“Wrong Mexican!” – Stephe to the kid sitting behind us calling for the 619 during the Blue Demon match
It’s no longer timely or even especially relevant, but I promised Wrestlemania weekend coverage and I’m going to provide it.
After a flight delay, I picked Stephe up at the airport and we hauled ass downtown to the Ring of Honor “Take No Prisoners” pay-per-view taping. This was the maiden ROH show for both of us and we were anxious to see if ROH lived up to the hype.
We apparently missed a couple of dark matches, but arrived in time to scan the merch table and find our seats before the taping began.
Here’s my take on the night’s matches.
COLT CABANA v. ACE STEEL
Cabana, recently released by WWE, was treated like a returning hero. I guess he probably is. The problem with having no context for the ROH guys is that the matches stand on their own merits or lack of. I enjoyed this one. It was a good opener. It was heavy on the comedy and Steel teased a heel turn all the way through. They played to the crowd, including checking the ring ropes upon request. Cabana won the match and Steel teased heel again. In the end, they shook hands and went to the back.
RHETT TITUS v. BUSHWHACKER LUKE
This one was weird. Titus came out looking for all the world like the bastard love child of Mick Foley and Brutus Beefcake. Then, as we sat there waiting for his opponent, the Bushwhacker music began to play. The Manson Family franchise sitting in front of us was none too pleased. I found it amusing. Luke was the perfect foil for Titus. The match was mercifully short, because, let’s be honest, Luke is no spring sheep. Titus cheated his way to victory and left so Luke could whack his bush for the crowd. Wait…that doesn’t sound right at all.
KEVIN STEEN, EL GENERICO, JAY BRISCOE & MAGNO v. CHRIS HERO, INCOGNITO, DAVEY RICHARDS & EDDIE EDWARDS
This is where business began to pick up. 8-man tag team = spot fest. I knew Hero, Briscoe, Steen and Generico. More importantly? THIS ONE HAD LUCHADORES! We loved the masked men here at GonzoGeek. Lots of fun spots with planchas. At one point, all 8 men took turns jumping off the corner buckle onto the every growing crowd on the outside. I like Chris Hero’s “knockout kid” gimmick and was really sorry he didn’t get to use the loaded elbow pad like he planned to. The good guys won. The crowd was happy.
About here we decided to look for food and beer. We didn’t get far because the next match started and it promised wholesome gruesomeness.
NECROBUTCHER v. JIMMY JACOBS
Necrobutcher has garnered a measure of mainstream fame after stapling some cash to Mickey Rourke’s forehead in “The Wrestler.” He wrestles barefooted like a Von Erich and looks like a Foley. Jacobs is the posterboy for evil-emo. This was a street fight…and how. These two did things to one another that are illegal in most states. I don’t think the Craftsman warranty covers that kind of wear on a screwdriver. They teased Necro tossing Jacobs off the top of the bleachers. Then they had a sick spot where Necro looked like he was going to put Jacobs through a table, but instead put him on the concrete floor instead. Good psychology followed with ROH officials selling a possible injury so well we bought it. If you’d heard that thud, you would have too. Necro rebounded and won the match with the help of a chair.
Intermission, beer, hot dogs and nachos then back to bidness.
BRENT ALBRIGHT v. CLAUDIO CASTAGNOLI v. BLUE DEMON, JR.
This was originally scheduled to be a four-way including Nigel McGuiness, but Nigel’s arms have apparently fallen off. He lost the ROH title to Jerry Lynn the previous night. McGuiness came out to a huge ovation and cut a promo. He was then confronted by Castagnoli, who I totally dig. Castagnoli laid Nigel out and suddenly we had a three-way. Blue Demon, the current NWA champion, apparently hurt himself during the match and wasn’t much of a factor. Albright got the “W” on Castagnoli in something of a let down.
RODERICK STRONG v. ALEX KOSLOV
Koslov, despite being Hispanic, uses a Russian gimmick. That’s not your traditional monosyllabic, singlet, handlebar mustache and chain Russian. No, Koslov is a Russian for the new millenium. He wore all white and used a very lucha inspired moveset. Strong is an ROH favorite, but Koslov won over a great deal of the crowd before this one was over. I was among them. Strong won the match, but Koslov won the day. One of my favorites of the night.
JERRY LYNN(c) v. BRYAN DANIELSON v. D’LO BROWN v. ERICK STEVENS (ROH WORLD TITLE)
The brand new ROH champion, Lynn, put the belt on the line less than 24 hours after winning it. He faced a former ROH champion, a past his prime WWF/E mid-carder and Stevens, who looked a lot like Travis Bickle in spandex. The crowd was clearly behind Danielson and I thought he might win given his resemblance to the Von Erichs. The crowd at one point chanted “Just not D-Lo.” That had to hurt. Lynn retained the title by pinning Stevens with the cradle piledriver while Danielson and Brown brawled outside.
TYLER BLACK & KENTA v. AUSTIN ARIES & KATSUHIKO NAKAJIMA
This was the one the diehards came to see. Kenta is supposed to be one of the best in the world. After watching this, I think he probably is. I’ve never seen a lot of puro. Call it a character flaw if you want, but I prefer lucha. However, after watching Kenta and Nakajima stand toe to toe and kick the living shit out of one another for several minutes I get the appeal. Aries is working a cowardly heel gimmick that I think really suits him. Whatever his issues were, I think TNA missed an opportunity with him. Kenta and Black won the match to the delight of the crowd.
The crowd left happy and I think Houston made a good showing for itself. ROH reminded me for all the world of the one ECW (original) I saw. Its a small promotion trying to carve out a niche for itself in the McMahonopoly that is modern wrestling. I wish them well and hope they come back to Houston.