1/16 Powell's "ROH Rising Above 2009" PPV review: Nigel McGuinness vs. Bryan Danielson for the ROH Title, El Generico and Kevin Steen vs. The Briscoes for the ROH Tag Titles, Jimmy Jacobs vs. Austin Aries in an "I Quit" match
Taped November 22 in Chicago Ridge, Ill.
Debuted on PPV on January 16, 2009
Powell's POV: For those of you who would rather avoid the spoilers below and just get a recommendation, I definitely endorse this show. The first hour is forgettable, but the second hour is fantastic and features two excellent matches. Either one of those matches are worth the asking price. Having said that, here come the spoilers.
The show opened with a shot of Dave Prazak standing in the ring and welcoming viewers to Chicago and Ring of Honor... An ROH pay-per-view montage aired with the "Rising Above" graphic at the end...
The Briscoes stood in the ring and said it was only one year ago that they owned Kevin Steen and El Generico. Jay challenged them to be fighting champions and face he and his brother. Lenny Leonard explained that it was one year ago that the Briscoes defeated Steen and Generico in a ladder war on the "Man Up" pay-per-view.
Steen and Generico entered the ring. Steen took the mic and said they'd love to beat the Briscoes again, but Mark could barely walk because of an injury. He said they wouldn't gain anything from beating them, but they would still give them a title match if that's what they wanted.
1. El Generico and Kevin Steen defeated Jay and Mark Briscoe to retain the ROH Tag Titles in 6:40. Steen started to put over his opponents and said they had nothing to prove, but the Briscoes attacked them. Lenny Leonard chimed in on commentary and joined Prazak in discussing the knee injury that Mark suffered the night before.
At 6:13, Steen hit a frogsplash for a believable nearfall that had the fans counting along with the referee. A short time later, Steen hit the package piledriver and scored the pin. After the match, the two teams continued to fight until multiple referees and wrestlers ran to pull them apart. The announcers stressed that the Briscoes' pay-per-view winning streak was finished...
Powell's POV: Well, that was a letdown. Good action while it lasted, but a first time viewer would just assume that tag team wrestling is as meaningless in ROH as it is in WWE. Obviously, that's not the case, but I expected more from these teams. The injury didn't help, but that was still very forgettable and a big letdown. Meanwhile, the production upgrades are solid. The video and especially the audio is still far from state of the art, but the product looks visually better now than it has in the past.
Prazak interviewed Claudio Castagnoli backstage. He said he proved how unstoppable he is when he "stomped Bryan Danielson's head in"...
As Sara Del Rey made her entrance, a pre-taped promo with her and Larry Sweeney aired in the corner of the screen. Sara was in goth mode (or something) and Sweeney cut a generic promo...
2. MsChif defeated Sara Del Rey (w/Larry Sweeney) to retain the SHIMMER Title in 9:15. The announcers followed up Sweeney's hype by noting that this was the first time that the SHIMMER Title was defended on ROH pay-per-view. MsChif tried to spray green mist, but Del Rey avoided it. After some very impressive back and forth action, MsChif hit the Desecrator for the win.
Powell's POV: Very good work. Both women can really go in the ring, but they need to improve their looks. I'm not sure what Del Rey was going for before the match, but by casual wrestling fan brother walked into the room, took one look at her ring entrance, and asked, "What the f--- kind of wrestling is this?" Ouch. MsChif's green hair and pale skin gave her an indy look. I don't like being critical of the appearances of female wrestlers and I'm not saying they should all look like WWE Divas, but I think both women could go further in the business with some minor alterations.
Backstage, Jimmy Jacobs, who was sporting a Mike Knox starter beard, cut a promo while Tyler Black stood behind him. Jacobs said he and Black have a plan that insures there's no way he'll quit in his match against Austin Aries...
A Necro Butcher video aired...
Powell's POV: Short, yet effective video that established the basics of Butcher's character and that he's fighting for his family...
3. Claudio Castagnoli defeated Alex Payne and Sami Callahan and Silas Young in a four corners survival match in 9:15. Nigel McGuinness sat in on commentary and heeled it up. Surprisingly, Prazak agreed with him more often than not, so it looks like he'll be playing the heel commentator role. Late in the match, Young hit a moonsault on Payne, but not before Claudio tagged himself into the match. Payne fought off Claudio and hit a bulldog that popped the crowd. He went for a fisherman's buster, but Claudio caught him with a European uppercut. Claudio hit the Ricola Bomb for the win.
After the match, Claudio stacked chairs on top of Payne while Nigel encouraged it on commentary. Bryan Danielson ran out and scared off Claudio before he could stomp the chairs...
Powell's POV: Kind of a throwaway match for pay-per-view. Payne stood out and the crowd got behind him as the underdog, but they could have accomplished the same thing by with him and Claudio in a singles match. It's a shame that Danielson doesn't even try to look like a star. He came out wearing a powder blue t-shirt and gray pants, which made him look like he just got off the couch from a nap. Look the part, dude.
4. Chris Hero, Davey Richards, and Go Shiozaki (w/Larry Sweeney, Bobby Dempsey) defeated Brent Albright, Roderick Strong, and Ace Steel in 15:20. They went right into the match with a hard cut. There was a lot of random spots with everyone in the ring at the same time, but things settled down late with a nice series between Strong and Richards. Strong got the better of the exchange applied the Boston Crab. Richards tapped, but Sweeney distracted the ref while Hero hit Strong with a chair to set up Richards with the pin.
Powell's POV: Good work by everyone involved, but it all felt very random. Nothing really stood out until the end. We're nearly an hour into the show and nothing particularly memorable has taken place. I'm sure business will pick up in the second hour.
A video recapped the Aries, Jacobs, and Lacey love triangle, and the intense feud between Aries and Jacobs...
5. Austin Aries defeated Jimmy Jacobs (w/Tyler Black) in an "I Quit" match in 25:00. Before the match, Aries took the mic and said he wasn't surprised that Jacobs had Black watch his back. He said there was speculation over who Aries would have in his corner, but he didn't want anyone to throw in the towel for him if he was taking too much punishment. Aries refereed to Black as the flavor of the month and told him to stay out of their business. Nice line.
Jacobs brought a dog collar chain into the ring. He wrapped it around his fist and punched Aries with it. Aries bled heavily while Jacobs continued to work him over. The referee put the mic in his face and asked if he wanted to quit, but Aries said no a few different times.
Later, Jacobs set up Aries on a chair in the middle of the ring and wrapped the chain around his neck. The ref asked again. "Never," Aries replied. Black handed Jacobs a chair. He wound up to strike the defenseless Aries, who was still wrapped in a chair, but he was stopped in his tracks when Lacey showed out of the blue. She brought a towel with her and teased throwing it to spare Aries. Jacobs urged her to do it. When she didn't do it, he teased striking Aries with a spike to the throat.
Lace still refused to throw in the towel. Jacobs grabbed her by the hair. She struck him and broke free, then headed to ringside and pounded on the mat to cheer on Aries. Austin got loose and made his comeback. He hit a lighting fast suicide dive at ringside and then dragged Jacobs back inside the ring to hit a brainbuster on a chair.
Aries wrapped the chain around his fist. "We want blood," chanted the fans. Aries struck Jacobs with the chain and granted the crowd's wish, as Jacobs came up bleeding heavily. Aries tied up Jacobs with a chain in the corner. The referee asked Jacobs if he wanted to quit, but Aries wouldn't let him answer. This went on a couple more times. Aries took the mic and said, "Maybe you didn't hear me, Todd (referee), I said no."
Aries continued his attack. "Jimmy, do you quit?" Aries asked. He put the mic in Jacobs' face and then pulled it back. "No, no, no," Aries said. Aries set up Jacobs on a table at ringside and placed a chair across his chest. Aries climbed the top rope, but Jacobs threw the chair at him. Jacobs met Aries on the top rope and they fought until they both crashed through the table at ringside. The ref asked them if they quit and both men refused.
Back in the center of the ring, they traded punches. Aries got the better of the punching, but Aries caught him with a low kick and locked in a couple of submission moves, including Aries' own move, but Austin wouldn't quit. Jacobs grabbed the spike and ran toward Aries, but missed. Aries caught him in a couple of submissions and eventually locked in the crossface.
Aries had the spike and wound up to strike Jacobs, who called for Black to throw in the towel. Black climbed onto the ring apron to throw the towel, but Lacey stood up and grabbed it from him. Aries jabbed the spike into Jacobs's head repeatedly until he finally gave up.
After the match, Lacey immediately headed backstage while a dejected Aries watched her leave. Meanwhile, Jacobs bickered with Black. Jacobs shoved Black, who stormed out of the ring and threw his silly looking hat down. "Is this the end of Age of the Fall?" asked on the announcers...
Powell's POV: Damn good match. An intense brawl that told a really nice story. The return of Lacey was a nice tough, and the bit with Jacobs wanting Black to throw in the towel so that he didn't have to say the words "I quit" was great. Best match of the show so far and it's not even close. Great blowoff to their intense feud and they immediately set up Jacobs and Black in a program, or even a three-way program if they want to include Aries. Very nicely done. By the way, no complaints about the looks here. Aries and Jacobs have professional, marketable looks.
A video showcased the Nigel vs. Danielson feud...
6. Nigel McGuinness defeated Bryan Danielson to retain the ROH Title in 28:15. After the ring entrances took place, the two men had an intense staredown that led to them shaking hands. The announcers did a really nice job of recapping the history between the two wrestlers. Nigel controlled the bulk of the offense early on and worked over Danielson's knee with various shots.
At 18:15, Danielson hit a springboard senton onto Nigel at ringside. They fought into the entrance area. Claudio came out and struck Danielson with a chair. The referee, who had been distracted by Nigel, started the 20-count for Danielson to count him out. Alex Payne came out late in the count and revived Danielson. The announcers said he was returning the favor for Danielson saving him from Claudio earlier. Nice spot.
Nigel worked over Danielson while Payne pumped up the crowd by cheering for American Dragon at ringside. Danielson made another comeback, but he continued to clutch his injured knee in pain. At 23:25, Nigel went for the Jawbreaker Lariat, but Danielson caught him in an arm bar and then applied the triangle choke. The live crowd popped big in anticipation of the title change, but Nigel freed himself. However, Danielson caught him in a small package for a great nearfall.
Danielson came back with a crucifix for another good nearfall. Danielson caught Nigel with several elbows to the head, but he ran out of gas. He paused and then caught him with another series of elbows. He went for a pin and the crowd counted along, but Nigel kicked out again. Danielson applied Cattle Mutilation and then turned it into a suplex for yet another nearfall.
Moments later, Nigel hit the Tower of London out of nowhere. Both men struggled to get to their feet. Danielson ran intensely toward Nigel, who greeted him with a great Lariat for a nearfall of his own. Nigel struck Danielson with several elbows. They stood up and Nigel threw a series of punches. Danielson fired up and asked for more. Moments later, Nigel caught Danielson with a headbutt to the back and followed up with a great Lariat and got the pin.
Powell's POV: Great match with some amazing nearfalls at the end. The live crowd was stunned when Nigel retained the title. Some people looked legitimately pissed that the title change didn't take place. I would have liked to have seen some mic work from both guys. I know it's not Danielson's forte, but Nigel definitely could have put the match over. I'll take a Nigel interview over the sometimes hard to follow color commentary. That said, this was a great title match. I also liked the way they're building up Payne as a fun underdog character.
Final Thoughts: The first hour was lousy by ROH standards. I'm fine with them trying to build to the second hour, but they have to do better than that. Nothing about the first hour felt memorable. Fortunately, the second hour of the show was off the charts good. The last two matches were fantastic and they were filled with excellent twists and turns on top of the usual great wrestling.
Despite the first hour, I still give this show an 8.0 score. That's how awesome the last two matches were. The first hour was probably the most disappointing hour of ROH pay-per-view, while the second hour was the best yet.
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