Punk and Cabana in the car - Awesome! I think they do a better job than the end of last show did getting across that Cabana is an aloof, lovable asshole (to the point where he doesn't even understand why Cabana would be upset at him). It also introduces Ace Steel as the merry prankster behind the camera.
Show open - Good. It doesn't spoil anything major and showcases the wrestlers out of order so you don't get an idea of the card right away.
Steve Corino interview with Gary Capetta - GREAT! This felt like the promo Jeff Hardy should've cut after Bound for Glory 2010, explaining all the negative things that have happened to him in his attempts to get over, and getting screwed by promoters. This also has a tinge of "I'm better than everyone because I worked in Japan" They also allude to Steve Corino's new group. He's also such a big heel superstar he's a dick to sister Allison Danger.
Winner gets a Ring of Honor Contract
CM Punk vs Colt Cabana - 8.75/10
I feel like this match tells a more coherent story than their one last show. Cabana is the bigger, more powerful, more technical quasi-heel whereas Punk is the quick, exciting face. The slower pace definitely works better as a showcase for Cabana, who gets to show off his unique submissions and beefy lariats. Punk gets a crazy sunset flip out of a corner Alleyoop spot which I thought was pretty cool. Why this match certainly does have a bit of "Movesz" syndrome, I think they also effectively tell the story of not only people who have wrestled a bunch, but people who have studied their Night of the Butcher match. Punk wins with the Pepsi Plunge.
This felt like a natural evolution to the last match they had, and told a great story
Homicide and the Backseat Boyz back stage - AWESOME. Homicide apologizes for their last match, and the Boyz forgive him. I thought seeing a chilled out Homicide really fleshed out his character.
Christopher Daniels in-ring interview with Gary Michael Cappetta - Insufferable douchebag Daniels demanding an in-ring interview segment works so great. Luscious is with Daniels, and it turns out the meat of the promo is a perfect delusional heel about Alexis Laree attacking Luscious Alexis comes out, and we get
Alexis Laree vs Simply Luscious (w/ Christopher Daniels) - No Rating, Excellent Segment
Luscious gets the jump on Alexis because of course she does, Alexis takes control, but then Daniels comes in, hits the Last Rites while the ref is distracted and allows Luscious to pick up the pin. Stuff like this is why I love Daniels and the Prophecy. You really get the idea that they're following more Sports Entertainment rules, and it enthuses the fans into disliking them more than anyone else as a result.
The commentators act like they're going to throw to the next match but instead
Steve Corino shows up to cut a promo - It was a great promo in which he, on behalf of his new group, calls out the Prophecy while simultaneously getting over his bitter, pompous character , and dumping Simply Luscious, who leaves the ring in tears. I feel like this would've been more effective if the Corino interview had been inserted at the end of the tape as opposed to the beginning, but that's just a minor nitpick. Daniels also becomes more of a tweener, which s a great place for him to be in general, as people can't help but cheer Daniels in certain situations. Corino is a prick about American fans. Homicide shows up to brawl, and they tease a fork spot, but we don't get it. This was awesome all-together.
Da Hit Squad promo - Alright, but Maff is clearly the strong link in this team promo wise.
TAG TEAM SCRAMBLE
The Backseat Boyz vs. Da Hit Squad vs. Deranged & Angeldust (w/Special K) - 7/10
At first I was a bit miffed that the Backseat Boyz came out to The Midnight Express theme, but they're super charming babyfaces and they turned me around. Also, between the High Impact TV taping and here Jay Lethal has become Hydro.
This is an interesting mix of your normal Scramble fair of moves, as well as the feud between Hit Squad/ Special K, and the fact that it's sudden death adding some psychology. Also the fact that Special K gets the cheap win adds to a feud, which might be the first time since the Whipwreck crew feud a Scramble has meant anything.
2/3 falls match for the ROH World Tag Team Championship
The Prophecy (Christopher Daniels and Donovan Morgan) (c) vs The SAT (Joel and Jose Maximo) - 9/10
The story to start is that the heels are more technically proficient but the faces are speedier. When that speed comes into play, the heels stall. The faces dominate early but then the heels take control . The babyfaces attempt comebacks but the heels always thwart it with cheating. The babyfaces do get a comeback, but the illegal man gets pinned with Revelations for the first fall. Much the same in the second fall, with even less offense by the SAT. We get a wacky double down, but it's used for the heels to cut off the hot tag The SAT's make a comeback even hitting a fucking tornado Facebuster Doomsday Device but that isn't enough. The SAT hit the Spanish Fly to get the second fall. The third fall all moves, but it works as they've wrestled a relatively tame style before this. As if the Tornado Facebuster Doomsday device couldn't be topped, Morgan catches a Maximo in mid air and, off the other's shoulders, hits a spinebuster in mid air. And that isn't even the finish! Daniels reverses a tombstone into the Last Rites to win.
This was a GREAT match. My only complaint is were a lack of legal man enforcement in the third fall (which, putting my booking hat on for a moment, could've easily been made a stipulation by making the third fall a Tornado Tag rules match), However, I do like the fact that all three falls ended on established finishing moves.
Jody Fleisch and Special K segment - Jody takes up the Special K's offer to party. I liked this. It gives special guest Jody more character than he would've had had the match just been cold
Carnage Crew (HC Loc and Tony Devito) vs The New Christopher Street Connection (Mace and Japanese Pool Boy (w/ Allison Danger) - No Rating, Good Squash
The traces of Mace being a heel are gone, and there's just a random unnamed dude with them. Fortunately we don't have to ponder this too long because after some gay panic spots, the Carnage Crew beat the shit out of them with weapons for the DQ. This is one of those things that only they can pull off effectively.
Post-match - The gays cuddle each other as their asses are beaten with weapons while DeVito asks if we want to see some gay bashing, which actually stuns the crowd into silence. The CSC are left laying in their own blood.
Homicide promo - AWESOME every man babyface promo
Jody Fleisch vs Amazing Red - 5/10
We get some technical wrestling and some fun lucha and a standoff. After some moves and a double down, Special K wander out Special K interferes on Jody's behalf for a win. This was a meh match
Post-match - Special K beat down Red and SAT when they come down. They demand a rave, but Divine Storm and Trinity come out only to get laid out. JT Smith and Da Hit Squad show up, as does the mysterious black guy. JT dissuades the tension between Da Hit Squad and the Big Black Guy. The Big Black Guy attacks JT, which opens Da Hit Squad open up to attack. The heels then rave. This felt more like a TV angle than you'd normally see in ROH but it makes the Special K into a credible heel unit.
We get Xavier's entrance, and then a...
Xavier promo - Meh. It felt like a house show promo, but it at least gets the crowd riled up for
ROH World Championship
Xavier (c) vs Paul London - 8/10
Xavier jumps Paul at the bell. Paul eventually fights back. Xavier blocks a high flying move, but Paul surprisingly takes control with a headlock takeover. Xavier does an unclean break, but Paul fights back. Big strike exchange next, which Xavier wins with a thumb to the eye. Now it's all Xavier working Paul's head and neck. London tries to steal a few pins but Xavier fights back. More strikes which Xavier gets the better of. Now Xavier is working the back. They do a good job getting London's heart over, but some of Xavier's offense is so wacky it makes him look like a dweeb, including what leads to the comeback. We get a shooting star press to the outside on a standing Xavier which looks brutal to do on a rec center floor. We get a bunch of false finishes from here. Great false finish where the crowd actually thinks London got three. We get a tease at the Hart/Austin Survivor Series 96 finish, but then Xavier holds on for a Cobra Clutch Suplex going back to the neck when it counted and hitting the X-Breaker for the win.
This was a great match, if not a little slow, but once it picked up it really picked up. London really got over as a main event calibur guy, and they're clearly looking to emulate Shane Douglas' championship runs in ECW with Xavier but he's not at that level.
Special K and Da Hit Squad segment - Special K's big bodyguard is finally given a name in Slugger, and he kicks the camera man out of the rave. Da Hit Squad show up and give Slugger shit untll they leave. Special K having a bouncer is a great touch.
Steve Corino promo - He shows up dressed to wrestle, gets a chair and starts insulting the crowd. Homicide comes out, but Corino jumps him with his fork and gets Northern Lights Bombed and Piledriven. Low Ki finds out that Corino assaulted 'Cide, and Dragon is pissed as well. Rob Feinstein puts Corino in the match which means
Four Corners Match for the #1 Contender's Trophy
Steve Corino vs Low Ki vs Samoa Joe vs "American Dragon" Bryan Danielson - 8/10
This is a slower than usual match, BUT you do get a synposis of why Ring of Honor rules, hard hitting, technical wrestling. This match also does the spot where someone taps just as the time limit expires. I get that they want some ambiguity going into the big expansion year, but all the same, why not build to a Ki vs Xavier rematch. All of my whining aside, this is still 45 minutes of Ring of Honor action that I highly recommend.
ROH is almost unrecognizable from when it began 10 months ago. What was once your run of the mill super indy is a true wrestling company with its own storylines and feuds, and one that is capable of showing a serious product with a lot of wrestling styles represented. A lot of Rob's goofiness seems to be gone, and in its place seems to be an overall good card, which is the first I've been able to say that with no tournaments of round robin challenges present I'm looking forward to ROH in 2003, see y'all at ROH One Year Anniversary Show!
**Bonus Matches - ROH High Impact TV taping**
Jay Lethal vs Homicide - 5.5/10
For some reason, they just let Hydro perform under his regular ring name and hoped nobody noticed. Jay is the Japanese young boy who gets a few spots in but gets killed by Homicide. This was alright for the footage we got, and again, makes High Impact look like a great TV show.
Ring Crew Express promo for high Impact TV - These guys have grown on me, and I thought they'd somehow earned a tag title shot tonight, but instead we get.
ROH High Impact TV Taping
The Ring Crew Express vs The Prophecy - No Rating, Meh squash
They cut their promo but are attacked midway through. The Prophecy win.
ROH High Impact TV Taping
Ace Steel vs Jay Briscoe - DUD
Ace looks like a buffer Kenny Omega here. The fact that Jay didn't need a nothing TV match and Ace looked unimpressive.
ROH High Impact TV Taping
Samoa Joe vs The Outcast Killaz - DUD
This is a squash for Joe, but I'm giving it a DUD on principle because they don't bother to explain why handicapped matches are suddenly allowed.