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CALDWELL'S ROH PPV REPORT: Coverage of "Man Up" PPV

Dec 2, 2007 - 10:02:30 AM
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By James Caldwell, Torch columnist

ROH "Man Up" PPV #3 - Chicago
Originally aired: November 30


- They open with a classic PPV look with the smoke and fog in the ring while Marufuji stood by. Looks like an old WCW PPV tape. And I mean that in a good way. Lenny Leonard and Dave Prazak are ringside to introduce the show. Nigel McGuinness showed up ringside and got some promo time. He wants the belt. That was a recurring theme tonight, which is quite refreshing.

Suddenly, a random masked man jumped the mic and uttered something incoherent before he was pulled away. They went to a video package from the last PPV. Suddenly, Claudio Castagnoli was ringside for a promo. The revolving door at Prazak's ringside perch was then interrupted by Sweet N Sour Inc. Larry Sweeney took the mic and gave the fans the business. Marufuji simply stood in the ring waiting to wrestle while Larry hammed it up.

1 -- NIGEL vs. MARUFUJI vs. HERO vs. CLAUDIO CASTAGNOLI. Hero did some jumping jacks and other assorted athletic endeavors to open things up. Marufuji had enough of this and tagged out to Claudio, who chased Hero out of the ring. A lot of stalling early on. The storyline with Matt Sydal is that Sweeney sold him up the river to his buddy Vince (McMahon) to turn a quick profit. But, did he get enough return on his investment to buy Tank a move set?

First big spot of the night was a big splash by Marufuji on Hero and Claudio on the floor at 9:00. Nigel then considered a spot of his own into the stands. Oh no. He went flying over the ringside guardrail with a big dive into the front row of chairs, wiping out Hero and Claudio. Back in the ring, Marufuji scored a three count with the Sliced Bread on Nigel, but ref Sinclaire gave Hero the benefit of the doubt on breaking up the pinfall. Claudio then took Hero down the Waterslide for a nearfall. The rules were thrown out the window as it became a four-way dance complete with a sweet round of nearfalls.

Claudio had the pin on Marufuji with the Ricola bomb, but Hero smacked the ref to break up the pin. Claudio, upset with his former partner, ran over Hero with a bicycle kick. He then nailed Nigel with a springboard European uppercut, but Nigel rebounded right into big jawbreaker lariat for the win. WINNER: Nigel in 18:00. Awesome final seven or eight minutes of rapid-fire action. Great way to open the show. (***1/2)

- They went to the Pirate Bryan Danielson standing backstage to talk about Morishima killing his eye. Danielson said his mom took him to surgery and she was crying when he was done. He said his family takes his injuries hard, but his dad reminded him that wrestling is what he's always wanted to do. Danielson said the injuries are part of the life he wanted. He said he's going for the title tonight against Morishima and he's taking it home with him. Good, basic promo to set the stage for the main event.

- Resilience vs. No Remorse Corps up next in a best of three series.

2 -- ROCKY ROMERO vs. MATT CROSS. Romero was quite confident about his chances against "the gymnast", as his team put it. Romero took control with a cross arm breaker hold and he did the Azucar dance to a derisive cheer. Cross made a comeback, then went for a twisting press, but Romero moved and nailed a kick to the head for the win. WINNER: Romero in 5:00. No ROH show is complete without a Romero singles match. Action-packed for five minutes. (**1/4)

3 -- AUSTIN ARIES vs. DAVEY RICHARDS. Aries wanted a piece of Roderick Strong, but NRC swerved him and Davey Richards stepped up to the plate against Aries. Richards was in control early with a block of the brainbuster into a Northern Lights suplex for a nearfall. Richards mocked Aries's pendulum elbow, which he missed with. Aries then came back with his pendulum elbow and connected square in the chest. Richards quickly came back with trademark kick strikes, but Aries nailed him with a roaring elbow smash, then a suicide dive on the floor. Such great athleticism in this match. Oh goodness, Richards with a perfectly-timed leap into an overhead German suplex from the top turnbuckle for a nearfall. They went into a rapid-fire exchange of pin attempts and power offense before Aries nailed the brainbuster. He went up top for the 450 splash and connected for the pin to even the score. WINNER: ARIES IN 12:00. That's some great pro wrestling athleticism between two very good wrestlers. (***1/2)

4 -- RODERICK STRONG vs. ERICK STEVENS. The progression from Strong to become a dominating heel is quite obvious from PPV to PPV. Much more convincing in his body language, mannerisms, and offense than four months ago against Delirious. Strong dominated the majority of the match while Aries paced the floor in support of his teammate, Stevens. Very good nearfall at 12:00 with Stevens blocking a top rope Gibson Driver and nailing a high-impact turnaround slam. They went back up top and Strong just blasted Stevens in the neck with forearm strikes before nailing an Outsider's Edge. Sweet. Strong followed with the Gibson Driver for the win to give the NRC a 2-1 series win. WINNER: Strong in 15:00. I saw something new from Stevens here. It's been a slow progression for Stevens this year, but he turned a corner with me in this match. Strong was awesome as usual. Very encouraging match. (***1/4)

- They showed footage from the Adam Pearce vs. Delirious feud, with Pearce incorporating Brent Albright to subdue Delirious. Pearce's manservant, Shane Hagadorn, pulled out a staple gun to keep Delirious's mask on permanently, but B.J. Whitmer showed up to confront Pearce. Pearce cut a promo asking Whitmer what decision he would make. Whitmer was convinced to join with Pearce, and he gave Delirious a sit-down Tombstone Piledriver. Pearce measured Delirious to staple the mask to his face, but they stopped the video before showing the action. It was apparently a Home Alone-like stapling, as there was laughter during the moment of unaired impact. The fans then expressed their displeasure with Whitmer's decision.

5 -- MORISHIMA vs. DANIELSON - ROH Title match. The Pirate went right after Morishima when the bell sounded, but Morishima quickly shoved him out of the ring to the floor. Tough to watch this one early on with my eyes as Morishima smashed the crap out of Danielson's face. It's like that sensation if you see another person's eyes watering, your eyes suddenly begin to water. Danielson took advantage of Morishima's premature celebration and went on the attack at 6:00 with some previously-thought-to-be impossible submission holds on Morishima in center ring. Danielson nailed a Northern Lights suplex for a nearfall, then he took the hold right into Cattle Mutilation. Danielson couldn't maintain the hold, so he went to a triangle choke with elbow strikes to the neck, only to have Morishima counter with a lift-up powerbomb to escape. Wow. That's a heck of a four-spot exchange at 10:00.

Morishima followed up on the powerbomb with a big lariat and back drop driver for consecutive nearfalls. Morishima got the heel heat by ripping off the eye patch, then Danielson rolled up Morishima for a nearfall. Morishima came right back with a back drop driver, then he went against his pre-match vow that he wouldn't attack the eye and began nailing forearm strikes to the injured eye. The ref intervened and finally stopped the match with Danielson's eyesight in jeopardy. The fans weren't particularly pleased with the match decision. WINNER: Referee stopped the match in 13:00; Morishima retained the ROH Title. Very strong title match. No slow periods, but there was ample time in between holds to let the action sink in. Creative finish to get the heat on Morishima and give Danielson an out. (***3/4)

- They showed a video package on the Briscoes vs. Generico & Steen feud. Really needed more of a break in between the two title matches, especially with the tag war starting off with instant action.

6 -- JAY & MARK BRISCOE vs. EL GENERICO & KEVIN STEEN - ROH Tag Title match - Ladder War match. They didn't waste any time going right after each other ringside and in the stands. Jay came up with a cut across the side of his head following a chair shot blow from Generico. After several teased climbs, at 10:00, the Briscoes broke the ladder in half by hip tossing Generico into the ladder as it was propped up in the corner. The champs then introduced a second ladder, but Steen shoved Mark off the second ladder into the remnants of the first ladder. The crowd gasped, then Steen gave Jay a suplex onto the second ladder. Mark came to life and absorbed kicks to the face before accepting a blatant kick to the groin.

The teams exchanged control, then Generico set up a sweet running Yakuza kick in the corner sending the ladder into Jay's face. Steen started a slow climb to the belts as Generico held off the Briscoes, but Jay shoved Generico into the ladder, sending Steen crashing hard to the mat. The bigger they are, the harder they fall, and Steen really crashed hard. Jay then gave Steen a DVD onto the edge of the ladder, which looked unbelievably painful. Even more painful was Mark nailing a top rope shooting star press onto Generico and a ladder. Jay then took Steen through a table on the floor with a top rope leg drop. Back in the ring, Mark went for the belts, but he couldn't balance on the ladder and Generico kicked the ladder out from under him.

At 20:00, Mark called for the big red maintenance ladder standing in the back of the arena. And the ladder was crowd surfed into the ring where Mark set it up. Suddenly, the Briscoes nailed an impromptu springboard doomsday device underneath the ladder. Wow, I've never seen that before. The Briscoes tried to climb Big Red, but Steen smashed them with a smaller ladder. Steen then propped up the smaller ladder on the steps of Big Red and proceeded to send Mark through the smaller ladder with a Package Piledriver. Sick! Generico went up Big Red and got a hand on the belts, but Jay blocked him. Jay then took Generico through a second smaller ladder propped up on Big Red with a Jay Driller. Sick!

And now the big climb with Steen and Jay battling on top of Big Red. What a great right hand blow battle on top of the ladder with Steen eventually losing the battle and being knocked down into the torn up ladder below. Jay then reached up and tried to rip the belts down from the hook, but he couldn't get the belts. Steen climbed back up, but Jay finally ripped one of the belts from the hook to win the match and retain the belts. WINNERS: Briscoes in 27:00 to retain the tag titles. What a match. It exceeded the hype and just plain delivered the goods. (****3/4)

After the match, the fans chanted "Match of Year", then Steen piefaced Generico and left the ring. Generico hobbled out of the ring after Steen as the announcers signed off. Suddenly, there was a loud screaming noise. A bunch of men in ski masks surrounded the ringside barrier, then Tyler Black and Jimmy Jacobs entered the ring. The announcers talked about a new faction entering ROH. Necro Butcher then stormed the ring from behind and led an attack on the Briscoes. Lacy then entered the ring sporting a fishnet goth outfit. Jacobs then attacked Jay's feet to a chain and they began to lift him to the ceiling, but the PPV faded to black before he was in the air.

CALDWELL'S PPV THOUGHTS: Well worth two hours and $15. After hearing about this PPV for months, it was exciting to finally see if ROH could live up to the hype, and they certainly delivered. Specifically, the Briscoes vs. Steen & Generico exceeded months of hype to deliver the tag match of the year and a top five contender for overall match of the year. I normally cringe during brutal gimmick matches considering the long-term damage these types of matches can have on the participants, but the drama was played out so well and in a believable fashion that it was a great match to watch as a fan of pro wrestling done right. That final sequence with Jay and Steen exchanging right hand blows on top of Big Red was a jump-out-of-your-seat finish that the announcers played up very well to heighten the drama. This might have cemented Briscoes vs. Steen & Generico as feud of the year in pro wrestling.

Danielson vs. Morishima provided about five minutes of the best in singles action you'll find anywhere. The counters to the counters of the counters leading to the finish was spot-on with the timing and believability of the holds. Two professionals have a pro wrestling match. The finish was smart in that Morishima became desperate to retain the belt when faced with a stiff challenge and he was forced to take an easy road out of a hard match. Smart booking.

Richards vs. Aries delivered a fantastic undercard singles match, but I came away more impressed with Erick Stevens after watching this PPV. I wouldn't call his match against Strong a breakout performance, but it was a significant step forward for Stevens in ROH. Meanwhile, Romero is just a great man.


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