1. Ronin & TJ Perkins vs. Karl Anderson & Bino Gambino - J: 4 B: 2
Jess: What a strange matchup to start with, neither of these teams look comfortable with each other, like riding the Metro downtown only for either a strange lady holding a giant flower or a dude with his Blackberry out while talking on his Bluetooth sits next to you. This is early TJ, and you see the beginnings of his style forming here. Despite terrible, terrible name, Gambino holds his own in most exchanges. I thought Anderson would bring the stiff strong style but he mostly chameleons into whatever role they need. Still, had more meat to it w/o all the neverending 2.9 counts most PWG openers have.
Brian: Gambino looked like a dick repository. And Ronin looks like the generic action figure you let the rest of your other toys beat up on. "Machine Gun" came off like a water pistol at best. TJP's timing was about as accurate as the Jar Jar Binks wristwatch I left out in my backyard for six years. Bino's got a face for radio and a body for a mortician's table. No wonder he disappeared. The transition into Ronin's finish was about as organic as cotton candy.
2. CIMA vs. Human Tornado (1st Rd - Block B) - B: 4 J: 3
Brian: Tornado tried to whore out his valet to CIMA pre-match. CIMA does what I can only describe as a pelvic thrust to Tornado's backside that knocked him out of the ring. I never saw Carlito do a Backcracker as sick as the one CIMA busted out. Tornado drops CIMA neck-first with a back suplex onto the ring apron. A wise Zen master once posed this cryptic query to me: Ever get a black eye from a black guy? Tornado did a somersault from inside the ring over the top rope, all the way over the guardrail, and out onto CIMA in the crowd. Unreal. Human goes to suplex his valet, inexplicably, but CIMA powerbombs him off the top bringing Candice over with him. CIMA hits the Schwein for the win. Overall, kind of a one-man show, Tornado's heeling can be tiresome, the shtick with him abusing females, inciting, etc. and CIMA didn't really have to work hard for this first round. Entertaining enough but hollow.
Jess: After my initial viewing of Tornado on a Vince Russo produced DVD where he’s being coached scene for scene by the idiot Russo, I’ve just become less and less amused at his routine. Something about his woman abusing not only, obviously comes off as schovinistic but cruel and unnecessary; him being a scrawny dude playing a wrestling character and it just blurs the line. I thought CIMA was going to miss him on that apron suplex and I was secretly hoping he would. Again that superplex spot, the woman took the sickest part of it and for what? I just wasn’t entertained by this.
3. SHINGO vs. Scott Lost (1st Rd - Block B) - J: 3 B: 3
Jess: This didn’t leave much of an impression with me, Scott Lost never has. I was more intrigued by his valet who looks somewhat like the guest Asian reporter on Ebert’s new show. I think Shingo needs someone to lead him and this just felt like watching rust form.
Brian: I wish Scott Lost would get lost. Did he ever do anything to justify his existence as a pro wrestler? Lost trying a suplex from inside the ring, up and over the top, out to the floor was a pretty crazy spot to bust out in a subpar first round sleeper. Finish seemed abrupt and slapdash.
4. Necro Butcher vs. Kevin Steen (1st Rd - Block C) - B: 3 J: 3
Brian: This one doesn't go very long. Steen tries to "wrestle" Necro grabbing hammerlocks, attempting wrist control, etc. but Butcher doesn't oblige and sticks to throwing kidney and rib punches. Forearm strike exchange sequence lacked intensity. Guess the referee didn't care about all the illegal closed fists? Terrible looking roll-up by Necro finishes this turd.
Jess: I thought the idea of Steen trying to take out Necro’s knee, in most matches, would make sense but with him just being a brawler and Necro consistently only fighting back with his fists made Steen come off as just plain dumb. I think they tried to come up with as many things to breeze through this as easily as possible.
5. Nigel McGuinness vs. Davey Richards (1st Rd - Block C) - J: 5 B: 5
Jess: When you see this matchup, kind of an easy score to most surface fans, two of ROH’s most heralded performers going one on one but you have give each match a chance. The stuff with the female fan kissing Nigel’s “boo-boo’s” was fun esp. with Richards wanting some mouth love for his stinging crotch later on. You forget how smooth Nigel is as he pushes and pulls Davey in one sequence like towels in a washing machine. I love how Nigel doesn’t bust out all his finishers, choosing here and there; exact opposite of a guy like RVD who uses every single move every single match. Finish was simple and satisfying.
Brian: A little testosterone chess match early. Hard to buy Davey as vicious as usual when he has bed-head. If this was ROH this would have been way more overblown. Sort of felt like it was missing its middle. The Rebound Lariat that got Nigel the win was all kinds of brutal and the right guy went over here.
6. El Generico vs. Tony Kozina (1st Rd - Block C) - B: 5 J: 5
Brian: I surprisingly dug this. Kozina had no chances of winning this thing. Still, they worked it like they didn't get that memo, going back-and-forth which was fine save for a few badly blown spots. Nuttiest thing I've seen in a long time: Kozina randomly tries to hurricanrana Generico off the top rope to the floor! I didn't see that coming. Ending sequence had some polish on it.
Jess: I actually found myself rooting for Kozina, and it’s rare that happens these days; one particular nearfall after a huge move off the top was damn close. Now we’ve seen dozens of matches with the close Generico loss mounted with big comeback so it’s nothing new but I think it probably was at this point and I think I would have even scored it higher per those standards. Yeah, what the hell was Kozina thinking? Totally caught me off guard when he pulled that one off. This was probably my favorite match of the tournament so far.
7. Dragon Kid vs. Susuma Yokosuka (1st Rd - Block C) - J: 6 B: 6
Jess: Besides a few minor nitpicks, thought this was a solid main. Very telling when PWG imports talent for their main event. I understand why Mick Foley often wears t-shirts in the ring but why Yokosuka? Kid is Rey w/o charisma; the guy can fly no doubt. He takes a hard clothesline on the apron early on which was cool, then gives everyone a photo op by sitting there with his feet in the air like an infant child waiting to be changed. This was more of an American style main event and I thought both seemed comfortable doing it. As soon as Dragon hit that springboard hurricanrana, I said, this is the finish, it has to be and it was the right call. I thought they may have went a little long actually but as I said minor nitpicks. Probably the thing I’ve enjoyed more than any other so far in this tourney.
Brian: I've dug Dragon Kid since Toryumon (and that one time he showed up on Monday Nitro and beat Eddie Guerrero). I was pulling for Yokosuka here, though, for the upset, although that desire was dashed. I thought this had some sizzle without being pure flash, nice basics, some buyable nearfalls, suckered the crowd in, etc. so overall I'd say give it a watch. Minor nitpick was Kid over-rotating on the Dragonrana.