ROH: Race To The Top Tournament Night Two

Edison, NJ – 7.28.2007

Commentary is provided by Dave Prazak & Lenny Leonard.

Race to the Top Tournament Quarter-Final Round Match
El Generico vs. Chris Hero

Generico snaps off a trio of armdrags and drops an elbow across Hero’s lower back to end Hero’s control over him on the mat. He follows up with a backbreaker, but misses a Helluva kick. Hero pulls Generico into a chinbreaker onto the back of his skull. Hero continues attacking Generico’s neck, tagging him with a rolling elbow to the neck before giving him a release German suplex for two. Generico halts a corner attack by getting his boot up. He then takes down Hero with a flying headscissors and leg lariat. Generico then takes him down with a tornado DDT. Sweeney distracts referee Todd Sinclair so Toland can grab a hold of Generico on the ropes. Hero brings down Generico with a cravate slam and then a release slam off of his shoulders for two Hero tries the Hero’s Welcome, but Generico counters into a backslide for the pin at 10:48. Generico is so beloved that even an ordinary effort from him and his opponent received a big reaction from the count. Don’t get me wrong, everything they did looked good and made sense, but it’s clear they were wrestling like a match in a manner to preserve the winners’ stamina. You’d see much better from these two in the future against one another, but this was totally acceptable. **¾

Kevin Steen hijacks El Generico’s backstage promo. They’re using a red filter with a spotlight in the middle. It sucks. Steen says Generico is going to beat everyone who stands in his way and then give Steen his trophy.

Race to the Top Tournament Quarter-Final Round Match
Pelle Primeau vs. Davey Richards

Primeau’s stick and move strategy serves him well in the opening moments, scoring him a running Jon Woo dropkick off the ring apron and into the barricades. Back in the ring, Richards drives Primeau into a corner where he wears him out with chops and headbutts. Richards turn him inside out with a lariat. Primeau counters a Liger bomb with a Frankensteiner. He also blocks a DR Driver with a small package for two. Richards blocks a running Shiranui with a tombstone piledriver. He locks in the 14:59 submission, and the referee calls for a stoppage at 4:24. I loved Primeau’s spirited start and Richards then mowing him over. That’s pretty much exactly what I wanted from this match. **½

Davey Richards says El Generico is going to break him just like he broke Primeau. He has the same lighting effect over him, except white and orange, and it’s way worse.

Race to the Top Tournament Quarter-Final Round Match
Jack Evans vs. Brent Albright

Albright blasts Evans with a clothesline to disrupt his pre-match dancing routine. Evans takes a few more strikes before sending Albright to the floor with a headscissors. Albright however pulls Evans down face first into the ring apron to stop his springboard attempt. Albright sets up a table ringside, and Evans surprises him with a springboard gamengiri off of the barricades. Albright ducks a spinning gamengiri and German suplexes Evans over the top rope and to the floor, bringing him back in right away to get a two count. Evans maneuvers Albright into a couple of pin attempts, and then refuses to back down when trading open hand strikes and forearms with Albright. Evans clobbers Albright with a knee strike to the chin. Evans successfully hits his springboard gamengiri and gets a two count. He cartwheel elbows Albright to the floor, but it backfires, as Albright powerbombs him through the table he previously set up. In the ring, Evans counters a press slam with a huracanrana for two. Albright blocks a kick and pulls down Evans into the Crowbar. Evans gets the ropes and referee Paul Turner makes him release. Albright for whatever reason thinks he taps. This argument allows for Evans to blast Albright with a rolling knee strike and land a 630 splash for the pin at 9:44. Albright kicks out at three, I guess since he has an ROH World title match coming up. Maybe don’t put him in a tournament if he can’t lose and isn’t going to win? He and Evans worked well together, but I really hate that Albright put in no work on Evans’ arm before going for his submission and that he had to look like a boob before being pinned. **¾

The same filter, but a double blue that looks fine, is on Jack Evans backstage, who says he is keeping a close eye on the next match so he knows what to expect in the semi-finals.

Race to the Top Tournament Quarter-Final Round Match
Claudio Castagnoli vs. Mike Quackenbush

The opening minutes of the match are kept quite even. As the aggression picks up, Claudio gets a little sloppy. Quackenbush armdrags him to the ring apron, and when Claudio pulls him to the apron, Quackenbush monkey flips him over the corner and to the floor! Quackenbush follows that with a twisting splash to a standing Claudio on the floor. In the ring he gets a two count after a senton. Claudio avoids a leapfrog out of the corner and uppercuts Quackenbush in the back of the neck. Claudio reverse suplexes Quackenbush before slamming him into a leg drop. Claudio does more damage to the neck before gut wrenching Quackenbush into a suplex for two, and then dropping him with the Match Killer for another two count. Quackenbush headscissors Claudio to the corner and takes him down with a super Frankensteiner. Quackenbush then comes off the top rope with double knees to drive Claudio into the mat, and drops him with the Black Tornado Slam for two. Claudio blocks Quackenbush’s palm strike attempt with an uppercut. Swiss Chin Music and a straight-jacket German suplex earn Claudio a pair of nearfalls. Quackenbush palm strikes Claudio to block the Ricola Bomb. Quackenbush comes off the top with a bodyscissors into a prawn hold for two. Quackenbush resists the Alpamare Water Slide. He ducks Swiss Chin Music and cascades up Claudio into a neck-tie headscissors for two. Claudio places a charging Quackenbush on the top turnbuckle and takes him down with a headscissors. A running uppercut gets Claudio the pin at 12:27. I love that Claudio beat Quackenbush the exact same way he did at “Fight at the Roxbury.” Claudio knew it worked there, so he did it again here, and wore down his neck during the match to help ensure its effectiveness. These two are amazing opponents – they know just how to bring out the best in each other. ***½

An out of breath Claudio through a gold filter tells us he will win the tournament.

Rebecca Bayless brings out the captains of tonight’s $10,000 Challenge eight man tag team match – Bryan Danielson and Nigel McGuinness. Nigel stands in the ring while Bryan stands in the entrance. Rebecca shepherds them through choosing their three partners for the match. Bryan wins a coin toss and gets to choose first. Bryan is not happy to learn that he is unable to choose both Jay and Mark Briscoe as his pick. Bryan can’t decide which Briscoe he wants, so to move things along, Rebecca says they can figure that out in the back. Bryan’s second pick is Jimmy Rave, someone who has tapped out Nigel before. Rebecca then tells Bryan that Rave suffered a ruptured eardrum last night and isn’t able to compete tonight. Larry Sweeney then makes his way out. Bryan shuts down the fans chants of Bobby Dempsey. Sweeney says he would never insult Bryan’s intelligence by offering him Bobby Dempsey as a partner, but rather he wants to offer him the hottest commodity in professional wrestling, Matt Sydal, to team with Bryan. Bryan agress, making Sydal his second pick. Nigel then chooses Sydal’s arch rival, Delirious, as his second partner, and Nigel also reminds Bryan that Delirious tapped him out once upon a time. Bryan’s last pick is a former ROH World Champion Austin Aries, an accolade Bryan reminds Nigel he has never obtained. Nigel responds by picking a current champion as his final partner – the FIP World Champion Roderick Strong. Nigel then makes fun of Bryan for allegedly never having kissed anyone to end the proceedings.

Race to the Top Tournament Semifinal Round Match
El Generico vs. Davey Richards

Generico resists an early DR Driver and gives Richards a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Richards gets his knee up to block a split-legged moonsault. Richards sends Generico back first into the barricades and suplexes him onto the floor. In the ring, Generico tries a desperation sunset flip, which Richards turns into a cross armbreaker. Richards attacks Generico’s left arm. When Richards hits the ropes, Generico rushes into him and knocks him to the floor. Generico follows him out with a Fosbury Flop. In the ring, Generico lands a high crossbody for two. Generico catches a Helluva kick and suplexes Generico head first into the middle turnbuckle. Richards superplexes Generico and then locks on the 14:59. Generico makes it to the ropes to escape. Generico dropkicks Richards to block the Damage Reflex and gets two with a Michinoku Driver. Richards turns a brainbuster attempt from Generico into a tombstone piledriver, with Generico getting his foot on the ropes to break the count. Generico gets his knees up to block a shooting star press. He Helluva kicks Richards and drops him with the top turnbuckle brainbuster for the pin at 15:44. They built this match well and it paid off with a hot crowd during the final moments. Generico had to fight from behind and through a shoulder injury for most of the match, but he took every opening he had and it paid off. We’ll see if he can fight through his injury and win the tournament. ***¼

El Generico says he is just one win away from winning the tournament.

Race to the Top Tournament Semifinal Round Match
Claudio Castagnoli vs. Jack Evans

Claudio controls Evans on the canvas, although Evans turns a double knuckle lock into a monkey flip. He handstands out of a wristlock and takes Claudio down with a headscissors. Evans flips through a monkey flip and Pele kicks Claudio. Claudio is able to low bridge the top rope when Claudio tries a cartwheel elbow and drops Evans face first on the ring apron. Claudio Giant Swings Evans before pulling him up by his armpits and into a slam. Evans Koppu kicks Claudio to the floor but misses the subsequent flying dropkick. He does however deliver a tiger feint kick and twisting somersault splash off of the apron, and then a 450 splash to the floor. In the ring, Claudio blocks a running knee from Evans and knocks him down with an uppercut. The Alpamare Water Slide gets him a two count. Evans takes Claudio down with a headscissors and connects with the running knee. Claudio kicks out from a twisting standing splash. Evans dropkicks Claudio into the tree of woe and drives him into the mat with double knees. Claudio ducks a rolling gamengiri and muscles him up into a Ricola Bomb for the pin at 9:09. That was fun, but the crowd was tired. It was smart to have Claudio warm up against a high-flier before facing Generico in the Finals. **¾

Claudio says he feels great and is ready to go to the Finals. Evans interrupts, gives him props, and says he’s rooting for him to win the tournament. He also wants a rematch one day.

We then cut backstage where Larry Sweeney forces Bobby Dempsey to get into a sauna while wearing a sauna suit to cut weight – “Tank Toland’s Hot Box of Doom.” Toland has put in a stationary bike for Dempsey to ride while inside the sauna to expedite the process. They crank up the heat and close the door. Hero bets five bucks Dempsey dies. This ruled.

Hallowicked vs. Jigsaw vs. Kevin Steen vs. BJ Whitmer vs. Erick Stevens vs. Matt Cross

This match includes everyone who failed to make it past Round One of the tournament, minus Matt Sydal and Delirious who were recruited into the eight man tag later tonight. Steen attacks everyone, so everyone attacks him and pitches him to the floor. Hallowicked sends Whitmer to the floor with a step-up Frankensteiner, and Cross dropkicks Hallowicked to the floor right after.  Cross drops Jigsaw onto his chest and face to stop a headscissors, and then dropkicks him into a side slam from Stevens. Cross leapfrogs over Stevens into a senton onto Jigsaw. Steen low bridges the top rope to send Whitmer outside, ending a strike battle between Whitmer and Stevens. Hallowicked kicks Stevens from the apron and slingshots in with a schoolboy for two. Steen fights Whitmer on the floor while Hallowicked attempts more pins on Stevens. He dropkicks Stevens to the floor. An armdrag heavy exchange between Jigsaw and Hallowicked ends with Steen attacking Jigsaw from behind he back elbows Jigsaw and lands three legdrops to the back of his neck. Whitmer boots Steen to the floor and knocks Hallowicked to the floor after kneeing him in the side of the head. Jigsaw blasts Whitmer with a leg lariat and suicide dives onto Hallowicked. Stevens tope con hilo’s onto them, and Steen then somersaults onto everybody. Cross wipes out Whitmer with a dive, but ends up taking a Go Home Driver from Steen. Things break down with everyone getting in offense but having their pin attempts broken up. After Halowicked gives him Go 2 Sleepy Hollow, whitmer drops Hallowicked with a spinebuster. When Whitmer suplexes Hallowicked, they both spill over the top rope and to the floor. Steen superkicks Stevens, but Stevens ducks an enzuigiri and holds Steen up so Cross can come off the top with a double stomp to his back. Jigsaw superkicks Cross. Stevens gives Jigsaw the Choo Choo but Jigsaw ducks his lariat and strings together a back elbow and enzuigiri together. Stevens pops Jigsaw up into a powerslam as he comes off of the ropes, and then gives him the Doctor Bomb to get the win at 10:58. That was really fun and action packed. It helps that multi-man matches are second nature to Jigsaw and Hallowicked, and that Stevens/Cross are a regular duo. The Resilience comes off looking strong in the end which seemed to have been the point of this match all along. They need all the help they can get. ***

$10,000 Challenge Match
Nigel McGuinness, Delirious, Jay Briscoe & Roderick Strong vs. Bryan Danielson, Austin Aries, Mark Briscoe & Matt Sydal

The winning team receives $10,000 to be split amongst the team by the captains (McGuinness and Danielson). Things do not start off well for Nigel’s team, as Delirious attacks Strong during their entrance and the two of them have to be separated and cooled down. We get a little Generation Next reunion between Sydal and Strong, but when Sydal tags Aries, Strong is dying to gtag out. Strong’s partners refuse, but Strong bails to the floor after some chops and tags McGuinness in unwillingly. McGuinness does get a chance to back elbow and uppercut Danielson, but eats a dropkick in response. McGuinness lariats Danielson, and both Briscoes are tagged in. The Briscoes fight each other, but things break down when they each get kneed in the back. They resume throwing forearms after knocking everyone off of the apron, but then stop and realize they’d rather drink beer than fight their family. They both agree to bail, and as everyone tries to stop them from leaving, the Briscoes take down everyone with double team offense. They head backstage, and suddenly the match is a six man tag team match.

Delirious is isolated and beat down by the remaining members of Team Danielson. Delirious is able to take out Danielson with Shadows Over Hell and tags McGuinness, who gets two with a lariat. Danielson takes out McGuinness with a diving uppercut. Sydal drops McGuinness with a cradle DDT, and McGuinness gets his feet up to block a standing moonsault. Sydal blocks the End of Heartache from Strong with a Frankensteiner and tags in Aries. Aries lights up his former tag partner and sends him crashing into the barricades with a Heat-Seeking Missile. Strong kicks the middle rope into Aries’ crotch so he can tag Delirious. Delirious hits the Panic Attack on Aries. Strong interrupts Delirious’ neverending clotheslines to throw some chops, and that gets Delirious angry. Delirious and Strong fight to the locke room, leaving McGuinness by himself. He puts up a valiant effort and almost has Sydal pinned after a lariat off of the top rope. When McGuinness looks to follow up with a Tower of London, Aries blasts him with an IED kick and drops him with a brainbuster. He clears a path for Sydal to polish him off with a shooting star press, but Danielon shoves Sydal off of the top turnbuckle so he can land a move himself. Aries doesn’t appreciate that, so he shoves Danielson off, and delivers the 450 Splash to get the pin at 20:39. This was a very creative way to get an all star eight man tag team match on the card, and all the interwoven history between the participants made the match all that more fun to watch unfold. I also think it’s completely believable the Briscoes would ditch the money and their partners, and that Delirious and Strong’s issue with one another would overwhelm their need to complete the issue at hand. I always liked when we could get the main eventers in something off the beaten path like this. ****

Chris Hero, Larry Sweeney, and Tank Toland then go check on Bobby Dempsey, saying it’s been three hours. What appears to be a much skinnier Bobby Dempsey comes out of the sauna, and they’re so impressed, they say he can rest. Then they hear something in the sauna and they see the real Bobby hiding in the sauna eating chocolate. They angrily slam the sauna door and turn up the heat. We got a very funny close up of Dempsey eating chocolate to end the segment.

Race to the Top Tournament Final Round Match
Claudio Castagnoli vs. El Generico

It’s HEY! vs. ¡Olé! chants in the beginning. Both men approach one another cautiously, but since their stamina is depleted, they also go for their big moves and pin attempts early. Generico nurses his left shoulder during the process. Claudio’s first big score is an uppercut followed by a backbreaker. Generico is able to nail a leg lariat, but Claudio comes back with a Giant Swing and an uppercut to Generico’s shoulder blades. Claudio kicks Generico in the shoulder on the top turnbuckle, but Generico resists a superplex and takes down Claudio with a high crossbody for two. Claudio comes back with the Match Killer and a straight-jacket choke. Generico hip tosses Claudio to the floor after escaping a Gedo Clutch and follows with a springboard moonsault. Generico then dives through the second and third turnbuckles and tornado DDT’s Claudio onto the floor! Generico scores another two count with a crossbody back inside the ring. Generico musters up the energy for a Helluva kick, but Claudio counters with Swiss Chin Music. He tries the Ricola Bomb, and Generico counters mid-air with a Yoshi Tonic for two! Claudio then blocks a tornado DDT with Swiss Death for two, and gets two again with an Alpamare Water Slide. Generico crotches Claudio as he climbs the ropes and hangs him in a tree of woe. Generico nails a coast-to-coast front flip dropkick to an upside down Claudio, following up with a brainbuster, which Claudio amazingly kicks out of. A successful Helluva kick leads to a top turnbuckle brainbuster attempt. Claudio blocks and instead brings down Generico with a super Alpamare Water Slide! Generico kicks out from that pin, so Claudio goes for the Ricola Bomb. Generico counters with a huracanrana for two. Claudio rolls through a sunset flip and muscles Generico up into the Ricola Bomb for two. Generico blocks an uppercut with a backslide for two. Claudio’s running uppercut knocks Generico down, but fires Generico up! He nails three big boots which Rock Claudio. Claudio ducks a Helluva kick and comes off the top turnbuckle with a diving European uppercut. A Last Ride variant of the Ricola Bomb wins Claudio the match and the tournament at 18:47. This is both competitors’ best ROH singles match to date. This solidified both Claudio and Generico as being guys just under the cusp of the main event to bonafide main eventers. The action was exceptional, almost every nearfall was believable, and the crowd was going bananas. The fact they had so many callbacks to their previous tournament matches was really satisfying as well. What a tremendous way to end the tournament. ****¼

Claudio thanks El Generico and they shake hands. He says he left his home country, his family, and friends to experience moments like this. He says it truly is an Honor to stand in the ring holding the Race to the Top tournament trophy, and thanks the fans who show their gratitude for the Swiss Superman.

Those last two matches made the show, but it was a very enjoyable and easy watch from start to end. This show also blew away Night One with ease. I am super excited for Claudio vs. Morishima next show.

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