I’ve never attended an ROH show live. Below is a report, along with thoughts as a first-timer. Use if need be.
Ring Of Honor at the George R. Brown Convention Center.
Pre-Show Notes: There were plenty of t-shirts and dvd’s for sale. The building set up for 1600. Could have been set up for as many as 6000 but certain parts were not used. 800 ringside and 800 section bleacher. (See post-note for attendance)
Matches: 745 p.m. start time for pre-show matches.
1. Sugarfoot Alex Payne and ? – vs. Ernie Osiris-Ninja.
-Mainly comedy stuff with certain chants. Crowd is lively, with many people in from out of the country, and many first timers at an ROH event including myself. Alex Payne gets the win over the ninja with the hurricanrana in 6:39. The match was a little sloppy but in front of a forgiving crowd.
2. Andy? And Don Juan vs. Grizzly Redwood-Bushwhacker Luke
Luke gets a huge pop. Fans clapping before the match even starts. Luke Williams must be in his 60’s Let’s go grizzly chants. Grizzly pretends to be chopping down the competition. Don Juan and Grizzly in some good comedy. Luke gets huge pop for gagging in. basic tag match with not a lot of flashy spots, but that’s a good thing. Heels get heat on Grizzly to build for the hot tag. Luke trying for a Grizzly Redwood chant. Crowd claps for a Redwood comeback. Redwood-Luke pick up the fall on Juan with the famous bushwhacker finisher from years gone by in 4:18. Crowd very respectful of Luke.
Main Show: Supercard of Honor 4
-The crowd seems to be between 14-1600 strong. Not far off from the 2,000 fans Cary Silkin stated would be here during the booker T Fan Fest.
-Music played so far included Badstreet USA, Any Way you Want it by Journey, Are You Gonna Go My Way by Lenny Kravitz and the Bushwhacker theme from the WWF days. I guess that the royalty rules apply only for television.
8:16 p.m.: The official show begins as the lights go out and the countdown goes on. Fans are clapping along with the background music. Four sets of spotlights, and a rotating camera set up. Cary Silkin makes his way to ringside. ROH chant. I shouldn’t be surprised.
1. Rhett Titus vs. Erick Stevens
Both men get good responses. Neither as over as Luke in the pre-show. Stevens catches Titus with a fall away slam after dueling leapfrog spots. Crowd chant for the “2” in the first two count of the night. Stevens scores with a vertical suplex. Titus gets a move-appreciation pop with a leapfrog rocker-dropper. Titus gets heat with pelvic thrusts in the corner instead of punches in the corner. Various chants about Titus’ gay-ness break out. After some back and forth, Titus scores with a nice dropkick that gets a pop. Stevens counters an off-the-top rope attempt by Titus into an overhead suplex. Stevens scores with a top rope shoulder block. After a clothesline into the corner Stevens picks up the win with his finisher in 6:46.
Impressions: Titus works well as a comedy heel who has precision in his moves. Stevens is also solid in the ring. I’d enjoy watching them again.
2. Incognito-Eddie Edwards-Chris Hero v Jay Briscoe-Magno-Kevin Steen.
Hero is over as a babyface with the Houston crowd. Brawl to start the six man. Mr. Wrestling chant breaks out. Briscoe vs. Hero to start. Briscoe with a nice running hurricarana on Hero. It’s now luchador vs. lucahdor breaks the top rope breaks. The match basically breaks down. A nice chant regarding the abilities of the ring crew ensues. After about 45 seconds of not knowing what we are doing, the matches gets back underway. Hero works the crowd while the luchadors do some mat action working the arm. While this is going on, there is no attempt to fix the ring rope. The match breaks out into a brawl outside the right, until Edwards nails a low dropkick on Steen’s left knee. Hero gets a pop in nailing a top-rope elbow drop in spite of the broken rope, earning a “Chris is awesome” chant, while Steen in turn uses the top rope turnbuckle as a weapon. Steen goes for the tag and the other two heels get the partners off of the apron right before he makes the tag. Steen is your face in peril. Briscoe makes the hot tag. Briscoe shoves Hero’s head into Edwards’ crotch for a pop. Hero with a sit-out power bomb on Briscoe for a near fall. Second rope huracanrana by Magno for a huge pop, as the crowd appreciates him using what he has, while Steen does a somersault plancha over the second rope onto the foes on the other side. Magno does a standing moonsault off of the Ring post….not the turnbuckle with perfect precision. Crowd is hot. Magno gets caught with a discus forearm for the knockout pin in 14:15. Hero grabs the pinfall.
Impressions: There was a danger in the crowd losing interest in the match with the top rope breaking. But to the credit of all six guys, they worked the crowd back in the match. Immediately after, many people made a bee-line for concessions or souvenirs, intrinsically thinking it may be a while before the next match.
Grizzly Redwood is also a part of the ring crew.
3. Katsuhiko Nakajima v Roderick Strong
I’ve been looking forward to seeing Strong live and now I get my chance. Silkin is taking pictures at ringside. Hard chop by Strong wakes up the crowd. Chop series sees Nakajima’s chest red like many opponents of Flair or Wahoo back in the day. Some back and forth with Strong scoring with a great dropkick. Strong with clotheslines into the corner. Nakajima with a dropkick to Strong’s knee to take over. Dueling chants. Strong with a comeback to cut Nakajima off and both men or down. Now we have a cop and forearm fest, that ends with a kick thrown by Nakajima that Strong turns into a sick backbreaker for a very near fall. Nakajima fires back with two huge kicks and a brain buster for another very close near fall. Reversals see Najajima get the ankle lock but Strong make the rips. Strong with another version of the backbreaker. Brutally stiff kicks by Nakajima, including three super kicks in a row, only to be met with stiff kicks by Strong leading to a sit-out double under hook power bomb for the win in 9:30
Impressions: Roderick Strong didn’t disappoint, and for that matter neither did Nakajima. Both men were crisp and very captivating.
4. Bobby Dempsey v Kamala
Kamala comes out to a very large pop. First a Bushwhacker now Kamala. Dempsey imitates Kamala with paint on his stomach like the Ugandan warrior. They both hit Shane Hagadorn after Kim Chee hits him. This was confusing and lasted only 1:42.
5. El Generico v Claudio Castagnoli v Brent Albright v Blue Demon Jr.
Castagnoli gets a good response by Houston. Albright out next. Blue Demon out third. Strong Ole chant for Generico. Demon a little heavy on the baby oil tonight. Demon and Claudio to start things out. Demonwith a slap on Claudio. Generico with a somersault flip dive over the top rope (still doing well) onto the guys at ringside after a clearing out. Claudio runs his foes all into the ringside railing only to fall prey to a top rope huracanrana from Generico. Albright tags in and obtains offense of Claudio including a deep power-slam off the ropes. Then we have a luchador slap fest ending with a Demon tope through the second rope onto Generico on the floor. Albright going for a submission, pushes the referee, and Claudio picks up the pin on Albright in 9:16.
Impressions: I wasn’t sure what the issues were with these four, so I wasn’t able to emotionally invest in the moves or why they were doing them. The psychology was lost on me.
It’s 9:35 and we’re five matches in with five more to go.
6. Alex Koslov v Bryan Danielson.
I’m only familiar with Koslov’s work from the TNA Victory Road PPV here in Houston back in July 2008. Dragon chant already. Danielson quite over, as I expected. He has different music here. Best in the world chant for Danielson. The weirdest chant ever: You’re gonna get your f---in head kicked in. Danielson working over the arm. Koslov with a counter. Danielson with a dropkick and a USA chant that turns into a “HOOOO” chant….Duggan at an ROH show……in spirit anyway. These two are starting slow, letting the crowd chant as they want. Danielson bridges impressively, then flips Koslov into a pin with a modified monkey flip that sees Danielson mocking flexing his muscles. The Crowd eats it up. I’m beginning to see Danielson’s charisma. He acts as if he really is the best wrestler in the world. There is now a “Let’s go Russia/ Russia Sucks” dueling chant. Danielson working on the arm. Koslov takes over by working on the leg. Danielson, while putting Koslov into the surfboard, does a “HOOO” complete with the thumbs up, and turns it into a modified dragon sleeper that makes the crowd happy. USA chants break out as we near the 10 minute mark. Koslov suplexes him from the ring to the outside. He follows up with a dive from the top turnbuckle to the floor. Koslov puts on his Russian cap and does a series of Cossack dance-kicks that are both funny and seemingly brutal as Danielson sells. Danielson comes back with a clothesline coming off of a flip off the turnbuckle. Danielson with the serious look now, and delivers on an elbow and some stiff kicks. The building alarm goes off just as the match is I think reaching it’s climax, with Koslov hitting a frog splash and his own version of cattle mutilation. Danielson is hulking up……playing the Hogan comeback, but cut off appropriately a Russian leg sweep. Koslov drapes his flag over Danielson but misses the splash, Danielson with elbows and cattle mutilation. Koslov taps in 15:16
Impressions: I now know why people call Danielson the best in the world. He’s got the crowd in the palm of his hand the whole time. His moves are crisp and his selling is excellent. He was actually playing sort of a comic face role here, channeling Duggan and Hogan with the way he would make comebacks or chants, but he was very effective.
The intermission starts. The fire alarm is still going off. We’re not sure what is going on. Someone opened a wrong door I found out later which caused the alarm trip.
7. D’Lo Brown v Colt Cabana
D’Lo got a good response from the ROH crowd…but Colt got a bigger one. Strong Welcome back chant for Colt. Now a Colt-D’lo dueling chant. Crowd is loud having been given a good intermission to get food or drinks. Colt with a nice counter into a pinning attempt. Building to D’Lo getting frustrated with Colt. Test of strength goes to D’lo. Nice chain wrestling by Colt but D’lo takes over. D’lo playing the heel. Boo-yeah forearm exchanges ending in a massive clothesline by D’lo. D’lo leading the Colt Cabana chants mockingly. There is a lot of stalling and playing to the crowd tonight. Whether it’s for conservation because of a ppv tomorrow or trying to do something different I’m not sure. But it’s working on helping highspots to really be highspots as people are popping for each one Cabana back on offense until getting cut off by D’lo with a fireman’s carry into and Ace Crusher. D’lo misses with a senton from the second rope as the crowd begins t clap for the comeback. Cabana with a reverse Boston crab. D’lo roll up for a near fall. D’lo socres with the low down. He climbs to the top turnbuckle and cabana nails him with a Dusty elbow to send D’lo to the outside. Both men are out of the ring and while Cabana gets back into the ring, D’lo loads up with an international object and nails Cabana as he comes off the top rope for the pin in 11:00 even.
Impressions: No complaints. Cabana seems to be more in his element here than as Scotty Goldman in WWE. I’ve thought WWE has missed the boat on D’lo’s talents twice now.
8. KENTA v Davey Richards GHC Jr. Heavyweight Championship
Richards enters the ring first to applause. KENTA enters second to fans clapping for his music. They cheer for his entrance. Richards has Eddie Edwards with him. Richards refuses a handshake to start. Crowd solidly behind KENTA as they lock up. KENTA misses with a roundhouse that would have taken Richards’s head off if it had connected. They are cutting a fast pace including simultaneous dropkicks. Richards with a hard kick to the back and KENTA responds with a slap, and two brutally stiff kicks to Richards’ face. KENTA in control connected with another standing stiff kick to the face. Richards does a dragon screw leg whip to KENTA’s leg into the ropes in a neat spot. Richards jaws with fans at ringside as he takes over. Richards with leg kicks. Richards with a figure four until the crowd starts whooing, then flips them off and goes to another leg hold to work over KENTA’s left leg. KENTA fires back with a suplex and a flying clothesline off the top rope. Stiff kick series into a fisherman’s buster for KENTA. KENTA into an stf while my good friend tries to get us killed by starting a Cena chant. Richards fires back with a sick suplex and a tope that had to have sent them into the ringside crowd. Moves got huge reactions from the crowd. Richards with a top rope missile dropkick followed up by a forearm . KENTA and Richards trade kicks Richards with a German for a nearfall. KENTA slaps Richards out of a superplex and responds with his own Missle dropkick and two Yakuza kicks and a basement dropkick that has the crowd rocking. KENTA with a sit out power bomb for a close 2. KENTA with a top rope stomp onto Richards which had the crowd thinking victory. Richards with the Texas cloverleaf after KENTA had an innovative throat drop on Richards. KENTA and Richards have a boo-yeah with kicks; then simultaneous kicks knock both men down to the biggest pop of the night. Slap fest occurs with KENTA again scoring a nearfall that had the crowd buying it with a tiger suplex. Richards teasing a German from the apron to the floor but KENTA connects on a sick suplex that sees Richards land BACK FIRST. There is now a new first: F--- WrestleMania chants. Both make it back into ring before the count. Kicks galore again. KENTA with slaps and a dropkick for a near fall. Richards blocks the go to sleep with a dragon screw and the cloverleaf. Fans going crazy. Richards back with offense and near falls. Forearm exchanges and again Richards counters the G2s again. But the third time is the charm as KENTA scores with the g2s for the win in 18:32.
Impressions: I was blown away. Both men were amazing. Nothing more needs to be said. Well, one thing does. The finish was botched, but that doesn’t take away from what I just saw.
9. Tyler Black-Necro Butcher v Jimmy Jacobs-Austin Aries
My first time seeing these men save Necro and Aries from TNA, when I last saw him as “The Austin Starr.” Necro gets a good pop. It’s 11:19 p.m. and we have two matches left. What I’ve read about ROH shows lasting a long time is true. Black starts off with a somersault dive out to the floor and we’re on. From where we are sitting I can’t see anything, but I hear crowd reactions. Aries and Black start off in the ring and within a minute they are back out of the ring. Black drops Airies head first from a fireman’s carry into the ring apron. Necro and Black try to military press both, and they don’t . Aries air assault through the first and second rope to the outside. So far, the crowd largely silent. Aries and Jacobs are arguing over who is getting to pin Black and Jacobs and Aries begin hitting each other. Hot tag to Necro. Necro with an off the tope rope huracanrana. Necro throws Jacobs into Aries for a near fall. Jacobs with a low blow into a submission move while Aries and black fight on the outside. Black breaks up the submission with a stiff stomp. Necro chokeslams Jacobs onto Aries. This match is not connecting like I thought it was. Necro and Jacobs tease a table spot and Aries dropkicks Necro who proceeds to put himself and Jacobs through a table. Action finally picks up with Aries and Black in the ring. After Black is hit by a Jacobs spear while trying to power bomb Aries, Aries with a brain buster for the win in 10:55
Impressions: If I was blown away by KENTA and Davey, I was unfortunately underwhelmed by the efforts of these four men. I know they have had better matches. And I know they will have more in the future.
10. Main Event: Nigel McGuinness v Jerry Lynn ROH World Heavyweight Championship.
As the ring announcer is announcing the title match, the crowd seems a bit burned out. Still, a huge “Jerry” chant breaks out as the challenger makes his way to the ring. The sound system is not the best. Nigel comes out to a fairly decent reaction. Okay, crowd pick up with dueling chants and let’s go Jerry and Nigel. They lock up and feel each other out. They also trade working the arms. Jerry with the advantage, and is looking to work the arm but Nigel doesn’t want him to do so. Good chain wrestling by both men. Lynn eventually locks in a cross armbar. Nigel rolls to the outside to recover. Both men are on the outside and the count hits 14 before both men come back into the ring. Either Nigel is a great seller or he truly is in a great deal of pain. Or both. Nigel takes over as we approach 5 minutes. Nigel with kicks and Lynn responds with kicks to the arm. Lynn takes over with a clothesline. Lynn scores with a tornado DDT for a 2. Lynn back to the cross armbar. Not sure how long the match is going…we’re near the 8 minute mark now. Lynn teases the cradle piledriver, but Nigel blocks it into a backkick/lariat combo near the turnbuckle that pops the crowd. Lynn blocks a Nigel move with a reverse DDT(Scorpion death drop). Nigel with a nearfall with a modified Ace Crusher. Nigel now working on the arm of Lynn as we near the 10 minute mark. Nigel hits a Tower of London to send Lynn who had been on the top rope into the ring He then hits the modified Acre crusher onto the floor. Lynn is outside the ring and the count is up to 16 Crowd is getting riled up. Count up to 19 and Lynn barely makes it in. Lynn hits a sunset flip power bomb and sinks in an arm hold with the crowd sensing a Nigel tap, which instead he makes it to the ropes. Near fall sequence from both men. Lynn again gets a near-tap. 15 minutes gone. Lynn back to the cross armbar. Again Nigel makes the ropes. Lynn with an emerald frosien for a near fall. Lynn hits cradle pile driver but only a 2 count for the ropes. Nigel with a huge lariat but Lynn comes back with another armbar. Crowd chanting Nigel. Near 19 minutes gone. Lynn reverse lariat into cradle piledriver for the win in 19:08 to become the new ROH champion.
“You still got it” chants at Jerry. “Thank you Nigel” chants for Nigel. Post match sees Lynn receive the new f’n show chant. Lynn cuts a post-match promo in which he puts over that nights like this make all the blood and broken bones and sweat worth it. Lynn acknowledges that some don’t like his work, but he has a passion and won’t quit. Lynn leads the crowd to thank Nigel for his hard work and his tenure as champion. Nigel grabs the mic to thunderous “thank you Nigel” chants. Nigel talks about how there are times that stand still. He thanks the fans who support the show. Nigel in tremendous pain as he leaves the ring.
Impressions: Knowing how hurt Nigel was….this was an amazing match. Kudos to both men for making it believable that Nigel could win.
Final Thoughts: I looked up at the crowd right after the KENTA match, and according to my friend Joey who helps run the building, they had to put in 200 extra chairs for the crowd. 1800 here tonight. Not sure of how much for the ppv taping tomorrow. If they come back to Houston, I’ll be back. ROH has a new fan in me.