Road Report: Ring of Honor - 08/13/05
Chicago Ridge, IL
by Scott Christ
I haven't watched ROH regularly in a long, long time. I follow the results
and the discussion but nothing has really motivated me to spend money on the
product, because it's expensive to spend money to follow a promotion. Like, it
just is. So since ROH comes around once every three months or so, it's once
every three months or so that I really get interested. I like ROH - just not in
Anyway, we decided to go to this one to see Punk's sendoff, which I had considered but was sold on since it was against Cabana, and I figured it'd be cool to see Matt Hardy once and Spanky and Gibson before they're gone, and a bunch of other guys (Aries, Nigel, Roderick) that I don't get to see much in IWA MS anymore. So it was a deal.
I remember now why we got so lost. It's a VERY quick left turn from on 95th street from where we come in, like a nanosecond after you turn. So we ended up well on the wrong side of 99th, which connects to Sayre, blah blah blah. It's not interesting, but we were in town at like 7:40 eastern with an 8:30 belltime, and we got there late and had to park a couple blocks away because goddamn parking is a nightmare at this venue. Attendance was great, between 800 and 1500 depending on who (or which psycho, in the latter case) you ask. I'd guess about 900-1000. But it was a lot of people, and they were into the show. If you didn't pay attention to some of the dumbass shit they were saying, it was even better!
According to Cubs, I missed a James Gibson promo. When I went in to get tickets while the car got parked, I saw Nigel in the ring. Missed a bit of the first match too.
NIGEL MCGUINNESS v. DELIRIOUS v. ALEX SHELLEY v. MATT SYDAL (w/Daizee Haze)
Four dudes I like a whole lot. Delirious was way over, as he deserves to be. Pretty standard four-way action and really I didn't pay much attention to it as I was letting Cubs catch me up on all the hot gossip that I missed. Apparently there were dark matches and one of them had Brad Bradley. Good for Brad. Nigel won by pinning Delirious. Match seemed like it was perfectly alright. I wish I could've just gotten a Shelley/Sydal singles but I'm sure that'll come up soon enough now that Sydal is with Gen Next.
CHAD COLLYER v. ACE STEEL
Yeah alright! These three husky girls and their moderately attractive friend were going absolutely bananas over Chad Collyer, who has a mohawk now. I haven't seen Ace since he last worked IWA MS. These are two of my favorite "secondary" guys - as in, I wouldn't buy a ticket to see them specifically in most cases, but if they're on the undercard I'm down. Match was about what you'd expect from these two, pretty basic, very solid wrestling, until Collyer plastered Ace with a chairshot on the outside. Steel bled like crazy because he's Ace Steel and it's Chicago and he can. Collyer put him in the cloverleaf once they got back in, and Ace was pretty much dead so that was that as the arm dropped thrice. I was surprised (and disappointed) that Ace dropped this match in Chicago, since it's not like either of these guys are anything more than lower card standbys for Ring of Honor, but what can you do.
JIMMY RAVE (w/Prince Nana) v. AUSTIN ARIES
Rave's ring jacket really is a thing of sheer beauty. This dude in the front row did that Dude In The Front Row thing where he gets up in Nana's face and goes FUCK YOU NANA AHAHAHAHAhahaha and sits down. I wish he'd have gotten punched. Rave got streamers of hate, and threw a few back. One of them went over our heads and actually went through a hole in a caged lighting fixture, which was extremely impressive. I missed the majority of this match because three dudes in the fifth or sixth or whatever row wouldn't sit down despite that they were tall and the people in front of them were not. I could've said, hey buddy, sit down, but for a Jimmy Rave match? I decided I could live because I was still sort of adjusting to being there. When you're late to a show you never really settle in to the atmosphere. Part of the thing about getting there early is you have time to adjust to the surroundings and all. Anyway, this match was pretty good, then ended on a flash pin for Aries. I like Jimmy Rave now more than I used to. Could just be the pants and jacket.
HOMICIDE & LOW KI v. SAMOA JOE & JAY LETHAL
Yeah son. I was ready for this one. I wanted a fight and brutal strikes and asses getting kicked and all this. I'm not that familiar with Lethal. This was my first time seeing Ki live. He didn't disappoint, I guess, but I don't love him or anything to begin with. It was cool to see him. The Homicide/Ki entrance was awesome and then Joe's music after made it feel like shit was going to go down. ROH has it all over other indies as far as production goes. It's a real show. IWA MS is all about the matches in front of you, and I love that, but there's definitely something to be said for creating atmosphere. This match wasn't quite as good as I'd hoped, with a long heat segment on Lethal and constant taunting of Joe leading up to the hot tag, but Joe's hot tag wasn't as devastating or awesome as I was expecting. They went into some highspot and four-man brawling stuff before Ki was nearly pinned, and Homicide hit the ref for the DQ. That didn't go over well with anyone, but fortunately (and awesomely) they made up for it by brawling like crazy around the building for about as long as the match had gone, including Ki double stomping Lethal from the bleachers to the floor, which may or may not have actually been captured on camera. If the hard cam didn't catch it, it wasn't. Match was decent, post-match made up for any shortcomings. A good time, and any time Joe and Homicide are in the ring together I'm a ball of anticipation waiting for things to get nasty. It may be my favorite matchup in wrestling.
ROH TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH
JAMES GIBSON (ROH World Champion) & SPANKY (challengers) v. BJ WHITMER & JIMMY JACOBS (champions)
This is where it would've been nice to have a Nigel/Delirious popcorn match and a Shelley/Sydal opener, but whatever. For popcorn matches at ROH shows I've been to, this sure beat the shit out of Danny Daniels and Ricky Reyes last year. I sort of looked at Gibson and Spanky as ringers for getting a good match out of a Whitmer tag team. Jacobs is fantastic but I was sick of the huss shit a year ago and he wasn't as good here as he's been in IWA MS, where he's come into his own as an asshole. Whitmer was better here than usual, I thought. I don't mind him in tags. This match was sort of a WWE style, which sounds like I'm saying it was slow or bad or something, but it's not that. There are good things about the WWE style (the emphasis on drama, which I enjoy), and if you have good workers that don't have the limitations, and just use the idea to some degree, it's going to work, especially in a place where it's not an every match thing. I find it impossible to really get into Spanky, partially because of his name and partially because of his gear and partially because of the fact that I never get the impression that a Spanky match MEANS anything, like I'm just waiting to see if it's good or not and that's all there is to it. This was a solid match, though. I had no idea if anyone was a heel or not. Spanky, apparently, had asked Gibson earlier in the night for a title shot, and Gibson said he'd give it to him down the road. Spanky turned on Gibson here, superkicking him (well, he pretty much whiffed on it), and the challengers lost. Crowd booed. Spanky got the mic and explained that it was all about business. Crowd chanted for Spanky. Idiots.
RODERICK STRONG v. MATT HARDY
Roderick was way over. Hardy came out and was getting booed big time, probably 80-20 in favor of the boos. The Hardy supporters/people who aren't delusional loonies then upped their cheers, and it got to about 50-50. Hardy spoke a little before the match but it wasn't important. He is so much bigger than most of these guys, especially in his upper body development. I'm not saying that's good or bad or inconsequential, but it's worth noting. He looked huge compared to Roderick, who isn't really a big guy, necessarily, but he's thick and built pretty well. Hardy's left pec is as big as Strong's entire ass. This was another more WWE styled match, where it was all about building the drama and getting TO something, instead of just starting at something and then running through lots of stuff. I'm not trying to dis the general ROH style, or the perception of the general major indy style, I just thought it was a neat comparison. Both have their good and bad points. Anyway, the match was fantastic, as Hardy played heel to the people who were shitting on him and face to everyone else, doing it all at the same time. Roderick took most of the punishment but did start his comeback by catching Hardy with one of his backbreakers, which was really well-done. Basically, the match was built around Strong looking to turn the tide and get his big offense. Hardy took and bumped for Strong's chops, which was really noticeable among all the strike trades these matches generally have. Matt was really dramatic on the point at his head thing for the second rope legdrop, but he didn't get it. He got the twist of fate and a couple of side effects, but couldn't put him away. Strong eventually got a rollup for the win, and the crowd popped big. Hardy did a "thanks!" bit on the mic and came off like he'd just had a lot of fun. It was cool to see him, and he went 100% when if he hadn't, how could I really blame him? He's got real money waiting for him. But he busted his ass and put over a rising star clean. If you can't appreciate that, then you're pretty much stupid.
COLT CABANA v. CM PUNK
Cabana's entrance was great because I haven't seen it in so long. The crowd was rabid, although probably 100 or so people left during Colt's entrance, even though they had announced it was the main event for the evening, which to be fair some of the Hardy supporters may not have really known. So Matt probably brought in a couple hundred people on his own. Anyway, the crowd was hot as hell for Punk, banging on the metal ROH signs at ringside to the beat of "Miseria Cantare" before the song got going. Once it did, they were completely out of rhythm and eventually had to hit reset. The entire song played and Punk hadn't come out. One guy by us appeared to freak out about how he'd no-showed. What are you, dumb? Punk came out to the Bouncing Souls song "Night Train," which is a pretty lame song but was very, very fitting and pretty cool. His eyes were filled with tears. It was emotional and stuff. He was showered with streamers. Samoa Joe and Ace Steel watched from ringside. They didn't go overboard trying to make this a cliché classic, which I appreciated as much this time as I did Punk doing a broadway comedy match for his final IWA MS match. They started with your basic stuff, and some of the idiots were restless and yelled about this or that, which finally got one guy to say, "Shut the FUCK UP," to which Punk responded, "Yes." Someone also yelled out, "Beware of Triple H!" This received no reaction. Punk won the first fall following a low blow and the Colt 45 after Cabana had stomped on his feet several times, which annoyed Punk to the point of him hitting Cabana in the junk. I thought this was excellent. Second fall went to Cabana on a big lariat. Third fall was back-and-forth stuff that ended on a rollup, the third rollup finish of the night in an important match. They did a post-match tribute bit like they did with Paul London, except this time they drank Pepsi from champagne glasses. Cute touch.
This was a really good show and I had an awesome time. If Punk makes millions of dollars I can say I saw a couple important pieces of the CM Punk farewell tour of the indies, so that's pretty cool. If he doesn't, I'll see him again in a year and a half probably. But I hope he does.
The only negative things I have to say are the rollup finishes being played out, another important match had a DQ finish, and the final important match had a guy turning on his tag partner. It's not that I mind rollup finishes, really, but it was just a bit much. For Punk/Cabana it seemed appropriate, but couldn't Strong kick Hardy in the face? Couldn't Aries, the former world champ, just beat Jimmy freaking Rave with a brainbuster or five?
But whatever. It was well worth getting semi-lost in Illinois and the awful, awful, awful, awful Oak Lawn Denny's we ate at afterward. If you're ever in the area, don't eat at that Denny's. I think my pancakes were made of flubber.