldn’t see again until Shelley began teaming with Chris Sabin. Horiguchi took most of the heat segment before making the hot tag. Saito threw his opponents around, while Kid wowed the fans with his speed and athleticism. I can’t run through all the spots because there was just too many and they came at too quick a rate. The match broke down into madness with everyone getting in some kind of cool moment or highlight. Each time you felt like the match was over, they would up the ante with something bigger. However, after all those big moves, it was a damn Pedigree from Rave that ended this after 16:14. Incredible heat for that finish. Awesome match with a ton of insane spots. I had a blast watching this. [****]

Backstage, Lance Storm cut a good promo about bringing his best to his return to wrestling. He got back into this because of ROH and a shot at a World Title, which is the one championship he never won.

AJ Styles vs. TNA X Division Champion Christopher Daniels w/ Allison Danger vs. Jimmy Yang vs. Samoa Joe
The match that got me hooked on wrestling outside of WWE was Styles/Daniels/Joe from TNA Unbreakable the previous autumn. They ran it here, with the addition of Jimmy Yang. Interesting. Four Corner Survival rules meant two men were legal at a time. As you’d expect, most of the exchanges in this one were great. Yang was a wild card, but the other three always had fantastic chemistry together, so he didn’t have to do much. I did like the idea of Yang doing his homework, interrupting several big spots from his opponents. Other than that, though, he didn’t add much to this match. As things progressed, the spots got bigger and the near falls came at a faster pace. They teased the Unbreakable finish in a great spot where Daniels bridged up to break the pin by AJ. Surprisingly, it wasn’t Yang who took the pinfall. Instead, Joe bested AJ with the Muscle Buster in 18:29. A very good match, but one that didn’t sniff their best work without Yang. He added nothing and seemed like he was just there to make this different from their more famous stuff. Having nothing on the line also hurt, as the match felt kind of random. [***½]

Post-match, Samoa Joe spoke about making the ROH Title into a World Title. Though he’s spent time with TNA lately, being in front of the largest ROH crowd in history tonight made him realize he wanted his title back. Joe called himself the “baddest motherfucker on Earth.” ROH World Champion Bryan Danielson arrived to respond to this challenge. Bryan said the ROH Title made Joe, not the other way around. He poked fun at Joe’s weight and threw in a Lance Storm like, “If I could be serious for a moment.” Danielson threw more insults at Joe, bragged about being trained by Shawn Michaels while Storm was dying up in Calgary, and agreed to give Joe a title shot after he made Storm tap to his own single leg crab. Great promo and cowardly stuff from Danielson. A fan asked Bryan why he ran away and he responded with, “HEY, NICE SANDMAN T-SHIRT ASSHOLE!”

With Bryan gone, Chris Hero and Necro Butcher (both of CZW) hit the ring and jumped Joe. Adam Pearce made the save and it triggered a brawl around the ring. Unfortunately, the shots of the brawl suck and we barely get to see any of the action. Danielson returned for a cheap shot on Joe during this period. Claudio Castagnoli arrived to help ROH but got sent packing and “blew out his knee.” Jim Cornette showed up and also got beat up. BJ Whitmer, with a cast on his foot, did his best but also got worked over. Pearce fell on top of Whitmer to protect him. The locker room emptied to finally send them packing. Good segment from a story perspective, but the action lacked during the lengthy crowd fight.

Backstage, the Embassy bragged about their successful triple shot weekend.

ROH World Tag Team Championship: Austin Aries and Roderick Strong [c] vs. CIMA and Naruki Doi
CIMA and Doi represented the Blood Generation stable in Dragon Gate. Strong and Doi had a fun exchange to start, but things picked up when we got CIMA/Aries. They were the leaders of their respective groups and were not about to be outdone by their counterpart. Everyone did their signature stuff, from the fast Dragon Gate offense to Strong’s absurdly lengthy stalling vertical suplex to Aries’ aerial attacks. CIMA took the early heat, which worked because hot tag Doi was great. During that run, Aries got busted open and looked to have a broken nose. That gave the DG guys a confidence boost. It also set up a longer heat segment on Aries. The blood added a lot, as he just looked finished. Aries caught a kick into his shin breaker/back suplex combo and made the hot tag. Strong was on fire, hitting everything that moved. From there, tagging was thrown out the window. Just a barrage of wild spots, with a highlight being CIMA’s coast to coast dropkick. The ante was upped when the champions hit an insane missile dropkick/powerbomb combo on CIMA. Aries added a 450 splash and they retained in 20:22. Tremendous. Action packed personified. The tag formula worked expertly early and then that closing stretch was out of this world. [****½]

After the match, the two teams shook hands in a show of respect.

ROH World Championship: Bryan Danielson [c] vs. Lance Storm
Storm coming out to his old ECW theme was a nice touch. Danielson was introduced as “being too good to wrestle in front of all these pricks.” If you know anything about these guys, you know the kind of match this was. It was a master class of technical wrestling. A guy like Storm can wrestle later in his career because of this style. Lots of mat based grappling in the first half, with only a few high impact moves thrown in. And by high impact, I’m talking things like a dropkick. So, like, medium impact. Yet, it all works. Danielson flipped over Storm in the corner, only to get pulled right into the rolling Maple Leaf from out of nowhere. It was so goddamn smooth. The response for it was wild, too. Danielson scurried to the ropes, selling the potential effects of the move. This style worked because their bigger offense, like Danielson’s super back suplex, felt like they meant more than they would in other matches. Storm’s Cradle Piledriver near fall was great, especially now knowing that Jerry Lynn would one day wear the ROH World Title. The fans bit on the Maple Leaf as a finish, but Danielson managed to counter it. Their final exchange was the best part of the match, which saw Storm turn the Cattle Mutilation into a pin only to end up back in the submission where he tapped out at 26:23. A totally different match from the rest of the card in the best possible way. It had a slow build and we got to see these guys work to their strengths. [****]

Danielson and Storm shook hands after the match. Storm received a standing ovation and chants of “Please come back,” and “You still got it.”

Chicago Street Fight: Colt Cabana vs. Homicide w/ Julius Smokes
The video package for this match highlighted their violent feud, which included the insane act of Homicide pouring Drano down Colt’s throat. Though Cabana was fuming, this didn’t get off to the violent start I expected. Things picked up after a few minutes with a coat hanger being brought into play. It sounds like a weird weapon for a wrestling match, but there was history since Homicide choked Cabana with one during the feud. Cabana got a measure of revenge with it here. Homicide put Cabana through a table with a splash, but wanted to take things to the next level and brought out a barbed wire board. They also brought out a “ghetto fork.” That’s what they called it. Cabana stabbed Homicide relentlessly with it, gaining another measure of revenge. Homicide also brought out the Drano again. In a cool moment, Cabana wasn’t scared of it and charged at Homicide with an attack. Seeing him then pour alcohol onto Homicide’s busted open face was gruesome. Other highlights saw hundreds of chairs thrown into the ring for a massive superplex spot and Homicide busting out the old CM Punk Pepsi Plunge. Perfect move to throw in for heat against Cabana in Chicago. Cabana delivered a superbomb through a table that should’ve been the finish. Instead, Homicide kicked out of that and a lariat, before falling to Colt 45 in 26:35. A great brawl that was fitting of the feud. Especially due to the callbacks to weapons used throughout it. A bit slow to start, which kept it from standing out above better ROH wars. [***¾]

Post-match, the Rottweilers came out and jumped Cabana. However, Homicide stopped them because Cabana had earned his respect. They shook hands and hugged to end things.

9.5
The final score: review Amazing
The 411
A spectacular show. One of the best that ROH has ever put on. Basically everything worked on it. Even the worst match got Delirious over in a short frame and the crowd liked it. There’s something for everyone. A great brawl, a technical masterclass, explosive tag team wrestling, a four way packed with star power, introductions to a wild style of Japanese wrestling, and more. It’s fun, they pushed the CZW angle, and blew off a hostile rivalry. Great stuff.
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