1) Roderick Strong v. Go Shiozaki v. Erick Stevens (FIP Heavyweight Title)- 6
2) Rocky Romero/ Davey Richards v. Kevin Steen/ El Generico- 4
3) Sweet n' Sour Inc. (Hero/ Albright) v. Delirious/ Pelle Primeau v. Jack Evans/ Jigsaw (Tag Team Scramble)- 2
4) Bryan Danielson v. Noamichi Marufuji- 8
5) Necro Butcher v. Takeshi Morishima (Relaxed Rules)- 4
6) Austin Aries/ Jay Briscoe v. The Age of the Fall (No DQ ROH Tag Team Title match)- 6
7) Nigel McGuiness v. Claudio Castagnoli (ROH Heavyweight Title match)- 5
What a hell of a way to start off the show! The 3 hardest hitting dudes, arguably, working today all just chopping each other's chests into hamburger meat for our enjoyment. This was an awesome opening match, just high diesel action from start to finish, with the chopping, the power moves, all of it stiffer than Hugh Hefner's heavily medicated cock. Strong has gained so much ring saavy in recent years; i think he could be a gaijin star in Japan the likes of Hansen in the 80's or Vader in the 90's, if dedicated. Stevens was kind of the glue that kept this together, he and Strong have had the feud of the year in '08 and Go, despite some selling problems, is showing tons of heart; one spot he trasitioned from a small package into a suplex position into a powerbomb- phenomenal strength. This is the best opening match i've seen since Angle v. Mysterio at Summerslam '02.
The following tag featured two teams that made waves in '08( I favor NRC) but this wasn't either team's best outing. Richards is usually a dynamo, but looked sluggish and submission work was off. Steen is quickly wearing thin on me, he will take a nasty bump or two, but he's the exact wrestler i don't like: a spot hog and he was doing it all through the end of this match, rather get the heat on him than anyone else. He and Generico, character wise have a great chemistry that can't be denied. NRC's teamwork wasn't very good either and Romero had some miscommunication with Generico during the later half of the match. Very average. This Scramble became a stunt show at a theme park, with everyone doing big dives to the floor, even Albright, after shrugging his shoulders as if to say "Why the fuck not? Nothing else to do!" Real big lack of creativity for this match, Hero and Primeau have some fun spots together, but other than that, same old, same old here. The double 450 splashes outside were mind numbingly moronic and the finish looked like a switcheroo gag that wouldn't be plausible in a Bugs Bunny cartoon.
As always, Danielson's match steals the show; it's almost like he's given this spot before intermission to make the show feel like two smaller ones, with a satisfying main event in case the real one doesn't deliver. Against Marufuji, two unique styles that blend well together. Danielson's selling like when he's dazed against the ropes and shaking out an arm after some punches just add those little touches you dont see any more. Some great submission moves worked by both men, and they looked natural and proficient, not like Jigsaw & Delirious trading intricate rollup and armdrags earlier in the show like monkeys trained for weeks to perform a routine. Marufuji has one of the best superkicks PERIOD. I love how he loops it in and hits his target dead smack every time. I love NOAH for introducing apron spots- Danielson probably isn't thrilled with the innovation seeing as how he got dropped neck first in a sort-of brainbuster onto it. ouch. This had the token dive spot seen in every match on the show but the fire was behind it all and both men seemed to be in each other's heads, near the end practically reversing every move seconds after it was attempted. You have to be careful in some situations, like Danielson's elbow strikes, people will reverse them, but leading up to it, not sell them at all, just sit there and Marufuji was guilty of that, the finish was a simple submission that was worked on and over and over again and made sense. Two wonderful styles blended together for a hell of a contest.
I thought this was pretty bland. Necro is in fact the sickest hardcore wrestler alive today, but the guy in a regular match doesn't really have the same magic. Mori selling for him with no emotion at all, he pulled off some stupid spots too, sitting the chair on Necro's face then rolling into him. Looked like a kid tumbling on a playground. Even some of Necro's punches looked bad. I didn't see the same intensity Mori usually brings at all. Back drop on open chair was sick, as well as finishing clotheslines from both men. See a group of grotesque fanboys in the crowd with the Carlio: Spit or Swallow T-shirt on and I lose my afternoon snack all over the couch. The AOTF vs. Aries/ Briscoes feud has been a good one, i must admit. The Lacey video on the extras was cool, a quick snippet of a demented scene from a film. I like how almost every match these guys have is a brawl, they don't pretend to wrestle, it's just fisticuffs all the way. Jacobs has turned into a good guy for these types of matches, he'll take a random garbage bump and doesn't really plod along with bad punches, keeps the juice flowing to it. Jay's blade job was awesome and Jacobs using the spike didn't remind of me of lazy Abby spike use, but more like deadly Shiek use. Aries played hurt face well, trying to stop the carnage of his partner and Jay's comeback was really cool, showing his lethargy due to massive blood loss but still pushing himself, and his selling was still on par. Didn't think we needed the Mark interference even though the Doomsday with one good arm is impressive ,hopefully didn't hurt himself doing it when it wasn't really needed. When the f*** did Zach Gowan join this group?
Now the main: Thought the Claudio videos on the Wire were well done, playing up his background and heritage. The match itself is a diff. story. Nigel is awesome at his role, he picks his opponents apart slowly and I don't know if there is anyone else better in the world today at doing it, except maybe Orton but he can't hold a candle to Nigel's submission skills. I've seen a good handful of Nigel title defenses and he knows his stuff. The reason this match didn't work for me is I don't think Claudio's style fit in with the World Champ Nigel at all; they're Euro exhibitions and comedy fests in 05/06 were fine and their chemistry was good, but here, where you have to sell seriously and take hurty bumps to get over Nigel's moves, Claudio was all over the place. He took multiple awkward bumps that could have hurt him and he ran out of gas, visibly at around 15 minutes, even though this thing went near 30. His selling was off, on all of Nigel's big moves: Tower of London, the clothesline where you're straddled on the rope. Formula was good and Nigel's arm work, all of the little things to get it to the point of submission worked and the crowd was most def. into this, a great shot was the whole crowd on their feet for a sitdown powerbomb near fall. Crowd was excellent all night actually. Thought this was a good show overall, despite some bad stuff mixed in and also had 3 awesome matches, so can't really ask for much more.