3/7 ROH “Rising Above” PPV: Nigel McGuinness vs. Austin Aries, Bryan Danielson vs. Takeshi Morishima
Taped Dec. 29 in New York, N.Y.
Debuted on PPV on March 7, 2008
Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard introduced the show just off the main floor. They pointed out that the Hangmen 3 were in the ring behind them, but said they didn’t know why. Leonard said they had cameras positioned all around the backstage area...
One of the cameras showed Kevin Steen and El Generico. Steen said there’s nothing glamorous about the ROH locker room except Generico’s cape. They were interrupted by the sound of Adam Pearce’s voice...
In the ring, Pearce cut a promo while Brent Albright stood by with his black hood on. Pearce recalled Delirious trying to bite his ear off on the last show, as video footage aired of that incident aired. Pearce introduced Albright, who pulled off his hood to reveal Delerious’s mask... The opening montage aired. It was set to a speed metal song and showed quick clips from ROH matches. Good montage...
1. Delirious defeated Brent Albright (w/Adam Pearce) at 6:03. Delirious interrupted the Pearce promo, spat mist in his face, and cleared him from the ring. The ref ran out and called for the bell to start the match. Delerious quickly removed the mask from Albright’s head. Albright whipped Delirious around with some impressive suplexes early. In the end, Albright went for a bodyslam, but Delirious held on and rolled him up for the pin.
Powell’s POV: Delirious debuted new black and red colors and it was good to see him freshen up his look. The match was good while it lasted.
After the match, Pearce, B.J. Whitmer, and Shane Hagadorn ran in and attacked Delirious until Steen and Generico made the save. They brawled to ringside while the Age of the Fall entered the ring.
Jimmy Jacobs took the mic while Necro Butcher, Tyler Black, and Lacey stood by. Jacobs said they were there to beat down every tag team in ROH because the belts mean power and ROH is the platform for their revolution. The crowd booed Jacobs. He said it was just like New Yorkers to conform.
The squawking of the Vulture Squad interrupted Jacobs. Julius Smokes led Jack Evans, Ruckus, and Jigsaw to the ring, causing the Age of the Fall to move their revolution to ringside. Smokes leaned down to address them and said he wanted a four-way scramble match. Jigsaw dove over Smokes and onto the Age of the Fall at ringside...
2. Kevin Steen and El Generico defeated Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black, Jack Evans, and Ruckus, and Adam Pearce and B.J. Whitmer in a four-way scramble match at 7:10. For the second straight match, a referee ran out and started the match in ECW style. The announcers quickly explained the rules of a tag team scramble match. In the end, Generico DDT’d Black, Steen followed up with a piledriver, Generico hit the Brainbuster, and Steen made the cover and got the win...
Powell’s POV: A wild spot-fest. Nonstop action. Very good if that’s what you’re looking for. We’re 20 minutes into the show and we’ve already seen 16 performers. A new viewer can’t possibly keep up. We got a taste of what Jacobs is about, but just about everything else has been chaos and commotion.
Backstage, the Briscoes stood in front of the camera with black hoods and skull face masks. Cool look. They vowed to successfully defend their titles, improve their record to 5-0 on pay-per-view, and then go after the Age of the Fall. Highlights aired of the Age of the Fall’s infamous attack on the Briscoes as they spoke...
3. Daize Haze beat Sara Del Rey and Lacey at 9:59. The cut straight from the Briscoes interview to the start of this match. A shot aired of Tammy Sytch watching the match intently at the timekeeper’s table. Late in the match, Haze missed Lacey, but struck Del Rey with a yakuza kick and knocked her off the apron to ringside. Moments later, Haze hit the Mind Trip on Lacey for the win. The announcers noted that she’s 2-0 on ROH pay-per-view...
Just second after the last match concluded, they cut to an ad aired for ROHwrestling.com...
Powell’s POV: Good match. There were two spots that involved Del Rey locking both of her opponents in simultaneous submission moves. They looked a little shaky, but the crowd popped both times. I don’t care for these fast cuts in and out of the matches.
4. Davey Richards beat Erick Stevens via submission at 8:40. A small box in the lower left corner of the screen showed Stevens making his entrance, while the rest of the screen showed footage of the No Remorse Corps intentionally injuring Stevens’ arm on a past show. At 5:30, a shot aired of Daniel Puder standing up at ringside. The announcers pointed him out right away.
Later, Stevens was distracted and began jawing with Puder, who was with a stunning brunette. Richards took advantage of the situation by hitting a missile dropkick on Stevens. Davey followed up with a kimura for the submission win. Afterward, Stevens took the mic and accused Puder of disrespecting him by making a spectacle of himself. The crowd chanted, “You can’t wrestle” at Puder.
Larry Sweeney and Sara Del Rey approached Puder from behind. Sweeney put him over and asked if he was interested in accompanying Sara backstage to watch the show on a private monitor. Puder accepted and the brunette went with him, although the announcers never acknowledged her...
Powell’s POV: Stevens looked a little silly for getting distracted during a match and then pissing and moaning about it afterward. Then again, they do build him up as a rookie, so I suppose it’s only natural for him to make rookie mistakes. The match was the best of the show thus far. Good power moves from Stevens, and Richards is always rock solid. Stevens is developing nicely. He’s physically impressive and I dig the way they’ve played up the fact that he’s a rookie and increased his push at roughly the same pace as his in-ring skills has improved. Puder looked like a star. He dressed the part and having that knockout brunette didn’t hurt.
Sweeney stuck around and said he was going to take control of Claudio Castagnoli’s contract and then sell him up the river to “Vince” just like he did with Matt Sydal. Castagnoli ran out and chased Sweeney into the ring. Tank Toland and Bobby Dempsey made the save. Castagnoli fought off the two heels, but Hero came out and attacked him from behind to start the match.
5. Claudio Castagnoli beat Chris Hero (w/Sweet and Sour Inc.). Prazak explained that the only way Castagnoli could get his hands on Hero was to agree to Sweeney’s stipulation about the contract. Plenty of clowning around and playing to the crowd by Hero during the opening minutes. In the end, Hero caught Castagnoli in a submission while lying on his back. Claudio stood up and hit the Ricola Bomb for the win.
Powell’s POV: The announcers tried hard, but the contract stipulation just didn’t feel important. It needed a promo from Claudio to put over why he agreed to the stipulation and what would happen if he lost. An enjoyable match and a good finish. Hero’s antics never get old. My new favorite match of the show.
A split-screen shot aired of Age of the Fall and the Briscoe Brothes. Jacobs cut another promo about the revolution while the Briscoes prepared for their match. The Briscoe side of the screen gave way to a full screen shot of the Age of the Fall. Jacobs continued his rant and the others chimed in with quick lines. Black hyped the the Age of the Fall website...
6. Brian Danielson beat Takeshi Morishima by DQ in 8:15. Finally, ring entrances. Well, at least one. Morishima came out and then he attacked Danielson in the aisle. Morishima slammed a table onto Danielson’s head at ringside. Danielson bled heavily before he even entered the ring. He struggled during the opening minutes, but eventually fought back. A good, stiff, back and forth match. Things got heated near the end when Morishima kicked Danielson low. With Danielson lying on his back, Morishima spread his legs and kicked him in the groin repeatedly, as the announcers explained that Danielson did this to Morishima in a previous encounter.
The referee tried to step in. Morishima shoved the ref to the mat for the DQ. ROH officials and others people ran in to stop Morishima, who responded by backdropping a second official. Danielson grabbed the hammer from the timekeepers table and drove the handle into Morishima’s eye until he was pulled off.
Powell’s POV: I’m fine with the finish because we rarely see DQs in ROH and it left me wanting more. The pull apart brawl was very well done and one must assume that we’ll see a rematch on the next ROH show.
Backstage, Albright tried to rally the Hangmen to go after the Vulture Squad. “Let’s go get ‘em,” he said. A split shot aired of the Vulture Squad hanging out in their locker room. Pearce held up his stable mates, thought about it, and said, “Yeah, let’s.” The Hangment left their locker room and the camera cut to a full-screen shot of the Vulture Squad locker room...
7. The Briscoes vs. Rocky Romero and Roderick Strong two falls to won to retain the ROH Tag Titles. After 11 minutes of really good action, Strong picked up Jay and placed him on his shoulders, and Romero hit him with a knee off the top. Strong followed up with the Gibson driver for the pin. The announcers put over the fact that the Briscoes streak was over. However, the action picked right back up and the announcers went back to calling the action.
At 16:30, Mark avoided the Gibson driver and rolled up Strong for the pin to even the falls at one. The two teams met in the center of the ring for a brief stare down and then went right back to the match.
At 19:00, Strong and Jay were battling in the ring. Mark springboarded off the top out of nowhere and hit the Ace Crusher on Strong. Jay covered Strong for a nearfall while Mark crawled over to the other side of the ring and disappeared from camera view. They pulled back a moment later and showed Mark awkwardly rolling Romero out to ringside. The camera may have missed a move. Romero held his jaw at ringside, but looked fine otherwise. The Briscoes landed a Spike Jay-Driller on Strong for the win. It unintentionally came across like Romero could have something to break up the pin.
Powell’s POV: The crowd was chanting “two straight falls” before the last match, so they were definitely surprised to see the Briscoes lose the first fall. Wild action. It always amazes me that the Briscoes can do all those spots and not blow up.
A four-way shot of the backstage area showed the Age of the Fall doing their thing, the Briscoes returning to the back, the Hangmen roaming the halls, and the Vulture Squad hanging out in their dressing room. It cut to a single shot of a referee standing between Nigel McGuinness and Austin Aries...
8. Nigel McGuinness defeated Austin Aries to retain the ROH Title. Prazak recalled Aries defeating Samoa Joe to begin a six-month title reign in 2005. They noted that Aries had a chance to become the first two-time ROH Champion. Nigel and Aries exchanged a few words and eventually shook hands. Early in the match, they traded slaps and Nigel, who the heel to most of the crowd, bailed to ringside.
McGuiness jawed with fans and stood with his back to the ring. Aries leapt through the ropes and hit him from behind with a tope that drove him hard into the guardrail. Nigel came up with a big gash above his right eye. He looked dazed and Aries looked concerned. The referee raced up and wrapped his arm around Nigel’s head. Aries backed off and then stalled by telling Nigel that’s what he gets for not focussing on the match.
The match could have easily ended there given how loopy McGuiness looked in the moments after he bumped his head. Rather, Nigel and Aries went back to work a few seconds later and went on to deliver one hell of a match. One of the highlights occurred when Austin was sitting on the middle of one of the top ropes. Nigel leapt off the corner ropes and drilled him with a clothesline that Aries sold by doing a backflip onto the floor at ringside.
Later, Aries went for a 450 splash as the announcers noted that it was the same move he used to defeat Samoa Joe for the ROH Title. However, Nigel raised his knees. Aries came back with a brainbuster and locked in his submission hold, but Aries reached the ropes. Nigel came back and went for the jawbreaker lariat. Aries saw it coming and creamed him with a clothesline for a nearfall that popped the crowd. McGuiness ended up coming back with a jawbreaker lariat and got the pin.
Powell’s POV: It would take me 15 more paragraphs to describe everything that took place from a move-for-move standpoint. Nigel gutted his way through a nasty cut and joined Aries in setting the standard for 2008 match of the year candidates. This match was so good that it will be hard for anything on the WrestleMania show to top it. ROH booker Gave Sapolsky wasn’t just giving a hard sell when he said this was the best pay-per-view match that ROH has offered. Fantastic match.
The four-way camera gimmick led to the various parties meeting in a room and brawling while the speed metal song played...
A close up shot aired of Nigel sitting backstage. It focused on the nasty cut he had over his eye...
Final Thoughts: I was worried about this show 30 minutes in, but the second hour was out of this world. I enjoyed the two previous offerings slightly more than this show, but there is some great action and I wholeheartedly recommend this pay-per-view The final match alone is worth of the $14.95 that my cable company charged.
The in-ring action was strong as always and the live crowd was incredibly passionate. Some fans will absolutely love the opening scramble match because of all the crazy high spots. It was a spot-fest match and there were definitely some entertaining “holy shit” moments. I just didn’t like the way so many people were rushed through the first 20 minutes of the show, and I also disliked the hard cuts in and out of matches.
I realize the goal was to provide as much action as possible in the two-hours they had to work with, but I just didn’t get a feel for many of the personalities during those early minutes. For that matter, some of the matches didn’t seem that important because they cut away from the ring so quickly to move on to whatever was next.
ROH booker Gabe Sapolsky has stated that the company hasn’t picked up as many new viewers as they were hoping for from pay-per-view, so if the strategy was to cater to the existing fan base that is already familiar with the ROH roster, then I have less of a problem with those first 20 minutes.
The four-way camera gimmick was unique. I’m not sure why it took the Hangmen so long to find the Vulture Squad, but I like the overall idea of claiming that there are cameras positioned throughout the backstage area. It was a cool concept that added to the realism in the sense that viewers had a glimpse into some backstage strategy sessions.
The previous shows appealed to me more because they felt more like live events. The choppy aspects of cutting into and out of matches really made this feel like a pre-taped event. Of course, it was and I think most people realize that, but I prefer it when taped shows are presented like live events. I also missed the pre-match focus on the main event that was provided on past shows via interviews and backstage shots of the wrestlers preparing for the matches. That being said, this was yet another strong ROH pay-per-view with great matches and innovative storytelling. Overall, I give the show an 8.0 rating (out of 10).
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