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Manhattan Center – New York City, NY – Sunday, December 30, 2007

Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard are on commentary.

MATCH #1: Jigsaw & Ruckus vs. Matt Cross & Bobby Fish

The Vulture Squad is accompanied by Julius Smokes. Fish and Jigsaw start the match. They chain wrestle for a bit. The pace quickens and the larger Fish keeps up with the more agile Jigsaw. The fans applaud. Tags are made. Smokes constantly doing the Vulture caw is distracting me from the match. Ruckus sends Fish to the floor, and Fish drags Ruckus out with him. Jigsaw hits the first dive of the match, and Cross follows with one immediately after. Back in the ring Fish and Cross isolate Jigsaw, That doesn’t last long and Ruckus gets the hot tag. Momentum continues to shift as the referee has little control over the action. Jigsaw catches Fish in the Jig N Tonic to get the pin at 8:02. That was a perfectly solid opener, with fast paced action and high spots but not too many high spots. Good for them.
Rating: **¾

MATCH #2: Larry Sweeney vs. Claudio Castagnoli

Sweeney is accompanied by Sara Del Rey, Daniel Puder, Bobby Dempsey, and Tank Toland. He says that Puder injured Castagnoli’s leg last night so the match is off. Castagnoli disagrees and limps his way out to the ring. Toland clips Castagnoli’s leg before the bell, and that gives Sweeney the early advantage. Sweeney attacks the leg viciously, and members of Sweet ‘n’ Sour Inc. interfere whenever they get a chance. Castagnoli fights back and unleashes fury on his former manager. He goes for the Ricola Bomb but Toland distracts the ref and Puder hits Castagnoli’s knee with a workout bar. That’s enough for Sweeney to get the pin at 2:30. That wasn’t much of a match but it was a fine way to keep the feud going. Of course the feud really should have ended here, but hindsight and all that. Toland attacks Castagnoli after the bell and eats a Ricola Bomb for his troubles.
Rating: *

MATCH #3: No Disqualification Match – Necro Butcher vs. Jack Evans

Necro is accompanied by Lacey. Evans gets distracted by Lacey before the bell, allowing Necro to take control. They spill to the floor right away and Lacey interferes liberally. Necro thwarts Evans’ high flying and throws him around ringside, using anything he can as a weapon. Evans fights back and tries a flying knee of the apron but Necro moves and Evans crashes into the guardrail. Back in the ring Necro hits the Chair Slam. Necro continues to beat Evans down, looking dominant. He hits a bulldog on a chair for a two-count. They take the fight to the apron and Evans hits a Code Red to the floor! I don’t think I’ve seen anyone else do that. Back in the ring Evans continues to pour the pressure on. Necro fights back with a punch to the face and a Tiger Driver for two. He follows with a backbreaker onto a standing chair and Evans kicks out again! More chairs get set up but it backfires on Necro when Evans places him across the chairs and hits a moonsault legdrop! Evans pulls Necro over to the corner and places a chair across his chest. He goes up top and Lacey gets in the ring to distract him. Smokes comes to the rescue, and that distraction is enough for Mercedes Martinez to come running to the ring and take Lacey out. Smokes takes a chair away from Necro and Evans rolls him up to get the pin at 11:16. That was decent hardcore junk with some cool spots, but really having Necro lose to Evans so soon into Age of The Fall was a huge mistake and took a lot of mystique off Necro. After the match Smokes asks what’s up, and Evans introduces Martinez as the “booty vulture.”
Rating: **½

MATCH #4: Naomichi Marufuji vs. Davey Richards

They take it right to the mat, as Prazak talks about what a huge match this is for Richards. After some back and forth action that ends with Marufuji in control, Richards retaliates with a slap to the face. Both men are aggressive here. Marufuji goes after the leg, which is wise given how much Richards relies on kicks in his offense. Richards weathers that storm though and is able to wear Marufuji down with a variety of strikes and holds. They trade shots to the groin just for fun, and no one gets disqualified. Marufuji goes back on offense and hits a cradle suplex for two. They fight on the top rope and Richards is able to hit a missile dropkick. Marufuji fights back and they take it to the apron. Richards hits an Alarm Clock that sends Marufuji to the floor. He follows with an insanely dangerous suicide dive that lands him in the third or fourth row. Richards throws Marufuji into the guardrail. He slowly gets back into the ring and Marufuji has popped up to the top rope to deliver a missile dropkick to the side of the head. That was super contrived and Marufuji recovered way too quickly. The back and forth continues and Richards almost puts Marufuji away on multiple occasions. Marufuji is able to score a quick Shiranui to score the pin at 15:12. That was fun and all but there was no selling of any kind. Still it was a good showing for Richards against one of the top guys from Japan.
Rating: ***¼

MATCH #5: Tables Are Legal Match – The Hangm3n vs. Delirious, Kevin Steen & El Generico

BJ Whitmer, Brent Albright, and “Scrap Iron” Adam Pearce are accompanied by Shane Hagadorn. The babyface trio charge right to the ring and the fight is on. Delirious and Pearce take center stage in the ring while Steen battles Whitmer and Generico fights Albright on the floor. For some reason Bushwhacker Luke makes his way out and he joins with Delirious to hit multiple battering rams. The babyfaces do the Bushwhacker strut and Luke heads to the back. They follow with three simultaneous dives to wipe out the Hangm3n. The brawl continues and the good guys continue to dominate. Steen hits Whitmer with a belly-to-back suplex to break the first table. Albright breaks the next one on purpose so he can crack Generico in the head with it. That’s clever. The Hangm3n take control now and focus on Generico. Delirious and Steen make their way back in but get quickly dispatched again. The Hangm3n work Generico over and set him up on a table on the floor. Hagadorn climbs the ropes and Delirious comes to the rescue with some mist. Pelle Primeau then runs out and puts Hagadorn through a table with a hurricanrana. Primeau pays for it though and gets suplexed on his head by Albright. The match continues at a breakneck pace, with offense coming from every direction. Bodies are flying all over the place and it’s hard to keep up. We end up with Delirious and Pearce in the ring. Delirious sets up a table on the top rope and he fights Pearce on it. Hagadorn grabs Delirious’ leg, allowing Pearce to hit a piledriver off the table and through another table to get the win at 18:23. That was a ton of fun, a good garbage brawl that never stopped and an awesome, memorable finish.
Rating: ***½

MATCH #6: Rocky Romero vs. Ernie Osiris

Osiris is the current Top of the Class Trophy holder. This match is being taped for ROHVideos.com. Romero dominates in the early going with his strikes. Osiris hits a modified gourdbuster for one. Romero goes right back on offense and locks on the Cross Armbreaker for the win at 1:09. There’s nothing wrong with a match like this being on first after intermission.
Rating: ½*

Nigel Makes a Choice

ROH World Champion Nigel McGuinness is banged up after last night’s defense against Austin Aries. He was supposed to defend tonight in a four-way elimination match against Chris Hero, Bryan Danielson, and Takeshi Morishima, but he was too injured to do so. Thus a four-way match was made with those three challengers and Austin Aries to determine the next challenger. A majority of the fans chant “drop the belt,” since it’s the second time during his short reign that he has had to miss a title defense. He says that maybe he should drop the belt, that someone who is able should defend it tonight. Then he gets angry an indignant with the fans, talking about his sacrifices and that’s why he deserves to be Champion. That actually turns the crowd back to his side.

MATCH #7: FIP World Heavyweight Title Match – Roderick Strong vs. Erick Stevens

Strong has been the Champion since 11.10.06, and this is his twenty-seventh defense. Since this is an FIP sanctioned match, there is a 20 count on the floor, and the title can change hands via countout or disqualification. Things get heated between these two rivals right away when Strong spits in Stevens’ face. Stevens controls the opening minutes, absorbing Strong’s hard chops. Strong battles back with hard kicks to the face. They go to the floor and Strong abuses Stevens’ back. Back in the ring Strong stays in control and tries to keep Stevens off his feet. They take it to the apron and Strong knocks Stevens down, and then wipes him out with a dive. Back in the ring Strong maintains the advantage. After several minutes Stevens is able to fire up and hit the Choo-Choo and a powerslam. Both men are down. Back on their feet Stevens seems to gain a second wind. Stevens lands a shoulder tackle off the second rope for two. A full nelson slam also gets a two-count. Strong comes back with an enziguiri and a Samoan Drop for two. He takes Stevens up and hits a superplex for a near-fall. They go back to the ring apron and Stevens knocks Strong down and then takes him out with a shoulder tackle off the apron. Back in the ring Stevens hits a TKO for two. Stevens hits a pop-up powerslam for another two-count. He takes Strong up top but that backfires when Strong knocks him down and comes down with a Sick Kick. Strong hits the gutbuster and a Hurricane DDT for two. He goes for the Gibson Driver but Stevens shoves back and they both tumble to the floor. They fight up on the entrance ramp and Strong hits the Gibson Driver! The crowd helps Stevens will his way back to the ring at the count of 19. Strong unloads with chops but that just fires Stevens up. The Champ drops Stevens on his head but can still only get two. Strong goes for the Gibson Driver but Stevens blocks it and hits a release German Suplex and the clothesline slam. He hits another release German Suplex and two lariats. He follows with the Doctor Bomb to get the pin and win the title at 21:00. A lot of guys could learn from this match. These two powerhouses kept throwing bombs at each other, but they weren’t “finishing” moves per se, so no one’s finisher got killed in the attempt to create drama. Stevens and Strong were just natural opponents with an effortless chemistry that came through here.
Rating: ***¾

MATCH #8: ROH World Title Number One Contender’s Four Way Elimination Match – Takeshi Morishima vs. Bryan Danielson vs. Austin Aries vs. Chris Hero

Hero has Larry Sweeney, Tank Toland, Sara Del Rey, and Bobby Dempsey in his corner. Danielson attacks his arch nemesis Morishima before the bell can ring and we’re underway. It’s always electric when Danielson and Morishima are in the ring together. Morishima hits Danielson with a side slam and bowls him over. Hero tags himself in and takes advantage of the weakened Danielson. Aries and Morishima get tagged in and Aries shows no fear of the monster. Hero continues to pick his spots, only getting in the ring when someone is at a disadvantage. Of course when a fresh Morishima gets in the ring Hero wants no part of that. Hero scurries over and tags Danielson, who is happy to unleash fury on Morishima, who is looking unstoppable in the early going here. Danielson and Aries try double-teaming Morishima but even that proves difficult. They finally take him down with simultaneous elbow and knee strikes. Hero comes in the ring and does his little somersault routine so Danielson dumps him to the floor. Danielson and Aries hit a double belly-to-back superplex on Morishima, and then Danielson stomps his face in. Aries hits the 450 Splash and all three men cover him to eliminate him at 10:36.

Hero tries to celebrate with Aries and Danielson, and then quickly double-crosses them. He sends Danielson to the floor and then goes to work on Aries. Hero continues to take cheap shots whenever he can, and actually does a good job controlling both Danielson and Aries with his unique offense. Unfortunately for Hero he gets too cocky and Aries rolls him up for the second elimination at 14:18.

Now we’re down to Aries and Danielson, one more time. They shake hands and here we go. Obviously they go right down to the mat and chain wrestle. Aries is able to send Danielson to the floor and follows him out with the Heat Seeking Missile, landing in the front row. Danielson gets back in the ring first and wipes Aries out with a springboard dive into the third row. Back at ringside Aries whips Danielson into the guardrail and hits the IED. In the ring Aries hits a series of back elbows to the face. Danielson fires back with a running kick to the face. He takes Aries up for the belly-to-back superplex but Aries lands on top for two, and Danielson rolls that over for his own two-count. Aries gets a backslide for two and then kicks Danielson in the head. He tries the Brainbuster but Danielson reverses to a Tiger Suplex for two. Danielson rolls that into Cattle Mutilation, which morphs into the elbow strikes to the face. Aries escapes and kicks Danielson in the head. He hits the Brainbuster for two and then locks on the Horns of Aries. Both men reverse each other multiple times and are just leveling each other with strikes. They slap each other in the face. More reversals leads to Danielson locking in a triangle choke. Aries won’t give up so Danielson adds elbows to the head and referee Todd Sinclair stops the match at 22:48. I liked that match a lot, even with Hero’s goofy shenanigans. I didn’t buy Hero as a top contender at this time but he was a good foil to the seriousness of everyone else. Danielson and Aries working together to eliminate Morishima after the big man dominated was great, and then of course the two of them tearing into each other at the end was as good as it always is between them. Aries refuses to shake hands after the match.
Rating: ****¼

MATCH #9: ROH World Tag Team Title Match – Jay & Mark Briscoe vs. Jimmy Jacobs & Tyler Black

The Briscoes have been the Champions since 3.30.07, and this is their twentieth defense. Jay and Mark are accompanied by Daizee Haze, while Jacobs and Black have Lacey in their corner. The Briscoes surpassed Austin Aries and Roderick Strong in both longevity and number of title defenses (19) last night, making them the most successful tag team Champions in ROH history to that point. They even would have had 20 defenses had Mark not injured himself during WrestleMania weekend and have to be replaced by Delirious for one match. Their title defense record still stands, but the Kings of Wrestling surpassed them for longevity with their second reign from 2010-2011. The Briscoes by far though still have the most days total as Champions, with 732 days spread over seven reigns to go along with 35 total defenses.

Jacobs and Jay start the match. Jay is on fire from the get-go, so Jacobs rakes his eyes and makes the tag. The Briscoes continue to dominate the challengers. This is the first time the combination of Jacobs and Black have faced Jay and Mark. The fight spills to the floor and the referee threatens to throw the match out if they don’t get back to the ring. Jay and Mark comply and continue to control the action. They go for the Doomsday Device early but Jacobs breaks it up with a Spear. Now the challengers are in control. After a few minutes Jay hits the Flatliner into the buckles on Black. Mark gets the hot tag and he unleashes the Redneck Kung Fu. He goes for a moonsault but Black pushes him down and Mark ends up in the Tree of Woe. The challengers hit a simultaneous dropkick on Mark for two. Black hits Paroxysm for two. Mark catches him with an exploder suplex. The Briscoes hit the double-team neckbreaker for two. Jay hits Black with a Falcon Arrow for two. Jacobs and Mark take the fight to the floor. Jay goes for the Jay Driller but Jacobs breaks it up and hits Jay with a neckbreaker. Jacobs goes up top but Jay knocks him down. Jay goes for a Super Jay Driller but Black breaks that up and the challengers hit the Doomsday Rana for two. Black puts Jay in a torture rack and Jacobs hits a back senton off the top rope, and Black slams Jay down. Jacobs then locks on the End Time and Mark breaks it up with a springboard double stomp. Mark and Jacobs slug it out now and Mark ends that battle with a powerbomb for two. The referee loses control and all four men are in the ring. Black dumps Mark to the floor, but moments later the Briscoes hit Black with a Doomsday Device on the apron! Holy shit indeed New York City. Mark hits Jacobs with the Cutthroat Driver but amazingly it only gets two! The Briscoes are not real happy with the referee. They hit Jacobs with the springboard Doomsday Device and Black makes the save! Out on the floor Black hits Jay with a powerbomb into the barricade. Meanwhile Mark and Jacobs battle on the top rope. Black joins them and helps Jacobs hit a Super Contra Code! Black follows with a Phoenix Splash and we’ve got new ROH World Tag Team Champions at 18:54! These teams have good chemistry and the crowd was pretty hot for this one. As usual with the Briscoes they did some wicked cool spots, and the finish was good too. They would go on to do better but this is a great start.
Rating: ***¾

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