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 411mania » Wrestling » Video Reviews

Rated R Reviews: ROH Fifth Year Festival: Liverpool - 3/5/07
Posted by Mike Campbell on 02.19.2012

March 3, 2007

ROH heads across the pond to continue celebrating their fifth anniversary. The Samoa Joe farewell tour continues, the FIP Title becomes a world title and Dragon Gateís boys gun for ROH gold.

Matt Sydal . . . turns in a fun performance going three falls with his old rival, and looks totally at home as a cheating bastard.
The Briscoes . . . work a tag match with a Dragon Gate team that is everything youíd expect, which some will love but doesnít do much for me.
Samoa Joe . . . goes one last round with an old rival before bidding farewell to ROH.

If nothing else, this is a good example of how far Davey has come in the last couple of years. Heís not bad or anything, but his work here is nowhere near the level of what heíd do later on. Davey still puts on a better performance than Homicide, who doesnít do much more than show up and do his usual spots. ĎCide also seems to think that the best way to get to his major spots is by blowing off spots from Davey, the first time isnít too bad, he takes Daveyís handspring kick and rebounds for the lariat, but then he totally shrugs off getting spiked by a German to do a tribute to Eddie and finish off Davey with the Cop Killa. Davey wasnít anything great, but he at least made the match watchable with some fun work on ĎCideís midsection, including an inverted suplex that hung him out to dry and several attempts at the Gorilla clutch, along with some amusing heel stuff, like putting on Homcideís bandana and mocking him. This is Daveyís third match since he and Strong formed the NRC, and itís his third straight loss. We wouldnít want the new heel faction to get over, now would we?

Itís no surprise this is good, Death Rey is in there after all, but itís a surprise that this is only ďgoodĒ and not much better. Their early wrestling exchanges look more akin to practicing in the gym than in front of a live crowd, theyíre done at about half speed, as though Sara wants to make sure that Danger can keep up, and vice versa. It picks up about ten notches when Sara blocks the sunset flip by sitting down on Danger, and then spends the rest of the match trying to do the Royal Butterfly by knocking the wind out of Danger, whether itís by running kicks, or something more like the Samoan drop. Danger doesnít always want to play along, when Sara first drops down on her and after the first couple of kicks, Danger sells to the point that it seems all but hopeless for her. But, she pops up after the Samoan drop and the last few shots barely phase her.

The finish puts over Sara as much as possible, with Sara standing up while Danger has her tied up on the mat and planting the Royal Butterfly to finish her off. If the first half was as well, and smartly, worked as the last half is (aside from Dangerís selling issues) then this could be a real treat.

The big brawl that kicked this off was good, but it wound up being the best thing here, itís as hateful as intense as youíd expect, and Jacobs was willing to take a couple of crazy bumps, such as the powerbomb on the guardrail. Once it settles into a regular tag match, it started sinking fast, and itís probably not a coincidence that Rave was carrying the offense of the heel control segment. Whitmerís hot tag coming on the heels of Rave running himself into the Exploder was surprising in a good way, and thereís a fun moment where Whitmer sidesteps Jacobsí spear and Cabana takes the hit, but then Whitmer turns around and gets speared by Rave. Jacobs countering Whitmerís super Exploder and doing a super Contra Code is a fine finish, itís certainly better than typical things like Jacobs stealing the win with tights, ropes, foreign object, etc. So yes, there are things to like here, but a good match this definitely is not.

A lot of the first fall was made up of posturing and crowd play and such, but once they got down to business, this picked up quite nicely. They were a bit tentative to start, which makes sense since theyíve worked together so much, but this really starts to soar when they start cutting loose. It helps that Sydal is such a good heel, which is surprising since heís never really done that in ROH or DG. Heís no SUWA (although few are in that league anyway) but he looked like heíd be right at home teaming with Genki, Gamma, Yoshino, etc. in DG rather than with CIMA and his boys. Sydal does some nice work on the midsection, the highlight being when he ties up Delirious in the corner and charges with several knee strikes and then a lariat. Delirious takes Sydal by surprise with a lariat and then punts him in the head, and Sydal responds by kicking Delirious low and cradling him to take the first fall.

The next fall is quite a bit shorter, but itís still good. Sydal smartly presses his advantage and continues heeling things up by choking Delirious with his mask tassels, when Delirious tries to fight back Sydal kicks him in the ribs to send him to the apron and then follows him out with a legdrop. Delirious finally gets an advantage by giving Matt a rail ride and then hitting the panic attack. He gets Sydal into the ring and gets some revenge for all his cheating by getting to abuse him for a bit. Sydal gets a quick near fall by countering Delirious and hitting the standing moonsault, but then he tries too much with the super belly to belly and winds up getting hit with Shadows Over Hell and Sydal has to tap to the Cobra stretch. The only real black mark here is Delirious forgetting about his ribs when he was on offense. Itís only really glaring at the end when Sydal got that great near fall with the moonsault not long before Shadows Over Hell.

Until Sydal nudges the ref into the ropes to cause Delirious to lose balance, the third fall is an honestly contested, back-and-fourth affair. Both wrestlers bust out some good counters and exchanges. Deliriousí missed dropkick leading to the jackknife cradle for a good near fall, and Sydal knows he canít tap out this time, so he finds a good counter to the Cobra stretch. They both have chances to win with their big moves, but Sydal survives the Chemical Imbalance II, and Delirious avoids the SSP, so Sydal takes the opening by nudging the ref and hits the super belly to belly for the win. Thereís no denying that there is some good wrestling here, especially the first and third falls, but the work here takes a clear backseat to the story of Sydalís newfound attitude. ***1/4

RODERICK STRONG © vs. PAC (FIP World Heavyweight Title)
This isnít a great match, but it winds up being a good match. Strong tries to keep his promise to break Pac in half, and while there are many (perfectly valid) criticisms to levy at Strong, he doesnít hold back when it comes to bringing the brutal spots. The big failing here is on Pac. Yes, itís great that he can fly around like the British Jack Evans, and being the hometown guy in this case is a bonus, but there should really be a cumulative effect to all the abuse that Strong dishes out, but you donít see that from Pac at all. It doesnít matter if he takes one backbreaker or twelve, when he gets a chance to fly he goes all out with the multiple rotations. Hell, the finish run where Strong hits the big kick and the Tiger driver is predicated simply on Strong avoiding the big dive, rather than Pac not being able to pull the dive off due to Strong working him over so much. This is still good, thanks to Strong, but a better performance from Pac could have made it a lot more than just good. ***

If youíre a fan of the typical go-go-go style that both the Briscoes and DGís boys love to work, then this is going to be right up your alley. And while the style, and this match, is fun to watch, itís also rather mindless. Both teams bust out tons of double teams and crazy spots. But, thatís mostly all they have to offer when it comes right down to it. Thereís not much as far as any real structure or storytelling goes. The one nice touch is Shingo being smart enough to stop Mark from hitting his part of their two big double teams (Doomsday Device and spike Jay driller), rather than the Briscoes pulling them off, and Doi kicking out or getting saved. The finish also comes off pretty well, with Shingo outwrestling Mark by countering the Cutthroat driver to the Last Falconry. If you like this style, then you wonít think this is anything less than awesome, but it doesnít do much for me.

The really great thing here though is how the booking gives respect to the ongoing DG storyline of who exactly Shingo sides with on the whole CIMA/Doi issue. When Blood Generation imploded the previous year with CIMA and Doi forming new units, Shingo headed for the U.S. to work for ROH and FIP. Shingo and CIMA teamed in December in a failed bid to win these same titles, and now Shingo is holding them with Doi, so his allegiance remains a mystery.

While this isnít bad, thereís not very much thatís surprising about it. Itís Joe doing Joe stuff and Nigel doing Nigel stuff, and it works for the most part. Itís got some of the usual issues that I have with Nigelís matches, such as the arm work always being fun to watch, but never being more than filler, and thereís also the contrived spot with Joe trying to roll Nigel into the ring and Nigel ďreboundingĒ with a lariat to take control. Nigel also gets a bit goofy toward the end, with the Hulk-ups, he takes a big lariat for a good near fall, and when Joe does a second one, he kicks out at one and jumps to his feet.

Luckily, this is a case where the good stuff outweighs the bad. Joe and Nigel both get ahead in the match by working smart. Joe gets his first real control segment by taking Nigelís legs out from underneath him and sending him crashing on the apron. Nigel suckers Joe into charging at him, and drops down behind him and does the kick to the back and takedown combo, and Nigel also catches Joe sleeping on the top and hits the Tower of London. Joe gets some revenge for that when Nigel tries for the Tower again and Joe hits the Muscle Buster on the apron (with Nigel putting it over as much as humanly possible).

The pause and restart of the match after the Muscle Buster is a bit annoying, especially with Nigel looking so invigorated, but they still have smart moments like Joe ducking the lariat and Nigel having a cradle ready, and Nigel trying to beat pin Joe while he was in the choke (same way he beat Joe in October Ď05), and Joe being ready for it this time and repositioning Nigel where he has no means of escape and choking him out. This is easily the best match of the show from a technical standpoint, but I enjoyed Sydal/Delirious more for the storytelling. ***1/2

The 411: A couple of good outings from Sydal/Delirfifious and the main event are enough to warrant a recommendation for this bad boy. You milage may vary on the tag titles change, but even without it, this is still a solid pickup.
Final Score:  8.0   [ Very Good ]  legend


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