1. Roderick Strong vs. Joey Ryan (Block A Quarterfinal) - B: 4 J: 4
Brian: I had the same reaction to this as I did reading Sasha Grey had retired from porn to be an "actress". Kind of a nothing opener although they did keep the intensity up during its short duration. With that ridiculous hair Ryan looks like a '70's stoner older brother who "lives" in the garage behind his parents' house. Fairly unobjectionable for 7 min. but forgettable.
Jess: Speaking of Sasha, hear she got into some trouble reading to a class of 3rd graders last week. I liked the pop on a lot of the moves, gave it something more than a nothing opener and I liked Roddy’s finishing stretch but god damn Ryan looks like a complete freak.
2. Alex Shelley vs. Matt Sydal (Block A Quarterfinal) J: 5 B: 5
Jess: Surprised how much ground work this match had, as we know Shelly is a mat- adore, follows all styles but even Sydal got into the mix, like a mom caught up in her daughter’s Twilight obsession. This is one of those smartly paired bouts where both guys are small, so you don’t notice it against each other. One spot near the end had a superkick that actually stood out nowadays, as on a PWG show you roughly see 15-20 of them any given night.
Brian: Shelley had a great little facial at one point where he sat-up and looked like a kid in bed that was just forced to get up in the morning. Wonder what Gotch and Thesz would think about these guys' goofy trunks as Shelley looks like an extra from Cyborg. Alex catching Bourne mid-rotation with an Ace Crusher looked much better than when Randy Orton did it on Raw.
3. PAC vs. Claudio Castagnoli (Block B Quarterfinal) - B: 2 J: 2
Brian: Claudio tossed PAC higher than Luigi can jump. Not sure why Mario got the princess when Luigi was taller, thinner, and more skilled. Didn't really get a sense either of these guys cared a ton about moving forward in the BoLA. Match came off flatter than January Jones' performance in X-Men: First Class. PAC got the victory with British Airways after a convoluted set-up.
Jess: Mario= Confidence. Haha, good question. Claudio was going through the motions like he did working the Auntie Anne’s counter at his part time job. I thought seeing you give this a “2” I would like it much more but this was just vapid.
4. CIMA vs. SHINGO (Block B Quarterfinal) - J: 4 B: 5
Jess: You would think this goes into DG overkill, but no, not at all. There’s something about this crowd, not sure if they’re trying to pretend to be a Japanese one but it’s deader than Jason Todd. Liked some of the submission stuff thrown in, but I didn’t buy Cima as Shingo’s equal in strength (see shoulderblock spot) Nothing real memorable but solid
Brian: I liked this better. The student and the teacher. Well, in that CIMA teaches, and SHINGO was inevitably taught at some point. How's that for the old curveball, eh? With the NBA on lockout I've got to get my sports itch scratched somehow. I did dig the story here though. CIMA targets SHINGO's injured arm, trying to eliminate SHINGO's advantage, that being the power game. SHINGO eventually fights through the pain and goes on a nice offensive stretch and it looks like CIMA is on the verge of losing only to pull of an ultra-slick roll-up to survive and move forward.
5. Nigel McGuinness vs. Necro Butcher (Block C Quarterfinal) - B: 6 J: 5
Brian: Going into this I wasn't expecting to recommend it but for an under 10 min. match this was exactly what you wanted it to be. Unlike Steen the previous night Nigel had no problem mauling Butcher. McGuinness took all Butcher doled out then reciprocated by kicking a chair into Butcher's shins, giving him a a snapmare into the guardrail (love the innovation), etc. Then in the ring we got a concussion party which is always lovely. Liked the psychology of the ending where Butcher's leg was too damaged that he couldn't get the Choose Death off onto the chairs so ended up falling prey to Nigel who suplexed him right onto the steel concoction. Nigel hit Necro so hard with a lariat the first few rows got a contact high.
Jess: I wasn’t either, but this was a concept match where everything laid out is going to make sense, not a usual PWG bout where guys get 15 mins to just fuck around with any kind of layout they want. Nigel was brutal in that cold way, not where he’s playing it up with the crowd, he’s just doing the damn thing. Necro shows here he has a Foley-esque sympathetic quality he should use more. This was violent and fast paced, good bout.
6. El Generico vs. Dragon Kid (Block C Quarterfinal) - J: 6 B: 4
Jess: Generico has been on a streak of fighting all these great masked guys from Japan, add another to the list. This is what you expect but without the vomit feeling in your throat when they won’t end it. Dragon’s series of nearfalls is some of the most believable pinfalls of the tourney, where you know he wants to win this damn thing. The energy was palpable, like a Childish Gambino performance. And Generico liked being the bigger dude, his somewhat questionable offense made perfect sense finally.
Brian: Generico's histrionics bring to mind a Daniel Johnston superhero doodling. This only went 8 min. so it's tough to recommend given that it felt like a pretty good first one-third of a match. Generico's size did play a factor as he was busting out some mean stuff he usually doesn't get to utilize including some nasty backbreakers, etc. Kid tried to counter a top rope brainbuster into a stunner in mid-air but caught the back of his legs on the top rope on the way down and nearly got paralyzed -- really scary bump. Jessie was mentioning Kid's nearfalls, but he only got two, both in the last 90 seconds of the match, and when you've seen guys in ROH spend 40+ min. trying unsuccessfully to put Generico away I never really bought into him being in any kind of trouble.
7. Roderick Strong vs. Alex Shelley (Block A Semifinal) - B: 5 J: 6
Brian: I'm very excited about this. Two former Generation Next stablemates squaring off? Fucking forget about it. Instant classic. Alright, well, let me cool it down and actually watch the damn thing. Really nice sequence early with lots of countering of each guy's trademarked convoluted shit. I can buy Alex as a guy who studies ROH on his cell phone while riding public transit. Shelley eats one chop in the corner and gives a cantankerous expression like Mr. Wilson after eyeing Dennis the Menace pissing through the fence onto his garden. Bad camera shot on the finish as Shelley had a apathetic blank stare on his face like I did while sitting in the theater watching Resident Evil: Afterlife.
Jess: Yeah had the same feeling and both guys start this thing really confident, like the way they moved into sequence back to back just felt on a higher level than anything else so far. Shelly shoots off submission attempts like most guys do highspots these days, or for a more universal description, like Miley Cyrus drinks bongwater. Shelly is a perfect foil for those chops and even though Roderick has a face like he’s waiting for his popcorn to pop in the microwave, the brutality he dishes out is just nuts. I had a lot of fun watching this and I think since they weren’t in ROH they didn’t care about overkill at the end. Someone douse this crowd with huge water hoses, and wake them up.
8. CIMA vs. PAC (Block B Semifinal) - J: 5 B: 6
Jess: I saw this match years back on the huge best of PWG put out and it’s not the best match on this show. This is Cima at his finest. Experience is still worth something as you can see him orchestrating the music they are playing here. Pac is a great foil for him though because he can fly and twist any way you want him to. Some really good near falls (not as good as Elgin-O’Reilly from ROH Survival of the Fittest 2011) but still intense. He played every scene right here, when he was on offense, went for the win, on defense, struggling and frustrated, just dug the hell out of him here; he’s become one of my few highlights watching a DG show these days.
Brian: CIMA is a genuine maestro -- seeing him live this year at a DGUSA show was a real treat for me. Nowadays PAC is one of Dragon Gate's big stars and you'd have to assume working him here CIMA was certainly impressed. PAC going for lots of quick covers made sense. A big difference between PAC and say a guy like Jack Evans is PAC has a way of making stuff like corkscrewy splashes look impactful and not just flashy. I love the staggering selling of CIMA -- looks like a drunken hobo stumbling around San Francisco. Finish was pretty sick too. One of the first matches to really pull me in as a fan into the drama of the tournament setting.
9. El Generico vs. Nigel McGuinness (Block C Semifinal) - B: 5 J: 5
Brian: Some perfunctory arm work to begin. A male fan in the crowd literally fans Nigel as he takes a breather until it takes a turn for the creepy when McGuinness begins pulling open his trunks and scares the poor guy away. Generico does a flip off of the top that called to mind Bryan Fox and myself somersaulting over fences from one backyard to the next halfway down my block one raucous New Year's Eve. These guys had some hard-fought classics in ROH but this is the neutered version. Still had some sweet moments, Generico selling the arm damage late was gritty and realistic, like a Batman graphic novel, and Nigel kicking out after a brainbuster was a killer nearfall.
Jess: These two have had some awesome title matches in ROH and they kind of work that here, except with none of the drama. I’m sure that guy asked for Nigel’s number later after the show. I thought all that arm work would have led somewhere but Generico seemed just fine. I thought the brainbuster was a little ugly though, and when Nigel can’t get the bounce out of the ropes on the rebound lariat you wonder what you’re watching. Still, these two have enough spots between them to work a functional and entertaining match; one of the more over with the crowd too.
10. Chris Hero, Kevin Steen, Tyler Black, Doug Williams, Susumu Yokosuka & Jack Evans vs. Austin Aries, Jimmy Rave, The Human Tornado, Scott Lost, Davey Richards & Karl Anderson - J: 4 B: 4
Jess: (sigh) you know this was just for fun as soon as it started. But the fun wears out after the 15 minute mark and they just kept right on going like the Road Runner avoiding a dynamite patch set by that Coyote. When you see Evans and Lost trading spin flip kicks, you think you just turned on the latest in the Step Up movie series. If Hero’s the knockout Kid, how come he can’t knock anyone out without throwing 70 shots at their face? The crowd was sooo different from most indy crowds as they didn’t even shit on Machine Gun botching his flip over the top rope. Smartly, they work over Evans for a good chunk and while it’s hard to stand out in this, Richards did, as a guy who’s actually trying to win. He locked in on several targets like a missile and just destroyed them. I always enjoy a good multi man dive spot, just to see who plays the Danny Doring in the scene (first it was Aries, then Black) There’s so much talent here but this kind of match plays much better when you’re there live to experience it than to rewatch on DVD as it has no substantial value or meaning.
Brian: Lost sold everything like he just pulled his groin on his first attempt at snowboarding. I liked the Aries and Yokosuka sequence; it helped get Austin booked in Japan a few dates. Evans' work looked rougher than singer Seal's face. I wish we would have gotten more Jimmy Rave being a bastard (i.e. him posing on Evans during a pin like he was Billy Graham). Anderson was half-bald here surely there's an obscure fetish for that. Four of the twelve guys are working in t-shirts. Stay classy Reseda.
11. CIMA vs. Roderick Strong vs. El Generico (Finals - Triple Threat Elimination) - B: 6 J: 6
Brian: In PWG we've seen a lot of three-way matches, including people being plugged into them (RVD comes to mind) mindlessly, but this felt freshly organic. Chaos is usually germane to this sort of match but given the circumstances it seemed even more fitting. I liked that CIMA had some of his crew with him at ringside similar to cornermen at a UFC fight. Some blatant "ring talk" by CIMA to Roderick after the Mad Splash was unfortunate. Generico fucking killed Strong with a brainbuster on the apron! What a landing. Then CIMA hit Generico with the Schwein on the apron. This is getting ballsy. Generico's eating heaping helpings of offense like Adam Richman eats a 5 lbs. omelette. CIMA beat Strong with the Crossfire to win. The finish run wasn't overdone and while they could have tried to push it further the crowd was on the fringe of overkill and reacted well to CIMA's big win. CIMA certainly came off as an ace and one of the stronger competitors throughout the tournament so him winning is a decision I support.
Jess: Two great things about this, first all 3 dudes were tired as hell, with bloodshot eyes and looked physically worn down like they spent the afternoon inside Room 23 by the Others. 2nd, this was done like a 4 minute 3 way you may find on Raw where everyone is just going for broke hitting all their top shelf stuff because they don’t have much time except here they had like 14 minutes so it all stretched out really well. The series of apron bumps midway through were the sickest of the tournament, esp. Roddy’s; he bounced like a Four Square ball after I Cherry Bombed it in grade school. Generico got some heat back by taking multiple finishers and the ending, as brian stated never got ridiculous; I just didn’t care for the weak ass power bomb that won it but I’m totally cool with the outsider win, nice bit of booking.