Dark Pegasus Video Review: Ring of Honor — It All Begins Posted by J.D. Dunn on 01.05.2007
Colt Cabana goes for some righteous revenge against new champ Austin Aries.
This is the first show in the fourth chapter of Ring of Honor's history. When we left off, Austin Aries had finally fulfilled the promise he showed all year long by beating Samoa Joe for the ROH World Heavyweight Title. Finally, Generation Next had risen to the top, stealing the spot of even the unbeatable Joe, but not before dumping their leader Alex Shelley. Along the way, they did whatever they could to muzzle or maim the people in their way, including injuring the shoulder of one Colt Cabana.
Meanwhile, Low Ki and Bryan Danielson renewed an acquaintance that stretched all the way back to Ring of Honor's very first show. During the match, the Rottweilers attacked, and head Rottweiler Homicide injured Danielson's arm with a chairshot.
After months of taking Samoa Joe to the limit, CM Punk was finally soundly defeated at the end of 2004, allowing him to focus his energies on avenging Cabana's injury.
Now, Colt Cabana is back, and Aries has to deal with his past sins. Alex Shelley has to seek redemption after a year of tormenting anyone who got in his way. Danielson and Homicide have to find out which one is best, and Punk still has that title in his sights.
This is Austin Aries' first show as champion after ending Samoa Joe's monstrous reign, so he gets to lead off the show with a promo. He promises to forge his own identity as champion and not try to follow in Joe's footsteps. The ring announcer mentions that the #1 contender is no longer decided by a contender's ring but by petitioning a committee. That brings out Alex Shelley, who was betrayed by Aries at "Final Battle 2004," to be the first to petition. That brings out Roderick Strong to attack Shelley, and they doubleteam him until Colt Cabana (Aries' challenger tonight) makes the save. Shelley offers a handshake to Cabana, but Cabana turns his back on him. Thus begins Shelley's quest for redemption after months of being a jerk to everyone in his way.
Opening Match: Alex Shelley vs. Spanky.
And since he's already in the ring, Shelley figures he might as well wrestle now. Spanky (Brian Kendrick) is making his return after a brief, unmemorable run in the WWE. Shelley follows the Code of Honor and shakes hands with Spanky, something he never did as leader of GenNext. Shelley doesn't do much to earn respect here, busting out the Snot Rocket early. He gives Spanky a DDT on the apron and springboards out onto him. Interesting-but-middling match follows. There are a few spots where they botch some things early, but both guys are pros, so they can cover nicely. Spanky works the ankle and locks in a figure-four. Shelley makes the ropes and goes into a series of pinfall attempts, including one after a sitout Pedigree. A brainbuster gets two more for Shelley. Spanky gets Sliced Bread #2, but it only gets two. A frogsplash gets two more. PICTURE-PERFECT ELBOW! ONE, TWO, THRE-NO! Shelley blocks a Superkick and hits one of his own to set up Shellshock for the –NO!!! Spanky gets his foot on the ropes and reverses a brainbuster to Sliced Bread #2 for the win at 14:47. So much for Shelley's petition for a title shot. The match got considerably better down the stretch. **3/4
Steve Corino gets impatient waiting for CM Punk. Punk finally shows up so they can cut a promo on the Rottweilers and Carnage Crew. Punk screams in Corino's good ear, pissing him off, and then he and Cabana make fun of Corino for being a pussy about his ear.
Alison Danger is still holding on to that dream of reforming the Prophecy. Danger's acting is horrible, but I like the character, so she gets a pass.
Azrieal vs. Deranged (w/Special K & Lacey).
Azrieal is formerly known as Angel Dust. Technically, both of these guys are members of two feuding factions of Special K, but Azrieal's half of Special K is either injured or in rehab. Backstory aside, this is just an excuse to bust out some innovative spots in lieu of a match. It is what it is, though. Funny spot as Deranged takes out his own guys with a quebrada and checks on them before deciding he doesn't really care. Back in, Azrieal hits a double stomp off the top and Cradle Shock, but the other members of Special K break up the pin for the DQ at 5:15. Special K destroys Azrieal until Dunn & Marcos make the save and spank Lacey to get some revenge. *1/2
Alison Danger finds Homicide and Julius Smokes and offers them some inside information on Steve Corino (her brother, remember) if they'll help her out against Maff & Whitmer.
Roderick Strong vs Shane Hagadorn.
Strong & Jack Evans were supposed to be in the Ultimate Endurance title match, but Jack is having a hard time deciding between staying with Strong & Aries or siding with Alex Shelley. Instead, Strong decides to challenge disciples of Punk or Corino. Hagadorn is one of Punk's trainees, so he comes out first and gets mauled. A backbreaker finishes at 0:39. 1/4*
Roderick Strong vs. Evan Starsmore.
Another of Punk's trainees. Starsmore tries a wheelbarrow, but Strong counters to another backbreaker (he's the Messiah, after all). A powerbomb finishes Starsmore around two minutes in. 1/4*
Roderick Strong vs. Alex Law.
Corino-student Law hits the ring strong with a flying legline but makes the mistake of trying a huracanrana. Strong counters to (what else?) a backbreaker. Another one finishes Law at 1:01. 1/4*
Roderick Strong vs. Ricky Landell.
Landell gets a few strong shots in, apparently knocking out one of Strong's teeth. Landell hits a nice necktie and a flying clothesline, but Strong goes to his eyes. Landell botches the sell of a lungblower and gets booted in the face. Strong finishes with a Canadian Backbreaker Drop and a Goku-Raku Stretch at 2:49. He refuses to let go, so Steve Corino has to make the save for his student. 3/4*
Bryan Danielson and his skeezy beard promise revenge on Homicide. Allison Danger tries to recruit him to the Prophecy, but he's cool to the idea (does she not know who she's talking to?)
Lacey chastises Special K for letting her get humiliated. She wants them to kill their opponents at the Scramble Cage next month.
Ring of Honor Tag Titles, Ultimate Endurance: The Havana Pitbulls (w/Julius Smokes) vs. CM Punk & Steve Corino vs. The Carnage Crew. First Fall, Scramble Match: GenNext's departure from the match makes Corino and Punk's presence superfluous, but it's the Carnage Crew who make the early exit. Maff & Whitmer are already the #1 contenders for the next show. They're just waiting for the winners here. Onto the match: I'm not a big fan of the Scramble Rules anyway, and this one is particularly chaotic in order to make everyone look even. The Pitbulls hit Punk with a knee Decapitation, but Corino makes the save. Everything breaks down, and Punk hits a Pepsi Twist into the Anaconda Vice to eliminate the CC at 4:36.
Second Fall, Title Match: Things start out just as chaotic as they ended in the first fall. Punk and Corino eventually take over on Reyes. Punk seems to have things well in hand, but Corino keeps barking orders at him. Punk takes a swipe at Romero and gets caught in the wrong corner. Punk plays face-in-peril for a bit. Funny moment as Reyes and Smokes try a mid-air high five, and Smokes knocks him down. Nulty starts dismantling every convention of tag psychology over the last 30 years, questioning everything wrestling fan's have taken for granted. Why do the heels clap their hands behind the ref's back when tagging would be just as easy? Why does Steve Corino keep coming in when he must know he's just distracting the ref? Corino eventually gets the hot tag, but he and Punk don't have much chemistry, despite their friendship. Punk eventually gets the Anaconda Vice on Reyes, but Roderick Strong runs down and takes out Corino with a chair, allowing Romero to make the save in the ring. The Pitbulls hit a knee Decapitation for the win at 22:39. **3/4
Samoa Joe vs. Nigel McGuinness.
Nigel opens with a 3/4-Nelson to keep Joe on the defensive. Joe snapmares him down and tries to strike McGuiness out, but McGuiness keeps his arms up so Joe can't get anything. McGuiness counters back to the 3/4-Nelson. McGuinness suckers him in with a headstand but avoids it at the last second. Unfortunately, he gets too cutesy and slingshots himself out of a wristlock. Joe gets pissed and levels him with a running forearm. FACEWASH! Joe trips McGuiness to the outside and then nails him with a tope. OLAY KICK! And another! Now Joe starts to get cocky and just slaps McGuiness in the face. McGuiness takes offense, and they get scrappy with one another. McGuinness catches Joe with a headstand mulekick and reverses an STO to a roll. SUPERKICK! ONE, TWO, THR-NO! McGuinness locks in an armlock, but he hasn't done anything to set it up. Joe catches him with a powerslam, but he can't get Nigel up in a powerbomb. Instead, Joe levels him with a Burning Lariat with his good arm. Nigel gets his foot on the ropes. Joe goes up, but Nigel catches him with the ACE CRUSHER off the top! McGuinness tries the headstand one to many times and pays for it. Joe just boots him in the face and mauls him. The Coquina Clutch finishes at 14:13. Solid-but-unspectacular match with McGuiness trying to play a conservative game of hit-and-run while trying to get Joe to make mistakes. It worked for about 14 minutes, but Joe was able to catch up with him in the end. ***
Best-of-Five Series Match #1, Submission Match: Bryan Danielson vs. Homicide (w/Julius Smokes).
This is a result of Homicide trying to cripple Bryan Danielson. Aren't all Homicide feuds like that? Danielson hits the ring hard, and they brawl out into the crowd and all the way around the arena. The camera feed goes dead, so we go to a Jim Cornette promo on Bobby Heenan. We finally get the match once everything has calmed down. Hatred is still boiling beneath the surface, though, already making this as worthwhile as anything on the card. Ricky Reyes sneaks back down to observe. Danielson gets the early advantage after a long feeling out process. He targets Homicide's ankle with a stomp and an Indian Deathlock. Homicide gets an Armbar DDT out of nowhere, though, to take over. He works the arm but makes the mistake of taunting Danielson, allowing Danielson to get fired up. AIRPLANE SPIN! Danielson is still dizzy, though, so Homicide is able to knock him to the floor and hit a tope con hilo. Homicide hits a lariat and has Smokes tear down the turnbuckle pad. Homicide tosses Danielson into the post and locks in a jujigatame. Danielson powers into a slam, but Homicide HOLDS ON! Danielson reaches the ropes and catches Homicide going up. He slaps on a Bridging Figure-four, but Julius Smokes hops up on the top rope, forcing Danielson to break the hold and slam him off. Danielson goes up, but he's still distracted by Smokes, allowing Homicide to hit a Hammerlock Suplex off the top and get the win with a stepover hammerlock at 16:29. After the match, the Rottweilers try to end Danielson's career by bashing his brains in with a pair of brass knuckles, but he makes his own save and promises to defeat Homicide in a Taped-Fist Match. ***1/4
Ring of Honor Heavyweight Championship: Austin Aries vs. Colt Cabana.
Aries and GenNext injured Cabana's shoulder at "Scramble Cage Melee," putting him out of action for months. Aries stalls for a few minutes, getting on the mic and demanding that Cabana follow the Code of Honor. Nulty cites the WWWF title and how Ivan Koloff finally unseated Bruno after an 8-year reign yet he lost the title in his first defense to Pedro. Aries and Cabana finally tie up, and we get a long feeling out process. Aries finally hits a spinning forearm to knock Cabana down and take over. Aries hits an Armbar Tornado DDT into a wakigatame. Aries goes for a Crucifix Bomb, but Cabana counters to a Samoan Drop. They go into a series of nearfalls, ending when Aries tries to poke Cabana's eyes out. An illegal fishhook works Cabana's arm even further, and Aries knocks him out with a series of corner dropkicks. Cabana makes a very WWE-ish comeback and gets two off a helicopter toss. Aries misses a 450-splash but reverses a rollup with a handful of tights for two. To the floor, Cabana hits a quebrada, and Aries crawls to the back. Cabana tracks him down and tosses him back in for two. COLT .45! ONE, TWO, THRE-NO! Aries gets his foot in the ropes. Aries escapes to the floor to buy time and reverses a whip, sending Cabana through the crowd barrier! Cabana blocks a brainbuster on the steel ramp, but Aries perseveres and hits it anyway. Referee Todd Sinclair sends Aries back to the ring and checks on Cabana. Nulty and Bower beg for the ref to stop the match, but Cabana crawls to the ring. Aries goes for another brainbuster on a limp Cabana, but Cabana reverses to a small package for two. Aries makes him pay for it with another brainbuster and the 450-splash for the win at 22:14. Bower and Nulty overdid it quite a bit with the injury angle, marring a decent effort from both guys. Aries certainly is a different wrestler than Samoa Joe. I'll give him that. The biggest problem is that I, and a lot of people, didn't really buy these two as main eventers at this point. **3/4
Mick Foley comes down for a confrontation with Samoa Joe. He's going to give Joe something he's deserved for a long, long time – a genuine, official Cactus Jack t-shirt. He also offers Joe a slot in the Royal Rumble. All he has to do is call the "head writer." Joe is disgusted by the fact that the WWE has writers. Foley says all Joe has to do is adapt his style to the WWE and take the name "Wild, Animal Joe." Oh, and he has to adopt the Stinkface as a finishing maneuver. Foley calls Joe a big fish in a small pond but wonders if Joe could cut it in the big time. Joe responds that the only WWE superstar he wants to face is Mick. Foley says he only wrestles when Vince opens the checkbook, and then he cheapshots Joe with the microphone. Joe makes his own comeback and beats Foley all the way up the aisle, but someone from the back hands Mick a chair, and Mick gets the upper hand. Mick leaves Joe laying in the middle of the ring and makes a call.
In the back, Colt Cabana complains that Aries has no honor, and he's sick of all the outside-the-ring antics, so he's challenging Aries to a rematch inside of a steel cage.
In the locker room, Foley says it went well and makes mention of the mysterious person who handed him the chair. He also tells the person on the other end of the call to come to the Rexplex for ROH's Third Anniversary show to show them what a real WWE superstar looks like. INTRIGUE~!
The 411: The wrestling was just fine. There was nothing bad and a few matches that were pretty good, but the whole show just felt flat for some reason. I think it might have been a mistake to go with Aries/Cabana as the main event, especially with the weak, injury-angle finish when they could have put the hype behind Danielson & Homicide. Remember, even Samoa Joe didn't main event every time out. I'll give it a mild thumbs up because you really need to see the Danielson vs. Homicide match as a piece of the larger puzzle of that series and because the main event set up a rematch down the road.