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Kevin’s Random Reviews: ROH Man Up

January 3, 2018 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
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Kevin’s Random Reviews: ROH Man Up  

ROH Man Up
September 15th, 2007 | Frontier Fieldhouse in Chicago Ridge, Illinois | Attendance: 1,200

In 2007, ROH made their debut on Pay-Per-View. They weren’t live shows, which made them cheaper to produce. This was their third PPV, focusing on the culmination of the great rivalry between the Briscoes and Steenerico. It also featured a big ROH World Title match, the setup for a future title match and the start of a huge angle that would dominate most of 2008. Since I own the DVD, I’ll include ratings for the bonus matches, but not full reviews for them as I’m focusing on the PPV.

ROH Top of the Class Trophy: Mitch Franklin [c] def. Alex Payne in 2:23 [NR]
Amazing Kong and Daizee Haze def. Lacey and Sara Del Rey in 14:48 [***½]
The Hangman Three def. The YRR in 5:20 [**]
The Age of the Fall def. Irish Airborne and Jack Evans in 6:55 [**¾]
Two Out of Three Falls Match: Delirious def. Matt Sydal in 21:51 [***½]

Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard were on commentary. They introduced the show with Naomichi Marufuji already in the ring and Nigel McGuinness coming out. Nigel interrupted them to mention his dream to be ROH World Champion and that it starts tonight. When he finished, they were cut off again, but this time by a masked man in a hoodie hyping something about the “Age of the Fall.” By the voice and body, it’s now clear to me that this was Tyler Black. Security took him down, leading to the opening video package, set to “Gimme Back My Bullets,” which was the theme of the Briscoes.

Four Corner Survival: Chris Hero w/ Sweet n’ Sour Inc. vs. Claudio Castagnoli vs. Naomichi Marufuji vs. Nigel McGuinness
Well, this is a loaded opener. Claudio and Larry Sweeney both got short promos before the match. In Four Corner Survival, two men are legal and the others stand on the apron. Nigel and Marufuji started. They had an excellent match at a show about a year prior. Hero entered and wasted time showcasing his athleticism. That was such a fun gimmick. It’s part of the intertwining stories here. Hero wants to be the best athlete, Marufuji is out to establish himself in the US, Nigel is dying for a shot at the top title and Claudio’s feuding with former partner Hero. Hero did his best to avoid Claudio and only attack when he had an opening. When their feud took over the match, Marufuji took them out with a dive and Nigel followed with one of his own. From there, things really picked up. All four men hit their signature stuff, with tags kind of going out the window and pins getting broken up. A particularly good one came when Claudio stopped a Hero pin by deadlift German suplexing him for two. The end was great. Nigel cut off Marufuji’s coast-to-coast dropkick and started throwing lariats. Claudio stopped him and hit the Ricola Bomb on Marufuji. Hero kept him from winning by diving onto the referee, which I’ve never seen before. An angry Claudio got caught with a Jawbreaker Lariat to give Nigel the win at 17:59. Great, hectic match to start a PPV. Four big names and it felt like anyone could win. They furthered the angles they had to, produced non-stop action and it was a blast. [***¾]

Pirate Bryan Danielson (he’s sporting an eye patch) cut a promo backstage on the broken orbital bone at the hands of Takeshi Morishima last month. He said the injury took a toll on his family, but he wouldn’t trade this career for anything else.

Best of Three Series: Matt Cross vs. Rocky Romero
This is a series pitting the No Remorse Corps against the Resilience. Ten years later, Rocky works in NJPW, while Cross has found something that works best for him as Son of Havoc in Lucha Underground. They tried playing this as a realistic, strategic fight. However, Aries told Cross to watch out for Romero’s offense BEFORE Romero was officially picked as his opponent. This was taped guys, fix it. Cross used his athleticism and quickness to gain the early upper hand. When Romero swung the momentum, he stopped for his AZUCAR dance. Romero used a tiger suplex and knockout kick to take the first match in 4:45. A fine sprint with some fast paced action. A collection of fun spots. [**½]

Best of Three Series: Austin Aries vs. Davey Richards
When Roderick Strong went to enter, Austin Aries quickly hopped in. Once Aries was officially announced, Roddy backed away and Davey stopped in. The old bait and switch. Davey did his homework, avoiding some of Aries’ signature offense. Aries, being the vet that he is, found new angles to hit things, like his dropkick, with success. Davey mocked the pendulum elbow and it cost him for a bit, but he mostly remaining in control. Aries avoided the DR Driver, kick starting his comeback. He hit the Heat Seeking Missile and a quebrada for two. They went into trading big offense, with Davey busting out a super release German suplex for a great near fall. It honestly looked fantastic. Aries countered another DR Driver, hit a kick to the head, the brainbuster and the 450 splash to win in 13:22. Much better than match one. This was logically booked and told a great story. Davey had advantages, but was too cocky and kept going to the same move, even though Aries had it scouted. It cost him and Aries put him down after an intense battle. [***½]

Best of Three Series: Erick Stevens vs. Roderick Strong
It’s an early part of a rivalry that spanned late 2007 and early 2008. Strong helped train Stevens, which may explain their chemistry. There was a lot of focus on the smart aspects of a match with Aries/Davey, but this was more smash mouth. They hit each other hard. Strong did wisely take advantage of Stevens’ inexperience, gaining control with a back suplex on the apron. Each time Stevens tried rallying, Strong had an answer and cut him off. Stevens kicked out of several big moves, showing tons of heart and getting the crowd behind him. That was big because Roddy was an ROH vet, while Stevens and Cross struggled to get over with the Resilience. Strong got a great near fall following a release German and Doctor Bomb. Strong blocked a top rope Doctor Bomb attempt and they battled up there. Strong won out by hitting Splash Mountain and followed with a Tiger Driver to win in 16:26. A good way to showcase that Stevens could be a player in ROH. Strong hit him with a ton, but he kept surviving and showed a ton of heart. Strong was just too much. They’d go on to have better matches once Stevens really got comfortable in ROH. [***¼]

A recap was shown of the Hangman Three/Delirious feud. They stapled his mask to his head, which was vicious. I do think ROH cut away from the crowd’s appreciation for Stevens too soon, though.

ROH World Championship: Takeshi Morishima [c] vs. Bryan Danielson
Their first match, at Manhattan Mayhem II, got ****¾ from me. That was where Morishima gave Danielson a detached retina. Apparently, Morishima promised not to attack the eye. Danielson came out firing, a complete opposite to their first match. There, Danielson had a tremendous strategy, but this was different due to the revenge he wants. The eye patch got moved to the side, but that didn’t stop Danielson. He found great ways to remain aggressive and on the offensive, without Morishima ever looking bad. The fans ERUPTED when Danielson found a way to hit a super back suplex. He followed with elbows, a tiger suplex and went right from a near fall into Cattle Mutilation! When Morishima didn’t tap, Danielson added stomps to the head and a triangle choke, but the powerful champ powerbombed him to get free. Morishima ruined him with a lariat and Backdrop Driver for two. Pissed off, he removed the eye patch. Danielson got two (the fans totally bought it) on a small package. Morishima hit another Backdrop Driver and instead of covering, he brutally attacked Danielson’s injured eye until the referee called for the bell in 12:43. Masterful storytelling. Danielson was a phenomenal underdog and controlled most of the match. Morishima sensed he was in big trouble and resorted to dirty, vicious tactics to retain. Great psychology, a hot crowd and it added fuel to a rivalry that wouldn’t end until Final Battle 2008. [****]

ROH World Tag Team Championship Ladder War: The Briscoes [c] vs. Kevin Steen and El Generico
This rivalry spanned the last few months, with Steenerico winning non-title matches, but the Briscoes always having a leg up for the titles. This would be ROH’s first ladder match and there was no more fitting match. Right away, the Briscoes threw the ladder in the ring and brawled with the challengers. Generico was thrown into chairs and Jay got busted open during this time. Commentary didn’t note it, but more of those guys in black masks that screamed about the Age of the Fall earlier were in the crowd. They final got to the ring and used the ladder. After some futile attempts at climbing, the first ladder got busted up when Generico was hip tossed through it. As always, Generico made it look incredible. Jay was shoved off a new, bigger ladder, into the original one in the corner. The spots were getting bigger, with Steen killing Mark with an Awesome Bomb through a ladder outside. Steen took a scary fall off the ladder, because it was so flimsy. However, it was strong enough to not break under the weight of Generico taking an exploder onto it. It’s hard to not make this a play-by-play review, because there were so many spots to cover. Mark hit an SSP onto Generico on the ladder, before taking a scary fall off one. Jay got tired of these shit ladders, and called for a maintenance ladder from the back of the crowd. Steen set the new, sturdy ladder up in the middle, acting as an anchor while a lesser ladder was laid as a bridge. Steen put Mark through that bridged ladder with a sick Package Piledriver. Jay made another bridge on the opposite side and destroyed Generico with a Jay Driller through it! Steen and Jay fought atop the big ladder, trading blows. Just when Steen seemed to be winning out, Jay knocked him back and onto the broken ladder. He struggled to pull the titles down, opening the door for Steen to try and climb back up. Jay hit him back down and finally got the titles at 27:26. An incredible battle. I love that it was titled Ladder War, because it allowed for the early brawling and bigger spots to make more sense. This wasn’t just about winning the titles, as these teams wanted to destroy each other and prove themselves as the top team in the world. So many wild spots, and I’m not even bringing up some great ones (like an awesome Doomsday Device spot), mixed in with intense hatred. On par with some of the best ladder matches you’ll find on bigger stages.[****½]

Post-match, a frustrated Steen shoved Generico down and stormed off. The Briscoes didn’t get a chance to enjoy the win because the sound of a woman screaming filled the arena. A bunch of fans in ski masks had to be held back by security guards, mouthing off at the Briscoes. Suddenly, Tyler Black and Jimmy Jacobs jumped the guardrail near them. If that wasn’t enough, Lacey and THE NECRO BUTCHER came from the other side. Necro, with his fist wrapped in barbed wire, attacked the Briscoes. Necro got in a great line to the camera when he said, “I TOLD YOU, IF YOU LET ME OUTTA MY CAGE, I WAS GONNA PILE UP BODIES TO THE SKY!” The beating continued and Jay’s feet were tied to where the titles were, with him being raised up as the show faded to black.

The PPV ended there because what happened next was too graphic. Jay was hung upside down above the ring and Jimmy Jacobs cut a promo below him as Jay’s blood poured onto him.

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
ROH wishes they could produce a PPV like this these days. This entire show ruled. The opener was a great, chaotic match to include several big talents. They also were great at the little graphics to explain each wrestler’s goal, which added something to each match. The Resilience/NRC series was nothing special, but each match accomplished something and none were bad. Morishima/Danielson was a brutal match with awesome storytelling and the main event was a must-see spectacle. The AOTF debut angle was also fantastic and even if you add in the bonus stuff, the show would still rank crazy high. Excellent show.

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ROH, ROH Man Up, Kevin Pantoja