Ring of Honor: Best in the World

New York, NY – 3.25.2006

Commentary is provided by Dave Prazak and Lenny Leonard.

We start with a freeze frame of BJ Whitmer from the end of “Arena Warfare.” A voiceover from Jimmy Bower tells us that they cut away from the end of that show before Zandig could speak, but decided to show us what Zandig had to say so we could grasp the severity of the situation between the two promotions. Zandig shit talks Whitmer and ROH as other CZW wrestlers drink beer. Zandig says what they did to Whitmer was just the start. He powerbombs Whitmer and some other folks like Jon Dahmer put the boots to him afterwards. The camera zooms in on the ROH logo on the apron with CZW spray painted over it in yellow, and CZW spray painted on Whitmer’s back. Jimmy Bower then tells us that due to the injuries sustained during this attack, BJ Whitmer is not on tonight’s show. Bower also invites any CZW roster members to show up tonight for a fair fight. Nobody in the locker room will attack them, they will be allowed to enter and issue any challenge they wish – it is a “free pass.”

Jimmy Rave vs. Pelle Primeau

Prince Nana is in Rave’s corner. As Rave pummels Primeau in the corner, we’re told martial artist Bruce Leroy from the film “The Last Dragon” is in attendance. Rave makes quick work of Primeau, pinning him after a spear and Greetings From Ghana at 1:58. Hell of a squash.

Nana calls some fans fat and says Rave should be the next ROH champion. Nana says Bruce Leroy, nor anybody else in the building, could take out Rave. Enter Jimmy Yang, who uses the theme from “The Last Dragon” as his theme music. Rave strikes Yang and an impromptu match begins.

Jimmy Yang vs. Jimmy Rave

Yang takes down Rave with a spin kick and a superkick in the corner. Nana stops Yang from skinning the cat after he spinwheel kicks Rave in the corner, and although Yang kicks Nana away, this allows for Rave to knock Yang off the apron. In the ring, Rave gives Yang a neckbreaker for two. Yang escapes a full nelson by stomping on Rave’s feet. He knocks Rave down with a back elbow and lands a standing moonsault for two. Yang accidentally collides shoulder first into the ring post. Rave gets in some shots, but Yang escapes a superplex attempt. He kicks Nana who jumps up on the apron and gives Rave a backdrop. Rave ducks a spinwheel kick and spears Yang for two. Rave hits the Doppler Effect for two. Yang crucifix pins him at 6:32 for the surprise victory. Nana and Rave attack Rave after the bell, until Bruce Leroy kicks them away. The match was nothing special, as it was completely built around the Bruce Leroy moment. It was a solid match until the very abrupt ending. **¼

Allison Danger vs. Daizee Haze vs. Lacey vs. Mercedes Martinez

This is Martinez’s ROH debut. Haze and Lacey start. They have a pretty even exchange, and after they each get a nearfall, Lacey slaps Martinez in the face to tag her in. Danger also tags in. Martinez and Danger trade chops. Danger tips Martinez into a full body submission. Haze kicks Danger in the side of the head to break the submission, and Lacey knocks Danger down with a clothesline. Lacey is all smiles as her and Haze gang up on Danger with Martinez eagerly waiting for a potential tag from Danger. Danger manages to drop toe hold Haze on the bottom rope and boot her in the back of the head for two. Martinez and Lacey tag in. Martinez gives Lacey a suplex, brainbuster, and German suplex to the crowd’s delight. She also drills Haze with a spinebuster. Danger pulls Lacey to the floor when Martinez whips her to the ropes. Haze drives Martinez face first into the canvas. Haze climbs to the top turnbuckle, but Martinez shoves her outside onto Lacey and Danger. Danger sends Haze head first into the barricades from a wheelbarrow position. In the ring, Lacey blocks Martinez’s fisherwoman’s buster and gives Martinez a back cracker. Danger breaks the pin. Lacey tries the Implant DDT. Martinez counters that with the fisherwoman’s buster but Danger blind tagged in so Lacey cannot be pinned. Danger pins Lacey as Haze is busy with Martinez to get the win at 10:30. This was the Mercedes show, wowing the crowd in her debut by womanhandling Haze and Lacey. The pin was a bit contrived, but otherwise this was a good match and definitely a nice showcase for SHIMMER. ***

Jason Blade & Kid Mikaze come out for a tag team match. However, by the time they get to the ring, Chris Hero and Necro Butcher are in the ring. Hero can’t believe anyone would give him and Necro a free pass, but they accept the challenge of Mikaze and Blade.

Chris Hero & Necro Butcher vs. Jason Blade & Kid Mikaze

Hero sicks Butcher onto Blade outside while Mikaze and Hero amateur wrestle inside the ring. Butcher gives Blade a chair-assisted slam on the floor. Hero submits Mikaze in a modified front facelock at 0:40. A dominant victory for CZW is a nice way to give them some strength in this rivalry.

Chris Hero then calls out Adam Pearce, who recently ran down CZW in a video update. Pearce shows up in jeans and a Human Tornado t-shirt and attacks both men from behind. Todd Sinclair rings the bell and we have a match.

Adam Pearce vs. Chris Hero & Necro Butcher

Butcher throws chair after chair onto Pearce’s back in the crowd. Pearce fights from underneath and unleashes his own chair onslaught onto Butcher. He chokes Butcher with a belt before dumping him back ringside. Pearce sends Butcher back first into the ring post twice and slams him through the timekeeper’s table. Hero attacks Pearce from behind, sending him back first into the barricades. In the ring he kicks Pearce in the groin, and Sinclair calls for the bell at 3:10, throwing the match out and ruling it a No Contest. I was going to ask why it wasn’t a DQ, but given everything in this fight would be a DQ that would be silly.

Chris Hero gets the microphone and says he has someone to call out. The fans chant “Joe!” but he calls out one of his students, who is someone he also considers his best friend, Claudio Castagnoli. He wants Claudio to help them finish the job. Claudio comes out but he has no interest in attacking Pearce. Instead, he uppercuts Hero and Butcher! A pissed off Hero retreats with Butcher. Claudio gets on the microphone and says “fuck CZW.” He also says he will be the next Pure Champion. Pearce leads the fans in an “ROH” chant before he and Claudio head backstage.

Christopher Daniels vs. Alex Shelley

Prince Nana and Daizee Haze are in Shelley’s corner while Allison Danger is in Daniels’ corner. Shelley spits water in Daniels’ face right away, then further angers him by slapping him in the face twice and bailing to the floor before Daniels can do anything. Eventually, Shelley rubs Daniels’ bald head after trapping him, and Daniels slaps Shelley to give him a taste of his own medicine. Shelley shoulder blocks him from the apron and sweeps his legs. Daniels catches Shelley with an inverted atomic drop and controls him by the arm on the mat. Shelley brings him to the corner and throws some chops. This fires up Daniels who throws some of his own chops. Daniels takes Shelley back down with an armdrag and goes back to working over his left arm. After trading waistlocks, Shelley snapmares Daniels, scrapes his boots across Daniels’ face, and dropkicks him in the back. After a neckbreaker he puts Daniels in a full body stretch. Shelley clotheslines Daniels into a bulldog for two. He gets two with a quebrada as well. He snaps Daniels throat across the top rope. Shelley goes for a slingshot maneuver, but Daniels catches him coming in, slamming him face first into the canvas. Daniels then hits an enzuigiri to buy himself some regrouping time. After a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, Daniels gets two with an STO. Shelley leapfrogs out of the corner and superkicks Daniels. They roll each other into a few different pinning combinations. Shelley dropkicks Daniels on the top of his head. Daniels comes back with the Blue Thunder Bomb. He misses the BME but lands on his feet. Shelley gets his knees up to block the Arabian Press. Shelley goes for a Backslide. Daniels turns it into the Angels Wings for the pin at 14:34. This was a really fun and engaging back and forth match. Shelley is incredibly entertaining, and all match long his personality shined bright. Since Shelley lost his title match last month and Daniels was en route to settling his issue with Samoa Joe it made sense for him to win. The finishing sequence was also pretty stellar. ***½

ROH Pure Championship
Nigel McGuinness vs. Claudio Castagnoli

McGuinness has been champion since 8.27.2005 and this is his ninth defense. McGuinness tries sucking up to Todd Sinclair, so Claudio gives him an uppercut. They go to the floor where McGuinness whips Claudio into the barricades. He recovers and puts on a modified parachute hold in the ring until McGuinness rolls his way free. Claudio gets two with an uppercut to the back of the neck. He rolls McGuinness into the Neutralizer. McGuinness drives Claudio’s arm into the canvas, and from there focuses his attack on Claudio’s arm. Claudio fights back with the Match Killer and an uppercut off the second rope. He follows McGuinness to the floor with a twisting body press. McGuinness gets Claudio in the tree of woe position. He misses a double stomp but nails a running lariat to his neck. He gets two with the Tower of London. He goes for it a second time. Claudio fights his way out and hits the Alpamare Water Slide. McGuinness kicks out. This leads to an uppercut battle. Claudio blocks the rebound lariat and delivers another Alpamare Water Slide for two. McGuinness gets that second Tower of London in. Claudio uses his first rope break to stop the count. More uppercuts are thrown by both parties. McGuinness hits the rebound lariat for the pin at 12:57. Their series of matches ended on a high note with a very good encounter. It played off of their previous encounters and felt like an important bout for both competitors. I’m glad we didn’t see any of McGuinness’ usual tricks like trying to win by count out or using his iron, as it made for a more satisfying match. ***¼

Gary Michael Cappetta shows us a strange music video Jimmy Jacobs sent in. This would be none other than “The Ballad of Lacey”, and if you’ve never seen it, fix that right now. After the video, GMC congratulates Nigel McGuinness on his victory. Nigel says he proved everyone wrong who said Claudio would defeat him, and he will use that momentum as he heads back to Japan. He says he is the best pure wrestler today.

Austin Aries vs. Ricky Reyes

Julius Smokes is in Reyes’ corner. Aries has taken issue with how Reyes has treated his ROH Dojo graduates in matches. Reyes also won a future shot at Aries and Strong’s tag team titles with Homicide two weeks before this event. After exchanging holds on the mat, Aries hits a Powerdrive elbow for two. He slams Reyes several times to earn another two count. Aries chops up Reyes against the ropes, but Reyes slides under his legs and drops him with a neckbreaker for two. Reyes further wears down Aries’ neck, softening it up for the Dragon Sleeper. Aries ducks a kick and nails Reyes with a lariat. Reyes rolls to the floor and Aries follows with the Heat-Seeking Missile. Aries gets two with a springboard lionsault. Reyes weaves Aries into a Saito suplex for a nearfall, and gets another after clobbering Aries in the chin with a running knee. Aries gives Reyes a kneebreaker/suplex combo before nailing the IED. Aries Finlay rolls Reyes. Reyes avoids a 450 splash and Japanese armdrags Aries into the corner. He pulls Aries down into the Dragon Sleeper but Aries gets his feet on the ropes. Reyes refuses to release the hold by the count of five and is disqualified at 11:26. Well that finish was doody, and the crowd expresses the same sentiment. There was a pretty decent match before that with a good story, but nothing special. **½

Roderick Strong and Jack Evans run out to save Aries and send Reyes running. On their tail are The Briscoes who attack Evans and Strong, jump starting their scheduled tag team match. Mark spinwheel kicks Strong to the floor and follows with a dive. In the ring, Evans hits a springboard Frankensteiner onto Jay, and referee Mike Kehner calls for the bell.

Generation Next (Roderick Strong & Jack Evans) vs. The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe)

Evans misses a spin kick on Jay, and Mark surprises him with a springboard dropkick. Mark works over Evans’ left leg. After Evans attempts a small package, Mark gives him a vertical suplex for two. Jay smashes him with a back elbow for another two count. After a spinebuster, Jay launches Evans face first into Mark’s upturned boots. Evans flips underneath a clothesline from Jay who takes out his brother, then spin kicks Jay and tags in Strong. Strong throws Evans onto Mark for two. Jay pulls Strong outside as Evans kicks Mark to the floor. Evans then does a springboard 630 splash onto everyone. Evans drops a couple knees onto Mark back inside for two. Mark forearms Strong back to the corner and tags in Jay. The Briscoes now assault Strong in their corner while keeping Evans at a distance. Strong ducks a boot from Jay and lifts him. Evans flies in with a neckbreaker, adding to a belly-to-back suplex from Strong. Strong shocks the crowd with a moonsault of his own onto Jay after throwing Evans onto Jay! Jay stops Strong in the corner and gives him a flip neckbreaker. Mark takes down Strong with a gutwrench suplex and drives his knee onto Strong’s forehead for two. Strong pulls Mark by his wrist into a backbreaker. Evans hits a standing 450 splash for two. Mark slams Evans as Evans comes off the ropes and puts him in an ankle lock. Strong helps pull Evans to the ropes so he can escape. From there, The Briscoes go back to attacking Evans’ left leg, with Strong getting angry and trying to save his partner in the process. Evans finally escapes when he is whipped to the corner and uses the momentum to pull off a moonsault press, kneeing Jay in the head upon impact. Strong gets the tag and annihilates The Briscoes with dropkicks. He drops Mark with a Tiger Driver for two. He places Mark on the middle rope. Jay rolls up Strong when Strong has Evans up on his shoulders. Mark then gives Strong a head and arm capture suplex. Strong resists the Jay Driller and nails Jay with the Sick Kick. He aids Evans with a standing Phoenix Splash. Mark knocks Strong to the floor. Evans double DDT’s The Briscoes. Strong is able to assist Evans with a 450 splash onto Jay, but he misses a dive onto Mark on the floor. Mark gives Evans a fisherman’s buster. Evans kicks out when Jay covers him, and Strong breaks up their pin after a Doomsday Device. He gives Jay Death by Roderick and Mark a half-nelson backbreaker. Evans and Strong hit Skipping a Generation, with Evans then pinning Jay at 19:30. This was a total blast, with some absolutely killer action and some really innovative offense. If they tightened up this story it would be even better, as I really don’t understand why The Briscoes didn’t win this match. Still, it was a hell of a good time. ****

We then get a video of Colt Cabana discussing how he saw his life flash before his eyes when Homicide poured Drano down his throat at Final Battle 2005. Ever since, he’s had death on his mind, and it’s been a constant fear flowing through his head. He has the choice to run away from that fear by leaving wrestling, or he can fight back with the awful visions Homicide has put in his brain and conquer that fear. He is choosing to conquer that fear, and is going to end his feud with Homicide in Detroit and Chicago next weekend.

Bryan Danielson & Samoa Joe vs. KENTA & Naomichi Marufuji

Joe and KENTA are at odds before the match even starts. Marufuji cleanly breaks a lock-up with Danielson. Danielson twists up his wrist. Marufuji reverses the pressure and brings Danielson to the mat. A quick exchange on the mat leads to a stalemate. Danielson dropkicks Marufuji to the corner after breaking a wristlock. Marufuji backs Danielson to the corner and tags in KENTA. Joe is anxious for the tag, but Danielson won’t give it to him. Danielson brings KENTA to the mat by his arm. KENTA breaks a hammerlock against the ropes and kicks Joe off the apron. This causes Danielson to tag Joe in. They hesitantly throw kicks before Joe lays in knees to KENTA’s face. KENTA backs Joe to the corner and lights him up with kicks and smacks. Joe gives them right back, including a hard kick to the back. Marufuji helps KENTA attack Joe in the opposite corner. Joe however catches Marufuji with an STO. Danielson dropkicks KENTA to the floor, leaving Marufuji to be worn down by the ROH duo. They spend most of their time wearing out Marufuji’s leg. Joe also gets in a few taunts towards KENTA as well. Marufuji escapes their grasp by dropkicking Danielson in the side of the head. KENTA kicks Danielson but then boots Joe to the floor. KENTA throws Joe into the barricades. KENTA kicks away at Danielson’s chest. Marufuji chokes Danielson on the bottom rope behind referee Todd Sinclair’s back. The NOAH team does significant damage to Danielson in their half of the ring. Danielson flips out of the corner and nails KENTA with a discus forearm to finally tag Joe back in. He tags in Joe who chops both Marufuji and KENTA. He overhead suplexes Marufuji and kicks up KENTA’s chest. Joe big boots KENTA after a Manhattan drop. He lands a senton for two. KENTA kicks Joe in the neck and suplexes him. Marufuji back elbows Joe in the corner. Joe doesn’t budge as Marufuji goes for some shoulder blocks. Marufuji does boot him in the side of the head however. Marufuji dropkicks Joe in the back of the head. Joe gets two with a powerslam. He goes right into a cross armbreaker. Danielson uppercuts KENTA to the floor so he won’t break the hold. Joe puts Marufuji in the STF. Danielson gives Marufuji a diving headbutt when he breaks the submission.

Marufuji and Danielson switch multiple pin attempts, including the cradle that won Danielson his match with Marufuji at Final Battle 2005. Danielson locks on the Crossface Chicken Wing. Marufuji gets the ropes. Marufuji gives Danielson a Shiranui. Danielson blocks it and puts on Cattle Mutilation. KENTA breaks it but then gets sent outside by Joe. Marufuji superkicks Danielson and successfully hits the Shiranui. Joe breaks the cover. KENTA now sends Joe outside. Marufuji delivers a coast-to-coast dropkick while Danielson is in a tree of woe. He goes for a super Shiranui. Danielson turns it into a super belly-to-back suplex. KENTA and Joe both tag in. KENTA delivers a running kick to the face. He also hits a springboard dropkick for two. KENTA drops Joe throat first on the top rope. He gets two with a diving clothesline. Joe drops KENTA with a gord buster. He sets up for the Muscle Buster. Marufuji superkicks him to save his partner. A flurry of palm strikes and knee strikes from KENTA to Joe are paid back by Joe in kind. Joe lariats KENTA and tags out. Danielson kicks KENTA down in the corner. Danielson Dragon suplexes him for two. He puts on Cattle Mutilation. Danielson turns it into a seatbelt pin for two. KENTA breaks out of the Chicken Wing but gets Regalplexed. Marufuji breaks the cover and Joe sends him out. Joe suicide dives after him. Danielson goes up top. KENTA jumps after him and delivers a super Falcon Arrow for two. Danielson’s crucifix pins KENTA to block the Go 2 Sleep. He throws elbows at KENTA’s head. KENTA picks Danielson up and hits the Go 2 Sleep for the pin at 33:35. The two stories interwoven in the match were interesting to follow, with Danielson being unable to pin Marufuji after doing so at Final Battle, and the animosity between KENTA and Joe. However, this felt artificially long. The action was intense and hot for most of the contest which is most certainly a plus, but I think it didn’t meet the high standards most had, and I think part of that has to do with the unnecessary length. ****

KENTA tells the crowd he will be back. Joe says KENTA may have beat the World champion in a tag team match, but he hasn’t defeated Danielson in a singles match, nor has he defeated him. KENTA tells Joe he doesn’t speak English. Danielson shakes both KENTA and Marufuji’s hands before leaving.

Lance Storm says a World title match with Bryan Danielson is just the type of match that would get him out of retirement.

The Embassy is backstage. Prince Nana is still peeved over Bruce Leroy. Alex Shelley thinks Jimmy Rave may have messed with his plane ticket and made him miss his World title match in February. Shelley also gives Rave grief for losing his World title match and losing tonight, and Rave reminds Shelley he also lost his World title match and lost tonight. Prince Nana sends the camera man away.

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