September 16, 2006


Colt Cabana . . . tries to have fun at the expense of his “partner” but ultimately pays the price.

Homicide clears the last hurdle that Jim Cornette places in front him, to get his shot at the World Title.

Bryan Danielson . . . puts on an absolute wrestling clinic with a separated shoulder, further proving himself as the best in the world.



Aside from some continuation from July, when Davey pinned Jack in a tag match, there isn’t much to this. Granted, it isn’t given very much time to develop, but, this is little more than a spotfest. It’s nice to see Jack use his agility to stay ahead of Davey early on, but once Jack takes the bump into the table, it’s clear that they aren’t trying to tell a story. Jack takes the bump on his stomach/ribs, but, rather than Davey taking advantage and working it over, he does a short chinlock segment, and then goes to the floor so that Jack can do a dive. There’s another chance to make the table bump matter when Davey gets the knees up on Jack’s 630, but, Davey is intent on submitting Jack to the stretch muffler, which eventually happens. One could argue that the body bumps from the powerbomb and powerslam kept Jack stunned so Davey could get the hold on, but, it would have made more sense for Davey to have either worked the leg, or used a hold that targets the midsection.



The work itself isn’t anything special, but, the match itself is useful for characterization, which is enough to make it worthwhile. Delirious does crowd pleasing things like the eternal lariats and the segment where he hides under the ring and sneaks up on Pearce. Pearce tries to take away their fun by attacking Delirious before the bell, and giving him a couple of big bumps into the guardrail. When Delirious seems to have things in the bag, Hagadorn runs interference and Pearce gets the win with his piledriver. The match isn’t anything great, but, it does its job of getting the right crowd reactions, and the angle at the end gives Pearce and Cornette (by extension) another crony.



The comedy spots from Cabana make this watchable, and it’s fun to see the story pay off when Jacobs stands up to Cabana and wins the match. But, someone as established as Daniels is wasted in a match like this. ROH could have thrown Derek Dempsey or Mitch Franklin into the match instead, and it wouldn’t have lost anything. The idea is that Lacy won’t let Jacobs hurt Cabana, so they try to work together. But, Cabana keeps making Jacobs miss his spots and look inept, causing Lacy to yell at him. When things backfire on Cabana, such as Daniels avoiding the spear, Lacy still blames Jacobs. The story pays off when Jacobs has enough and kicks Cabana low and pins him after the Contra Code, the finish being another reason why Daniels didn’t especially need to be in the match. The match itself isn’t anything special, but it’s fun to watch story play out and then pay off.



One would only need to watch the first thirty seconds, when Joe and Homicide clear the ring and do the stereo dives, to know that a heated and intense brawl was about to happen. But, unfortunately, the rest of the match never comes close to those opening moments. None of the control segments that build up to tags is anything special. Jay has the brilliant idea of working over Joe by wearing him down with chinlocks. Smokes taking a cheap shot at Jay while he’s in the ropes is about as backwards as it gets, even if they’re in Homicide’s hometown. If Cornette’s role as commissioner puts him above that sort of thing, he could at least have left his racket at ringside for the Briscoes to use. Jay using a foul on Homicide to take over the match is a good start, but, aside from Mark bouncing his head off the guardrail, there isn’t anything to suggest that they’re trying to main Homicide, like Cornette ordered. There are some good moments toward the end, like Joe hanging Mark up in the rope to prevent the Doomsday Device, and going right for the running kick on the floor, without any of the crowd playing or theatrics. Homicide getting the win with the Kudo driver is a good finish, but, the setup to it, with the counters and reversals looks choreographed and rehearsed. Overall, it’s a watchable tag match that does its job of getting Homicide a title shot.



The structure and layout of this are more or less what one would expect from babyface champions and heel challengers, and that isn’t a bad thing. Everyone does a nice job with their roles, and the result winds up being a very good match with compelling work, and crowd heat that’s mostly sustained throughout. The only questionable work is early on, specifically when Aries does the slingshot senton and doesn’t show any ill effects, despite his broken ribs. Even if there wasn’t any contact made with the injured area, the impact and effort of rolling through should have been enough for him to show some sort of strain. He does much better later in the match, when he stuns Hero and Claudio with the dive, and then struggles to just hold them in place for Roddy to follow suit.


Once Hero and Claudio start their heat segment by working over Aries’ midsection, the match picks up, and never falters. The heels find the perfect blend of technically sound and flashy offense to keep things moving along. Aries’ selling is great, and the teases of him finally making the tag work perfectly. Some might take issue with the fact that Hero and Claudio don’t try to finish off Aries before he tags out. It would have been nice to see, but it certainly wasn’t necessary for the build of the match. Aries’ selling itself was more than enough to tell the story, and even the more basic work from the KOW, like Claudio’s chinlock, was keeping the match moving. So, why risk devaluing them if it isn’t needed? They use a couple of lower end spots on Roddy, like the double Hero’s Welcome that takes him out of the match and lets them finish off Aries, which protects them a bit. It doesn’t say much about the move if they can’t beat Aries with it, especially after having worked over his injured ribs. But, it puts the move over if it keeps Roddy down long enough to win them the match.


Much like the match with the Briscoes from the previous month, Aries goes much further than he probably should have, considering his injury. After the hot tag to Strong, he remembers to keep selling. When Aries and Strong bust out some of their double teams, like the double backbreaker and the brainbuster/chop combo on Hero, you can see that Aries’ ribs are hampering him. Even if he wasn’t already banged up, the shot he took from the briefcase and the bump off the top rope looked nasty enough that anyone would have looked all but dead from it. Aries probably could have crawled into the ring and eaten an uppercut from Claudio and stayed down, and nobody would have thought twice. But, Aries goes all the way in making the rib injury story play out by taking the KRS-ONE, and there is zero doubt in anyone’s mind if he’s coming back from it.


From a booking standpoint, changing the titles here seemed like a lock, regardless of Aries being hurt. ROH had already done the angle with the belts being stolen, and they needed to do something to keep Hero and Claudio over and hated, since Claudio had been losing to seemingly everyone under the sun and Hero wasn’t around very much after July. Had Aries been healthy, this would likely have been a much different match, although with how well they told the story with Aries’ injury ultimately causing the title change, it’s hard to say for sure if it would have been better or worse. ***½



Overall, this is probably the best of Marufuji’s title defenses of his first reign, although that speaks more to the absurdity of his matches versus KENTA and Misawa, than it does the merits of this match. The work is fine for a while. Marufuji working the knee and Nigel working the arm doesn’t factor into anything long term, but, it’s perfectly watchable filler. There are also a few nice moments, like Nigel snapping the ropes into Marufuji’s face to stun him while he’s on the apron.


Once they do the tease of Nigel getting counted out with the Shiranui off the apron, followed by Marufuji’s near fall once he crawls back into the ring, this goes off the deep end, just like so many other GHC main events before it. Nigel, who was barely able to stand a minute ago, prevents a rana from the top and gets Marufuji into position for his lariat off the top. Marufuji completely blows off the Tower of London just to do a regular Shiranui. The previous arm and leg work are completely thrown out the window. Nigel does a Tower of London on the apron, which winds up being a complete throwaway spot. The finishing stretch is decent, but nothing more. Marufuji stuns Nigel with a dropkick while he’s doing the headstand spot, which sets up Marufuji for a coast to coast dropkick, and a top rope Shiranui for the pin. But, it seems odd that a top rope Shiranui would have more effect on Nigel than one off the apron. Considering the bumps that Nigel had already taken, as well as dished out to Marufuji, the Perfect Inside Cradle seems like a more suitable finish. Nigel’s penchant for using the lariat, and Marufuji’s craftiness would allow for a sequence involving Marufuji blocking or countering the lariat, and then wrapping him up for the pin. It would show that the manner that he won the title was really not a fluke, and beating Nigel in that manner would speak to how good a technical wrestler that Marufuji can be, as opposed to the spot machine junior that he’s often regarded as.


BRYAN DANIELSON © vs. KENTA (ROH World Heavyweight Title)

Despite coming into the match with a separated right shoulder, Bryan Danielson proves that his proclamation of being the best in the world is neither a catchphrase nor hyperbole. The only thing that he lacks is a stronger selling performance. What Danielson does is far from bad selling, but, a lot of it is very subtle and easy to miss if one isn’t playing close attention. When he does an Irish whip, it’s his left arm that’s doing the bulk of it, with the right arm basically giving a little extra push on KENTA’s back. There are moments, when it seems like he’s on the verge of going too far, but he never completely goes over the edge. A good instance in the surfboard hold. It’s one of his trademarks, so it’s not totally out of left field that he’d try it, although it seems questionable, and it also looks questionable that he’d be able to get KENTA’s arm locked up without more of a struggle. But, before he gets it on, KENTA wiggles his leg free and when Danielson is thrown off balance, he immediately loses the grip he had with his right arm. When Danielson throws the rolling elbow and running forearm shots, he’s staggered even more than KENTA. The elbow flurry toward the end is another case where it seems to be going too far, but Danielson is aided by having KENTA pinned to the mat, so he doesn’t need to go full force.


Danielson smartly adjusts his offense to compensate for the injury, whenever he’s able to. When he grabs KENTA for a headlock to prevent him from kicking his bad shoulder, he uses the left arm. Instead of his usual somersault into the crowd, he settles for a regular plancha, just as effective (although not as flashy looking), and much less risk of injury. The Regalplex and Crossface Chickenwing are other examples of this, where it’s his good arm that does the bulk of the work. And, when Danielson has to go all the way in order to hopefully keep KENTA down, like the superplex and later the super backdrop, he sells the impact the way one would expect.


Aside from the way he puts over the injured arm, Danielson adds a bunch of other smart touches to show that he’s the one doing the heavy lifting in the match. The first Go 2 Sleep is a bit random, but, its purpose is to show that Danielson has it scouted after he’d been pinned twice by KENTA with it. The second one is much better, with Danielson getting countered into position for it, and doing a great groggy sell and fall next to the ropes so that he won’t need to kick out. The sidestep and O’Connor roll to prevent and counter the Busaiku is another great moment, and the finish would have been flawless had KENTA not decided to Hulk-Up when Danielson was elbowing him in the head. Danielson also gets a couple of near falls from flash cradles, which is something he’d become known for during his title reign, and also speaks of his truly being a better technical wrestler than KENTA.


For his part, all KENTA really needs to do is work over the injured arm, and not do anything stupid, and he mostly succeeds. The pop up after Danielson’s German suplex wasn’t needed. Yes, there’s an argument that Danielson’s shoulder wouldn’t have allowed him to throw KENTA as hard as he normally might. But KENTA is still taking the brunt of his body weight on his back/shoulder/neck region, which merits at least some form of selling. There’s also KENTA’s attempted Hulk-Up after the first round of elbows, which Danielson sees coming and quickly switches gears to put a stop to it. But, thankfully, instances like these are the exception rather than the rule. KENTA’s penchant for stiff shots gets new meaning when he’s able to fire away on Danielson’s arm. KENTA has never been known for what he can do on the mat, but, it’s nice to see him taking Danielson to the mat and trying to work over the arm that way. KENTA’s Fujiwara armbar gets the crowd red-hot thinking that he’s about to win the title, and it’s easy to see why. Everyone knows that Danielson is hurt. The crowd already saw Aries’ broken ribs lead to the tag titles changing, and the Homicide storyline is that he wants the ROH Title itself, the person holding the title is immaterial.


Danielson going over with the Cattle Mutilation is the obvious finish as far trying to somewhat protect his shoulder, and still allow him to go over KENTA in a strong manner. Despite needing a few tries to cinch it in tight, he’s never foolish with how he uses it. The first one is after the super backdrop, with the suplex being used to stun KENTA to get it on. The second comes after KENTA tries the Hulk-Up, with Danielson switching gears from the mounted position and roll into it, only for KENTA to roll with him and get a near fall. After that he leaves nothing else to chance. He stuns KENTA with a Tiger suplex, and hits a few more elbows to keep him groggy, and gets the hold again. And, in one last nice touch, the arm that KENTA taps out with is sticking out much further than it normally would. Which both adds to the showmanship of KENTA’s eventual tap out, and also shows that Danielson probably didn’t have that arm hooked up as tight as he normally would have. There’s no question that KENTA is the lesser performer here, and that says something about how truly great Danielson is, when KENTA’s performance can “only” be considered very good. ***3/4


Conclusion: A top-to-bottom show that’s worthy of the praise that ROH from this time frame was famous for getting. Even the matches that weren’t great from a work standpoint furthered storylines, like the Homicide match and the 3-way match.