1. Delirious vs. Go Shiozaki - 4
2. Kenny King, Sal Rinuaro, and Chasyn Rance vs. Bushwhacker Luke, Alex Payne, and Dingo - 3
3. Roderick Strong vs. Erick Stevens - 8
4. Briscoe Bros. vs. Jimmy Jacobs and Tyler Black - Relaxed Rules Match - 3
5. Kevin Steen and El Generico vs. BxB Hulk & SHINGO - 5
6. Nigel McGuinness vs. Austin Aries – 6
7. Typhoon (CIMA, Dragon Kid, and Ryo Saito) vs. Muscle Outlawz (Naruki Doi, Masato Yoshino,and Genki Horiguchi) – 7
I need to stress off the bat, I watched this show in the company of fellow writers Jessie and Didge, and while we certainly indulged, watching in a group environment doesn’t generally lead to the clearest recollections. It’s easy to get caught up in conversation, digressions, hilarity, etc. So, while no notes were taken, and not as many details committed to memory as usual, I still felt obligated to give some feedback on such a highly touted show, and one our source Spoon so graciously handed over to us.
Delirious does a lot of playing to the crowd, per normal, and Shiozaki goofs along with his freaky opponent instead of mauling him as my heart desired. Granted, Delirious has built up a decent following, but I would have rather seen Shiozaki booked against any number of guys not featured on this showcase show, including Davey Richards, Ruckus, Necro Butcher, and dare I say it, even Jack Evans. The six-man tag was a throwaway bout, pure and simple, and while Luke worked Florida in his heyday, he should be barred from the state whenever a wrestling show is scheduled there unless he’s incarcerated.
Strong and Stevens was a spectacular, hard-hitting fight that resulted in one of the most refreshing and exhilarating experiences I’ve had watching ROH in years. Within minutes Strong’s chest is bleeding from brutal chops, and the viciousness continues, as these guys go all out here. While not on the level of a Kawada versus Misawa clash, I did see a glimpse of their epic battles in this, and that’s a very exciting thing to witness as a wrestling fan.
I’m sure there are some people pimping the “Relaxed Rules” hardcore spot fest, but seriously, this was poorly executed, wrought with no logic, and a slap in the fans’ faces. Do I dig people hurting each other? In the right context, hell yes, I enjoy it on par with a fine steak and raspberry martini. But therein is the problem, there wasn’t any context here, no elevating story or escalating intensity. You start off with a dozen giant bumps as they brawl all over the arena, but face facts, you could take any one of those outrageous bumps, and Triple H could use it (and just that one big bump—no others) building it into the story of a match and craft it to make it actually mean something. Are you following me? And worse, after slamming each other on tons of chairs, the cement floor, and so on, they end up back in the ring where they begin working traditional spots, totally disregarding the sheer barbarism of the earlier brawl. Are you kidding me? This sucks Jigsaw’s puzzling phallus.
BxB Hulk is a riot to watch dance, his wrestling isn’t too shabby, either. Steen and Generico have put on some really entertaining matches the last year, although Generico needs a new character and Steen a healthy diet. These teams matched up well on paper, and delivered a fine, but ultimately forgettable match for the Orlando mutants in attendance. Aries and McGuinness had a fairly solid match, too—although their recent pay-per-view outing was superior in every way. Still, there were some memorable sequences and bumps, excluding Aries’ eyesore brown trunks, and flashbacks to Nigel’s former HWA valet and her waistline. The main event was wild, fast-paced, and thoroughly enjoyable. Dragon’s Gate shined, as six of their top guys worked their asses off, and while the bulk of this match seemed oddly familiar, you can’t deny the skill and effort involved. My only real complaint is the last act, as there are several instances of guys kicking out of monstrous moves like top-rope brainbusters, etc. when they should be incapacitated, which comes to a crescendo as Yoshino kicks out of a handful of pins before finally succumbing in a cringe-worthy climax.