thecubsfan: low and away, low and inside, low and away.
Scott Christ: The CPU will swing on 3-0 so don't leave one out over the plate. The CPU has no respect.Three feet away me, American Dragon was biting into another man's fingers, and I couldn't decide if I was better of being entertained or a bit terrified. ROH's debut show in the Chicagoland area featured lots of entertaining and scary violence, though Bryan Danielson's act was the only one that truly prohibited his opponent from getting his hand raised. Everyone was still in position of all the vertebrae they showed up with, if only by the slimist of margins. It was a good show with no stinker of a match, and enough good to get people back for the return visit. Specifically, those who actually paid for the tickets.
I went because Scott ordered two tickets to the show, ROH's excellent organization sent him four, and he couldn't find anyone else to take the ticket. I was amusing myself and probably annoying Scott by ducking the question for a couple weeks, but when the post-Feinsten card shuffling led to my favorite indy tag team (Havana Pitbulls) being added to a card with my favorite indy single (Danielson), and I figured out I had nothing better to do on Saturday, I took my free ticket.We ordered tickets back in December, and I got *mine* for free as a Christmas gift, and then they sent two different envelopes with two sets of tickets - section A, row 2, and section B, row 2. On instinct I took the section B tickets. Turns out I'm a genius. Our section was rowdy.Not only was our section rowdy, but we didn't get stuck to a large man in a weird hat.
Or the guy that smelled like pizza. Or the guy that gave everything ******.
The show was the second of a two day Midwest swing, having hit St. Paul, MN the night before and having the misfortune to end up running against the WWE the same night. That show drew around 700, but they seemed to do better in Chicago Ridge. They set up 5-6 rows around the ring and the entrance area, and that was full. They also had a big walking area behind the seats and bleachers on three sides of the ring (the side facing the camera given a black curtain). The bleachers were so far away from the ring, they couldn't have shown on up on camera much and the park district building is gonna look more empty than it should. I have no idea how you saw things if you were in the bleachers, but it couldn't have been that good.Yeah, the bleacher seating was really horrible looking. There should have been about four or five more rows of seats on the floor. Another awful thing was that they zip-tied all the chairs together, so this meant you were sitting on top of everybody else. I understand they don't want people throwing chairs, but is the risk really THAT high? It's uncomfortable, Ring of Honor. Thanks for the free tickets, though.The guys in front of us (at one point or another) figured out how to snap the twist ties so they could actually get some room between them, but there was still maybe eight inches of room in between each row, which led to people stepping all over you to leave and smoke. And the empty area between the seats and the bleachers was humongous, so there was no real reason for it
ROH promoted this show around locals C.M. Punk and Colt Cabana (part of the Second City Saints with Ace Steel) returning home to get a shot against the Briscoe Brothers and their ROH Tag Team titles. Punk did a lot of work in getting the show in Chicago Ridge and putting it together, I think.
I was going to take off to the show right after I finished off a crucial early season DiamondJaxx/Lookouts game, having wasted most of the day away watching the Cubs and the slow often-boring Draft, but got ambushed with ten minutes worth of stuff to do as I walked out of the door. When I finally got going, in the rain, I managed to make two different wrong turns, drive right past the parking lot, and skip the shuttle bus figuring walking would be faster (uh, no.) You don't want me driving you anywhere. So Scott got to hang out in the rain for 45 minutes. I felt bad.
It could've been worse. For a lot of it I sat in the car and then took the safe route to standing in the rain for like 20 minutes or so just in case Cubs showed up and I wasn't where I was supposed to be and he thought he had been swindled by some no-goodnik from the computerweb. One guy asked me if he could park on the side streets in the neighborhoods. I sure hope he could, because I told him that I believed so. If you're that guy and you got a ticket or towed or something, my bad.
Our trip from beautiful SW Michigan was its own adventure as we were nearly killed by a semi, which then necessitated us flying through the IPass lane on the toll, and then had one or two near-fatal experiences in Oak Lawn. We stopped in there because it was close to Chicago Ridge and we had plenty of time to kill, so we ate at Potbelly's, where I had never been, and I got an Italian sandwich and IBC root beer. Then we went into Game Crazy, and then made our way to the Ridge. A lot of people got lost but we really had no difficulty finding it. Parking seemed obscenely bad, though.
The remote parking lot was fine, but it was a three block walk from the building if you were silly enough to skip the shuttle bus. No one damaged my car anymore than it's already been damaged this week, so I was happy.
Never being to an indy show means you're weirded out by Jimmy Rave taking your ticket. Once we actually got inside, I met Brent and AJ, who seemed like cool guys. We got kicked from our seats twice - if they wanted us to sit in the right seats, they ought to have put a numbers on them, right? - but ended up second row, on the right side of the hard camera near the end of the row. Announcers said that "due to rain", they were starting ten minutes later. Ten minutes late is basically on time for these things, I gather.
I hadn't been to an indy show since 1999, when none other than tonight's Jimmy Jacobs was a referee at the RAW (Real American Wrestling) shows I went to in Paw Paw and Bangor. One of those shows had Koko B. Ware. They were low-rent stuff.
I know most of the ROH names, but I don't really follow the storylines that closely and the only matches I've seen are on a comp or two, I think. I may be completely lost ahead; I didn't take notes or time things either. Ring announcer welcomed us to ROH in Chicago, and I think that's where I first start whining about Chicago Ridge not being Chicago. The amusing trend was that was that the faces talked about being in Chicago, and the heels insulted Chicago Ridge. Dave Prazak established a tweener role by talking about "Chicagoland" when he thanked us for buying tickets.
I've seen a lot of these guys on non-ROH shows but I've only seen one full ROH show, and that's the round robin thing with Daniels/Ki/Dragon. I thought it was okay.
BJ Whitmer vs Ace Steel
BJ got "Wash Your Face" chants, which was odd but wise advice he ought to take. I believe it was something along the lines of 30 seconds between Scott telling me "Ace is the only guy I really want to see" and the Briscoes running into beat Ace down, climaxing with a spike piledriver. Colt and Punk made the logical save to heat up the title match later in the evening, and we ended up getting our match anyway after the interlude.
I had this feeling they were going to cancel the match, as little sense as that would make. I really, really like Ace Steel from the IWA-MS stuff I've seen him on and think he's probably the most underrated of the indy guys I'm familiar with. So Ace Steel was a large reason I was going to this because sure I wanted to see the other guys, but I feel like I'm one of the few truly appreciative Ace Steel fans. That's probably not true.
I thought the match was good but not great. Early on, Whitmer went after Ace's head - he was done grabbing his head all the way through the Briscoes/Colt/Punk segment, so that was logical enough - but late in the match, Whitmer had somehow switched to working the (left? I think) arm, kicking it to take control, which confused us all. Whitmer took the match (I can not recall almost any finish moves, odd, but I think he went back to the head), but wasn't done. He waited till Ace got up, and then dropped him back down with an unprotected chair shot to the head. On the opening match of the show. I was hoping this would lead to something down in the main event.
I don't remember the finish either. I was really disappointed with no Allison Danger (she was advertised!) Not that I wanted to be a perv there to see the foxy ladies, but still. I've had enough advertised people drop out of this show. The match was really nothing special at all and I was disappointed to some degree, but then I don't really think Whitmer is all that wonderful so that probably has something to do with it. But it wasn't bad at all.
That reminds me that I was amused to see that they still had posters up inside the building featuring the old lineup with Heenan and Cornette and Styles and Lynn and everyone no longer in the company. That'll learn you to print in advance.
Chad Collyer vs John Walters
John Walters isn't here to count one.John Walters isn't here to have fun.This was hold to hold wrestling that the fans didn't get into early, but caught up late on the near falls. Both guys worked the legs a lot. Collyer tried for an early Texas Cloverleaf and was denied, then I think Walters put him in one late where Collyer got the to the ropes, and then Malenko-natic won it with his hold. Plenty of rope breaks in this one.
I really, really, really liked this match. I really, really, really like Dean Malenko and Ric Flair and Collyer worked as a hybrid of the two. Outside of some of the very good wrestling, the highlight of this match was someone in our section saying "we want blood," followed by Walters turning around and saying, "go the fuck home then." This drew what I believe was the first of several "you got served" chants from the particularly chanty bunch at the other end of the section. They had their stinkers, but largely remained an entertaining crew. I popped for the cloverleaf BY MYSELF with absolutely no shame. So if you ever get the tape or DVD of this, the first time Collyer goes for the cloverleaf, and someone goes, "YEAH," well, that's me. The guy on the Observer (Mike McCann) that said the crowd appreciated everything here is lying because for a lot of it they were quiet. This is WHY I'm the only guy yelling about the cloverleaf. I shook Walters' hand after the show, nice guy.
I think it's here that I realized that it's a lot easier to get a crowd reaction by responding to a heckle or even just yelling randomly when being beat than doing a wacky move.
Justin Credible/Masada vs Shawn Daivari/Delirious
This was supposed to be Masada/Daivari, with Justin Credible advertised as appearing but without a match, so I guess they threw him and Delirious in here. Daivari annoyed me greatly with his gimmick when I saw him on Heat, mostly because I thought he was a white guy doing a pseudo-Muslim gimmick. After hearing him talk, either he's not a white guy or he's showing intense dedication to get the Devon Avenue accent correct and I should let it go. Speaking of Letting It Go, if you have nothing better to taunt Justin Credible with than Aldo Montoya or any ECW era chant, you should let it go because he's heard and doesn't care any more. I guess he'd have to do something more than be in thrown together tags for people to get material, but you've got to go half way on this. This match was fine, but I forgot it happened by the main event, so I guess it couldn't have been that great. Justin hit a superkick on Shawn, and he stumbled into whatever Masada's move is for the win.
This match was pretty bad, but Justin seemed to be enjoying himself. Masada seemed bad and Delirious, well. Daivari got a "where's my squishee?" chant, to which chant guys responded with, "you are racist." That was the best part of this match. Wait, no - I'm lying. The best part is Daivari's magic carpet splash.
I liked the Aladdin chants better. Don't the people know that Abu is Hindi? Please remember which culture you're trying to demean!
Rocky Romero vs Nigel McGuiness vs Jimmy Rave vs Austin Aries
I think maybe 5% of the crowd - those in the seats seemed as least as knowledgable about the promotion as I was - knew Rocky as something other than Some Guy, which shows how much penetration lucha has, and it's actually on TV. Orange Pull Over guy said something so crazy to McGuiness that he stopped in his track and came back to have a word with him. Austin Aries was the crowd favorite. Jimmy Rave took my ticket.
I saw Jimmy Rave on a bunch of IWA-MS stuff and didn't get the fuss at all. Then he took my ticket and I wasn't buying any of it and wanted to see him get beaten up by the others. I was behind Romero, Aries was the guy most people went in cheering for. McGuinness has a really fruity way of getting into the ring and the crowd hated it.
Crowd was on McGuiness early, but he won everyone over with a crazy reversal/avoidance sequence with Rave; even though Rave did half of the work, since Nigel ended up winning it, he seemed to get the respect. Rocky impressed with the headscissors into submission moves he loves. Austin was good but I can't pick out anything particular to put his name towards - it all kinda blends together at some point, you know? McGuiness got Rave in a submission, I think, and Aries and Romero were too busy fighting to break it up. That was a bit off because it was felt like the first time all match all four were fighting (instead of two being out while the other two did their spots) and the "it's Austin vs Rocky!" factor.
The part where McGuinness and Rave went through all that weirdo dancing and the crowd just ate it all up and chanted for McGuinness was a really cool thing, I thought. For being British, Nigel threw some super lame European uppercuts. Aries left sort of the same unmemorable-but-good impression on me. Rave took a hell of a beating and bled hardway from the mouth. I think he was in for 80% of this match and was on defense for 95% of that.
I was distracted from the European Uppercuts by the heckler yelling "CHEERIO!" after every single one. Not his best moment.
Post match, Rocky completely forgets about the required handshakes and starts to walk off before the referee pulls him back. Rocky jumps back in the ring for the most "I don't really like you, but this authority right is making us shake hands right now so we can pretend we get along so I'll do as quick as possible" handshakes ever.
Romero really impressed me because he was so fluid. Other than that and Nigel having good entrance music and being oh so very british, I didn't get a ton out of this match except for long-overdue respect for the dedication of Jimmy Rave, ticket taker.
This match was the best reason I wasn't in the first row, because I would've spent the whole match taunting Rocky about taping out to a Rocking Horse, or asking him how thrilled he was that they were actually giving Pinoi Boy wins on the current tour. Without having to ask, I did find out to the pressing "Would the Pitbulls have gotten over in Mexico is Reyes wasn't hurt and Bobby Quance didn't take his place?" later on.
Homicide vs Bryan Danielson
Favorite match of the night, but since it's Danielson, it would've been a shock for me to like something else more. This was the first match to feature lots of fighting outside the ring, so of course they picked my side of the ring to work on. After the finger biting from earlier, Dragon worked most of the match trying to get Homicide to tap out to various finger pulling submissions, which was fun. Lots of stiff shots here, and a particularly hard clothesline led to the win. I'm pretty sure I missed something on it (people standing in front of me), because it was a really good clothesline, but it was a clothesline.
I've seen a lot of people say this is disappointing, and Brent thought it was the worst of their matches he'd seen, but I really really liked this match. The story they told was really fun with Danielson outwrestling Homicide early and Homicide getting closer and closer to the brink of explosion, then finally getting there and dragging Danielson down to his level. They ended up brawling like crazy right in front of us, which was a lot of fun. I liked all of Dragon's work, as usual, even if I've seen him be much better than he was here. I like the cattle mutilation a lot so the finish worked for me. Good match.
There were the moments where Homicide wanted to attack someone in the chanting section for trying "Homocide!", there was Homicide grabbing a chair (ring announcer table was on our side) and wanting to use it, and him smacking his leg onto the barricade on a dive. Not to mention Finger Biting. I was thinking someone clued them into where all the nutcases were sitting. I enjoyed Homicide selling the hand by having the other arm raised and only doing the post match handshake with his good hand too much.
He also threw the ring bell at someone for saying "New Jack."
That match seemed to go about 25 minutes, so it was a fine time for intermission. I resisted the urge to pay $10 for a picture with Justin Credible (and there was a line!) and instead wasted $2 on a pop and some M&Ms. Money well spent. Lots of standing around and talking about the show with Brent and AJ, since they ended up in a different, lamer section. And random wrestler spottings.
Intermission was definitely well-timed. I spent $1.50 on a water and then struggled greatly to open it. When I was walking over to the concession stand, I walked right by Ian Rotten, and I thought, "Hey, that's Ian Rotten." And I thought maybe I'd shake his hand, but then I thought, what am I going to say? "Hey, Ian, loved that taipei death match with Axl." I didn't love that match. So I didn't shake his hand. He seemed to be having a good time and was chatting it up. Justin Credible charging $10 for photos and having it WORK is one of the greatest scams I've ever seen. I myself resisted the urge to pay $20 for some silly shoot interview I'd watch once and get nothing out of other than a few laughs.
I noticed a Best of Chris Hero tape that I really should get myself before I'm ambushed later, but I chickened out on buying because I'm totally into DVDs now and didn't see one.
Ricky Reyes vs Danny Daniels
Ricky was cornerman for Rocky's match. During the match, he might have moved a total of five inches and shrugged maybe once. Here, Rocky might have been more into the match than Ricky was. Daniels is either from the area or thinks he's from the area because he was pretty hyped. Until Ricky got the surprise (at least to me) headscissors into a legbar submission win. When they announced the card, I was wishing that Rocky was here instead of Ricky because it'd make for a better match, and it would've been even better if he won, but I guess if you want to build up the tag team, it makes sense to have the weaker looking tag team partner get a win. Actually, it would've made since to have them in a tag team match. Eh.
I'm pretty sure Daniels is from the area. He slipped on the corner during his entrance and then did the worst baseball slide ever that missed Ricky's head by about seven inches. Short match and pretty bad at that. This was standard Heat-level stuff but with that terrible, terrible baseball slide.
I forgot about that baseball slide. It was so off, Ricky didn't even realize he was supposed to be selling something. The other thing is they should've had Ricky wrestle before Rocky, because they're training the NJPW-LA guys in the same shoot style wrestling offense seemingly, and Rocky does it much better than Ricky that it exposes Ricky if he's following.
Jack Evans & Matt Sydal vs Alex Shelly & Jimmy Jacobs vs Loc & Devito vs Dunn & Marcos
This was a tag team scramble, which means it broke down into 8 men fighting around the ring after a while. Which wasn't always a great thing - Evans, Sydal, Shelly and Jacobs were working a sequence in the ring, and you couldn't tell the other four were fighting elsewhere until Dunn and Marcos were thrown into the guardrail loudly. Jacobs Berserker bit was very over. They had the big dive sequence, and the finisher sequence, and ended with Loc and Devito hitting their tag team neck crushing move on Jacobs, but being taken out and Evans hitting a 630 legdrop for the pin. This was cool for a bunch of wacky spots.
I really dug this live because it was super-exciting and Jimmy Jacobs is ten pounds of fun in a two pound bag. They blew absolutely nothing which is remarkable for these matches, so that's probably why it came off so well and really, really fired the entire crowd up instead of just section B. There was never a point where something looked like crap and then half the crowd was dead and talking about that. I also liked the dynamic of three fun teams and Devito & Loc just being rugged pricks out to hurt all the pretty boys.
Crowd dug the match and was giving it the ROH chant, till Devito went insane. He took a chair and start swinging at the first row, only aiming just lower at the last second and hitting the guardrail instead. Scared the heck out of everyone, and Devito topped it by chucking a chair down, and it bouncing into the crowd, hitting at least one person. You've never seen someone move as quick as promoters checking to make sure a fan they might have hurt is okay and giving them a free DVD for their trouble. Devito settled down after that, slapped hands, tried to get the ROH chant going again, and apologized to the fan. So that was whatever.
That chair business was really weird and kinda scary. I'm sure the dude that it grazed was perfectly fine, but what worried me was his wife right by him looking scared half to death. But weirder than that was Devito looking super great in this match, breaking out a wicked lariat and some really stiff crossface shots, and then getting a moonsault plancha in, which drew the night's only successful "holy shit" chant.
Jacobs was down for a long time as everyone slapped hands and the Devito stuff happened. He took an awful drop on his head, so everyone was a little worried, but it looked like he was telling them he'd be okay. It wasn't till the ring cleared of everyone but him and Shelly till he starting getting up - and then Shelly kicked him back down. That's what you get for being a loser, dude.
We ate at the truck stop in Lake Station after the show and Shelley and Jacobs sat in the booth by us. I was going to shake their hands and tell them I enjoyed their match or some nonsense but they were eating and I didn't want to be a bother. They had some pretty funny dialogue regarding Allison Danger's ass.
Samoa Joe © vs Matt Stryker for the ROH title
To me, for the first half, this was a glorified Samoa Joe squash. He was just killing Stryker inside the ring, out of the ring and even diving at him. It was to the point where Stryker used an eye poke to get momentary control, and explained to the referee that he didn't know any other way. Stryker got in more as the match went on, but a win by him would've looked like a fluke. Joe had either a really interesting bruise or a facial tattoo. He came out with a bandage over it, so I thought when that bandage came off early, it as going to be a story point, but Stryker stayed away from it. Samoa used a triangle choke to get the win.
I like both of these guys but this just never got going. The Joe stuff was from the fireball the night before in St. Paul, but instead he just has a tattoo on his face. Well, what can you do? I thought it was best that they stay away from it. Joe absolutely murdered him and no one in the building thought Stryker had a chance here. Rightfully so, I guess. DVB by Stryker was really impressive and was the only instance the crowd really cared about anything he was doing other than getting slapped in the face a lot.
CM Punk and Colt Cabana vs the Briscoe Brothers © for the Ring of Honor Tag Team Titles
This was the total "face in peril" tag team style match for the first 2/3rds, with Punk being stuck in the ring and Colt looking for that tag. It broke down into huge move theater to end it. There were at least two times I thought Colt wasn't getting up without the aid of a good neurosurgeon - he took a reverse 'rana right on his head, and didn't seem protected on a K-Driller. He kept getting up. Eventually - lots of Punk taking on two and surviving just long enough for Cabana to help him out again. I guess that's a new age face in peril situation? Anyway, Briscoes attempt to murder Punk with a double top rope something, but Cabana pulls it together to crotch one of the Briscoes, and Punk gives the other one a super Pedigree for the win.
Colt really stole the show here, I thought. Punk seemed the weakest of the four in the ring but not in a bad way. More like the rest of them were really really good and so was he, but someone's gotta be "worst." That's America. I really liked this match, more than I thought I would. The crowd was pretty rabid, particularly for the finish. The nice guy sitting by me decided to be the lone Briscoes supporter in the audience, and I respected that. Colt looked way wrong coming out to that awful AFI song, but thankfully they left to "Copacabana." The J-Driller was really nasty and whichever Briscoe took the finish landed directly on his face and head.
On the way home, I was thinking that Colt's so good, he's got to stay in tag teams because his partner is a much more interesting dude for just being around him. He brought something out in Punk, at the least, and interacted great with the crowd. Maybe I just dug the smiley faces on the side of the shorts. Not playing Copacabana on the entrance was the dead give away that there must be a title change, because you had to play it. Colt had a nice looking rooting section underneath the main camera.
After the match, BJ Whitmer tried to ruin the new champions celebration by attacking them. Ace Steel wanders out, chair in hand, and gets his receipt chair shot. So there was a point to that chair shot. Almost. I guess it sets up the next title match, though. Second City Saints go back to celebrating the big win in the big homecoming.
Whitmer's run-in absolutely had to pay off with Ace Steel chairing him and it did so I can dig it. Post-match celebration was good. I think Punk's parents were a few seats away from us and really into the match.
All in all, a really fun show that I would not have minded actually paying to go see. Thanks again to ROH for the freebies. Maybe they knew I'm part of the press. I am very strongly considering going back in July when they return to the same building.
Next Show's on July 24th, and I'd take free tickets again. Or a DVD of this show, if you really want to splurge. I'm thinking Spanky's non-compete must be done by then (well, he is working the next ROH show), so if they could get him and Dragon and Rocky, I'd probably think about paying this time. Who knows how the card shuffles again.