42 MINUTE PAUL LONDON VS. AMERICAN DRAGON BOUT HEADLINES RING OF HONOR IN PHILLY
by Mike Johnson
A tremendous Paul London vs. American Dragon Bryan Danielson Best of Three Falls bout headlined Ring of Honor return to Philadelphia, PA at the Murphy Recreation Center on 4/12. The bout was heavily invested emotionally by the fans in attendance as they were intensely loud and into the bout from start to finish with loud chants of "Let's Go London/Let's Go Dragon" going back and forth during the bout.
Results of the match saw London reverse a top rope suplex attempt into a high cross body for the pin at 20:31of the first fall. Danielson forced London to tap out in 5:53 of the second fall with a half crab pulled all the way back. London came back with a victory in the third fall on 13:15 after an amazing shooting star press onto the back of Dragon, who was on his hands and knees attempting to get to his feet. Easily one of the best matches of either man's career and possibly the best match in the 14 month history of ROH. An amazing 42 minute ride.
Other results of the show saw:
*The Backseat Boyz defeated Da Hit Squad, pinning Mafia after Monsta Mack was knocked out of the ring. As Monsta Mack shook their hands after the match, Mafia walked out.
*Special K came to the ring and confronted The Backseats. Mikey Whipwreck said that with his history of teaming with Mick Foley and Tajiri and training the SATs and Divine Storm, he was a tag team master. He then added he was bringing Special K to the top of the business. He said they were the top tag team in ROH and challenged the Backseats to face them right there. Marcos and Dunn (who say they are the "Top Tag Team in Ring of Honor" confronted Special K. The Carnage Crew came out as well. The Backseats said they had business to attend to (working the CZW show later on) but would face the winners of the three teams in a Scramble Match on the 5/31 ROH show.
*Special K members Dixie & Hydro defeated The Carnage Crew and Dunn & Marcos, The Ring Crew Express in a Scramble Match. Whipwreck interfered and hit the Crew with Whippersnappers to set up Dixie pinning Dunn after Crew had hit a spiked piledriver off the ropes on Dunn. A large African American worker (Mega on Northeast indys) in a suit came out of the crowd for the second straight show to confront Special K's Slugga.
*ROH Tag Team champions AJ Styles and The Amazing Red defeated the Briscoe Brothers.
*CM Punk vs. BJ Whitmer went to no-contest when Punk gave Whitmer a German Suplex off the apron through a table to the floor and the bout was stopped. Before the match, Trinity (who is aligned with Raven) came out and gave his crucifix pose before diving on Colt Cabana, who carried her out.
*Homicide pinned Christopher Daniels. Samoa Joe, CW Anderson and Jack Victory (all members of Steve Corino's group) attacked both men. Mafia of Da Hit Squad hit the ring to made the save. When Daniels and Mafia cleared the ring, Daniels ripped off his shirt to reveal a "Prophecy" shirt and announced "Danny Maff" as the new member of Daniels' faction.
*Alexis Laree pinned Ariel.
*ROH champion Samoa Joe defeated Hotstuff Hernandez with a choke in a non-title match. Joe was interviewed by Gary Michael Capetta and invited everyone in the next match, a scheduled Three-Way into the ring. He then announced he was joining the match and was putting his title on the line.
*ROH champion Samoa Joe defeated Matt Stryker, Colt Cabana, and Tom carter in a Four Way Match. Carter is the artist formerly known as Reckless Youth. He was scheduled to debut here in February, but was involved in a car accident. Joe choked out Cabana for the win. Carter hit his frog splash on them both while Joe had it locked on, but Joe wouldn't let it go.
*After the London-Daniels bout, the final match of the evening was a "non-sanctioned Bunkhouse I Quit Riot" as Homicide, Dusty Rhodes, J-Train, Lowlife Louie Ramos, Iceberg (NWA Wildside) with Becky Bayless defeated CW Anderson, David Young, Jack Victory, Guillotine LeGrande, with Simply Luscious. Rhodes appeared after a swerve featuring the Midnight Rider coming out proved to be a ruse. Victory quit as Homicide stabbed him in the mouth with a fork.
Notes: The promotion took their production up a major notch last night, as they began using ring lights as opposed to the Rec Center's lighting for the show. This enabled them to dim the house lights to use lasers and smoke to enhance the entrances and to change the lighting during the show to enhance the look of the building. They also used new music for many of the workers, including mixed music for Special K and Hotstuff Hernandez among others, adding a different feel and spin to the show. ROH's sound and lighting guy Urial did a tremendous job on the show. Another new wrinkle was a black curtain hiding the back wall facing the hard camera, which keeps the background from being a brick wall with two doors. The promotion took a major step forward to the next level last night in terms of production. They recently added scaffolding, new guard rails, and several new $4000 cameras, and are intending on continuing that upgrade over the next few months....For those wondering, Dragon, Whitmer, and Punk are all OK....The promotion is adding a "showcase card" before their 5/31 return to Philadelphia to give some of the lower roster more ring time and also to give tryouts to potential regulars....They debut in Elizabeth, New Jersey at the Rexplex on 7/19....The promotion returns to the Pittsburgh area on 4/26.
EPIC ENCOUNTER ON VIDEO THOUGHTS
by Mike Johnson
There are very few times I will say you have to own a video. You absolutely have to own ROH's newest release, The Epic Encounter. Not only does it feature what will go down as one of the best matches in the history of the promotion, but it will be forever known as the night the promotion turned the corner and became something more than "just another" indy, all due to the three true stars of the show- the performers, the audience, and the production.
The video captures the amazing live feel of the show as the promotion upped it's production by giving the show a rave feel with a unique way of using their music mixed by a professional DJ and slowing it down. They used traditional ring lighting with their own unique zing, raising and lowering the lights for entrances, giving it a different feel and adding to the uniqueness of the performers. Special K, a rave heel group that seemed destined for failure after the bomb that was the NYC scramble, came off looking like they had an entrance as original and flashy as DX's WWE entrance.
Despite all the bells and whistles, the in-ring wrestling flowed better than ever before on a ROH show. Rather than just coming off as a series of Japanese style matches and spotfests, the tape feels like watching a building event. While the "Bunkhouse" match ended the night flatly live, on tape with an all night build of fights outside and backstage with the different factions, it builds to a nice crescendo. The show is highlighted by an amazing Paul London vs. Bryan Danielson bout. London is the promotion's Public Enemy, their first homegrown talent to become a star within the confines of the promotion. Danielson shined here as well as the tough, take no nonsense great wrestler and striker. Just an amazing 42 minute ride.
The crowd helped make the show better than it even was live on tape. With the London-Danielson match, bickering chants from different factions became part of the story, creating a must attend feel. When a crowd is that hot and that alive, you aren't watching a show. You are watching an event. If ROH can take that momentum and build something, they are onto something special. Time will tell.
ROH's video is not without it's problems. It starts off with the worst promo in the history of the promotion as Alexis Laree comes off as a horrible actress reading her scripted lines. As hot as she is and as charismatic as she comes off in front of a live audience, she took a step back here. Worse though is what follows, as Paul London talks to a mop handle and mocks AJ Styles in a silly heel like fashion. London, who has built a cult following at being the humble babyface who strives to succeed and gets over falling short, does a complete 180 and acts completely out of character here to set up his quest to beat would-be partner AJ Styles and win the ROH Tag Titles. I hope that's the last we see of that direction. There are a few edits where you are left looking at a blank screen during the video as well, which is fine considering the size of the company, but for it to happen right after the emotional London-Danielson match is a letdown and breaks the feel of the show. That said, ROH got the video out in record time, so huge kudos to their editor, Doug Gentry on that.
But the promotion rises from the first promo and provides a great series of matches and ends with a plain out awesome promo featuring Da Hit Squad face to face as Mafia rants about not wanting to be left in the midcard anymore by playing by the rules (or in this case, the Code of Honor) while Monsta Mack, obviously emotional at being left behind (which looked and probably was a real feeling), declares he will be reborn as "Brooklyn Bull" Steve Mack. With Christopher Daniels as the anchor of the segment, one is left wanting to see if a decent tag team can evolve into two singles players.
This is the best video to date the from the promotion. Whether they can ride the wave and catch it or fall underneath it will be a story that will play out over the next few months. Until then, you can live and enjoy the moment for yourself by ordering the video at ROHWrestling.com.
ROH Epic Encounter can be ordered at ROHWrestling.com.