National Guard Armory – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Saturday, July 15, 2006

Dave Prazak and Jared David (replacing the injured Lenny Leonard) are on commentary for the event.

MATCH #1: Delirious vs. Seth Delay

This is Delay’s first and only ROH appearance. Delirious starts the match by running around ringside, and when he gets back in Delay grabs an armbar. That doesn’t last long, as Delirious reverses the hold and puts on a submission of his own. Delay comes back with a shoulderblock and a sunset flip for two. Delirious is back with an armdrag and a crucifix pin for two. Delay hits a dropkick that sends Delirious to the floor and then tries to dive on him but pretty much misses and takes kind of a nasty bump on the concrete. Back in the ring Delay gets a cradle for a one-count. They trade back elbows, and then Delay misses a charge in the corner and Delirious hits the Roots Clotheslines and a bulldog for two. Delirious locks on the Cobra Clutch and Delay reverses it to an inside cradle for two. Delay hits a flying forearm and an Edge-O-Matic for two. He tries a moonsault senton but misses. Delirious goes up top and hits Shadows Over Hell and then cinches in the Cobra Stretch to get the win at 4:48. Well that was energetic and good clean fun for an opener.
Rating: **

MATCH #2: The Embassy vs. Colt Cabana & Jay Lethal

Prince Nana is in the ring with a mic, and he immediately bad mouths the city of Philadelphia and the fans in attendance. Tonight the Embassy is unveiling a new member of the Embassy, who walks out to the ring under a cloak, led by Daizee Haze. I forgot she had a short stint in the Embassy. The guy under the cloak turns out to be former ROH Tag Team Champion Sal Rinauro. He’ll be teaming with Jimmy Rave tonight. I must say that Rinauro is a big step down from Rave’s last partner, Alex Shelley.

Lethal and Rave start the match. They take it right down to the mat and exchange holds. After they wrestle to a stalemate Rave makes the tag. Lethal grabs hold of the arm and tags in Cabana. The arm work continues and Rinauro is befuddled. Rave interferes from the floor and sends both Lethal and Cabana outside, and then he slaps Rinauro across the face! They’re doing a good job putting over the dynamic that Rinauro is not on Rave’s level. Lethal hits the cartwheel dropkick on Rinauro and then makes a tag. Cabana executes the same cartwheel dropkick! Lethal comes back in and hits a dropkick to the back of the neck, and once again Cabana follows suit. Once again Rave interferes and hits Lethal with a Northern Lariat and finally Rinauro takes control and makes a tag. The Embassy works Lethal over now, keeping him isolated from Cabana. After several minutes Cabana gets the hot tag and uses his unique skills to fluster the Embassy. Cabana hits a big lariat on Rave for two. Lethal hits Rave with a DDT off the top rope but it only gets two! Cabana goes for the Colt 45 but Rinauro breaks that up. Rinauro hits Cabana with a stunner and Rave follows with the running knee for two. The referee has completely lost control. Lethal hits Rave with a vertical suplex and then goes up top but Rave knocks him down. They fight on the top rope and Lethal knocks him down but then Rinauro crotches him and hits a Super Bulldog! Rinauro hits Cabana with a superkick and Rave follows him with a Spear for the pin at 11:37. That match had a lot of energy and I loved the Rave/Rinauro dynamic.
Rating: ***

MATCH #3: ROH Pure Title Match – Nigel McGuinness vs. Roderick Strong

Strong is one half of the ROH World Tag Team Champions, having just turned the belts into World belts with defenses in Japan against Masato Yoshino & Naruki Doi on July 9, 2006 and against Ryo Saito & Genki Horiguchi on July 11, 2006. McGuinness has been the Pure Champion since 8.27.05 and this is his fifteenth defense (second against Strong). He cuts an awesomely awesome promo, asking the fans to give Todd Sinclair the respect he deserves, and then mocking the nerds for playing Dungeons and Dragons and watching Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Strong takes offense and chops the champion to officially start the match. McGuinness powders as quickly as he can and runs away. Back in the ring they both try their best stuff – Strong goes for chops while McGuinness takes it to the mat. Strong hits an early backbreaker for two and then puts on the Stronghold, which he used to beat McGuinness in a Tag Team Title defense back at In Your Face on 6.17.06. McGuinness takes his first rope break. Strong tries a suplex but McGuinness blocks it and goes to work on the arm. McGuinness tries a lariat but Strong avoids it and hits a clothesline, an enziguiri and a Falcon Arrow for two. Strong once again goes for the Stronghold and McGuinness is forced to use his second rope break. McGuinness recovers quickly and once again goes after the arm. Strong comes back with a flurry of offense, including a dropkick for two. He hits a Gibson Driver for two. He locks on the Stronghold again and McGuinness uses his third and final rope break. McGuinness tries a poke to the eye but Strong absorbs it and locks on the Stronghold and the ropes won’t break the hold now! The resourceful Pure Champion slides to the floor to break the hold. Strong wipes McGuinness out with a forearm off the apron and then throws him back in the ring. McGuinness awesomely counters by snapping the top rope back into Strong’s face. That’s unique. They fight on the apron and Strong hits a back suplex right on the ring frame. McGuinness encourages Strong to keep hitting chops as the count gets closer to 20. He throws Strong into the crowd and tries to get the countout win, but Strong gets back in at 19. McGuinness hits the kick to the back / clothesline combo in the corner and Strong puts his leg on the bottom rope during the pin, using his first rope break. He tries a headstand in the corner but Strong blasts him with a kick to the face. Strong follows up with a gutbuster, and when McGuinness tries the Jawbreaker Lariat Strong kicks him in the face again. McGuinness is able to hit the Jawbreaker on his second time around though, but Strong once again gets his foot on the bottom rope to use his second rope break. They battle up on the top rope and McGuinness knocks Strong down but then eats nothing but knees on a senton. Strong tries a super gutbuster but McGuinness reverses to a Tower of London for two! McGuinness kicks Strong to the floor and once again looks to be going for a countout victory or even a double-countout. He hits Strong with a vicious DDT on the floor. McGuinness breaks the count but Strong does not at 15:43. The only problem with the finish is that Strong still made a leap towards the ring after the DDT, when that really should have knocked him out. Other than that this match was nonstop action with great crowd heat and an awesome (albeit slightly poorly executed) finish.
Rating: ***¾

MATCH #4: The Briscoe Bros. vs. Irish Airborne

Jay Briscoe and Dave Crist start the match. Not much happens and Mark gets tagged in, and then Dave executes some choreographed looking offense. Dave makes the tag to Jake, and moments later Mark makes the tag to Jay. It’s been pretty back and forth so far. Jake puts Jay in a headlock and does whatever he can to keep it on. Jay is able to back towards his corner and tag Mark, who hits Jake with a running vertical suplex. Jake comes back with a facebuster and a neckbreaker for two. The Crist brothers work Mark over and try to keep him from tagging his brother. Mark comes back with a front facelock. He hits a knee drop and then tags Jay, and they hit a double-team shoulder tackle. Dave hits a quebrada out of nowhere on Jay and then makes the tag. Airborne executes the Edge/Mysterio double-team rana and a top rope elbow drop for two. Jay comes back with a back elbow and a hard chop and tags Mark, who hits a slingshot double stomp for two. The Briscoes clubber a little bit and keep working on Jake. Then out of nowhere Jake rolls over and makes a tag and the match breaks down. Mark hits Dave with a Shooting Star Press to the floor, and Jake hits one on Jay. With their brothers recovering, Mark and Jake get in the ring and slug it out. The Briscoes hit the Splash Mountain / Neckbreaker combo for a two-count. Dave gets tagged and nails both Briscoes with a dropkick. He hit Jay with an Ace Crusher for two. He tries a springboard something but Jay catches him with a Death Valley Driver for two. The Briscoes try the Springboard Doomsday Device but Dave slips out and throws Jay into Mark. Airborne hit the Irish Air Raid but Mark makes the save. Mark gets rid of Jake and hits Dave with the Cutthroat Driver, and then pulls Jay on top for the pin at 15:06. In contrast to the last match, this match was just a series of moves with absolutely nothing holding it all together and it felt much longer than it was.
Rating: *¾

MATCH #5: Davey Richards vs. AJ Styles

They take it right down to the mat and aggressively jockey for position. These two both seem like giant douchebags in real life. They continue feeling each other out and throwing hard kicks and strikes at each other. Richards catches Styles with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and a snap suplex for two. He continues to keep Styles on the mat. When Richards tires a superplex Styles knocks him down and hits a dropkick. Richards rolls to the floor and Styles joins him out there and they aggressively trade kicks. Styles kicks away at the leg. Back in the ring he continues working on the leg, and just generally beating Richards up. Richards tries to come back with a springboard something, but Styles kicks him out of the air and down to the floor. Styles tries a baseball slide, but Richards catches him and DDT’s him down to the floor. Back in the ring Richards hits a springboard dropkick and a German Suplex with a bridge for two. Richards goes for a Tiger Suplex but Styles reverses it to a hammerlock back drop driver for two. I guess he doesn’t feel like selling a DDT to the concrete floor. Styles hits a German Suplex and holds on and goes for a face slam but Richards rolls through with a victory roll for two. He goes for the suplex neckbreaker but Richards avoids it. They trade more kicks and Styles helpfully just stands there waiting for Richards to hit the handspring spin kick. Richards goes for the DR Driver but Styles blocks it. He tries another handspring spin kick but Styles catches him and hits a rack bomb for two. Styles goes up for Spiral Tap but Richards gets his knees up. Richards hits a charging forearm in the corner and a hard powerbomb. He locks on the Horse Collar but Styles reaches the ropes. Styles comes back with the Pele and gets a jackknife pin for two. He rolls that into the Styles Clash and gets the pin at 17:02. They certainly hit each other very hard but they also looked like they were having trouble being on the same page (in a kayfabe sense) and it made a lot of the match look awkward and disjointed.
Rating: **½

MATCH #6: ROH World Title Match – Bryan Danielson vs. Sonjay Dutt

Danielson has been the champion since 9.17.05 and this is his twenty-sixth defense. The CZW fans chant “overrated” and the ROH fans chant “shut the f*ck up.” Dutt slaps the champion in the face rather than shaking his hand. He immediately takes a powder and stalls. Back in the ring Dutt ducks a punch and hits one of his own, and then bails again. Danielson comes back with a slap of his own. He backs Dutt into the corner and slaps him again. The CZW fans are really getting on Danielson here, and the wrestlers seem to be enjoying the crowd reactions. Danielson hits Dutt with a dropkick that sends him to the floor. Back in the ring Danielson takes Dutt down to the mat. He locks Dutt in the surfboard and stomps on the back of his legs. Dutt comes back with an armdrag, and then sends Danielson to the floor. He wipes Danielson out with a somersault dive over the ropes. Back in the ring the challenger works the champion over to both the delight and dismay of the crowd. Danielson comes back by catching Dutt with a fallaway slam. He hits a dropkick as Jimmy Bower joins the both briefly to hype the Cage of Death. Danielson tries a leap off the second turnbuckle but Dutt catches him with a dropkick. Dutt hits a nice sequence of offense that ends with a standing Shooting Star Press for two. He tries an Asai DDT but Danielson counters with a belly-to-back superplex, but Dutt flips in midair and lands on top for a cover and a two-count. Dutt hits a spinebuster but Danielson avoids a quebrada with a German Suplex for two. Danielson locks on the Cross-Face Chicken Wing. Dutt powers out of it and hits the Asai DDT for two. The champion fights back with a rolling elbow and then locks on Cattle Mutilation and the challenger reaches the ropes. Danielson goes for another superplex but Dutt counters with a sunset bomb for two. Dutt goes up and hits the Moonsault Stomp for two. He locks on the Camel Clutch and Danielson makes the ropes. Both men rise to their feet and exchange strikes. Dutt hits a boot to the face and goes up top, but Danielson joins him up there and hits the belly-to-back superplex. Danielson then hits the elbows to the face. The referee stops the match at 18:48. That was way too long because Dutt isn’t good enough to hang with Danielson for that length of time.
Rating: **

MATCH #7: Cage of Death – Team ROH vs. Team CZW

There’s this old rule that I choose to invoke for this match: when the commentators decide not to do commentary, I decide not to do play-by-play. See you in about 40 minutes! Here’s a rundown of the highlights:

• Team ROH – Samoa Joe, BJ Whitmer, Bryan Danielson, Adam Pearce, and Ace Steel. Team CZW – Chris Hero, Claudio Castagnoli, Spyder Nate Webb, Necro Butcher, and a mystery partner.
• Bryan Danielson came out as the third man for Team ROH and after taking out both Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli the ROH World Champion injured Samoa Joe’s knee. Joe would not return and Danielson also went to the back, so ROH was at a two-man disadvantage.
• Chris Hero announced Eddie Kingston as his mystery partner. Since I don’t really know their history I don’t understand the significance of it other than they hate each other. They end up getting into a shoving match.
• During said shoving match, Homicide’s music hits and the Notorious 187 makes his way out with weapons for all. Team ROH takes an advantage even though they’re a man down.
• After about 15 minutes of brawling, Homicide hits Spyder Nate Webb with a Cop Killa onto a barbed wire board for the win at 40:34.

The match was a great hardcore brawl. Sure they really could have ended it quicker after Homicide came out to really capitalize on the crowd heat, and some of the spots looked contrived. Still for the entire match the crowd was into it, the wrestlers did crazy stuff and bled buckets, the storytelling was some of Sapolsky’s best, and it was a great payoff to one of the greatest storyline runs in ROH history. I miss these days like you wouldn’t believe.
Rating: ****½