November 22, 2008
I’ll give ROH credit where its due, they’ve found a way to make the PPV concept work (at least for this show). Almost every match has some sort of storyline relevance, and matches are preceded with a video package to explain it.
Mschif . . . puts the SHIMMER Title on the line and gives the former champion a rematch on PPV.
Austin Aries . . . looks for all the world like he wants to end Jimmy Jacobs’ career.
Bryan Danielson . . . along with the ROH Champion puts on another all time classic in the main event.
KEVIN STEEN/EL GENERICO © vs. JAY BRISCOE/MARK BRISCOE (ROH World Tag Team Titles)
Two teams with the history together that these two teams have really should get more than six-and-a-half minutes. Of course, they should also be able to put on a better match than this, but Mark being hobbled probably has something to do with it. There’s nothing especially bad, but the match is just so short that they seem to be rushing through everything. The Briscoes work in their usual spots and the champions come back and start doing their usual spots. Steen gets a nice near fall on Mark from the senton, and it’s nice to see them make the knee injury a factor when Steen has to kick Mark’s bad leg to hit the Package Piledriver, but a classic this is not.
MSCHIF © vs. SARA DEL REY (SHIMMER Title)
Between the face paint and the blonde wig, Death Rey looks straight out of The Exorcist. As for the match, I haven’t seen their previous match in SHIMMER, when Mschif lifted the title from Sara, but this is able to stand on its own quite nicely. Sara is good at carrying the offense and brutalizing Mschif, and Mschif’s flexibility allows Sara to stretch her out that much more, the standing Dragon sleeper was absolutely sick! For her part, Mschif takes the abuse, but finds little ways to come back here and there, she counters Sara into a DDT and hits her in the head with a couple of back fist shots and she slips out the back door on Sara hit Code Greens her for a near fall. They have a decidedly nice home stretch with Del Rey countering the Desecrator into a Peterson roll, which Mschif reverses for a pair of near falls, which Mschif follows by escaping the Royal Butterfly and then dropping her with the Desecrator for the win, proving that her title win in SHIMMER was no fluke. ***
CLAUDIO CASTAGNOLI vs. SILAS YOUNG vs. SAMI CALLAHAN vs. ALEX PAYNE
Seriously? They put this on the PPV, but left off Delirious vs. Titus, which actually had a reason for happening? The only worthwhile thing here is Claudio showing off his new heel persona on PPV. He brutalizes the other three and makes sure to thwart any attempt by the others to try to win. Claudio breaks up any pin attempts and blind tags himself win while Young is doing his ridiculous headstand moonsault. Young and Callahan are just dead weight here, while Payne gets to be the plucky underdog who tries to upset the established name. But Claudio winning over Payne is a total forgone conclusion, and as a result, this just seems to go on forever and ever.
RODERICK STRONG/BRENT ALBRIGHT/ACE STEEL vs. CHRIS HERO/DAVEY RICHARDS/GO SHIOZAKI
This isn’t anything great, but it’s a fun little match and it accomplishes the primary goal of pushing forward the feud between Sweeney’s boys and Strong and co. The match more or less sticks to the formula, with the heels working over Ace. Sweeney’s goons aren’t as dickish as they could have been, although Go’s running knee from the floor while Steel was hanging over the apron was pretty good. There’s the usual false tag spot, with the ref missing it, and then Ace tags for real. Everyone wants to see Strong get his hands on Richards, which he does when Ace does that big dive that takes out everyone else. Strong opens up a big can of the ass-whip on Davey and he seems to have it won with the Stronghold, but Hero uses a chair to give Sweeney’s team the win, and delay the cage match that the babyfaces will get if they can beat Sweet and Sour Inc. This isn’t anything special for actual wrestling, but the intensity made this a lot of fun.
AUSTIN ARIES vs. JIMMY JACOBS (I Quit Match)
There really isn’t much wrestling itself to be found here, but there probably shouldn’t be. After all, this is a blood feud with lots of soap opera storytelling. That’s not to say that the match is worthless, it’s actually lots of fun between the bloodshed, the ways Jimmy tries to brutalize Aries and make him quit, the booking, and overall usage of Lacey. As expected, they’re both fired up and ready to fight as soon as the bell rings. Aries easily controls things to start, since he’s bigger, stronger, faster, and a better wrestler than Jacobs. Jimmy takes over by outsmarting Aries and clocking him with a chain while Aries is ready to fly. If nothing else, Jimmy shows that he’s got his eyes on the prize, by having the ref ask Aries if he’s ready to quit after he does just about anything to him. Even when it’s something that may look cool, but not exactly look like something that would make him quit, such as Jimmy’s plancha while Aries is sitting in the chair. The match drags a bit when Jimmy is working Aries over, because he doesn’t really seem to be that fired up about it, it’s almost like he’s going through the motions while doing some of his early spots.
Jimmy gradually gets more and more brutal with his attacks on Aries, Aries is bleeding like nuts and finally Jimmy uses the chain to tie him to the chair and gets ready to bash his brains in with a chair when Lacey makes her big return and distracts Jimmy. After several minutes of wondering what exactly will happen, if Lacey is going to turn on Aries or stand by him, she chooses Aries, and the distraction lets Aries free himself and then it’s his turn to beat on Jimmy and make him bleed. You know exactly how deep the hatred for this when Aries won’t even let the ref ask Jacobs if he wants to quit because he’s not done abusing him yet. It’s the polar opposite of when Jacobs was in control, Aries looks like he wants to kill Jacobs and make him suffer as much as possible. Lacey even gets in on the fun when she stops Black from throwing in the towel for Jimmy while Aries has him in the crossface and starts spiking him in the head, and forcing Jimmy to actually say that he quits. As far as wrestling goes, it’s not horrible but it’s decidedly not great. When it comes to excitement, drama, intensity and a satisfying conclusion, it’s hard to go wrong here. ***1/2
NIGEL McGUINNESS © vs. BRYAN DANIELSON (ROH World Heavyweight Title)
The fact that this is best match of the show isn’t any great surprise. Danielson and Nigel have enough history together, and experience working together, to know what they need to do to put on a match worthy of being an ROH main event. Factor in the way that they weave in Danielson’s leg injury and his newfound feud with Claudio and they’ve got another classic to add to t. The opening exchanges, before Nigel starts going after the leg is more or less a feeling out portion, but even a token feeling out portion between these two is worth watching, with Danielson trying to stretch out Nigel’s arm, and another great moment with Nigel rolling to the floor for a breath and Danielson leveling him with a jumping knee strike from the apron.
Once Nigel starts going after Danielson’s leg, this really gets awesome. Nigel has always been a good jerk sort of heel, but he also shows off his wrestling skills by using some good holds as well. That alone would make it great, but there’s another layer to the greatness. It’s not only smart of Nigel to take advantage of the challenger having a preexisting injury, that’s Wrestling 101, but by going after Danielson’s knee he makes a lot of Danielson’s offense work against Danielson as much as it hurts Nigel. And, of course, Danielson makes sure to showcase exactly that, when he favors his bad wheel after using familiar Danielson kick spots like the running kick while Nigel is seated, or his charging knee out of the corner. Honestly, the only thing that Danielson could have done to make it work any better would have been to go all out a la Kawada on 12/3/93 and crumble to the mat upon being whipped into the ropes or be unable to sustain the bridge on his Tiger suplex and/or Cattle Mutilation.
As great as Nigel is with working the bad wheel, and as great as Danielson is at selling it, it’s still not going to be enough to put him away. Lest anyone forget about the last four or so months of Danielson’s time as ROH Champion with his shoulder injury. Danielson shows with a his big springboard dive onto Nigel that he’s going to need to do more. That’s when Claudio shows up behind the ref’s back to attack Danielson with a chair and bloody him up. This also showcases ROH’s improvement in PPV production. Whereas the in-ring angle from the first PPV with Nigel, Morishima, KENTA, and Danielson was horribly botched, this comes off perfect. The split screen shows the ref admonishing Nigel, with Claudio behind his back attacking Danielson, and he goes back to being right behind the 8-ball again.
This has the usual great ROH finishing stretch with both of them seeming to have it won, Danielson knows what Nigel is looking for, the lariat, and he’s ready with some great counters like the cross armbreaker and the attempts at the chickenwing, which he’d used to win the title the first time. Danielson seems to finally have Nigel where he wants him with the Cattle Mutilation, but Nigel slips out, and lifts Danielson into the Tower of London for another great near fall, and with Danielson stunned, Nigel hits his big lariat to finally put him away. There were a few moments that were a bit exposing, but nothing that really takes away from the action, Danielson’s elbow flurry went on a bit too long, had this been a UFC fight it’d have been stopped by the ref. The spot with Danielson catching Nigel’s headstand and getting an ankle lock also looked a bit too slow and cooperative, and their sunset flip to jackknife, and back again exchange is cliche by this point. When the only real knock on the match is that Danielson’s selling wasn’t as good as one the all time great selling performances in wrestling history, you know you want all of this. ****1/2
Conclusion: The main event by itself warrants recommending this show. The SHIMMER Title match and the Aries/Jacobs match are just gravy.