1/18 ROH Undeniable PPV: Nigel vs. Morishima, Age of the Fall shines, Briscoes not allowed in building
Taped October 6, 2007 in Edison, N.J.
Debuted on PPV on January 18, 2008
The show opened with a shot of the frenzied crowd cheering and waving white ROH towels. Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard introduced the show from inside the ring while Claudio Castagnoli paced in the background. They hyped the main event between Takeshi Morishima and Nigel McGuiness and separate locker room shots aired of both wrestlers when the announcers said their names. Very nice touch. The announcers noted Castagnoli and said it was time to bring out Chris Hero to get the show started...
Hero walked out with Larry Sweeney, Bobby Dempsey, and Sara Del Ray. Sweeney came out with a mic and said Hero wouldn’t wrestle unless there was more money on the line. “Let’s get back to the limo, the holdout is on and we’ve got a lot of negotiating to do,” Sweeney said... The ROH opening video played to the tune of the Smashing Pumpkins’ “Doomsday Clock”...
The Age of the Fall stood in the ring. Jimmy Jacobs cut a promo while Lacey, Necro Butcher, and Tyler Black stood behind him. There were some low budget, yet cool video flashes of the group during his promo. He said they’re not a wrestling faction, but a movement. He said they need power to spread their message and with the tag team titles comes power. He said they couldn’t get a tag title shot against the Briscoes until they beat some teams, so he issued an open challenge. The Vulture Squad answered the call...
1. Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black and Necro Butcher (w/Lacey) beat Ruckus and Jack Evans and Jigsaw (w/Julius Smokes) at 5:40. The announcers noted that the Briscoes and the Age of the Fall can’t be in the same building together per ROH management orders. Nonstop action. Late in the match, Black tossed Evans into the guardrail. Black threw him back inside the ring and hoisted him onto his shoulders. Rave performed a back Senton off the top rope, got up and kicked Evans in the face while Black performed a simultaneous side slam. Rave quickly locked in the End Time submission for the win. Rave looked into the camera and said, “It’s just begun”....
Powell’s POV: These guys were given less than six minutes and they crammed a lot into the time they were given. A fun opening match. Jacobs and Lacey are tremendous together. A first-time ROH viewer would be blown away at how cool they come off compared to anything that TNA has done since its inception.
Backstage, Morishima was talking with another Japanese man, who warned that the champion didn’t want any cameras in the locker room. Morishima stood up and threw a chair at the locker next to the camera man... A short Erick Stevens video aired. He said he’s never been the fastest or the strongest. He said he’s always had to work a little harder. He said his first year in ROH is over and he understands how things work as he heads into his second year...
Powell’s POV: Great video. The narration established what Stevens is all about and the video footage made him look great. It took about 30 seconds to get over that he’s young, works hard, and is someone worth keeping an eye on. Fans of the underdog can get behind him because of that video.
Sweet and Sour Inc. stood in the ring. Sweeney said the holdout would continue until ROH officials meet his demands. However, he and officials agreed to terms on the first women’s match on an ROH pay-per-view. A graphic aired that noted Del Rey’s goal to prove she’s the best wrestler. A second graphic noted that Daizee Haze is out to earn respect.
2. Daizee Haze pinned Sara Del Rey (w/Sweeney, Dempsey, Hero) in 3:20. Early in the match, Daize dove off the top rope onto Del Rey and Dempsey at ringside. Later, Daizee landed a heart punch and followed up with a Yakuza kick for a nearfall. Claudio walked out and struck Dempsey with an uppercut. He grabbed Sweeney by the throat. Meanwhile, back in the ring, Haze rolled up Del Rey for the win. Back at ringside, Hero delivered the Hero’s Welcome to Claudio. The heels entered the ring, where Hero slapped Dempsey. The lights went out and Bryan Danielson’s music played. A graphic noted that his goal is “Morishia and the World Title.” Danielson walked out and the heels fled to ringside. Danielson said Sweeney and his group represent everything that is wrong with professional sports. He challenged Hero to enter the ring and prove he’s the best athlete. A graphic noted Hero’s goal is to prove just that.
3. Bryan Danielson beat Chris Hero (w/Larry Sweeney) via referee stoppage at 10:20. Hero took a slight advantage early and played to the crowd. Funny. A few minutes later, he performed a handstand and danced around the ring. Danielson responded by taking him down and locking him in a surfboard. Later, Hero rolled out of Cattle Mutilation and came back with a cool suplex slam (not even sure what to call it) for a good nearfall. Hero played to the crowd and left himself open. Danielson took advantage of the match. With Hero on his back, Danielson grabbed both of his arms and kicked him repeatedly to the face until the referee called for the bell.
Powell’s POV: The announcers were wise to mock Hero for his outfit and establish that it’s intentionally over the top and not just cheap indy gear. This was hardly a Danielson classic match, but Hero is always fun because he plays to the crowd so well. Hero was made to look credible against Danielson despite what the ref stoppage might seem to imply. That being said, Dragon came out of the match as strong as ever. A cool finish. Given the popularity of UFC, I’m surprised that WWE and TNA have yet to incorporate more ref stoppages into their match finishes.
An video aired for the ROH website. The Pumpkins song played while footage aired of Samoa Joe, C.M. Punk, Mick Foley, Jeff Hardy, Bruno Sammartino, Awesome Kong, and Homicide along with current ROH wrestlers...
Powell’s POV: It’s always good to let new viewers see that so many big names have appeared in ROH. It makes the company look bigger and sells DVDs all at the same time.
Adam Pearce (a graphic noted that his goal is to lead TH3 to the top) stood in the ring next to a chair and called for Kevin Steen to come out. A graphic noted that Steen’s goal is to “hurt people.” He said the Hangmen Three operate on violence, brutality, and ruthlessness. Pearce offered Steen a chance to join the Hangmen Three and went so far as to offer to change the name to the Hangmen Four. B.J. Whitmer and Brent Albright, wearing black hoods, dragged El Generico to the ring while Shane Hagadorn followed along. They brought him inside the ring and held him by the arms while Pearce channeled the Emperor from Star Wars by telling Steen to let the dark side in him come out. “Strike him down.” Steen looked at Generico and made a fist, but he turned and struck Pearce. H3 ganged up on Steen and Generico until Delirious ran out to make the save. Once H3 was cleared from the ring, Steen said he’s the only one who gets to have fun slapping Generico around. Delirious dove onto the H3 members at ringside. “It looks like we’ve got ourselves a six-man tag!” Steen yelled...
Powell’s POV: Good angle with strong mic work from Pearce and good facial expressions from Steen. Plus, you gotta love the tribute to Star Wars! By the way, Whitmer debuted a new short, blonde, haircut. His hair is now a cross between Mr. Kennedy and Dean Douglas. Nice look. It was time for a change, although his old look was probably more in line with the Hangmen gimmick.
4. Adam Pearce & B.J. Whitmer & Brent Albright (w/Shane Hagadorn) beat Kevin Steen & El Generico & Delirious in about 8:00. At 4:00, Albright picked up Delirios in a vertical suplex position and did a few squats Impressive. After some great nonstop action, Delirious caught Pearce in the corner and started biting his ear. Albright caught him from behind with the half-nelson suplex for the win...
Powell’s POV: Really fun match based both on action and the various personalities. The Hangmen gimmick has potential. They would seem more like a unit if they wore the same colors. Hey, how about matching waiter outfit? No? OK. Steen and Generico were awesome, as usual.
Backstage, Nigel laced up his boots and spoke in a quiet, matter of fact voice as he pointed out that he was in another dumpy locker room. He said that didn’t matter because “for some of us it’s not about being a TV star, it’s not about making a million dollars, it’s about a love for professional wrestling.” He said he’s been in a lot of dumpy locker rooms and has paid his dues. He said he still feels like that 15 year-old kid who sat at Wembley Stadium and dreamt of being a pro wrestler. He said he’s also the guy who headbutts people and makes them bleed and lariats people and knocks them out. He said winning the ROH Title would mean that the dream came true for the 15 year-old kid who sat in Wembley Stadium...
Powell’s POV: This is the best promo I’ve seen in a long time. Younger wrestlers should take note. McGuiness didn’t scream or threaten to kill anyone. He told a story and set the tone for his match while speaking in his normal voice and without delivering a single catchphrase. Awesome. How can you not root for the guy after that?
Highlights aired from the Fifth Year Festival of Roderick Strong turning on Austin Aries... The announcers did a great job of recapping the history between Aries and Strong during their ring entrances. The graphics for both wrestlers noted that their goal was to prove they are better than the other...
Powell’s POV: I like the idea of listing a goal for each wrestler, but the graphic logos they used for each wrestler look very low budget. The announcers did a good job of setting the tone for the next match, but in a perfect world (or if this were a longer show) we would have heard from both wrestlers.
5. Austin Aries defeated Roderick Strong in a grudge match in 21:00. Before the match, the announcers took turns asking who would win the match. They both declared it a tossup. This felt a little forced because it’s not like they ask pick winners very often. That being so, the announcing was especially strong during this match as they reminded viewers repeatedly that this match was extremely personal due to their history as a tag team. At 9:00, Aries punched Strong 10 times in the corner while the crowd chanted along. He yelled, “Come on” to fire up the crowd, but Strong responded by dumping him over the top rope in an unexpected move. At 12:00, they did a series of moves that resulted in each wrestler countering the other and the announcers noted that they were able to do so because they know each other so well. Two minutes later, Strong picked up Aries while standing on the second rope and dropped him back first over the turnbuckle, which drew gasps from the crowd. Strong set up a table between the ring and the guardrail. Back in the ring, Strong picked up Aries in a crucifix position and ran toward the table, but Aries slipped out. At 19:00, Strong hit the gutbuster and followed up with a powerbomb for a nearfall. Strong showed frustration. Aries came back and drove Strong through the table that was set up earlier with a brainbuster. Aries dragged Strong into the ring and performed a 450 splash for the win. The announcers noted that Aries was the No. 1 contender...
Powell’s POV: This was a really good match with several believable nearfalls and a great finish with the table. My only criticism is that the wrestlers didn’t convince me as a viewer that this match was as important to them as the announcers claimed. They both worked their asses off and that might have been enough if everyone else on the show wasn’t working just as hard. Strong showed a little frustration after one nearfall, but he could have done more with his facial expressions and mannerisms to sell how badly he wanted to pin Aries. Likewise, Aries could have shown more emotion after being his former partner. Don’t get me wrong, though, this was still a very good 20-minute match.
6. The Briscoes defeated Rocky Romero and Davey Richards in 18:19 to retain the ROH Tag Titles. The announcers reminded viewers that this match was being held in Columbus, Oh. because ROH officials didn’t want the Briscoes and Age of the Fall in the same building. Romero and Richards were out to prove that the No Remorse Corps is the best faction, according to their graphic. This was a typical, wild Briscoes tag match. At 13:00, Mark picked up Romero for a powerbomb and Jay ran in from the outside and performed a neckbreaker at the same time for a great nearfall. A few minutes later, Romero caught Jay in an armbar and the crowd broke out in a “Please don’t tap” chant before Briscoe reached the ropes. In the end, the Briscoes hit a springboard Doomsday Device on Romero for the win. After the match, quick clips aired on the television screen of the Age of the Fall while the Briscoes celebrated the win. Great match...
7. Nigel McGuiness pinned Takeshi Morishima to win the ROH Title at 14:24. The action shifted back to New Jersey for the main event. Both wrestlers shook hands before teh match. Morishima came out strong and dominated the offense. The announcers noted that McGuiness weathered the early storm when he snuck in his first series of offensive moves several minutes into the match. Later, Nigel superplexed Morishima for a nearfall. The crowd was going nuts in support of McGuiness throughout the match. They popped huge for a nearfall later when Morishima kicked out at the last possible moment following a jawbreaker lariat. Later, Nigel hit another lariat and went for a cover, but Morishima kicked out at one, popped back to his feet, and shook his head no. Nigel charged off the ropes and ran into the hip attack. He went back to the ropes and hit another jawbreaker lariat for the win.
After the match, a group of wrestlers poured out of the locker room to celebrate the win with Nigel. Bryan Danielson was among them. He bickered with Nigel while the ring announcer declared McGuines the winner. Aries got between them. Danielson pie-faced Aries and then McGuiness before leaving the ring. The celebration picked right back up while Morishima stood with his face down in the corner of the ring. The referee went to present Nigel with the title belt, but Morishima stopped him and took the title. He walked over and handed the belt to Nigel and bowed. Nigel bowed in return. They took turns raising each other’s arms. The crowd chanted, “Thank you, Shima.” Aries shook Nigel’s hand and raised his arm as the announcers noted that Austin is the No. 1 contender. The announcers invited fans to join them again on pay-per-view in March...
Final Thoughts: Another great pay-per-view from ROH. It’s amazing that they managed to pack so much into just two hours. ROH is in a great place right now. The in-ring product is awesome and the booking is as good as ever. One of the many differences between ROH, WWE, and especially TNA these days is that every wrestler that appeared on this show was over with the crowd. No one is overpushed or miscast, and there are no ridiculous gimmicks or campy comedy skits that makes one embarrassed to be a wrestling fan. The overall ROH product feels much more mainstream friendly right now, yet they’ve made small changes seamlessly enough that they haven’t upset the fan base. They did a good job of not overwhelming first-time viewers who may not have the patience to sit through a full show of 20-minute matches. The first hour was filled with shorter matches, although some of the motivation for keeping those matches shorter may have been to fit as many wrestlers on the show as possible. Overall, I would give this event an 8.5 rating and I would strongly recommend it to any wrestling fan. At $14.95 on pay-per-view, this show was a steal.
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