Sunday, April 24, 2011

ROH Honor Takes Center Stage: Chapter One iPPV (4/1/11)

ROH Honor Takes Center Stage: Chapter One iPPV 4/1/11
April 1st, 2011
Center Stage Theatre, Atlanta, Georgia
Attendance: 800+

First of all, sorry this is so late everyone. I had originally meant to review both of the ROH iPPVs from this weekend weeks ago, but I got wrapped up with other things (mainly the UFC 100 Greatest Fights eight disc set) and I ended up being lazy, so here we are 3 weeks later with the review.

This is the first of two shows for ROH taking place Wrestlemania weekend at the famous Center Stage Theatre (which used to host WCW TV tapings back in the 90s) in Atlanta, and even with several other shows running against them they still got a decent turnout here with a little over eight hundred, which is more than enough to make the Center Stage feel like a bigger place. The big matches tonight include Eddie Edwards making his first ROH World title defense against the television champion Christopher Daniels, as well as a tag team title match between the Kings of Wrestling and the World's Greatest Tag Team. We've also got Roderick Strong vs. Davey Richards in a grudge match, so let's dive right in. Fun fact of the night: both CM Punk and Bryan Danielson were in attendance for this show, even though the WWE doesn't officially approve of their employees going to these shows on Wrestlemania weekend. Danielson apparently tried to stay incognito with a large hoodie but Punk apparently just strolled right in and sat down like everyone else.

Your hosts are Kevin Kelly and Dave Prazak

Kevin Kelly and Dave Prazak open the show hyping some of the big matches tonight at ringside while the fans chant "ROH!" and wait for the "official" countdown to the iPPV, which is a minor but cool thing ROH does that I've always liked.

El Generico vs. Michael Elgin

Elgin is one of the better young "rookies" that ROH has introduced this year, he's an average powerhouse with a decent look, but not much more really. No idea why Generico is being wasted in the opener here with this kid. Elgin tries to overpower Generico early, but he's fired up and responds with a flurry of chops and right hands in the corner. Elgin counters a tornado DDT attempt into a spinning tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for an impressive visual, but it only gets a two count. Crowd is hot for Generico as always and Elgin actually gets some decent heat out of them. Elgin works away on Generico's back for a bit but Generico tries to fight back with a series of running clotheslines. Huge hurricanrana off the top from Generico and a Blue Thunder bomb gets him a close two count. Elgin runs right into an exploder suplex that sends him upside down into the corner, but again Elgin gets the shoulder up at two. Elgin blocks a Yakuza kick attempt and then tries for a powerbomb, but Generico backdrops him. He runs right into a Bossman slam from Elgin though for another near fall. Elgin gets sent to the outside floor and Generico tries a cross-body block off the apron, but Elgin catches him only to be run into the barricade anyways by the Generic luchador. Generico slides from one side of the ring to the next into a nifty tornado DDT to the floor and the crowd goes crazy for that one. Innovative stuff from Generico. He sets up for the Yakuza kick again back in the ring but a masked man appears in the corner to grab Generico's foot and hang him up on the top rope while the ref is distracted, giving Elgin the chance to hit a sitout powerbomb for the cheap win at 9:13. Elgin's best match in ROH yet, this was a very good power vs. speed match-up that kept picking up steam until the screwjob finish. The booking does make sense though as you give Elgin a win and set up Generico's next program in one outing. Hot opener. ***

After the match we get some shaky hand-cam footage of Eddie Edwards shocking ROH World title win at the Manhattan Center a few weeks before this show. Great surprise moment that sends out the message that big things still happen on the non i-PPV cards, likely in an attempt to boost attendance ever so slightly.

Homicide vs. Colt Cabana vs. Tommoso Ciampa vs. Caleb Konley

Before the match Truth Martini tells Caleb Konley that this is his one shot at becoming a member of the House of Truth. This is how guys like Cabana should be used these days, to help put over the younger talent. Two men in a ring at a time and tag rules apply here, one fall to a finish. Homicide and Konley start us off with some basic feeling out stuff; lockup, armdrag, headlock, etc. Colt tags in and does some of his trademark European-influenced footwork before hitting the flying ass on Konley for two. Homicide tags in and hits a sloppy overhead belly to belly on Konley. Ciampa, the newest member of the Embassy, tags in next and eats some right hands in the corner from Homicide. He knocks Homicide to the floor, where Prince Nana and one of his lovely ladies attack him behind the refs back. The heels isolate Homicide in their corner for awhile, trading quick tags. Cabana gets the hot tag eventually and hits the old flip flop and fly Dusty Rhodes routine to clean house. Quebrada from Colt gets a near fall on Konley, but Ciampa gets a blind tag and hits Cabana with a neckbreaker. Konley gets a sick backbreaker off the top rope from Ciampa who then sets his eyes on Homicide, who flies out of the ring with the tope con hilo to take out Colt Cabana on the outside! Ciampa misses a slingshot splash so Homicide gets a running start and hits another tope con hilo, this time on Ciampa. Might as well make it three, so he tosses Konley out to the floor and pops the crowd with a third tope con hilo, wiping out all three of his opponents. He rolls Konley back into the ring and finishes him off with the Cop Killa for the win at 9:23. Slightly above average four-corner survival match here, Cabana and Homicide carried most of the load so Konley and Ciampa wouldn't be exposed and the crowd was hot for both men, so the result was an entertaining if forgettable contest. **¾

After the match Truth Martini gives Caleb Konley the thumbs up to seemingly induct him into the House of Truth, but a moment later Truth reminds us it's also April Fool's day and Michael Elgin jumps him from behind and plants him with a big spinning powerbomb. The crowd seems to be confused as to who they should cheer for here as they chant for Elgin to hit his finisher on Konley one more time, and then promptly boo him and Truth when they don't.

Sara Del Rey/Serena Deeb vs. Ayumi Kurihara/Hiroyo Matsumoto

It's SHIMMER showcase time, so Dave Prazak immediately perks up on commentary. Deeb's hair is starting to grow back from her Straight Edge Society days with CM Punk. Kurihara and Matsumoto are rising young talents from the joshi scene in Japan, which continues to thrive through a series of small independent promotions like NEO, Ice Ribbon, and Oz Academy. Deeb and Del Rey are perfectly content to work the Japanese joshi style with the girls, but not before some friendly ribbing that Del Rey doesn't take kindly to. Kuriharia and Matsumoto double team Del Rey in the corner with running knees. Kurihara tries a bridging northern lights suplex but Del Rey quickly kicks out before the two count and hits her with a back heel kick. Deeb tags in and gets stretched in a modified Octopus stretch from Kurihara, the look on her face is priceless. Deeb misses a spear and the action spills out to the floor where Kurihara flies off the top rope with a big cross-body that wipes out both Del Rey and Deeb! The crowd comes alive for the Japanese women. Back inside Kurihara applies a nasty cross-armbar on Deeb, stretching her arm over the top rope until Del Rey breaks it up. Del Rey hits a facebuster for a near fall and tags Deeb back in while the SHIMMER tag team champions Daizee Haze and Tomoka Nakagawa come to ringside to get a closer look at the action. Del Rey eats a lung-blower from Kurihara and she gets the hot tag to Matusumoto, who cleans house on the American women with a double cross-body block. Matsumoto lifts Del Rey up in the torture rack position and then transitions into a nasty gutbuster, but Deeb breaks the pin attempt up. Tag rules go out the window for the finish as all four women start flying around with dropkicks until Kurihara hits one of the nastiest German suplexes I've ever seen on Deeb and Matsumoto follows it up with a nasty German of her own. Deeb literally looks dead and thankfully that's enough to pick up the win for the Japanese women at 9:01. This was nearly ten minutes of off-the-chart action from all four women with a sickening finish to cap it all off. Great little tag match. ***¼

Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs. Kyle O'Reilly/Adam Cole

Cole and O'Reilly have easily been the best new additions to the ROH roster over the last six months, with O'Reilly in particular quickly becoming a huge fan favorite. Both men seem destined for great things in ROH, but this is one of their stiffest challenges to date with the veteran Briscoe brothers tonight. Mark and Cole start us off with some dueling armdrags until Jay and O'Reilly tag in. They trade front chanceries and O'Reilly tries for the cross armbar early but Jay fights it off. Lots of frequent tagging early here with the Briscoes outwrestling Cole and O'Reilly to start. Cole sends Jay out to the floor and then hits a tope suicida on him, but back inside the ring he eats a spinebuster and can't capitalize. The Briscoes try isolating Cole now, working him over in their corner with double team moves. Cole hits a leg lariat and gets the lukewarm tag to O'Reilly who cleans house on both of the Briscoes with stiff kicks and knee strikes. He catches both legs of the Briscoes and gives them a DOUBLE Dragon-Screw legwhip and a double missile dropkick for a near-fall. You always see something new with O'Reilly these days. He hits a pair of rolling butterfly suplexes on Mark and then feeds him to Cole who hits a sick bridging wheelbarrow suplex on him that Jay Briscoe somehow breaks up. Crowd chants "This is awesome!" as Cole hits a big jumping headkick to Mark and sends Jay into the corner on the outside. O'Reilly hits his awesome missile dropkick into the corner off the apron while Cole hits a splash back inside the ring for a near fall as this is just too-fast paced to even call at this point. A small "Let's go Briscoes" chant starts up and by god it gets booed out of the building by the rest of the crowd, who are hotly behind the young babyfaces O'Reilly and Cole. Falcon Arrow on Cole but O'Reilly breaks up the pin attempt and trades kicks with Mark. He eats a huge superkick from Jay and a German suplex from Mark that sends him inside out before the Briscoes finish Cole off with the springboard Doomsday Device at 13:23. O'Reilly and Cole lose clean but still come off like a million bucks for nearly defeating the ROH veterans. The in-ring work here was phenomenal and the crowd was red-hot throughout the whole thing and totally bought into the Briscoes as heels for the first time in quite some time. Another great outing from the O'Reilly and Cole tag team. ***½

After the match the All Night Express, who were thrown out of the building earlier for fighting with the Briscoes, come out of the crowd and attack the Briscoe Brothers again, brawling with them around ringside for several minutes until ROH officials can finally break them up. Nice little segment to remind everyone about the big grudge match between these two teams tomorrow afternoon.

Intermission time. When we return it's time for our big grudge match.

Davey Richards vs. Roderick Strong

These two have had some great matches over the last year, including an absolutely brutal match at the Final Battle iPPV that saw Davey come within inches of winning the ROH World title from Strong. Strong just dropped the belt about a week ago to none other than Davey's longtime tag partner Eddie Edwards, so this should be a telling match about where both men are headed in the company in 2011. Davey gets his usual great pop from the ROH faithful while Strong, like him or hate him, continues to get pretty decent heat (atleast by ROH standards). Davey offers a handshake to Roddy before the match but Strong just licks his palm like a weirdo before Davey backs away. Lock-up to start and Roddy bails quickly for a breather on the outside. Back inside they trade a standing wristlock until Davey hits him with a big boot and a snap suplex for the first two count of the match. Davey applies a nasty Texas cloverleaf and transitions it right into another near fall as the crowd is very clearly and obviously behind Davey here. Davey continues the leg work until Roddy gets the rope break. Davey goes to the top rope but Truth Martini grabs his leg, giving Roddy enough time to knock him to the floor with a big jumping head-kick. Roddy takes the upper hand from here after Truth's distraction, working a nasty modified abdominal stretch and laying in forearms, busting open Davey's lip. The action spills out to the floor again and Strong just launches Davey throat-first onto the steel barricade. Strong slams Richards' back into the edge of the apron and starts taunting the crowd, drawing some boos. Give Roderick Strong credit, he's made a noticeable effort to switch up his in-ring style since becoming a heel, cutting back on some of his more flashy moves in favor of working heat out of the crowd. Roddy continues to taunt the crowd while the beatdown of Davey continues, teasing them with mocking rounds of applause in between working on Richards. Davey hits a big running kick to Strong off the apron and then gains an incredible amount of speed, flying through the ropes like a missile, wiping Strong out completely! I've never seen so much velocity on a tope suicida in my entire life. After both men recover Davey hits a nice handspring back elbow on Strong for a close near fall. Bridging German suplex gets another close two count, but again Strong kicks out. Davey applies the ankle lock, but Strong reverses into the La Belle Lock! That gains some boos from the crowd, seeing it as a jab at Bryan Danielson's WWE finisher. Both men fight to the top rope and Strong gives Davey a backbreaker right across the top turnbuckle! Roddy applies the Strong Hold briefly, but Richards is quick to get the ropebreak. Both men begin trading stiff kicks, with Davey practically knocking Strong's head off while Strong knees him so hard in the face you can hear the smack of bone against bone! They fight to the top turnbuckle again and yet again Davey get's a huge backbreaker onto the edge of the ring apron (the infamous "hardest part of the ring"). Another stiff exchange of forearms, and Roddy hits the Sick Kick! 1-2--NOO! Davey kicks out at two and Strong is pissed off now, hitting a rapid-fire pair of backbreakers and gutbusters, but AGAIN Richards kicks out before the three count. Davey kicks Roderick right in the side of the head nit Strong just spits a huge loogie in his face in a sign of (disgusting) defiance. Another pair of stiff kicks to the head still won't do it for Davey, so he goes back to the ankle lock. Creative suplex into a backbreaker from Roddy in retaliation, and the crowd totally buys it as a near fall as they are absolutely loving what they're seeing. Gibson Driver from Roddy and he transitions right into the Strong Hold again, but Richards counters right back into the ankle lock! Truth Martini tries to interfere at this point but Davey feeds him a big boot for his troubles and then sweeps Roddy's legs out from under him, once again going right back into the ankle lock. Superplex off the top from Davey, and he maintains the hold, rolling right into a Falcon Arrow and then transitioning back again into (what else?) the ankle lock in an incredible display of transition wrestling, finally forcing Roderick to tap out at 27:06! Both men get a well deserved standing ovation after the match. Roderick had won their last few encounters so this was Davey's big revenge match, and both men went above and beyond to deliver a match deserving of that big epic "blow-off" feeling. Strong worked great as a heel, Davey ditched the no-selling, and this match blew everybody away live. Probably the best ROH match I've seen since the Steen-Generico Street Fight at Final Battle back in December. ****¼

ROH Tag Team Title Match
Chris Hero/Claudio Castagnoli
© vs. Shelton Benjamin/Charlie Haas

This is a rematch people have been waiting for since their great match at Glory by Honor IX last September. Hero and Castagnoli have held the belts for nearly an entire calender year at this point, having defeated the Briscoes for the belts at the Big Bang iPPV back in April of 2010. Kevin Kelly talks a bit about how much this match means tonight for Haas, briefly recanting an incident where he, Charlie, and Charlie's late brother and tag team partner Russ Haas were on the floor of the Astro Dome at Wrestlemania in 2001. Anyways, Shelton and Hero start us off and seem determined to try and out-wrestle each other in the early going to prove their dominance. Kind of sloppy sequence of near falls and countering from both men, as they seem to have some early match jitters. Haas tags in and tosses Hero with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex for a near fall. Haas goes to work on Hero's arm with some deep armdrags and a hammerlock. Claudio tags in and Haas and Benjamin begin to target his left leg, isolating him in their corner and trading quick tags. All four men are in the ring now and the Kings eat a pair of stereo German suplexes from Benjamin and Haas for a pair of near falls, sending the Kings to the floor to try and regain their composure with Shane Hagadorn and Sara Del Rey. Back inside the Kings regain some of the momentum thanks to some distraction by Sara Del Rey (she'd distract me too), and Shelton eats a huge boot from Hero. Chokeslam from Claudio gets a two count on Shelton and Hero tags back in as the tables have turned and Shelton is the one being isolated now. Prazak and Kelly put over how dominant the KOW have been with Prazak trying to claim they've been hugely successful in Japan when to my knowledge they did jobbing duties on every NOAH tour they worked. Shelton continues to play the babyface in peril as Claudio chokes him behind the refs back. Lots of old school heel tag team tactics from the Kings here, instigating Charlie to get in the ring and tie up the referee while they beat down Shelton behind his back. Shelton starts the comeback though, avoiding a quebrada moonsault and hitting a big spinkick on Hero. Shelton gets the hot tag to Haas finally who cleans house on the Kings with a flying headscissors and side suplex. Another headscissors off the top from Haas and Hero eats a superkick from Shelton. Both men get held up against the ropes as Shelton hits their trademark leapfrog top-rope choke spot. Roaring elbow drills Haas and the Kings hit a pair of tandem bicycle kicks on Charlie for another two count. The Kings hit the big swing-dropkick combo on Charlie but Shelton breaks it up. Shelton hits the Pay Dirt on Hero and drills Claudio with a DDT. Claudio tries the Ricola Bomb on Charlie but he counters with the Angle Slam and locks on the Haas of Pain (and the crowd is actually CHANTING for it!). Del Rey distracts the ref while Hero prepares to use the Loaded Elbow Pad of Doom for the nine thousandth time, but Shelton gives him a belly to belly of the top rope and Claudio taps out to the Haas of Pain and we have NEW Tag Team champions at 23:00! The Kings year-long title reign is finally put to rest as the hottest team ROH has gets the big title win here on the big stage, avenging their loss to the Kings months ago. The match was a bit awkward in the opening stages, but once we got to the middle heat section it was great stuff and the ending played on the finish of their previous match, tying the whole thing up neatly in a pretty little package. ***¾

ROH World Title Match
Eddie Edwards
© vs. Christopher Daniels

This was originally meant to be Daniels getting a title shot against Roderick Strong, but with Edwards' World title victory things were changed so that this is now Edwards first title defense, and who better to defend the belt against than the man he's been feuding with for months and who he's yet to defeat, the ROH legend Christopher Daniels? These two went to a 30 minute time limit draw at the last i-PPV in a great match. Crowd is kind of drained by this point, so lets see if these two can get them into it regardless. Long feeling out process to start with both men trading holds and establishing how evenly matched they are. Edwards hits a headscissors early and tries for another one minutes later but Daniels counters into a half Boston crab. The action spills to the floor and Daniels gets hip-tossed into the steel barricade. Edwards lays in some chops on Daniels and the facial reaction of Daniels is gold, looking as though he was just struck with a hot iron. Daniels gets tied up in the tree of woe back inside and eats a dropkick for a two count. Blue Thunder bomb from Daniels and he follows it up with an STO. Edwards counters with a Codebreaker a gourdbuster though for a two count. Daniels avoids the back-pack chinbreaker from Edwards and instead gives him a massive Yuranagi off the apron right through the ring announcer's table! Great looking spot. Daniels isn't done though as he sets up a pair of chairs and bodyslams Edwards right through them! A big "Fuck TNA!" chant breaks out as Daniels proudly lifts up the ROH World title and points at it, prompting them to chant for ROH instead. Back inside a spinebuster gets him another near fall. Edwards blocks a superplex attempt and hits a big missile dropkick. They do a nice sequence of trading backslides and cradle attempts until Daniels is sent to the floor where Edwards follows him out with the tope suicida. Back inside a cross-body block only gets Edwards two, so he tries a Tiger Suplex but again Daniels kicks out at two. Daniels manages to apply the Koji clutch momentarily, but Edwards gets the rope break. Sideslam off the top gets Daniels another near fall as the crowd calls for the BME. Edwards puts Daniels into the half Boston crab briefly but Daniels counters right back into the Koji clutch again! Big Lariat and a 2K1 Bomb from Edwards again only gets him two. Daniels tries for the Angel's Wings off the top rope but Eddie backdrops him and hits a double-stomp. He tries for a double-underhook but Daniels counter right into the Angel's Wings! 1-2---NOO! Eddie kicks out just barely and the fans thought they had a new champion for a moment there. Daniels hits the Best Moonsault Ever but again Eddie kicks out to the crowd's shock! Kicking out of both of Daniels finishers there puts over Edwards greatly as a legit champ. Daniels tries a second BME but Eddie gets the knees up this time and slaps on the half Boston crab again. Daniels slaps him off though and sets up for a Yuranagi off the top rope but Edwards counters with a 2K1 Bomb off the top rope! He hits another one on Daniels just for good measure, and picks up the clean pin to retain at 30:12! It seems like every time these two guys wrestle, it's better than their last encounter. This did a lot in the way of making Edwards appear worthy of the World title, and Daniels does exactly what he should be doing at this point in his career: putting over the younger guys like a million bucks. An excellent main event and their best match yet. ****¼

After the match Eddie Edwards offers a handshake to Christopher Daniels, who declines and walks off in a stern, deflated manner. Good chance this is setting up a Daniels heel turn. Edwards gets on the mic and puts over the fans and the company as we close out the show

Bottom Line: Every year it seems you can count on ROH to deliver some incredible wrestling on Wrestlemania weekend, and they delivered again here tonight with one of their best events in many months. There isn't a single bad match on the entire card. Generico and Elgin had a hot opener, the midcard is chock full of tag team goodness, and we got not one but two potential Match of the Year Candidates for ROH to cap it all off. There isn't a better value for your wrestling dollar than this, well worth the measly $15 dollars and a giant Thumbs Up.

Score: 9.5/10


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