Kenny Omega says he always wanted to wrestle in the "New Alabama" arena. Rhett Titus tells him that he's cocky, but not as cocky as Titus. Omega calls Rhett the "purest" wrestler in ROH, but he's not referring to his wrestling skills.
Elsewhere, Chris Hero makes sure we know he's that "Young, Knockout Kid."
They introduce all of the officials, including the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission. When did this promotion turn into WCW?
Opening Match: Rhett Titus vs. Kenny Omega.
I'm not sure if I want Rhett Titus' "jerking-off-with-the-opponent's-arm" spot to make it to TV or not. Even more disturbing, wondering what in the hell Omega's masturbatory habits are like, given his mocking of that same spot. Omega has a very old-school babyface style. The Polish Hammer needs to go, but I like Omega's shtick. Titus, of course, is one of my favorites because it's Jimmy Garvin all over again. He needs a Sunshine, though… and to stop being jobbed out. Omega hits the "Stop" enzuigiri and finishes with an Ocean Cyclone Suplex (The Omegaplex, I assume) at 13:40. I think Titus has more long-term star power than Omega, but Kenny has the hot hand right now. **
Chris Hero (w/Sweet 'n' Sour Inc.) vs. Erick Stevens.
This one started out a little awkward with Stevens doing his dumb babyface act and getting distracted by Larry Sweeney. That allows Hero to take over, but Stevens keeps it interesting enough fighting from underneath. He gets a nice counter to Hero's running elbow by simply chasing him and turning it into an O'Connor Roll. He clotheslines Hero and then busts out the throat-slash gesture. Well, I guess if people can use the Crossface… but still, ya know. It's just creepy. Sara Del Rey jumps in to help out and provides just enough distraction that Hero is able to avoid the Doctorbomb and kick Stevens with a loaded boot at 9:34. I wouldn't mind seeing Stevens in this role in ROH while being a bigger star in FIP. It seems to work better for him with the different audiences. **1/2
Kensuke Sasaki & Katsuhiko Nakajima vs. Brent Albright & Roderick Strong.
This is manlier than Charlton Heston reading the script to "300" while smoking a large Cuban cigar. Roderick UNLEASHES THE FURY with chops on Nakajima. Now that's a feud I'd like to see if Nakajima could have an extended stay. They open with an excellent series of reversals and dodges before Roderick calls out Kensuke. Silly Roderick. Kensuke totally no-sells Roderick's chops, thus ruining their mystique, and bowls him over with a shoulderblock. Roddy tags in Brent, and we get a showdown of powerhouses. After some posturing, Sasaki powerslams Brent, giving Nakajima an opening to tag in and hit some kicks. Albright fires back, and the Americans work in a doubleteam. TEAMWORK~! Wait… that's the other guys. The Japanese isolate Brent. I swear to you that Nakajima is actually Sasaki's illegitimate son. It's eerie how much their offense mirrors each other at points. Of course, Nakajima is much younger and can move. Brent clotheslines his way out of trouble and tags in Roderick, but Strong just gets ABUSED by Sasaki. Sasaki puts him in the Stranglehold Gamma. Albright saves, and the Americans bust out more doubleteams, including a wicked spear/flying kick in the corner. The Japanese show they can hold their own in the doubleteams department, as Sasaki just tosses Nakajima into Strong. A powerful lariat gets two on Albright, and the Northern Lights Bomb puts an end to him at 16:00. Stiff, quality action. They went with a Japanese formula of Albright and Sasaki being the power captains of their teams and dominating the other two when they were isolated. Now bring on the Briscoes! ***3/4
Larry Sweeney announces the formation of "The American Wolves" – Davey Richards & Eddie Edwards.
Takeshi Morishima vs. Go Shiozaki (w/Larry Sweeney).
Shiozaki's sleazy image is coming along nicely. He actually dominates Morishima early, tying him in the tree-of-woe and putting the boots to him. Morishima fights back, and the action starts to lag. It's much better when Shiozaki is in control. Imagine a hyena fighting a bear… communist or otherwise. Morishima blocks a sunset flip and squashes Go's sternum. Go mounts him in the corner, but Morishima goes all Undertaker on him with a powerbomb. Go fires back with chops but runs right into a lariat. That sets up the Backdrop Driver at 11:30. They didn't really cut loose like I was hoping they might. Morishima looked like he was saving himself for the fight against Danielson the following night, and I suppose that was wise. Still, letting Go handle most of the work was a good idea, and it made for a better match. ***
Three-Way Elimination: The Briscoe Bros. vs. The American Wolves (w/Larry Sweeney) vs. Nigel McGuinness & Claudio Castagnoli.
The American Wolves do kinda look like the British Bulldogs… a little. I think it's Davey's penchant for brooding intensity much like Dynamite Kid. Eddie needs to hit the juice gym to look like Davey Boy, though. The match is kind of meandering with all the jockeying until Davey and Jay get chippy. The Wolves decide they'd be better off stepping back and letting the other two teams go at it, since it's double elimination. The Europeans do a lot of douchebaggy stuff to get heat, but the Briscoes gain the advantage and set up for the Springboard Doomsday Device. Davey breaks that up, though, and Eddie sneaks in and rolls up Claudio to eliminate the European Union at 10:32. The Wolves jump the Briscoes immediately and go to work on Mark's bad knee. Jay comes back with a spinebuster (or chokeslam). Things get heated between the two teams, and Edwards dropkicks Mark's bad knee. The Wolves look to finish with a superkick/German Suplex/Jacknife roll sequence, but it only gets two. I hate it when they count two guys piling on for a pinfall anyway. The Wolves set up for the Doomsday Device, but the Briscoes break it up. Mark hits a super Sambo slam as Jay reverses to a Victory Roll for two. The Jaydriller finishes at 18:58. The Wolves looked great in their first outing, reminding me a bit of the Havana Pitbulls, a team I greatly miss. McGuinness & Claudio seemed like they were just there to have something to do, which is never good. ***1/4
Austin Aries vs. Naomichi Marafuji.
Okay, this kicked some serious ass. Aries is still leading up to his heel turn here, so pairing him up against perennially over Marafuji is a good idea. Spiffy early sequence sees Marafuji put Austin in the headscissors, and he avoids the dropkick because he knows YOU CAN'T HEADSCISSOR AUSTIN ARIES! And even cooler, he sets up for a kick to the head, but Aries has that scouted. Marafuji hits the back kick moments later, though. They shop it out, and Marafuji goes to the eyes. He makes it worse by standing on Aries head. Aries gets pissed and drapes Marafuji's head on the apron so he can hit a running knee. Aries gets several nearfalls back in the ring. The crowd calls for the pendulum elbow, but it misses. Marafuji blocks the O'Connor Roll and kicks Aries right in the face. ONE, TWO, THRE-NO! Aries blocks the Shiranui and hits the gutbuster/STO. That sets up a successful pendulum elbow for two. Aries goes for the Heat-Seeking Suicida, but Marafuji DROPKICKS HIM OUT OF THE SKY! Marafuji should enter the NBA Slam Dunk Contest. Seriously, just kick the shit out of Chris Anderson or something backstage and take his place ECW-style. The Sunshine Elbow gets two. Aries gets the Crucifix Bomb and the Heat-Seeking Suicida, but Marafuji blocks the Super Brainbuster and counters to a curbstomp. Sick. The coast-to-coast gets two, and Marafuji ROCKS him with a series of kicks. That sets up the Shiranui Kai (snapmare where the attacker flips it into a slam) at 20:07. Marafuji's kicks are a thing of beauty, and Aries gently sliding from babyface to heel depending on where he was in the match was the icing on the cake. Good stuff. ****
Austin is incredulous and walks out to a standing ovation that dissolves to a chorus of boos…
… because here's The-Artist-Formerly-Known-as-Prince Nana to beg for his job back. He's quickly shuffled out by security.
Necro Butcher, Kevin Steen & El Generico (w/Daizee Haze) vs. The Age of the Fall.
The heels clear out, and Jimmy tosses a chair. Necro catches it and dares Jimmy to get back in the ring. Jimmy demands order or he's leaving. The faces chase them down, and Necro crotches Black on the ringpost. The heels take an asskicking, but they isolate Kevin Steen in their corner and put the boots to him. Necro stumbles in and tries to rip Delirious' mask off. Generico tags in and assumes the face-in-peril role after a spear. Jimmy rams him into the buckle and holds him for a Delirious headbutt. Steen gets the hot tag and cleans house, but Delirious breaks up the moonsault. Necro accosts Delirious and goes up for the dirty bum crossbody onto the pile. Delirious breaks it up and tries to stab him while he's in the tree-of-woe, but Daizee convinces him to drop the spike. That allows Necro to recover and chokeslam him. Steen sets up for the Packaged Piledriver, but Davey Richards sneaks in and attacks his knee with a pipe. Jimmy locks in the End Time, and Steen can't power up so he has to tap at 15:27. Jimmy and Delirious would earn a match with the champs the following night. This was fun, but not as fun as it probably would have been had they just scrapped formula and gone with an all-out brawl (see the Final Battle six-man the following night). **3/4
Bryan Danielson vs. Jerry Lynn.
This is a de facto #1 contender's match, so Nigel McGuinness is on commentary. Lots of mutual respect here. Lynn is one step ahead of Danielson's offense early, but Danielson takes it to the mat and dominates. Danielson totally has his way with Lynn, which is only slightly more homoerotic than Prazak's comment that Danielson has a little Rhett Titus in him. Lynn spins Danielson around with a rolling sunset cradle, and they both collide with crossbodies. Lynn takes over with a tilt-o-whirl backbreaker and avoids a missile dropkick. That sets up a somersault plancha from Lynn. Back in, Danielson backflips over Lynn but winds up in the CFCW. Danielson reverses to the Cattle Mutilation. Lynn reverses that to the Gory Special and dumps him for two. Danielson plays dead but suddenly snaps him down into the Triangle Choke. Lynn escapes and powerbombs him for two. That sets up a Cradle Piledriver, but Danielson does a spiffy counter to the Triangle Choke! Awesome! Lynn squirms out and reverses Danielson's super backdrop to a sunset flip. Danielson charges and gets Dragon Screwed. Lynn picks him up, but Danielson turns it into a small package. Lynn reverses, but Danielson reverses again and gets his shoulder up before the three count to pick up the win at 23:27. These two adapted to each other quite well. Lynn's style has evolved to something far more organic than it was in ECW, and Danielson can wrestle with anyone. I'm normally not a big fan of finishes like that, but it works in the context of both guys being pushed at different levels. ****
After the match, Danielson puts Lynn over. Lynn talks about getting fired from everywhere, but he's happy to be able to prove himself. He puts over ROH and Danielson in particular.
The 411: All-Star Extravaganza tends to be one of the can't-miss shows for ROH, and this is no exception. The two big singles matches are the major draws (and both live up to the hype), but the US/Japan tag match and three-way match that introduced the American wolves are also quite good. It doesn't have the atmosphere of Final Battle the following night, but ASE4 has some quality wrestling.