February 26th, 2011 in Chicago Ridge, Illinois
ROH World Champion: Roderick Strong (since 9/11/10)
ROH World Tag Team Champions: The Kings of Wrestling (Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli) (since 4/3/10)
ROH World Television Champion: Christopher Daniels (since 12/10/10)
Opening Match: Davey Richards vs. Colt Cabana
They trade control of a wristlock and Cabana narrowly avoids a kick. Cabana tries a few rollups but gets caught by a baseball slide on the floor. Richards follows out with a dive and takes control in the ring, working over the left arm. Cabana blocks a diving headbutt and connects with a series of punches followed by a bionic elbow. He adds a springboard moonsault and goes up top. Richards kicks him and goes up top as well. Cabana gets him in a fireman’s carry position and drapes him across the top rope. Cabana lands a moonsault from the top rope for a nearfall. Richards escapes the Colt 45 and connects with a missile dropkick. He follows with a diving headbutt and applies a cross armbreaker. Cabana escapes the hold and locks in the Billy Goat’s Curse. Richards turns it into a pin attempt for a two count. He connects with a knockout kick and hits a german suplex. Cabana gets planted by a tornado DDT. Richards hits a falcon arrow and reapplies a cross armbreaker for the win at 12:10. I think that Cabana should be in this position more often. He wasn’t in a grudge match with anyone but at the same time, he was facing an opponent where he had to keep the comedy to a minimum. They delivered a smartly-worked, entertaining match that was definitely the right choice for the opener. ***¼
Match #2: Steve Corino vs. Kyle O’Reilly vs. Mike Bennett vs. Grizzly Redwood
Grizzly eventually takes Corino down with a shoulder tackle after many attempts. O’Reilly unloads strikes on Corino but falls victim to a powerslam. Bennett connects with a dropkick on O’Reilly. He gets kicked off the apron and O’Reilly follows with a dropkick from the apron. Grizzly lands a dive onto O’Reilly. Corino teases a dive but Bennett stops him with a clothesline. Bennett works over Corino until he avoids an elbow drop and makes the tag. O’Reilly boots Grizzly in the face but gets taken down by a headscissors. Grizzly follows with a german suplex but O’Reilly responds with rolling butterfly suplexes. Bennett pushes O’Reilly to the floor and comes face to face with Corino. Corino connects with a leg lariat and hits a flatliner-DDT combination on Bennett and Grizzly. Bennett boots Corino but gets planted by a tornado DDT from Grizzly. Corino connects with the Eternal Dream on Grizzly. O’Reilly knockout kicks Corino. Bennett hits a spinebuster on O’Reilly and all four men are down. Everyone exchanges forearms. O’Reilly connects with a double missile dropkick on Corino and Grizzly. He knockout kicks Bennett but finds himself in an octopus hold. Corino thinks about using the thumb but thinks better of it. Bennett hits a uranagi on Corino for the victory at 10:45. Admittedly, this match was better than I expected. They actually had a nice flow going down the stretch before the abrupt finish. The story of Corino’s “rebirth” is somewhat entertaining right now, but hopefully it’s kept interesting and doesn’t become tedious in the coming months. **¼
Match #3: El Generico vs. Michael Elgin
Elgin attacks during the pre-match handshake. Generico avoids a charge and connects with corner punches. He dropkicks Elgin to the floor but Truth Martini prevents a dive. Elgin stomps Generico to the canvas and hits a backbreaker. The action goes to the floor where Generico pushes Elgin into the ringpost. Generico uses the barricade to attempt a tornado DDT, but Elgin powers him up and slams him into the barricade. After an exchange in the ring, Generico lures Elgin back to the floor and follows out with a dive. Back in, Generico lands a flying crossbody and hits a tornado DDT. Elgin responds with a wrist-clutch michinoku driver and a spinning uranagi. He rocks Generico with forearms and a huge clothesline. Generico hits a half nelson suplex. Elgin pokes the referee in the eye. Truth Martini tries to dive onto Generico, but ends up on Elgin’s shoulders. Elgin manages to powerbomb Generico while Martini was on his shoulders. Generico sneaks in a small package for the win at 10:29. Elgin brings something different to the table and he received a chance to showcase his power offense on a very capable Generico. They worked well together and were able to generate a few spots that I’ve never seen before. I’m curious to see how Elgin progresses in ROH and I could definitely see him making an impact. **¾
Elgin attacks Generico after the match. Generico tries to fight him off but Roderick Strong attacks from behind. Elgin powerbombs Generico and the House of Truth stand tall. Strong dismisses Elgin and says that he will beat Homicide at his own game tonight. Homicide charges the ring and wants his title match right now…
Match #4: ROH World Title: Street Fight: Roderick Strong © vs. Homicide
Homicide lands a dive to the floor onto Strong. They brawl up the entrance aisle and into the crowd. Strong chokes Homicide with someone’s coat. Homicide slams Strong into a chair and brings it into the ring. Homicide connects with corner punches and hits a bulldog onto the chair. He throws Strong to the floor and sends him into the guardrail. Strong drapes Homicide back-first across the apron and takes control in the ring. He props a chair in each corner of the ring and mocks the three amigos. Homicide comes back with an overhead suplex and sends Strong into each of the four chairs. Homicide hits an exploder but gets caught by a knee strike. Strong brings a table into the ring and props it in the corner. Homicide hits a tornado DDT through the table for a nearfall. Truth Martini and Michael Elgin try to involve themselves but Homicide fights them off. He hits an ace crusher from the middle rope and connects with a lariat. Martini breaks up the pin attempt and low blows Homicide, who responds by laying him out with an ace crusher. Strong connects with the Sick Kick and hits his orange crush backbreaker to retain his title at 14:56. I didn’t necessarily trust Homicide to deliver in a main event situation and I think ROH made the right call by putting this match before intermission. Still, the booking of this contest was disappointing. Homicide never received his rematch after losing the ROH World Title to Takeshi Morishima. This was his chance to finally regain the belt. However, the match itself was pretty tame and the finishing stretch was plagued by interference. Aside from a few weapon spots, the action never stood out to me as anything special and I certainly never bought Homicide winning the title here. While I agree with its placement on the card, this match wasn’t exactly the best showcase for the ROH World Title at an anniversary show. **½
Match #5: MsChif vs. Sara Del Rey
MsChif lands a standing moonsault. Del Rey connects with a savate kick and boots MsChif to the canvas repeatedly. Del Rey locks in a gory special but MsChif escapes and hits a northern lights suplex. Del Rey responds with a powerbomb. MsChif hits a modified bulldog but gets caught in the corner by a kappou kick. Del Rey follows with a wrist-clutch olympic slam for the victory at 3:55. I’m sure that some people were looking forward to this encounter and ended up disappointed that it only lasted four minutes. I think that ROH owes it to itself to give these SHIMMER showcase matches enough time to make an impression. Hopefully the women’s matches over WrestleMania weekend are more worthwhile. *½
MsChif blinds Del Rey with her green mist after the match.
Match #6: ROH World Tag Team Titles: Chris Hero and Claudio Castagnoli © vs. Kenny King and Rhett Titus
Hero and Titus have a back and forth exchange that ends with Titus connecting with a flying knee strike. King snaps off a few armdrags on Claudio and Titus adds a slingshot shoulder tackle. King hits a springboard leg drop on Hero. Claudio misses a bicycle kick and gets caught by a flurry of kicks from the All Night Express. King hip tosses Titus to the floor onto Hero and Claudio. He follows with a senton from the apron onto Hero. Claudio connects with a popup european uppercut on Titus and the champions isolate him. Titus gets rocked by multiple elbows and uppercuts. He snake eyes Claudio and is able to make the tag. King connects with a spin kick on Hero and hits an overhead suplex. Hero answers with a roaring mafia kick and Claudio follows with a running knee strike. Claudio goes up top but Titus leaps to the top rope and hits a facebuster. King hits the Royal Flush on Claudio and Titus adds a brainbuster. King follows with an impressive shooting star press for a nearfall. Hero connects with a roaring elbow on Titus but falls victim to an enzuigiri from King. All four men are down. Shane Hagadorn tries to throw in the loaded elbow pad but King intercepts it. The distraction allows Claudio to sort of hit the UFO. Hero grabs the loaded elbow pad and connects with a roaring elbow on King. Claudio covers and the champions retain their titles at 15:56. The All Night Express were in a position where they had to prove themselves and they delivered in spades. Titus has improved remarkably and King is becoming a fine-tuned wrestler. Their spurt of offense early on was crisp and they were able to hang with the champions down the stretch. The match was moving along nicely and the crowd was with them the whole way. My only minor complaint would be the finish, as I feel that this was a situation where the loaded elbow pad was completely unnecessary. Still, I think it’s safe to say that the All Night Express experiment was a success. ***½
Match #7: ROH World Television Title: 2 out of 3 Falls: Christopher Daniels © vs. Eddie Edwards
They begin with some chain wrestling and find themselves at a stalemate. They trade control on the mat with neither man wanting to act too hastily. Edwards connects with a few strikes to gain control and follows with a facewash kick in the corner. Daniels fights back with a saito suplex and ruthlessly chops Edwards across his neck. Daniels connects with a northern lariat and continues to target the neck. The action goes to the floor where Daniels drives Edwards into the barricade. Back in, Daniels hits a suplex and maintains control. Edwards crotches him on the top rope and hurricanranas him to the canvas. Daniels rolls to the apron where Edwards connects with a slingshot double stomp. Edwards boots Daniels into the front row. He ascends the top rope and lands a dive into the crowd onto Daniels. In the ring, Edwards connects with a missile dropkick and hits a tiger suplex. He couldn’t hold the bridge for the pin attempt due to his neck. Edwards connects with a hesitation dropkick in the corner and follows with an innovative baseball slide. Daniels avoids a flying double stomp and stomps Edwards into the canvas. Edwards rolls out of a uranagi and overhead suplexes Daniels into the corner. He hits a backpack chinbreaker. They trade chops and Daniels finds himself in an achilles lock. He reverses into the koji clutch but Edwards transitions back into an achilles lock. Daniels escapes and applies an achilles lock of his own but Edwards reverses into the koji clutch. Daniels turns the hold into a pin attempt for a two count. Daniels blocks a lariat and rolls up Edwards to win the first fall. Edwards wastes no time between falls and connects with a lariat. They battle on the apron where Daniels hits a blue thunder bomb. Bobby Cruise announces that five minutes are left in the time limit. Daniels hits a piledriver and uranagis Edwards into the corner. He tries another stomp but Edwards counters into an achilles lock to win the second fall. We are tied at 1-1. Edwards applies an STF and hits a sit-out gourdbuster. He hurricanranas Daniels off the top rope. Daniels is somehow busted open. Edwards connects with two superkicks. Daniels sends them both to the floor with a hip toss and collides with the barricade. The time limit expires at 30:00. There is no question that these two have great chemistry together. The match itself felt nowhere near thirty minutes and although they might not have the flashiest exchanges, everything they do makes perfect sense. I’m sure that there are mixed opinions on this match, especially in regards to how the stipulation played out. Personally, I never believed that Edwards could win two falls in less than five minutes. The match ended in a rather unexciting way as neither man was close to securing the last fall. Some will argue that there doesn’t need to be a suspenseful conclusion to this type of contest. While I would disagree, this match contains a lot of great wrestling. I would simply call this encounter a worthwhile follow-up to their match on HDNet. However, I feel as though these two have a classic in them that is waiting to happen. ***¾
A bloodied Daniels rolls back into the ring. Some staff members come out to check on him. Jim Cornette announces that Daniels cannot continue and the time limit draw must stand.
Match #8: Jay and Mark Briscoe vs. Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas
The winners will become the #1 contenders for the ROH World Tag Team Titles. Tempers start to flare between Jay and Shelton early on. Mark and Shelton trade pin attempts and reach a stalemate. Haas and Mark exchange chops. The Briscoes hit stereo shoulder tackles on Haas. Shelton catches Jay with a vicious kick and slams him across Haas’ knee. Jay responds by booting Haas and the Briscoes isolate him. They drop Haas back-first across the barricade and maintain control in the ring. Haas fights back with a german suplex on Jay and makes the tag. Shelton hits a samoan drop on Mark followed by an exploder. Mark answers with his karate offense and connects with a superkick. Shelton catches Jay with an enzuigiri and Haas adds an olympic slam. Mark blocks a double team maneuver with a missile dropkick on Shelton. Jay superkicks Haas and hits a death valley driver. Mark goes up top looking for a shooting star press but Shelton leaps to the top rope and hits a superplex. Shelton lays out Mark with a superkick. Jay pulls Shelton to the floor and tosses him into the front row. Haas sends Jay into the crowd as well and brawls with him. Mark lands a springboard dive onto everyone in the crowd. In the ring, Mark hits a finlay roll on Shelton and follows with a flying elbow drop. Haas escapes a doomsday device while Shelton boots Mark to the floor. Shelton and Haas hit a blockbuster-spinebuster combination on Jay for the win at 22:21. Maybe it’s just me but I wasn’t really enthralled by this main event. Aside from the dream match atmosphere, nothing about the action stood out. There was no story to invest the viewer and as a result I had a difficult time finding much excitement in the finishing stretch. They didn’t play up any tension between the teams or try to one-up each other; something was missing here. With that said, the vocal crowd added a lot to the match and this contest was far from a chore to watch. The Briscoes can produce a worthwhile match with a lot of different teams and this was no different. However, I just feel like I’ve seen it all before. ***¼
Overall: I can see a lot of fans enjoying this event if they lower any high expectations they may have because this is an anniversary show. Davey Richards and Colt Cabana start the show on a high note and the rest of the first half moves along just fine. While the final three matches accomplish their goals and come through, I can’t help but think that there’s room for improvement. If you come in expecting a blow-away anniversary show, you might be disappointed. However, if you can lower your expectations, you will probably be happy with your purchase because there’s enough quality wrestling here to earn a recommendation.