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Project Rewatch - ROH: The Good Shit

ROH Ring of Honor Old School ROH Gabe Sapolsky Summer of Punk Milestone Series ROH vs. CZW

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#181 Laz

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Posted 24 August 2017 - 04:31 PM

I was at DBD V N1. We left during intermission as my (then) girlfriend had a panic attack over a gang shooting that happened a few blocks away. In Roxbury. No shit, eh?

I still never forgave her for making me miss out on the ME as that feud is what kept me a wrestling fan.

#182 supersonic

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Posted 25 August 2017 - 08:55 AM

Manhattan Mayhem II – August 2007

Taped from New York, NY



The less said about the opening promo from the Hangmen Three, the better.  WHO THE FUCK THOUGHT THIS WAS THE RIGHT KICKOFF SEGMENT FOR SUCH A HOT DVD RELEASE?


Mike Quackenbush & Jigsaw vs. Matt Cross & Erick Stevens


Action-packed opener with plenty of dazzling moves.  That’s not the big takeaway though.  That would go to the finish, as Cross failed to appear on time to cut off Quackenbush from breaking a pin, causing Quackenbush to just stand with his thumb up his ass.  No matter how much the company wants them to be, Cross & Stevens are simply not Jack Evans & Roderick Strong. Period.


Rating: less than ***


Jack Evans says he has a mouthpiece now, which is obviously Julius Smokes he’s left off-camera to make his appearance a huge reveal later.  Smokes doing bird noises, as well as this entire premise, gets legitimate LOLZ from me.  Who thought this was gonna draw money?  If Smokes had to be brought back, perhaps even at the risk of seeming as a poor man’s Rottweilers, it should’ve been for the No Remorse Corps.  Since that faction didn’t have strong talkers, he can be their violent, overbearing hype man, turning back heel, having patched things up with Rocky Romero (recall the events at Dedicated) and feeling like he got tossed aside by the company in the company’s PPV era.  It’s so simple: “ROH told the greatest manager of all-time that Homicide’s gone, so there’s no place for me! BULLSHIT! NO REMORSE MOTHAFUCKAS!” In essence, Romero plays the same role of a few years earlier (this time without the deadweight of Ricky Reyes), while Strong would be Homicide, and Davey Richards would be Low Ki.


Glory By Honor VI weekend on November 2 and November 3 in Philly and back here in NYC will be KENTA, Naomichi Marufuji, Takeshi Morishima, and motherfucking Mitsuharu Misawa.


On one hand, it’s Misawa in the States.  On the other hand, he’s looked totally cooked and broken down, similar to Undertaker at WrestleMania XXX and 31. But can Misawa do what Undertaker would do afterward against Brock Lesnar, and have a classic or two to cap off his legacy in his twilight?


Jack Evans vs. Austin Aries vs. Roderick Strong


Smokes gets quite the pop once he’s revealed.  Total goodwill pop stemming from Final Battle 2006 and Respect is Earned.  His promo is grating, revealing the faction name will be the Vulture Squad. Zero buys.


After a decent 10 minutes or so of action, this fell into the sports-entertainment trap, and no matter how well the Manhattan Center audience responded, came straight out of the playbook of the dying days of WCW.  This had a ref bump, generic NRC beatdown, Ruckus introduced as the Vulture Squad’s “chocolate member” (a shame this angle didn’t come 5-10 years later for much superior African-American high-flyers such as Rich Swann, Shane Strickland, Lio Rush, and Cedric Alexander), the Resilience getting involved, a steel chair being used, and instead of the match just being thrown out, Aries won while Evans walked away with Ruckus, seemingly not giving a shit about the result.  This was all over the place and a far cry from the chaos that closed out Midnight Express Reunion.  Why is anyone supposed to be invested in any of this like they were with the Embassy vs. Generation Next and ROH vs. CZW?  Terrible angle to ruin what could’ve been a show-stealing match, with no lasting value whatsoever, serving as nothing more than short-term junk candy.  GIVE ME SOME ACTUAL NOURISHMENT, DAMMIT.


Rating: less than ***


Jimmy Jacobs says he has a new purpose and it’ll soon be revealed.  Project 161 couldn’t be more obvious for him at least.


Aries cuts another quality heated promo.  Too bad it’s for an angle that lacks any cohesion.


Chris Hero vs. Claudio Castagnoli


Good match but nothing special – the best description for these two as opponents would be to call them the underground Edge vs. Christian; they’re just simply far more special teaming together.


The dueling chants couldn’t cause this match to elevate its drama, with this feeling like a forgettable weekly TV main event instead of a marquee match on a card bestowing itself as the sequel to one of the most shaft-hardening start-to-finish shows in wrestling history.  Hopefully the fact that there was never a series of dramatic counters and near-falls means that this is the end of the program as Castagnoli eluded to in his post-match promo, having finished Hero off with just one Ricola Bomb.  Better yet, FUCKING PAIR THEM BACK UP AND LET THEM BE MIDNIGHT EXPRESS AND LARRY SWEENEY CAN BE THEIR JIM CORNETTE.


Rating: ***1/4


ROH Title Match
Takeshi Morishima vs. Bryan Danielson



Danielson’s strategy in this one, right from the get-go, wasn’t just refreshing, but also effective, and perhaps there was a long-term story for nobody else to do this beforehand so that’d be so special and impactful on this night, and in this match: relentlessly target the champ’s left leg.


The challenger’s early dominance was really brilliant here, throwing Morishima off and keeping him off balance, even driving him into a corner to get some forearm shots in.  Never before had Morishima been challenged in this manner, and it proved Danielson’s brilliance.  Nice touch also in Danielson displaying athletic swagger just like he did against Samoa Joe at Midnight Express Reunion.


After that cornering, Morishima finally picked up on Danielson’s strategy, blocking a kick and just driving the champion into a corner to deliver plenty of receipts.  Unfortunately, Danielson suffered a left eye injury at this point, which would turn out to be a retina injury that as of April 2009 in Houston, had not fully healed and very likely never will.  While the match quality was in no way downgraded due to the injury, it’s quite obvious that the match should’ve been stopped immediately, customer satisfaction and DVD business be damned.


Here was Danielson just 364 days after suffering his right shoulder injury against Colt Cabana, and this time putting on an equally admirable performance.  Had this event not already been titled beforehand, this likely would’ve become officially known as Gut Check II.  Even as Morishima dominated him on the outside, Danielson found the necessary aggression to cut him off, driving the champion into the front row, AND WITH HIS LEFT RETINA FRESHLY INJURED, taking a springboard dive into the audience, just like he had foolishly done 364 days earlier with a freshly injured right shoulder.


Danielson’s injury explains his failure to have scouted Morishima’s perfectly timed standing lariat while running the ropes, and the crowd reaction to that lariat was awesome.  But Danielson still managed to avoid more of the champion’s trademark blows, kicking Morishima’s left leg again when he attempted a hip attack.  He went for some great submission work, which slowed the champion when he’d make a comeback.  This allowed Danielson to block Morishima’s Shotgun Missile Dropkick attempt; even as he got thrown off, he sidestepped the second attempt as the champ had delayed it due to his left leg pain.


The follow-up Stepover Toehold from Danielson was also awesome, allowing him to just moments later counter a cut off a strike exchange with a sudden Half Crab.  In what had to be improvised storytelling, Morishima broke out of it by just kicking Danielson’s left side of the face.  But once again, Morishima was slow to move around, allowing the challenge to block a backdrop driver attempt and go for an EXCELLENT near-fall via the Small Package!  What a sensational reaction for that false finish.


These two also channeled something that’d seem likelier in a Joe vs. AJ Styles match, as Danielson ducked a lariat and hit a gorgeous German Suplex with a bridge pin for a near-fall!  Had Danielson ever gotten to face Brock Lesnar, I wonder if this spot would’ve been approved as an homage and storytelling strategy.  Danielson wasted no time going for the elbows to the head, but Morishima resiliently got up. 


However, Morishima couldn’t actually make a comeback, collapsing on his left leg to a sensational reaction.  This right here is my pick for the highlight of the match.  Why is that?  Because it was brilliantly safe way to tell a simple story that displayed Morishima’s vulnerability, Danielson’s technical excellence, and got over just tremendously, once against showing Danielson being one of the most psychologically cream-of-the-crop performers in the history of the business.


Danielson then followed that up with stomps to the face, but made the mistake of not just doing them until referee Paul Turner would throw the match out in his favor.  Perhaps the eye injury explains that as well as some fatigue as this was more than 15 minutes into this work of art.  Instead, Danielson went for the Cattle Mutilation, and once Morishima reached the ropes there dueling chants again.


Danielson made an even bigger mistake going for a Super Backdrop Suplex, which was countered with a crossbody by Morishima.  Danielson didn’t have enough left, his fighting spirit immediately cut off by the champion and getting beat to the punch with a monstrous lariat, followed by the backdrop driver for the finish.  And what an incredibly crazy idea: Morishima has to hit his finisher just once to get the victory.


In the post-match, Danielson disagrees with crowd telling him that he’s the best in the world, saying the ROH Champion is the best in the world, and gets thanked for his outstanding effort.


The one blemish: Morishima doing nothing when they were on the outside as Danielson set his leg up on a barricade.  There should’ve been some kind of struggle and that’d have made this a perfect match, one to truly measure up to the Jimmy Jacobs vs. BJ Whitmer feud-ending cage match and the Briscoes vs. Motor City Machine Guns for the company’s match of the year.  It’s a shame those 2 matches weren’t pimped as hard as this one was to Dave Meltzer.


With that said, this was an otherwise phenomenal match with layered storytelling, living up to everyone’s hype that had been building ever since Morishima had dethroned Homicide 6 months earlier.  Once again, Danielson gets credited with the best match of a colleague’s career, while further cementing his own legacy in more ways than one.  While not my pick, this was a VERY worthy choice by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter readers as the 2007 Match of the Year, and one has to wonder a decade later if ROH will ever come close to contending for that award ever again.


Rating: ****3/4


Larry Sweeney rants about Claudio Castagnoli, saying this program isn’t done.  Why wasn’t Gabe Sapolsky fired at this point?


Tag Titles – 2/3 Falls Match
Briscoe Bros. vs. Kevin Steen & El Generico


While this definitely shouldn’t have been the closing match over Morishima vs. Danielson, especially with the Briscoes again getting a clean sweep instead of having the historic pop of here of that streak being broken, this was an excellent main event for sure.  Perhaps the reason for this closing the show was the post-match angle of Steen faking respect and then using a ladder once the Briscoes were down after being kicked in the nuts.  Get that last moment to be all about building up the company’s first-ever ladder match coming up on the next PPV.


Like the night before, this started as a really good outside brawl, but this time the in-ring portions were great, complete with respect to tag legalities.  The first fall didn’t have huge drama, but the second one sure did and there were some memorable highlights, the big one being that as Generico basked in the glory on the apron after hitting Jay with a through-the-ropes Tornado DDT, Mark seized the opportunity to surprise him with a sudden jump over the ropes to hit a Head-Scissors off the apron to the floor!


Steen was his usually tremendous heel self, although this lacked the major hot tag (along with the mentioned booking flaw) to have made this the classic it deserved to be.  It was a huge deal when Steen kicked out of the Springboard Doomsday Device, showing the company definitely saw him as a top singles star at some point.  It was no surprise that when Generico was out due to a Beal to the outside that Steen tried going at it alone, but he got his comeuppance.  That it took both of the individual Briscoes’ consecutive finishers to end this also said a lot, perhaps a compromise for not breaking the clean sweep streak gimmick.  Definitely looking forward to the obvious feud-ending ladder match, although in light of the absolute Hell that took place 2 months before this, there are some obvious reservations to what these four men will do in that environment.


Rating: ****


In no way was this show deserving of its sequel name, as it was quite dreadful until the double main event.  But the double main event was fucking excellent, including what was voted as the Match of the Year.  For show completionists, this is recommended.  For just quality match collectors, watch the Observer MOTY for free on YouTube and buy the Since Day One compilation for the 2/3 falls match.


And good Lord, why wasn’t Sapolsky fired by now?  Hangmen Three?  Not moving on from the Sweet & Sour vs. Castagnoli program?  Vulture Squad formation?  Go-nowhere sports-entertainment trash that would make Vince Russo proud to ruin a dream three-way?


Up next – Motor City Madness 2007
Matches will include:
El Generico vs. Naomichi Marufuji
Takeshi Morishima vs. Erick Stevens

Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: ROH, Ring of Honor, Old School ROH, Gabe Sapolsky, Summer of Punk, Milestone Series, ROH vs. CZW

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