Random thoughts on some ROH matches watched here and there today: (warning, you may suffer from TL;DR syndrome. Bear with me.)
At Our Best - ROH World Championship - Steel Cage Match
Samoa Joe(c) vs Jay Briscoe ~ ****1/4
After witnessing the excellent video package during intermission of Supercard of Honor VII highlighting all of Jay Briscoe's ROH World Championship attempts, I felt compelled to view this infamous encounter once again. Been years since the last time yada, yada, yada. My oh my does it hold up however. Think I enjoy it more now than I did when it was gazed upon many moons ago. The story was damn near created from thin air right from the outset. Bell rings and Jay immediately heads to bold over the top rope. Love that. From there on out the pace was frantic. Joe & Jay didn't hold back on each other with anything. Balls to the wall work all crammed (crammed is poor wording considering this match played out wonderfully)
in a sub-15 minute frame. It's up there among the best matches ever worked in that time. No doubt. It's matches like this where blood shed can REALLY up the match to a certain degree. Jay was covered in it. If it wasn't for Eddie vs JBL from Judgment Day of the same year - 2004 - Jay's crimson mask and subsequent GORY AS HOLY HELL graphic coagulated blood drippings would have been the gnarliest sight of the year. It was so intense to view. You know when Horror movies try to capture that essence of sick brutality that can form when someone is bleeding out? Yeah, that is exactly what Jay looked like in the latter portion of the match. Nothing short of fucking disgusting explains it to a T. Only comes through with how well exhcuted the story in this match was. Jay was plucky - despite being the heel iirc - and fans honestly got behind him winning. As did the commentary team. Mark was grand in his role on the outside too. The assisting by lifting up the torn cage was so boss. He didn't interfere technically, but gave Jay that "WOW JAY COULD STEAL THIS AND WIN" heart-stopping type vibe to the match from that spot. Can't say anymore great things about this match. If you haven't seen it, watch it. If you have? Watch it again. If you claim to love Ring of Honor at any capacity during the company's existence, well WATCH THE MATCH AND REVEL IN THE GLORY
. It is just about everything ROH wanted to create the moment they opened their doors. On a final note: Top rope Muscle Buster. Watch this match
Bryan Danielson vs Jimmy Jacobs ~ ****1/4
#1 pick for best hidden gem of 2007. Heck, I could outright say during the prime years of Ring of Honor. (2005 - 2008 via Gabe's departure)
How is this match never
talked about? Is it the show being forgettable via the card shift? I am seriously, seriously baffled, perplexed, vexed, and downright confused that this match never gets any praise. I feel part of it could be brought upon thanks to the ever growing underrated nature of Jimmy Jacobs' work. Which is a crying shame. The man is bliss to watch. Sheer bliss and that isn't even coming close to overstating the truth. The beauty of this match was certainly it's pacing. It was paced so well, so phenomenally worked among the two talented individuals in the ring that they were able to create any type of match they wanted. They blended some hits of a ground game in the start following it's unorthodox beginning & managed to keep a lively tempo throughout with not one single hint of crossing the lines of overkill. That's what I appreciated the most from watching. And it is a severe loss in the mold of today's current product. Not just from ROH either. From the lot of US indies out there. This match should only garner appreciation for both Danielson & Jacobs being valuable commodities. Tis a shame Danielson departed from the indies b/c his work has always, still is, and I'm certain will always be an asset to anyone who steps in the ring with him. From timing, to pacing, to any outlet of working a match in this business, Danielson can up that game. Jacobs is damn near the same too. Absolutely he is. Only what makes things painstakingly annoying is how he is STILL apart of the indie scene. Apart of ROH yet not used in this capacity. When he could be doing quality work like this on a fairly often basis instead of being crammed in tag or multi-man tags. As for any specific details of the match outside of the superb pacing/tempo, it had a whole slew of goodies mixed in. Both showing a wide range of their offensive style, Jacobs being the sadistic prick by jabbing Danielson in the head with the railroad spike causing a surprising show of blood, (didn't expect it in this match)
Danielson being the come from behind champion to the people after being laid out by said spike, quality control segment by the heel coupled with a rallied almost seemingly effortless quality face comeback to boot. Lacey rose to add the right sort of shenanigan into the mix without it looking like a cheap way for Jacobs to earn the advantage one more time --> a great Contra Code nearfall. Damn near the works here. Throw in what is indeed a clean victory for Jacobs & you have a glorious match/moment on your hands. This win was honestly the stake put in that the AOTF is 100% legit. Jacobs defeated Bryan Danielson. Who, as we all know, was damn near untouchable at this time. The whole match was nothing short of fabulous. Start to finish. Again, bliss.
Glory By Honor VIII: The Final Countdown - ROH Tag Team Championship - Ladder War II
American Wolves(c) vs El Generico & Kevin Steen ~ **
Not sure if I have too much to say about this, so I'll play it by ear. Lucky for those who are reading as they might have not even bothered with this if read the two previous paragraphs.
Dull. Best word to describe this letdown of a blow off match. It lacked SO much of the intensity brought forth by the original gimmick match from Man Up. It isn't even funny how much of a drop off the return is here. Right from the outset you can almost tell that this wasn't going to touch Generico/Steen vs Briscoes. It felt plodding almost immediately. It wasn't even a case of "oh, Cody hates Davey Richards matches" or any nonsense like that. During the time in '09 Davey is actually quite reserved here compared to where he is at now. Honestly, not a problem. Simply thanks to Davey being a blur of nothingness in the match from the Wolves point of view. Although, tbhayley, it isn't as if any of the other three did much to make the match standout themselves. All you take away from this is it had some truly INSANE spots towards the end (props to all who died doing so. They're mad men.)
in front of a rather dead crowd. Which was a common problem for me around 2009 & recent years. It almost feels as if once Gabe was removed as booker ROH nearly lost its life force. The aura that made ROH so magical many times out was gone. For this fan at least. It came through in spades here. I can't stress that aspect enough. Dull to the highest degree. The rating is more or less for some kind of an effort than anything. It's honestly irrelevant here. The match wasn't good and isn't worth anybodies time. That's all that needs to be said to end this. And that Eddie Edwards is a total champ for competing in this match with what I do believe was a broken or shattered elbow. Something of the sort. Which is outrageous. Think it is why the kid was the most over guy in the entire match. He even had Generico beat. Pushing him as a successful babyface makes much, much more sense looking back. He blew up among the ROH fanbase.
Clash of the Contenders
Davey Richards vs Kenny Omega ~ ***1/4
What am I doing watching Davey Richards matches if I dislike him? Well, I love Kenny Omega. Heard this match receive lots of praise. I was curious. Long story short (not really)
this was fun. I can see why people enjoyed it. Not certain why some thought it was great. Outside of Kenny Omega looking really good in it. Davey was sort of only doing his part and using his name value/"star" appeal among the company to feed Omega. Much like the Ladder War, Davey was controlled here in comparison to today's version. So the masturbatory MMA bullshit was toned down here. Kicks were thrown aplenty. Almost in a fashion to where I didn't hate it though. It was reminiscent to a Roderick Strong "turn your brain off" collision where all the one note strikes were fun & a version of "can you top this?" between the two wrestlers. You know Davey did his thing. Being the Dynamite Kid wannabe, meanwhile Omega got perhaps what was his best chance to shine until he had his ROH World Championship match vs Aries later that year. Back to what I said at the start: A fun showcase for Omega & it honestly flies on by for being around the 19 - 20 minute mark. Which is plenty praiseworthy. A great match like most seemed to rave about? Not in the slightest for me. Enjoyable enough to say I'm glad I checked it out? Sure. Kenny Omega is the tops.