7/28/07 ROH Race to the Top Tournament Night Two: Surprising finale, Briscoes face one another in eight-man tag match


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7/28/07 ROH Race to the Top Tournament Night Two: Surprising finale, Briscoes face one another in eight-man tag match
Feb 6, 2008 - 04:00 AM


ROH Race to the Top Tournament: Night Two”
July 28, 2007
Edison, N.J.


Rebecca stood in front of the ticket table and said she’d be in the ring later in the show with Brian Danielson and Nigel McGuiness... The ring announcer welcomed the crowd to the show and listed the second-round matches while a referee stood by with the tournament trophy in his hands. The referee noted that the tournament matches have no time limit and added that there must be a winner...

1. El Generico beat Chris Hero (w/Sweet and Sour Inc.) at 10:40 in a second-round tournament match. Generico’s entrance music was great for the opener in that it got the crowd singing and having run right off the bat. Hero didn’t shake hands with Generico. Rather, he shook hands with his stablemates, but pulled away when Bobby Dempsey extended his hand. Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard introduced themselves off-camera as the match got underway. Both wrestlers did a nice job of playing to the crowd in between spots. At 7:30, Hero nailed Generico with a nearfall and followed up with a German suplex for a nice nearfall. At 10:30, Generico had control of the match, but Hero’s stablemates interfered. Hero hit a couple of nice moves that resulted in another nearfall, but Generico caught him in a backslide and scored the pin. Solid opener. The crowd was pleased with the result...

Backstage, Kevin Steen cut a promo for himself and Generico. The duo was barely visible in the middle of an otherwise red screen...

2. Davey Richards beat Pelle Primeau at 4:28 in a second-round tournament match. Before the match, Primeau accidentally broke the top of his “Top of the Class” trophy when he picked it up and it caught underneath the second rope. The crowd serenaded him with “You F’d Up” chants. Richards came out and crushed Primeau’s hand when they did the pre-match shake. The announcers further established Primeau as the underdog and reviewed his history as an ROH training school student. At 4:00, Primeau caught Richards in a small package for a nearfall that excited the crowd. Seconds later, Richards caught him in a kimura and earned the submission win...

More goofy production backstage with Richards cutting a short promo about his match against Generico...

3. Jack Evans beat Brent Albright at 9:42 in a second-round tournament match. No handshake in this one. Jack danced and was greeted with a clothesline from Albright to start the match. A good power vs. flyer match. Albright’s offense looked great against Jack, who showed off his usual repertoire of amazing moves. At 9:00, Albright caught Evans in the Crowbar. Jack eventually reached the ropes, but Albright argued that he’d already tapped out. Jack took advantage of Albright arguing with the ref by catching him with a knee. He followed up with the 630 splash from the top rope and got the pin. Albright kicked out just after the ref counted three, presumably to keep him looking strong in defeat...

Powell’s POV: Should wrestlers who break the code of honor be rewarded by having the referee start the match if they attack an opponent before the bell? It was a cool way to open the match, but it seemed contradictory to what the code is all about. I was surprised to see Albright lose. He was my pick to win the tournament, which mean I probably shouldn’t be surprised that they didn’t go with the obvious choice.

More tricky camera fun with Jack Evans. This time, the center of the camera was a shade of blue, while everything else was red. This looked decent because you don’t have to strain your eyes just to make out who is on camera. Standard promo from Evans, who said he’d be watching the next matchup closely since he’d face the winner later in the show.

4. Claudio Castagnoli pinned Mike Quackenbush at 12:28 in a second-round tournament match. The fan favorites shook hands before the match. The announcers noted that this would be their first singles encounter in ROH. The back and forth exchanges that drew appreciative clapping from the crowd throughout the match. Claudio picked up the win after catching Quack with a European uppercut.

Powell’s POV: Solid action throughout the match with some fun moves, but they rarely got the live crowd beyond the clapping stage. There were a couple of times when it looked more like two guys performing spots as opposed to an actual match.

Backstage, Claudio the camera was almost in black and white mode. Claudio commended Quack, but said he was better...

Rebecca stood in the ring and introduced Nigel McGuiness, who joined her. Then she introduced Bryan Danielson, who came out and announced that he’d remain in the entryway. She explained that the winner of the coin toss would get the first pick in an eight-man draft that would determine the teams in an eight-man tag match with $10,000 going to the winning team. Danielson won the toss and cracked that Nigel must be sick of losing to him at everything they do. Bryan tried to pick the Briscoe brothers. When he was told he could only pick one, he picked Mark. When Nigel picked Jay, Danielson wanted to change picks. They went back and forth briefly. After they split the Briscoes, Danielson picked Jimmy Rave. Rebecca informed him that Rave broke his eardrum the night before and would not be able to wrestle. Larry Sweeney walked out and sold Danielson on Matt Sydal. Nigel selected Delirious and noted that he beat Danielson in their last meeting. Danielson picked Aries, and Nigel capped it off by selecting Roderick Strong. Then they engaged in some corny, forced comedy bits...

Powell’s POV: This was not one of Danielson’s better acting performances. Nigel was solid on the mic, but their material was weak and predictable.

5. El Generico beat Davey Richards at 15:44 in a semi-final tournament match. Richards walked away when the ref called for a handshake. The announcers noted that Richards was the better rested of the two coming into the match. Richards dominated the offense and bullied Generico throughout most of the match. Davey got cockier as the match went on and spent most of his time working over Generico’s left shoulder. Generico came back with a minute of offense around 11 minutes in. Richards took control and hit a superplex from the top rope. He locked in a kimura as the announcers questioned whether he’d go three-for-three in the tournament with the submission hold, but Generico reached the ropes. At 14:30, RIchards landed a tombstone piledriver, but Generico put his foot over the bottom rope. Richards went up top and was caught by Genercio. Richards pushed Generico down and went for a shooting star press, but Generico got his knees up. The masked man followed up with a running boot and then performed a turnbuckle brainbuster for the win. The crowd popped big for the finish and sang afterward. Generico was mindful to continue selling the left shoulder injury throughout and after the match...

Powell’s POV: Richards stood out more than usual in this match because the match was slow paced and he was able to show off his move set during the first 10 minutes. In fact, I was more impressed with his performance in this match than I have been when he wrestles other top guys, as there tends to be so many flashy moves that they all start to run together after a while. I think it’s important for guys like Richards to work matches like this occasionally because it lets them showcase their offensive skills and, in this case, let newer viewers know that Richards is an upper echelon performer for ROH even though he lost in an upset.

Backstage, Generico cut a brief promo and insinuated that he had one win to go...

6. Claudio Castignoli defeated Jack Evans at 9:07 in a semi-final tournament match. Back and forth action throughout the match. Claudio hit the Ricola Bomb for the win. The crowd wasn’t blown away with the result, but I’m not sure they would have popped big had Jack won...

Powell’s POV: I wonder why Gabe Sapolsky didn’t structure the card so that Generico’s match came after Castagnoli’s win over Evans? The crowd already got their Cinderella story in the finals, which may explain why they didn’t seem emotionally invested in the outcome of Claudio vs. Jack. They have been more into that outcome if they looked ahead and believed the winner of Claudio vs. Jack was going to face Richards in the finals. For that matter, they may have been even more surprised by Generico’s win.

Backstage, Claudio cut a promo (blue lighting this time) about winning his match. Evans interrupted, praised Claudio, and asked for a rematch in the future. Claudio accepted and deemed himself No. 1... Backstage (in normal lighting!), Larry Sweeney cut a promo with Chris Hero, Tank Toland, and Bobby Dempsey. They ran down the list of the workout they had planned for Dempsey, who had just the right reaction via his facial expressions. They put him on an exercise bike in the sauna. “Five bucks says he dies,” Hero said to the others. Funny...

7. Erick Stevens defeated B.J. Whitmer and Kevin Steen and Matt Cross and Jigsaw and Hallowicked in a six-man mayhem match at 10:58. This was the equivalent of a consolation match, as the six wrestlers involved all lost opening round matches the day before. The announcers immediately noted that tags were not necessary in this match. At 7:00, Steen moonsaulted off the top rope onto three opponents at ringside. Cross followed up by doing a cartwheel and flipped over the top rope and caught Whitmer in a head-scissors flip (Frankensteiner-like) move that has to be seen to be believed. Amazing. The crowd erupted with an ROH chant. Later, Stevens caught Jigsaw in a powerbomb and scored the pin. After the match, everyone shook hands, but Whitmer showedhis frustration by slamming the ringside table into the barrier.

Powell’s POV: Cross’ huge highspot was so graceful that it didn’t even seem like he was putting himself at risk.

An ad aired for a Full Impact Pro DVD...

8. Bryan Danielson and Austin Aries and Mark Briscoe and Matt Sydal (w/Larry Sweeney) beat Nigel McGuiness and Roderick Strong and Delirious and Jay Briscoe at 20:35 in an eight-man tag match for $10,000. Before the match, Delirious and Strong got into it and had to be separated by their teammates. Strong teased leaving and the crowd was all over him. The Briscoes were both tagged in just five minutes in. The announcers reminded viewers of their last head-to-head encounter at the Fifth Year Festival finale as the live crowd went nuts. They went back and forth for about three minutes and had some really nice exchanges. They traded forearms and then stopped simultaneously and decided to go drink beer. Danielson got upset so they tossed him around. The Briscoes double-teamed everyone who came at them and ultimately cleared the ring before they headed backstage. The crowd applauded them. Good stuff. At 15:00, Delirious backed Aries into the corner and began chopping him. Strong pushed Delirious aside and chopped Aries. Delirious and Strong began fighting and continued until they left the ring and headed backstage, leaving Daniels and Aries and Sydal vs. Nigel. At 20:00, Nigel went for the Tower of London on Sydal, but Aries broke it up and hit the brainbuster. Sydal set up to dive on Nigel, but Danielson shoved him off so that he could dive onto Nigel. Aries shoved Danielson off and hit the 450 splash for the win...

Powell’s POV: It seemed like it would only have been logical to get some prematch comments from the Briscoes about facing one another even though they ended up walking out in mid-match together. Fun match with Danielson’s selfish persona shining through.

Backstage, Sweeney and company let Dempsey out of the sauna. It was a thinner guy with blonde, curly hair. The trio thought they succeeded, but then they found the real Dempsey sitting in the sauna eating chocolate. They locked him back inside and he continued to eat. Funny...

9. Claudio Castagnoli beat El Generico at 18:45 in the tournament final. I’m officially burned out on the “Ole” song after hearing it so many times over the last few hours. The referee showed off the trophy before the match. Generico touched it when the ref brought it his corner. He must not be a hockey fan. The match opened with a “Hey” vs. “Ole” chant exchange that the wrestlers conducted. Claudio got the better of it, so he took a second out to teach Generico his conductor moves. Very funny. Slow-paced action early with Claudio taking the bulk of the offense. The action picked up at 11:00 when Generico made his comeback. He scored a great nearfall at 13:00 and Claudio came back with a pair of his own. At 15:00, Generico hit a great coast to coast dropkick for a nearfall. He followed up with a brainbuster for another two count. Claudio came back with a water slide off the top for a nearfall. The parade of nearfalls continued and drew a “This is awesome” chant from the crowd. In the end, Claudio hit a Ricola bomb for the win.

After the match, Cladio took the trophy and thanked El Generico. They shook hands in the middle of the ring and the crowd sang “Ole” one more time. After Generico left the ring, Claudio thanked ROH and its fans. He talked about leaving everything behind when he moved to the United States and he did it for a moment like this. The crowd chanted his name. “This is Ring of Honor and its truly and honor to stand in this ring holding this trophy.” He held the trophy above his head and then took a bow to close the show...

Final Thoughts: Great performance by Claudio in the finals. At the 10-minute mark, I was concerned that the live crowd wasn’t going to react well if he won. They seemed to be pulling for the Cinderella story. It’s not that they disliked Claudio, but it looked like the crowd would have been letdown somewhat if he went on to win. Both wrestlers did such a good job in the closing minutes that the crowd would have popped equally for either wrestler scoring the pin. Claudio’s post-match promo really put his win over the top and has momentum heading into his match with Morishima.

Overall, this was a fun tournament with some unconventional booking and unexpected finishes. I enjoyed the first night of the tournament and I believe it’s a must see to truly appreciate the final result. There were good twists and turns throughout the tourney. I didn’t think either one of the wrestlers who ended up in the finals would be there the at the end of the first night and I entered the finale expecting the Cinderella finish (although I had my guard up to some extent because Gabe Sapolsky is the type of booker who can make you think you want one thing, give you the opposite, and leave you just as satisfied). Overall, I would give this two-night series an 8.0. A very good tournament and the non-tournament matches were also entertaining.

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