Ring of Honor
National Guard Armory
Braintree, MA
by Joe Gagne

This show marked the two-year anniversary show of ROH holding shows in Massachusetts (the first one, Honor Invades Boston, was headlined by Jay vs. Mark Briscoe (at the time the best match I ever saw live) and Low Ki making his first and only successful ROH Title defense against AJ Styles). This was an interesting show, because it was originally scheduled to go against H2 Wrestling (until the latter went out of business before running their first show) so they tried to really load up the lineup. The original main event was Samoa Joe vs. American Dragon for the ROH title, but then, oops, Danielson had to tour with New Japan, so that was off. So they switched the main event to Homicide/Low Ki vs. Joe/C.M. Punk, but then, oops, Low Ki signed with Noah and he had to be on tour with them. So they made it a three way between Joe, Homicide, and Punk.

There were some communication problems with my travel mates and I made it to the building in the middle of the first match. I missed it, but before the show they accounted Mark Briscoe was in a motorcycle accident, and the Briscoes would not be there, so the card was shuffled around. Crowd looked to be in the 500 range. It was god awful hot in the building again, at least 100 degrees and maybe more.

1. Alex Shelley (w/Generation Next) vs. Jay Lethal: Lethal is the former Hydro of Special K. I came in near the end of this one. Shelley looked to be working over the leg, as he hit an M. Bison stomp off the top rope to Lethal’s left leg. Lethal came back and went for a powerbomb and Shelley was apparently supposed to escape and land on his feet, but he slipped and landed on his butt. He picked up the win a few seconds later with a rollup. Match looked pretty good.

2. Jimmy Rave (w/The Embassy) vs. Angel Dust (w/Special K): The Embassy consists of Prince Nana managing a newly turned Jimmy Rave and the Outcast Killaz. Not the most formidable group. If you held an ROH fantasy auction, you could probably get all four guys for about two dollars. This was originally supposed to be Rave vs. Izzy, but Izzy was moved to the tag title match. Rave has been reading his “Heeling For Dummies,” as he was going all out in heel mannerisms: taunting the fans, blatant eye pokes, arrogant covers, and best of all, pointing to his head to indicate he's smart. For the record, I was calling for a heel turn some ten months ago, and the crowd was a lot more into him than when he was a face. Surprisingly good back and forth match, the only low point being when Angel Dust whiffed on a springboard Diamond Dust attempt. Angel Dust got a nearfall off of a Rubick’s Cube (electric chair driver), at which point Prince Nana got on the mic and started cheerleading for Rave, talking about all the diamonds and riches he’ll receive if he wins. The distraction allowed Rave to hit a Trance Rave and a Rave Clash for the pin. I was kind of hoping Monty Brown would run in and hit the POUUUUNNNNCEEE on Rave again, but no such luck.

3. Ace Steel vs. Roderick Strong (W/Generation Next): The match was okay, not a lot of heat. This was my first time seeing Steel live, and I do like his work, but this wasn’t one of his better matches. Match was mostly brawling with a lot of hard strikes, until Steel hit a powerbomb into an inverted Rings of Saturn type move for the submission. The rest of Generation Next attacked Steele after the match, until Colt Cabana ran from the back for the save. Colt was doing a lot of Dusty Rhodes mannerisms, including the flip, flop, and fly. At some point Jack Evans and Steel disappeared backstage—I think Evans may have hurt his arm and this was a way to get him to the back. Since Colt and Ares were both at ringside, Colt goaded Ares into having their match right then and there.

4. Austin Ares (w/Generation Next) vs. Colt Cabana: Colt put on a pair of goggles before the match, apparently because “that’s what Horace Grant would do.” (???) Lots of comedy early on. Colt took Ares outside and went to chop him, but Ares ducked and Colt hit the ringpost HARD. It made this horrible clang and I thought he broke his hand. Ares tossed him into the guardrail and Colt juiced. He actually tried to roll the ref up for a pin later in the match, with Ares counting three and then raising Colt’s hand, before clotheslining him. Colt made a comeback, but was distracted by Gen Next, which allowed Ares to hit a crucifix into a Rings of Saturn for the submission. Colt lasted quite a while in the hold before the ref called for the bell. OK match, it kind of veered between comedy and straight up wrestling, but wasn’t bad overall. Afterward they Pillmanize Colt’s left arm, only instead of stomping on the chair, Ares did a 450 onto it and completely shattered it (both the chair and Colt’s arm). For what it’s worth, I saw Colt with his arm in a sling after the show, but that could have been just kayfabe.

Punk and Steel run out for the save, and Punk says something about Shelley being in “Jarrett’s pocket” and he should stay in Nashville. Shelley responds by making “I have a lot of money” gesture with his hands. Good night for wrestling gestures.

Sugar Sean Price comes out to make an announcement about the next Boston show. He said he was “only voice of Ring of Honor” and acting all cocky. Hey, I like the Coach as much as the next guy, but do we really need a version of him in ROH? Anyway, the next show will feature the ROH debut of Jushin “Thunder” Liger. My friend Chris and I simultaneously crapped our pants. He’ll also be working the RexPlex show the next day as part of the ROH “Weekend of Thunder.” Actually, when Price announced it, I thought he said “Weekend of Fun,” which I’m sure it will be.

5. The Havana Pitbulls (w/Julius Smokes) [c] vs. Izzy & Dixie (w/Special K) [ROH Tag Title Match]: Why do Rocky and Ricky have “HB” written on their legs? Shouldn’t it be HP? (It's left over from CMLL, I think - tcf) Anyway, this was supposed to be ‘Bulls vs. Briscoes, but with Mark’s injury Special K got the slot. The match was ok, but was hurt by the fact that we were originally promised a better match, and the outcome of this match was never in doubt. I can’t imagine they had a lot of time to prepare, either. Anyway, Dixie gets pinned after a backbreaker/top rope kneedrop combo. Lots of dissension in Special K, as their new valet (don’t know the name, may have been Lacey of IWA-MS fame) blaming everyone but Izzy for the loss. The group almost comes to blows until everyone finally calls a truce. For a second I thought we were going to get Special K Hollywood and Special K Wolfpack.

6. Doug Williams [c] vs. “Hurricane” John Walters [Pure Wrestling Title match]: Samoa Joe came out before the match for his "The Pure title is worthless" routine, and also told Walters not to choke in his hometown like he does everywhere else. OH~! The basic story here was Walters using leg submissions to get Williams to burn through his ropebreaks quickly (you have three ropebreaks during a Pure wrestling match, and if you use them all, then you can’t use them to escape a pin or submission). But Williams came back and got Walters to use up all of his ropebreaks, so neither man had any left. Williams hit a Dragon Suplex and the Chaos Theory, but was unable to hold the bridge because of the legwork Walters had done earlier in the match. Walters was bleeding from the mouth and nose, and Williams was bleeding from his thigh somehow. Finally, Walters caught Williams in a leg submission in the ropes for the tap. Crowd wasn’t expecting the finish but popped huge for it. Probably match of the night. I can understand taking the belt off of Williams, who likely has to return to the UK, but Walters wouldn’t have been my top choice. He’s got an uphill battle if he wants to win over the critics.

7. Samoa Joe vs. Homicide (w/Julius Smokes and Rocky Romero) vs. C.M. Punk: This match was billed as deciding the “Icon” of ROH, whatever that’s worth. Homicide wore a Yankees shirt to the ring for cheap heat (which worked, of course), and then took it off and tried to make the referee wear it. Punk got a hold of it and blew his nose on it, then Joe teased tearing it and threw it into the crowd. For the first part of the match, it was the standard “one guy would be on the outside while the other two fought in the ring” that’s mandatory in all three ways. Homicide and Punk fought over a plastic fork that Homicide brought into the match, until Joe got a hold of it and stabbed Homicide in the head repeatedly. I think at one point Homicide gave Punk a piledriver through a table on the floor. Late in the match all three men did the other's trademark moves to each other (Homicide hit a Russian leg sweep DDT on Punk, Joe hit an Ace Crusher on Homicide, and Punk did the big knees/choke combo on Joe). Punk hit the Pepsi Plunge on Joe, but Homicide hit Punk with a lariat and covered Joe himself for the win. Very good match and interesting booking, as Homicide finally pins Joe but Punk can claim it was his move that scored the win. Gen Next attacked Punk after the match, with Steel and Cabana (bad arm and all) making the save.

They finally take an intermission to set up the cage. Nothing of note happened, but I will tell this story. During the main event I was standing by the curtain where the wrestlers would come out to use the bathroom. I was watching the main event when all of a sudden Julius Smokes screams “Out of the way, nigga!” and storms past, saying something about the Rottweilers before he disappears. That was a first for me.

8. Jack Evans vs. Trent Acid vs. Fast Eddie vs. Alter Boy Luke vs. Dunn vs. Marcos vs. BJ Whitmer vs. Dan Maff vs. Loc vs. Devito vs. Oman Tortuga vs. Diablo Santiago [Scramble Cage Melee]: OK, so this match was cage match with platforms on the corners of the top of the cage, and to eliminate someone you had to do a dive off the platform onto them (odd rules, but what the hell…). The winner of this match would apparently get 10x the normal ROH payday, so the winner could walk away with a cool $250. Everyone started out in the cage together, but in the first few minutes people started getting tossed to the floor and we were left with the Carnage Crew vs. Maff and Whitmer. Allison Danger is bearing a disturbing resemblance to Stephanie McMahon circa 2000. Devito eliminated the former Prophecy first by hitting a moonsault press off the cage in a relatively safe dive. Luke then eliminates the Crew with a somersault dive from the platform to the floor. Yikes. Dunn and Marcos went up top simultaneously for a stage dive, but Eddie climbed up and stopped Marcos, so Dunn tried a big Macho Man elbow on someone and missed. Eddie and Dunn were fighting on top of the platform and it was beyond terrifying. Finally, Eddie hit a moonsault blockbuster slam on Marcos, landing on Oman, Diablo, and Dunn, so both the OCK and the RCE were eliminated, and then Eddie was announced as injured (not sure if it was legit, but I wouldn’t be surprised), so he had to leave the match. That left us with Evans and Acid. Acid tried to climb the platform, but Evans (still with bandaged arm) stopped him and looked to hit an electric chair drop off the top rope, but Acid turned it into an inverted ‘rana and Evans landed right on his skull. Acid went up to a platform again, but Evans stopped him and tried a ‘rana off the top rope, only to have it go horribly wrong, with Evans landing first and Acid falling right on top of him. Evans recovered enough to climb up top and hit a double rotation somersault legdrop for the win. Crazy, crazy match with a gutsy performance by Evans, but much too dangerous and they really should never have another one of these.

Not the best ROH shows I’ve seen, but the wrestling was still good and it was memorable due to the title change and main event. I will most assuredly return to see Liger in November.