A Cut Above

Montgomery County Fairgrounds – Dayton, Ohio – Friday, April 24, 2009

MATCH #1: Bryan Danielson vs. Eddie Edwards

Edwards should get new tights that don’t say “Die Hard” on them; I don’t think he’s ever once been called that in ROH. Either way he’s accompanied by Shane Hagadorn. It’s strange to see Danielson in an opening match. Both men are cautious in the early going, as Danielson cleverly avoids the more aggressive Edwards. These two have already been on opposite sides of the ring twice this month – once in a six-man tag and once in a Tag Team Title match, but this is their first singles encounter. Danielson gets the advantage and starts working on the wrist. Edwards gets to the ropes, and you know what that means. Both men are back on their feet and they have a nice exchange that ends with both men trying a dropkick. They continue going back and forth without anyone gaining a solid advantage. Edwards catches a boot and gloats about it, and Danielson makes him pay. Danielson continues unleashing kicks, but Edwards won’t back down. Edwards slaps Danielson in the face, and Danielson responds with a series of knee strikes and kicks. The tag team champion half rolls to the floor to recover, and then takes the fight to Danielson. He works Danielson over in the corner, but when he charges in Danielson gets a boot up. Danielson then hits a diving European Uppercut. That gives Danielson the advantage, and now he works Edwards over for a bit. Danielson locks on Cattle Mutilation but Edwards reaches the ropes. Edwards rolls to the apron, and is able to h it a Dragon Screw leg whip on the ropes. He hits a backpack chinbreaker for two, and then rolls it into a half Boston Crab. This time it’s Danielson reaching the ropes. They do the fish out of water spot, which ends with Danielson reversing a small package to one of his own to get the pin at 15:02. That was an interesting opener, with a different structure than most ROH matches. I appreciate the variety. I generally appreciate Danielson no matter what he does.
Rating: ***¼

MATCH #2: Four Corner Survival – Silas Young vs. Claudio Castagnoli vs. Matt Cross vs. Rasche Brown

I like Matt Cross. This is my first time seeing Rasche Brown, I think. Silas Young is no longer using Journey for his entrance music, so I can cross one thing off my list of things that annoy me. Cross is sporting an enormous Mohawk now. Brown pairs off with Young and tosses him to the floor, while Castagnoli tosses Cross. Both men quickly get back in the ring and there’s action all over this place. This time Young and Cross send Brown and Castagnoli, respectively, to the floor. Young gets a near-fall on Cross with a rollup and then grabs a side headlock. Castagnoli pulls Young to the floor with force, while Brown works over Cross in the ring. Brown hits a knee drop on Cross for two. Cross gets abused because he’s the smallest man in the match. Castagnoli and Brown seem to have some bad blood brewing. It’s not often someone in ROH is as tall as Castagnoli, so I wouldn’t mind seeing them have a singles match someday. The action is coming pretty fast in this one. Cross hits a sweet swinging DDT on Castagnoli, and while he celebrates Brown hits him with a spear. Brown then grabs Castagnoli in a military press and drops him down. Young sends Brown to the floor and picks Castagnoli up on his shoulders. Cross tries to use Castagnoli’s back as a springboard to dive on Brown on the floor and that almost goes very badly for him. Castagnoli then locks Young in the Swiss Sleeper Holding for the victory at 6:03. That was decent enough for the time given.
Rating: **

MATCH #3: Jimmy Rave vs. Grizzly Redwood

Rave is accompanied by Prince Nana and “Dirty” Ernie Osiris. I don’t see this one going too long. Rave is all offense from the get-go. It’s so good to have Nana back. Redwood gets a little bit of offense in, and he even drops the suspenders a la Jerry Lawler Memphis style. Osiris gets up on the apron and throws Redwood his log, and the distraction allows Rave to hit Ghanarrhea for the win at 1:39. That’s about the exact amount of time I can handle seeing Redwood. Rave getting some squashes in isn’t a bad idea either.
Rating: ½*

MATCH #4: Austin Aries & Rhett Titus vs. The Phoenix Twins

Aries cuts his now customary pre-match promo denigrating his opponents and the audience. He starts the match with Tweek, I think. The former ROH World Champion gets an early advantage and goes to work on the arm. Aries feigns a handshake, but Tweek will have none of it. A frustrated Aries tags Titus, and Tweek takes the advantage and tags Dash. They double-team Titus and get a near-fall. The Phoenix Twins use some illegal double-teaming, and Titus cowers in the corner with his partner. Titus gets knocked to the floor and Dash tries a dive but Aries cuts him off. Aries and Titus take control now and work Dash (I think) over. This goes on for several minutes before Dash knocks Titus down and makes the tag to Tweek, I think. Tweek hits Titus with a powerslam for two, and the Phoenix Twins double-team him. Aries drags Titus over to their corner to make a tag. Dash gets tagged back in and tries a somersault off the top rope and hits nothing, earning the dreaded “You F***ed Up” chant. Aries and Titus get knocked to the floor and one of the Phoenix boys hits a dive to wipe them both out. Back in the ring the Phoenix Twins double-team Aries but can’t put him away. Titus recovers and hits the Muff Driver, and Aries follows with the IED. Aries then hits a brainbuster for the win at 10:43. That was a solid tag match, but Titus is certainly no Roderick Strong.
Rating: **½

MATCH #5: Colt Cabana vs. Chris Hero

Former ROH World Champion Nigel McGuinness joins the commentating team. Cabana’s “comedy” is so forced. Either way he has a shot at the World Title tomorrow night in Chicago. They trade armbars and such in the early going. Senior Referee Todd Sinclair even gets involved, against his will. They take it to the mat, with Cabana taking the advantage. Hero grows weary of Cabana’s antics and tries to get aggressive, but that just leads to Cabana embarrassing him some more. Hero hits a rolling elbow for two, and he is firmly in control now. He sends Cabana to the floor with an eye-rake, which I must say is unique. Hero pulls up the mats on the floor and sets one on top of Cabana to hit a senton. Back in the ring Hero puts on a chinlock, which Cabana quickly escapes. Cabana comes back and hits the Flying Asshole and a clothesline for two. Hero hits another elbow and gets a schoolboy rollup for two. Cabana comes back with a backslide for two. Hero hits a boot to the face and a charging elbow in the corner. He hits a blockbuster for two. Cabana avoids an elbow and turns it into the Billy Goat’s Curse and Hero taps out at 12:02. Cabana’s particular brand of comedy isn’t really doing it for me, but that was the right move to make given that Cabana has a title shot tomorrow night. The match pretty much made Hero look foolish though, and I don’t care for that.
Rating: *¾

MATCH #6: Jimmy Jacobs vs. Egotistico Fantastico

I think this is my first time seeing Egotistico Fantastico; I didn’t even know he was a masked individual. Jacobs is wearing an eye patch for reasons that escape me. Leonard helpfully points out that it was a result of the finish to the Markham Street Fight Jacobs and Delirious had last weekend. This is the debut of Fantastico, who goes after the arm early on. Fantastico shows his quickness and hits a dropkick, and then locks Jacobs in a surfboard and slams him into the mat. Jacobs takes a powder, and Fantastico tries to follow him out, but he winds up eating a face full of ring apron. Fantastico sends Jacobs into the crowd, and then puts his cape on in order to dive over the guardrail and wipes Jacobs out. Back in the ring Jacobs takes the advantage with his double stomps. Jacobs is firmly in control now, in and out of the ring. He actually hits a flying choke off the second rope, which is awesome. Jacobs also takes the horn off his opponent’s mask and puts it in his mouth. Wrestling isn’t gay at all, what? Fantastico fights back with some punches and hits a rana off the top rope. He hits a sort of Kudo Driver for a two-count. Jacobs gets set up on the top rope, and Fantastico tries a superplex. That gets blocked and Jacobs hits a senton for two. The crowd chants “Emo Pirate” and Fantastico gets a sunset flip for two, and then a gut wrench diamond suplex. Fantastico goes up top and tries a moonsault but Jacobs gets the knees up. Jacobs then locks on the End Time and Fantastico taps out at 8:08. I always enjoy seeing Jacobs, and Fantastico seemed game.
Rating: **¼

MATCH #7: Tyler Black vs. Davey Richards

Black actually spits in Richards’ face right way, so Richards rolls to the floor and grabs a chair. Of course the chair doesn’t make its way into the ring, but Richards does, and he delivers a kick to Black’s shoulder. Both men are a bit cautious here. They trade headlocks, and Black winds up winning that battle. Black has counters for everything Richards tries, and goes back to the headlock. Richards hits a spinning kick, and spurns the cheers of the crowd, which knowing ROH fans will make them cheer for him more. He tosses Black to the floor and Hagadorn slams Black into the guardrail. Back in the ring Richards works on the arm. He tries a Kimura Lock but Black gets the ropes. Black tries to fire back but Richards shrugs it off and stays on offense. Richards goes up top and hits a diving headbutt to the arm but it only gets two. Black blocks a kick and hits one of his own, and then slams Richards hard to the floor. He follows him out with a somersault dive. Back in the ring Black drops Richards chest first and hits a standing shooting star press for two. Black goes for God’s Last Gift but Richards blocks it and hits a kick to the back. He avoids a German Suplex and tries a victory roll but Richards sits down and gets a two-count. Black hits a leaping enziguiri and both men are down. He tries the springboard lariat but Richards reverses it to a nasty looking arm submission. Richards rolls it into a cover for two. He hits the Alarm Clock, a clothesline, and a German Suplex for a very near-fall. He then sets Black on the top rope but Black knocks him down and tries the Phoenix Splash. It misses and Richards gets a victory roll for two. Black gets up and hits two superkicks. He then hits the Buckle Bomb but misses the third superkick and Richards gets a schoolboy rollup with the tights for the pin at 15:04. That was a terrific back and forth match that made both guys look good. They’ll certainly be wrestling each other for the ROH World Title sooner rather than later.
Rating: ***¾

MATCH #8: Kevin Steen & Jay Briscoe vs. Dark City Fight Club

I wish Jon Davis had a more intimidating look; he kind of has a baby face. Steen and Briscoe get separate entrances. They’ve formed a tenuous partnership since both of their partners are injured. Briscoe and Davis start the match, and they immediately try to intimidate each other. Davis gets a quick advantage with a shoulderblock and tags Chavis. Briscoe gets the advantage on him and then tags Steen. The makeshift team exhibits some good teamwork on Chavis, working together and making quick tags. Davis kicks Briscoe in the back, and Chavis hits a suplex. The Dark City Fight Club takes over on offense now, working Briscoe over in their half of the ring. Briscoe tries to fight back, and Davis hits a spinebuster for two. Steen finally gets tagged in and he’s absolutely on fire, taking out both Chavis and Davis. He sends Davis to the floor and hits Chavis with a cannonball for two. The match breaks down to a brawl with all four guys in the ring. Briscoe tries to set up for a Doomsday Device but Chavis escapes, and sends Steen to the floor. Dark City Fight Club hits Total Elimination for two. Steen gets back up and makes a blind tag and gets a schoolboy rollup on Chavis for the pin at 9:36. Having two matches in a row end with a schoolboy rollup is kind of lame, but other than that this was a pretty solid tag team match.
Rating: **¾

MATCH #9: ROH World Title Match – Jerry Lynn vs. Roderick Strong

Lynn has been the champion since 4.3.09, and this is already his third defense. Nigel McGuinness rejoins the commentating team as Lynn and Strong start the match with some chain wrestling. The winner of this match faces Colt Cabana tomorrow night in Chicago. They trade armbars and such, and Strong lights up Lynn’s chest with a chop. Strong is in control now, working on Lynn’s arm. Lynn comes back with some armdrags and also goes to work on his opponent’s arm. Strong fights out of the armbar and whips Lynn into the ropes for a leg lariat, which gets two. He hits a huge chop and Lynn rolls to the floor. Strong follows him out and misses a chop up against the barricade. He runs Lynn’s back into the ring apron instead and gets back in the ring. The champion tries to fire up and tries to hit some strikes of his own but Strong chops him back down. For some reason Lynn feels like trying to be funny to the crowd in the midst of this beating he’s taking while defending the ultra-important ROH World Title. Lynn avoids a bodyslam and hits an inverted DDT for two. He utilizes the Gory Special and drops Strong on his head awkwardly for two. Strong reverses the momentum and tries an O’Connor roll. Lynn blocks that but Strong hits a dropkick for two. Strong once again sends Lynn to the floor. He leaps off the apron, but Lynn moves out of the way and Strong’s head connects with the guardrail. Holy crap it’s a gusher. Back in the ring Lynn puts on a Boston Crab. Strong gets out of the Boston Crab and avoids that stupid legdrop Lynn does. They fight on the apron and Lynn knocks Strong down and hits a tornado DDT on the floor. Back in the ring Lynn gets a two-count. Lynn goes for the Cradle Piledriver but Strong reverses to a Gibson Driver attempt, which Lynn reverses to an Air Raid Crash for two. They go up top and Strong is able to hit a superplex for two. Strong then locks on the Stronghold and Lynn gets the ropes. The challenger hits a uranage backbreaker for another two-count. They fight on the apron again and Strong hits a belly-to-back suplex right on the edge of the apron for two. Strong hits a half-nelson backbreaker for another two-count and puts on the Stronghold again (why do they keep calling it the Boston Crab?) and Lynn once again reaches the ropes, and then gets a rollup for two. The challenger hits the gutbuster and the Yakuza for two. Lynn comes back and hits a TKO and the Cradle Piledriver for only two! He hits a second Cradle Piledriver to finally finish Strong off at 18:21. The blood really helped the drama of the match, and kudos to Strong for going all-out to make the champion look amazing.
Rating: ****