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ROH YEAR THREE ARCHIVE: LOOKING BACK AT RING OF HONOR'S MOST CONTROVERSIAL YEAR

By Mike Johnson on 2004-12-28 20:40:00


ROH TESTING THE LIMIT

RING OF HONOR IN ESSINGTON, PA LIVE REPORT WITH TONS OF EXCLUSIVE DETAILS INCLUDING COPS CALLED AND THE ORIGINAL 3 FALLS MAIN EVENT PLAN
by Mike Johnson

Ring of Honor returned to Essington, PA at the Ramada Inn on Saturday 8/7. The show was highlighted by an 80 minute main event between Austin Aries and Bryan Danielson, a championship title change, and a near-riot that left fans buzzing. It was a strong show that will hold up well on video.

The show opened up John Walters pinning Nigel McGuiness to earn a Pure Wrestling championship match against Doug Williams on 8/28 in Braintree, MA in 8:02. This was a good bout with some strong back and forth wrestling. McGuiness has a great spot where he does a handstand in the corner and kicks his opponent as they charge. Walters looked solid here as well. The crowd has really taken to him in recent months. His challenge in MA is the perfect hometown boy does good storyline. This was the perfect place to put this style of match as the crowd is hot to see wrestling and happy watching the style.

Roderick Strong pinned Izzy in 6:31. This was a continuation of the Generation Next vs. Special K feud with the idea that Dixie was out of action from Strong splitting his chest open with chops last month in New Jersey. The first thing I noticed when Special K came out was that there was hardly anyone there - not even Hijinx was at ringside. Another good undercard bout. Strong is really fun to watch, although its amazing how young he is. After the match, Strong and laid out Cloudy and Cheech of Special K. Strong was menacing Becky Bayless when Angeldust hit a flurry of moves and ran him off. I guess it's going to be Dust vs. Roderick next. Works for me.

The Carnage Crew defeated Danny Maff & BJ Whitmer in 9:17.. Allison Danger did mic work before the match noting that she put Maff and Whitmer against The Crew as revenge for walking out on the Prophecy. She said that she could put them against anyone, and intimated they would have to face Mick Foley on 9/11, although it was never said that openly. She cut a good promo. The Crew ripped on her for being a nagging woman, just like their wives at home. That was funny. This was a good match that quickly turned into a brawl. I actually thought they were going to end up calling it a no contest since they were on the floor for so long. It ended up with The Crew hitting their spike piledriver on Maff for the pin. Loc continues to get bigger and he added a sick looking tribal tattoo to his back. DeVito actually got to the show as the first match was starting due to travel issues, so the match they put together with so little planned was great considering the circumstances.

Gary Michael Cappetta came out and announced that Jim Cornette, Stan Lane, Dennis Condrey, and Bobby Eaton would all reunite as the Midnight Express on the promotion's return to Philadelphia on 10/2. They played the Midnights' theme after the announcement. It got a pretty big pop which surprised me as ROH's audience skews younger. I love how the promotion always has Cappetta doing the announcement and introductions of the 1980s NWA stars.

Alex Shelley defeated Jay Lethal, Ace Steel & 2 Cold Scorpio by pinning Lethal in 18:09. This was just an excellent match with Scorpio was making his first Philadelphia appearance in years. He looked to be in great shape and was working really hard. He did an impromptu seminar with a lot of the boys before the show, working matches with them and giving them tips. It was something he just offered to do on the fly as opposed to something he was brought in to do. That says a lot about him. There was some really great back and forth work here. Scorpio and Steel ended up having a partnership of sorts during the latter part of the match (I guess because they both work for NOAH?). Shelley gloated and ripped on everyone after he won the match. If I was him, I wouldn't be gloating so much knowing Goldilocks is in my weekly future. Shelley also mentioned Foley on the mic. Does Generation Next have a Mr. Socko in their future? After the match, Scorpio put over ROH as "The real deal" and tried to get Lethal to dance with him to his old ECW music, "Jungle Boogie." Lethal tried to get out of the ring, but Scorpio pulled him back in. Lethal legitimately wanted out as he doesn't dance, but eventually gave in a little. It was a fun moment.

The Briscoe Brothers defeated Low Ki and Homicide in 12:44. when Jay reversed an attempted Ki Krusher and turned it into a small package on Ki. The fans still cheered the hell out of Ki. Homicide and Ki destroyed the Briscoes, leading to a pull apart melee involving Samoa Joe, CM Punk and others. Ki laid out Jay with several kicks, so Mark Briscoe was going nuts trying to get at him. It was an insanely intense brawl with everyone trying to hold back Briscoe. Joe was screaming at Ki that he would see him in September. At one point, a chair flung by Ki hit referee Paul Turner in the head, knocking him cold. He was OK afterwards. The intense brawl actually knocked down one of the partitions separating the crowd from the locker room before heading outside the building. They continued outside the building, which led to hotel guests calling the cops. ROH's security had to explain to the police that nothing that wasn't supposed to happen took place. The cops understood and no one got in trouble, although they hung around awhile to make sure.

In the first match after intermission, The Rockin' Rebel pinned Cloudy from Special K in 1:41. The Embassy faction attacked Special K, which led to Dunn and Marcos making the save to "We're Not Gonna Take It."

In another good match, The Havana Pitbulls defeated CM Punk and Colt Cabana to win the ROH Tag Team championships in 19:09. After Punk made his way to the ring to his theme music, Ace Steel announced somberly that due to the events of this past week, Cabana couldn't come out to Copacabana. He then introduced Cabana as the "Original Superfreak" and Cabana came out to Rick James' Superfreak as a way to honor the funk star, who passed away this week. The look on Punk's face during all of this was pure disgust. It was brilliant. The crowd loved the entrance. The match itself was a good back and forth tag match. The Pitbulls got a ton of heat on Punk, with Cabana trying to get at them only to be held back by the referee. When he finally got the hot tag, the place went nuts. The crowd seemed surprised by the title change. Julius Smokes was awesome at ringside here.

ROH champion Samoa Joe pinned Trent Acid in 8:04 with the Island Driver. Acid legitimately hurt his ankle hitting a hurrancanrana and went to the hospital immediately after the bout. He was diagnosed with a bruised heel bone. They played up that Joe was banged up, with Acid going after his leg. At one point, Joe acted as if he leg went out from under him. It was a good match but I don't think the crowd thought Acid had a chance of walking out with the belt. Acid got a big round of applause as he was carried out of the ring. After the match, he was more upset with not giving the fans the match he wanted to put on than about being injured.

In a Best of Three Falls with Each Fall Consisting of One Hour Time Limits, Austin Aries defeated American Dragon Bryan Danielson, 2 falls to 1. In the First Fall, Aries forced Danielson to tap out to Danielson's own cattle mutilation in 42:12. They did 30 second rest periods between the falls, giving each guy water. The second fall saw Danielson beat Aries by hooking him in the cattle mutilation and then turning it into a pinfall combination at 20:29. The third and deciding fall saw Aries defeat Danielson with the 450 Splash, preceded by several brainbusters, in 11:54. The fans were changing match of the year when it was over. I wouldn't go that far but the effort that both put out there was simply incredible. This is a match that was decent live but once you get a chance to sit there on video and pay close attention, will come off so much better. The total match time was 74:12, so figure with the rest periods, introduction and post match they were out there at least 80-85 minutes.

If you can believe it, the 80-85 minutes scenario wasn't the original plan. Earlier in the day, Bryan Danielson pitched a scenario where they would wrestle to two one hour draws, going into a 45 minute third round. ROH approved immediately, feeling it would be something special and not wanting to turn down the wrestlers if they wanted to put forth such an awesome effort. Once they got into the ring, they decided to call an audible which led to the "shorter" 80 minute bout. I don't think anyone who came to see good wrestling was going to complain, although I really would have liked to see how the longer match would have gotten over with the crowd and what they would have pulled out of their bag of tricks. Perhaps ROH can go with an empty arena match and they will get the chance down the line.

Overall, this was fun show with lots of good stuff underneath and an amazing effort on top. You can get the video at www.ROHWrestling.com.

Notes: As previously reported, Christopher Daniels was at the show as he filmed a shoot interview with the promotion that afternoon. Samoa Joe also filmed a shoot interview on 8/7....The SATs were backstage visiting. I don't believe there are any plans for their return to the company....Joel Gertner from ECW popped up visiting, as he was in the area.

Mike Johnson can be reached at Mike@PWInsider.com.

You can order ROH Testing the Limit at ROHWrestling.com.


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