THE TWO SHEDS REVIEW by Julian Radbourne
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It’s time to step into Ring of Honor territory again, especially as the powers that be have sent me a new batch of DVDs to review. So we’re going to begin this latest series by going back to March 21st, and the famed Hammerstein Ballroom, with ROH’s 7th Anniversary show, headlined by Nigel McGuinness defending the ROH World title against Japanese star KENTA, with Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard handling commentary duties.
The show begins with the usual short, fast-paced opener, this time pitting the always watchable Kenny King and Rhett Titus against Roderick Strong and Erick Stevens. It’s a good, solid opener, with plenty of action from both teams, and King and Titus again proving just how good they are as a team. Sadly, my boys didn’t get the job done. After plenty of near falls, Stevens got the pin on Titus after a power bomb. A nice way to open the show.
Then it was on to the first grudge match of the evening, pitting long time rivals Brent Albright and Claudio Castagnoli against each other. This one saw plenty of hard hitting action, the sort of stuff that’s made their series so gripping, and it’s another sign of why these two are so suited to each other, and in a way it just seemed right that it ended as a draw, with the time limit expiring as they were exchanging blows. The bell didn’t stop them though. Several officials did. Albright then suggested an extra five minutes which, surprisingly, Double C agreed to. The extra segment didn’t last long though, as Castagnoli got himself disqualified for low blowing Albright as he went for his half nelson suplex. The Swiss star then finished the job by stomping a steel chair to the back of Albright’s head. Terrific drama here, one definitely worth watching.
The man who is fast developing a cult following was up next, as Bobby Dempsey answered Sweet ‘N’ Sour’s open challenge. The man chosen by Larry Sweeney’s crew was former NWA World Champion Adam Pearce. After a spot of intimidation, Pearce fell very quickly to Dempsey’s death valley driver. The crowd went absolutely wild, and this was the perfect way of putting Dempsey over after his baby face turn.
The action kept on coming with another face versus face match pitting Jerry Lynn against Mike Quackenbush. This was another of those can’t lose type of matches for the fans, filled with great action and some rather innovative offence from Quackenbush. The story here saw Lynn working over Quackenbush’s head, figuring he could do some damage because of his history with concussions. Quackenbush mounted the inevitable comeback, before falling to Lynn’s cradle pile driver. It was a good match, but at a little over ten minutes it just seemed to be too short. I couldn’t help but imagine what they would have achieved had they been given another ten minutes.
Six man tag team action followed, with Tyler Black, Delirious and Necro Butcher facing Jimmy Jacobs, Brodie Lee and Austin Aries in ROH’s equivalent to the Survivor Series, an Ultimate Endurance match, fought under no disqualification rules. There were even more stipulations – each fall had to be different, for example, if the first fall was gained by pin, then the second fall had to be obtained in a different manner. With all of these different stipulations I was beginning to wonder if I was watching a TNA DVD. As for the match, it had it’s good and bad points, the bad points being, once again, Necro Butcher and Brodie Lee. Butcher’s offence continued to look very weak, while Brodie just doesn’t do it for me, and I was very glad when these two eliminated each other for the second fall, getting counted out as they brawled to the back. As for the other falls, first, Aries pinned Delirious after a brain buster. Fall three saw Black submitting Aries with a guillotine choke, leaving him alone with Jacobs, who tried to finish his former protégé off with his end time finisher, although he was unable to get the win because of how the previous fall played out. Black would later counter this with his God’s last gift slam to get the winning pin. So, apart from Butcher and Lee, this was a great match, if a little over complication, stipulation-wise.
The tag team action continued with Bison Smith and Bryan Danielson continuing their feud, with each man selecting a mystery partner. Smith came down to the ring with Prince Nana, who re-introduced his crown jewel Jimmy Rave, minus his rock star gimmick, back into the ROH fold. Danielson came to the ring alone, and as Rave and Smith attacked, Grizzly Redwood came in to make the save, only to be quickly dispensed with by big Bison. Redwood wasn’t Danielson’s mystery partner though. That honour went to another man making his big return, Colt Cabana. To say that the crowd went wild would be a huge understatement. This was an excellent match, filled with top notch action, four outstanding performances, and a red hot crowd which just made this one extra special, with ROH doing another fine job in portraying Smith as a monster heel. Cabana got the win in this one, reversing Rave’s heel hook attempt with a roll-up. He then joined Danielson in celebrating the win, conducting the crowd as they sang along to a certain Swedish rock band.
Next up was a rather interesting encounter between D-Lo Brown and Jay Briscoe. Before the match again Brown shoot on WWE, thanking them for his recent release. Then, we everyone thought there was going to be another face versus face battle, Brown turned heel mid-way through the match by connecting with a low blow after he had distracted the referee. Brown’s newfound heeldom continued throughout the match, and also saw him threatening Jay’s injured brother Mark, who had accompanied him to the ring. The end saw Jay missing with a top rope leg drop, and Brown getting the pin with a handful of tights, which didn’t exactly sit too well with Mark. This was a good match, and certainly a lot better than Brown’s match with Nigel McGuinness.
The semi-main event saw the American Wolves, Eddie Edwards and Davey Richards, challenge Kevin Steen and El Generico for the ROH World Tag Team Championship in another no disqualification match. This was another of those matches I was looking forward to seeing, given the well built up history between these two teams. They didn’t disappoint, with top notch action from the opening bell, with the Wolves working over Steen’s old knee injury, and looking like they were going to win the titles on several occasions. This was one of those matches you just couldn’t take your eyes off, and it ended with Richards tapping out to Steen’s sharp shooter. The Wolves didn’t wait long to get their revenge though, taking out Generico with a top rope bulldog through a table, and taping Steen to the ropes and doing further damage to his bad knee. This was a hell of a match, worthy of the build up it had been given.
The main event saw Japanese star KENTA challenging Britain’s own Nigel McGuinness for the ROH World title. This was another one of those rather interesting matches. McGuinness had injured his left bicep in a tag team match against his challenger the night before, meaning that, with his right bicep injured as well, our Nigel was going into this one with more or less no arms. Commentators Leonard and Prazak went to great pains to put Nigel’s injuries over, almost turning him baby face in the process, and while he was definitely hampered by his injuries it didn’t stop him from putting in a good performance, keeping up well with the visiting star, and although it looked like he could lose the title at any moment, he secured the win as KENTA tapped to the London dungeon arm bar submission. While this is in no way the best performance I’ve seen from my fellow countryman, it was still good, considering the circumstances.
In conclusion – out of all the ROH shows I’ve seen this year, this is by far the best. With the exception of a certain bare footed wrestler and his big opponent, this was a hell of a show. Ring of Honor definitely saved their best for their anniversary show, and if you’re a long time ROH follower then you should add this one to collection. Mind you, even if you’re not an ROH follower, you wouldn’t go wrong getting a copy of this release.
With thanks to the powers that be at Ring of Honor for supplying a copy of this release.