Ring of Honor: Better Than Our Best

Chicago, IL – 4.1.2006

Commentary is provided by Dave Prazak & Lenny Leonard.

The pre-show match has just wrapped as Colt Cabana makes his way to the ring. He tells Homicide that he heard what he said yesterday: that if Cabana showed up, Homicide would kill him. Cabana says if Homicide wants to kill him, he better come out and kill him right now. ROH Dojo student Derek Dempsey tells Cabana that Homicide isn’t here. Cabana drops the microphone and heads backstage.

Ace Steel vs. Dave Crist vs. Jack Evans vs. Jake Crist vs. Jimmy Jacobs vs. Matt Sydal

Mirroring the “At Our Best” event, the show kicks off with a Six Man Mayhem. This match had an interesting dynamic amongst the competitors. You had the team that worked together (Irish Airborne), the team that worked against one another (Sydal & Evans), Jacobs being too distracted by Lacey to make a meaningful contribution to the bout outside of breaking up pins, and Steel as the crazed wildcard. Jacobs and Evan developed a bit of an issue during the match, with Jacobs sending Evans into the barricades, and later Evans stopping Jacobs from pinning Jake Crist and wiping him outside with the floor. Steel had the match won with a super legdrop onto Jake while also giving Sydal and Dave a Flying DDT and Widows Peak at the same time, but Lacey had the referee distracted. When Steel put his hands on Lacey, Jacobs pounced on him. Evans took the opening and hit a 630 splash onto Jake for the pin at 10:08. The energy and action got the crowd going, but as far as a Six Man Mayhem goes it was fairly pedestrian, which is a bit surprising given the competitors. **½

Jim Cornette thanks the fans who came out yesterday and tonight. He addresses the CZW invasion yesterday, and points to Adam Pearce who has been deputized to keep his eyes on the entrances and exits this evening to prevent another CZW attack. Colt Cabana then comes to the ring and pleads with Cornette to give him a match with Homicide tonight so he can get peace with himself once again. He also explains that there is only one type of match that can finish the rivalry – a Chicago Street Fight. The fans are into the idea. Cornette appreciates Cabana’s gumption and grants him the match. Cabana promises Cornette he will take full responsibility for what he does to Homicide tonight.

Jim Cornette then calls Delirious to the ring. Cornette tells Delirious that he sees a lot of potential in him and knows the fans love him, but the big problem is that he has never won a singles match. He thinks what Delirious needs in order to reach the next level is some determination. Tonight, he is allowing Delirious to challenge anybody he wants on the Ring of Honor roster to a match. The catch is, if Delirious loses, he’s done with ROH. Amidst Delirious’ incoherent response he makes his choice: Ricky Reyes, the man who beat down and humiliated Delirious after their Four Corner Survival match the previous evening. Cornette obliges and our next match is on.

Delirious vs. Ricky Reyes

Julius Smokes is in Reyes’s corner Delirious immediately baseball slides Reyes into the crowd. He throws Reyes into the barricades. Smokes backrakes Delirious when he goes for a front facelock, and Delirious forearm strikes him down. Reyes attacks from behind, but Delirious takes control back in the ring. Reyes comes back with a rolling sole butt and a couple neckbreakers. He goes for the Dragon Sleeper but Delirious gets the ropes quickly. Reyes’ belly-to-back suplex only gets a one count. Delirious cradles him for two. Reyes goes for the Dragon Sleeper. Delirious blocks it and hits Shadows Over Hell. He gets two with the Bizarro Driver. Reyes gives him two more neckbreakers and a fisherman’s buster. Delirious kicks out. Delirious counters a Dragon Sleeper attempt with the Cobra Stretch and Reyes taps out at 6:23! This was an effective way for Delirious to turn the corner in ROH, becoming more than just an undercard plug-in-where-needed type of competitor. His win felt significant while also establishing his Cobra Stretch submission as his finisher of choice. **½

Do Fixer (Dragon Kid, Ryo Saito & Genki Horiguchi) vs. The Embassy (Alex Shelley & Jimmy Rave) & Masato Yoshino

Prince Nana and Daizee Haze are in the Embassy’s corner. They’re so pleased with themselves when Yoshino pegs a roll of toilet paper at the back of Saito’s head, but Do Fixer gets the better of their opposition in all three one-on-one encounters that begin the bout. Saito and Horiguchi give Yoshino the toilet paper treatment right back after their classic Maraha Isappa double team offense. Although Shelley succumbs to triple team offense from Do Fixer, a simple thumb to Horiguchi’s eye shifts the match into his team’s favor. With the fans chanting H-A-G-E for encouragement, Horiguchi escapes a headlock from Shelley and back elbows him away. Saito overhead suplexes Rave while Kid pulls off Deja vu and sucidie dive on Yotshino. Saito and Horiguchi plant Shelley with a wheelbarrow bulldog for two. Shelley blocks Saito’s Fisherman’s Express and gets two after an enzuigiri and brainbuster. Rave wipes out Kid with a spear, gutbuster, and DDT. Do Fixer wipes out Yoshino mid-air with triple dropkicks. Yoshino kicks out of both a super splash from Saito and Jesus Walks from Kid. Rave and Shelley give Saito a spear/clothesline combo, then Rave hits the Doppler Effect. Horiguchi breaks the pin. Kid hits the Dragonrana on Yoshino but Shelley bowls him over. He looks for it again but Yoshino knocks the referee into the ropes. Shelley brings down Kid with a Hamachan Cutter, and Yoshino and Rave follow that up with stereo Lightning Spirals on Kid and Horiguchi. Saito jumps in to break both pin attempts. Horiguchi’s Backslide From Heaven gets two on Rave. Rave clotheslines Horiguchi before planting him with Greetings From Ghana for the pin at 16:16. Wisely, they gave this match some of the Dragon Gate flavor, but didn’t try to recreate the amazing effort of last night. Yoshino’s personality fit in perfectly with the Embassy and the three of them had tremendous chemistry with Do Fixer. A win here also makes the Embassy undefeated during this historic tripleshot, punching their ticket for a tag team title match at the end of the month. ***½

Lance Storm says after his match with Chris Jericho at ECW One Night Stand he never thought he would wrestle again. Then he saw Bryan Danielson wrestle, and it lit a spark within him. A place like ROH which he feels presents wrestling the right way, having the chance to wrestle Danielson, and becoming a world champion for the first time in his career, convinced him to come out of retirement. Strom says he is in better shape now than he has ever been and that he plans to leave Chicago with theROH World title.

AJ Styles vs. Christopher Daniels vs. Jimmy Yang vs. Samoa Joe

This is the third in a series of matches between Joe and Daniels this weekend. Allison Danger is in Daniels’ corner. Daniels is able to keep pace with Yang as they trade offense. After Joe gives Daniels a Samoan Drop, Daniels bails to the floor and tags in Styles before he can follow up with a yakuza kick. Joe and Styles throw kicks at one another’s legs. Styles sweeps Joe’s legs and stomps away. Styles, Daniels, and Yang all get in their shots to try and keep Joe down. Joe cuts down Styles mid-springboard, kicking out his legs from underneath him. Joe tags in Yang so he can catch his breath. Yang impressively keeps Styles down with kicks. Joe continues the kicking assault on Styles, including his signature face wash kick in the corner. Daniels and Yang get in some shots before Joe unloads some sick chest kicks on Styles. Styles Pele kicks Joe who stumbles into a tag to Yang as Styles tags in Daniels. Daniels back elbows Yang and sweeps him into a Blue Thunder Bomb for two. Yang spinwheel kicks Daniels for two. Styles knocks them both down with a springboard double clothesline. Styles looks for a springboard onto Joe on the floor, but Yang shakes the ropes causing Styles to lose his balance. Joe sends Styles into the barricades with a shotgun dropkick. Yang dives onto Joe, and Daniels hits an Arabian Press onto both of them. Yang enzuigiri’s Daniels back in the ring for two. Daniels comes back with a super spike Frankensteiner on Yang for two. Yang escapes a BME attempt and instead wipes out Daniels with a moonsault press. Joe belly-to-belly suplexes Daniels and powerslams Yang. Styles springboards his way into a reverse DDT on Joe for two. Joe sunset flips Styles into a rolling clutch, and then nails him with a lariat. Daniels ducks an enzuigiri and he hits Yang instead. Daniels Complete Shots Joe into the Koji Clutch which Styles breaks. Daniels and Styles counter each others’ finishers. Daniels kicks Styles right into Joe’s Coquina Clutch. Daniels gets backdropped out of the when he charges at them. Joe places Styles on the top turnbuckle, nails an enzuigiri, then brings Styles down with a Muscle Buster for the pin at 18:29. Joe wins the series 2-1, but Daniels won their one-on-one encounter, and Joe didn’t pin Daniels in either match, so you tell me who won this series. This was one of the most star studded four corner survivals in ROH history, and with all the history between Joe, Styles, and Daniels and the creative sequences and counters, it was a thrill to watch. This was one of Yang’s best showings in ROH to date as well. ***½

Samoa Joe tells the crowd he wants the ROH World Title (“my title”) back. Bryan Danielson may be the greatest wrestler, but he is the baddest motha fucka on Earth, and if Danielson has any guts, he will come down and accept Joe’s challenge. Danielson makes some racial and fat comments while also saying that Joe didn’t make the ROH title, but that the title made him. He then says “if I can be serious for a moment”, mocking his opponent later tonight. He says while Joe may be seen as an ROH Icon, but the record breaking crowd numbers ROH set happened while Danielson was champion. He shoves Joe and says that he is the real Ring of Honor Icon. He says after he kicks the crap out of Lance Storm tonight, he tells Joe to bring it. Danielson this whole time was shuffling around the ring, avoiding any contact with Joe, and then leaves.

From behind, Chris Hero and Necro Butcher attack Joe. Adam Pearce leaves his post and runs into the ring. Danielson comes back ringside and he and Joe end up fighting to the backstage area. Pearce and Hero fight all around the building. Pearce valiantly fights off both Necro and Hero on his own. Claudio Castagnoli comes out and accidentally uppercuts Pearce. He looks to hit Hero with Cornette’s baseball bat, but Hero tosses him to the floor and Claudio hurts his knee. Hero throws Cornette in the ring and slaps him across the face. He does further damage to Cornette’s left arm as Necro stomps on Pearce. Finally BJ Whitmer comes to Cornette’s aid, and while Cornette is able to slip away, Whitmer’s injured leg gets attacked. Pearce tries covering up Whitmer but ends up getting hit with a chair. Several people such as Ace Steel, Evan Bourne, Irish Airborne, Flash Flanagan, and several ROH Dojo students chase off Hero and Necro, but on this night, CZW got the better of ROH.

During intermission Dave Prazak interviews Prince Nana and The Embassy. Nana tells Jimmy Rave and Alex Shelley that he’s in a good mood after their hat trick, and they are going to take the ROH tag titles to Ghana. Shelley is excited to party and “get laid by hookers.” Nana says raises for everybody as they leave to go have some fun.

ROH World Tag Team Championship
Generation Next (Roderick Strong & Austin Aries) vs. Blood Generation (CIMA & Naruki Doi)

Strong and Aries have been champions since 12.15.2005 and this is their fourth defense. Blood Generation earned this match by defeating Generation Next in a trios match two nights prior (although CIMA pinned Jack Evans.) The champions are so dominant over the opposition in the early going you got the sense they were having fun. Doi and CIMA together manage to get Generation Next outside and deliver stereo dives, which bust open Aries’ nose. Masato Yoshino appears ringside to cheer on his stablemates as they beat down an already weakened Aries. A desperation knee breaker/suplex from Aries to CIMA gets him the opening to tag in Strong. A determined Strong strikes hard and fast. Aries is able to join for a couple offensive maneuvers, but at this rate he seems to be running on fumes. CIMA cuts him off mid-slingshot with a cutter. Strong blocks off his lung blower attempt on Aries with a backbreaker which rules. Doi picks up CIMA’s pieces by suplexing Aries across the ring and then gives him a release suplex. CIMA hangs Aries in the corner and lands a corner-to-corner suplex. Aries has the wherewithal to block the Mad Splash by getting his knees up. Strong then gives him a gut buster, but Doi blasts Strong with Doi 555. A swift kick to the head from Aries breaks the pin and he then gives Doi a brainbuster. Strong kicks out of a Perfect Driver. He blocks Schwein, then hoists up CIMA for a missile dropkick/backbreaker combo. Strong sick Kicks Doi to give Aries space to land a 450 splash on CIMA for the pin at 20:20. This was almost as good as the six man tag team match between the two groups two nights earlier. It was super exciting and inventive, and the crowd was hot pretty much bell-to-bell. The Dragon Gate guys rightfully get a hearty “please come back” chant and it’s a no brainer as to why ROH would make them a staple of the next two Mania weekend events. ****

ROH World Championship
Bryan Danielson vs. Lance Storm

Danielson has been champion since 9.17.2005 and this is his fifteenth defense. They exchange wristlocks to start. Danielson slaps Storm in the corner. Storm responds in kind. Danielson goes for a dropkick but Storm steps back. Danielson hits on his second attempt and drops the point of his knee into Storm’s jaw. Storm nails his own dropkick that sends Danielson to the floor. Storm dodges a monkey flip. Danielson elbows him back to the mat. He drives his knee into the side of his head. Storm gives him a delayed vertical suplex for two. Danielson chokes Storm in the corner with his boot. Danielson comes out of the corner. Storm comes underneath and rolls him into the Canadian Maple Leaf. Danielson gets the ropes and goes to the floor. Storm sends him into the barricades while lighting him up with chops. In the ring Storm goes to the second rope. Danielson forearms him back to the floor. This time he’s the one sending Storm into barricades and chopping him up. He puts on a chinlock back in the ring. He fights free but is knocked down with an elbow quickly. Storm mules kick out of a Cattle Mutilation attempt. Danielson responds with an uppercut. He drives Storm’s knees into the canvas. He then puts him in the surfboard. He rips at Storm’s face before releasing. Storm gives Danielson a kick to buy some time. Storm legdrops the back of his head. Danielson gets in some more moves but is taken down with an enzuigiri. Storm gets two with a powerslam. He goes for a dropkick but is caught mid-air with a powerbomb. Storm kicks out so Danielson puts him in a Bow and Arrow. Danielson digs his knee into Storm’s back a few more times. Storm runs the ropes to block the Crossface Chicken Wing and nails a superkick. Danielson kicks out. Storm wants a superplex. Danielson however slides out and turns it into his signature belly-to-back superplex. Storm kicks out of the pin so Danielson goes for the Chicken Wing. He locks it on. Storm makes his way to the ropes. Danielson misses a diving headbutt. Storm gives him a Cradle Piledriver for two. He locks on the Canadian Maple Leaf. Danielson counters it into a roll-up. Storm kicks out. Danielson ducks his superkick. He blocks another and nails a rolling forearm. The Regalplex doesn’t get the job done. Storm rolls through Cattle Mutilation. Danielson Tiger suplexes him for two. The Cattle Mutilation finally puts Storm away at 26:22. I remember the rumor at the time was that this match wasn’t the main event because they were worried Storm wouldn’t live up to expectations (not to mention the main event was going to have a lot of violence). Storm however more than carried his end of the bargain and had a really entertaining match with Danielson, arguably Danielson’s best outside challenge of his title reign. They also did a great job making a title change seem conceivable, which is pretty wild considering Storm was retired. This was one hundred percent worth Storm coming out of retirement. ***½

Chicago Street Fight
Colt Cabana vs. Homicide

Homicide fails at jumping Cabana at the bell. Cabana chokes him with his ring jacket. He throws Homicide to the floor where he keeps control. Back in the ring, Cabana punches Homicide to block a hip toss. He misses the Flying Asshole but connects with a boot. Cabana pounds on Homicide in the aisleway. Back in the ring Homicide leg lariats Cabana. Back on the floor he whips Cabana into the barricades. Homicide brings back the coat hanger from their Fourth Anniversary match. This time around however it’s Cabana who does the choking. Homicide throws Cabana to the floor and tope suicida’s after him. Cabana takes control on the ring apron. He brings a ladder out from under the ring. Cabana waterwheel slams Homicide before see-sawing him into the ladder in the corner. Cabana dumps the ladder on top of him. Homicide recovers and gives Cabana a tornado DDT onto the ladder. On the floor Homicide sends Cabana into the ring post. Cabana lands on the timekeeper’s table. Homicide splashes Cabana through the table. Julius Smokes gets in his own headbutts. Homicide pulls out a barbed wire board from under the ring and slides it into the ring. Homicide slams the ladder onto Cabana. Cabana suplexes Homicide onto it, bending the ladder in half. The fight over who will go into the barbed wire board. Nobody does…for now. Cabana fires up from Homicide’s punches. He throws his own punches while Homicide covers up. Cabana pulls Homicide’s fork out of his boot and digs it into his forehead. Cabana wipes some of his blood on his face. He even goes after Homicide’s eye. Homicide manages to pitch Cabana to the floor. He grabs Drano from under the ring, which he poured in Cabana’s throat at “Final Battle 2005.” Cabana sees the Drano and begins throwing punches to Homicide in the corner. Cabana gives him a rope-assisted TKO. Cabana pours rubbing alcohol into Homicide’s wounds, causing Homicide to lose his mind on the floor. Homicide begs for mercy when he gains his bearings. Cabana refuses, so Homicide kicks him low. Homicide tells the fans to throw their chairs in the ring, causing the ring to be filled with them. Both guys stupidly get hit with chairs. Cabana brings Homicide to the top rope. Cabana superplexes him into the sea of chairs for a two count. Back on the top rope they go. Homicide gives Cabana the Pepsi Plunge onto the chairs. Cabana kicks out. Homicide gets two with a lariat. Homicide holds Cabana for Julius Smokes. Smokes ends up body blocking Homicide. Cabana takes Smokes down and suplexes Homicide. Smokes gets tied to the ring ropes. Both Homicide and Cabana brings tables into the ring. Cabana sets his up on top of the barbed wire board. Homicide throws a chair at Cabana. He brings Cabana to the top rope. Cabana blocks a Frankensteiner and powerbombs Homicide through the table and onto the barbed wire board! Homicide kicks out. Cabana gets two with a lariat also. The Colt 45 puts Homicide away at 26:33.

Ricky Reyes runs out and continues the attack. Smokes pulls out a noose and has it around Cabana’s neck. Homicide tells them to back off and to let him handle things. Homicide says he tried to kill Cabana, an ROH legend, for six months and couldn’t do it. He tells Smokes and Reyes to respect him. Homicide drops to one knee and puts out his hand for a handshake. Cabana shakes Homicide’s hand and they embrace. Homicide assures Cabana this is over. Cabana’s music plays as confetti falls from the sky. For the first time in a while, the old Cabana emerges as he begins to groove along with Barry Manilow.

That was a perfect finish to this rivalry. This had elements from all their other matches, including Cabana using some of Homicide’s old tactics against him. I personally thought the powerbomb through the table should have been the finish but Cabana winning with his own move was pretty nifty too. I think this stands out as one of ROH’s best and most satisfying street fights. ****¼

The show ends with a scene from the ROH Dojo in Bristol, PA. Bryan Danielson is with ROH owner Cary Silkin signing paperwork.

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