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By Mike Johnson on 2008-07-30 13:43:44
Ring of Honor Respect is Earned II PPV Report

Respect is Earned, taped in Philadelphia, opened with the crowd chanting for Ring of Honor.  Lenny Leonard and Dave Prazak welcomed viewers to the show.  They then went into a video feature showing highlights of the first six ROH PPVs.

In a "breaking news segment" Dave Prazak voiced over clips of the Briscoes winning the ROH Tag Team championships, then noted Mark had been injured by The Age of the Fall, who later won the belts in a tournament to fill a vacancy.  He noted the Age of the Fall would defend against Bryan Danielson and Austin Aries tonight.

The Vulture Squad vs. Kevin Steen & El Generico.

They started at the bell with Generico and Jigsaw going at it.  The match was designed as a showcase for Generico and Steen's status as the uncrowned tag team champions after nearly winning the belts "the night before."   Lots of back and forth double-teaming and fast paced innovative moves here.

Late in the bout, Ruckus hit a sweet dive to the floor on Steen.  Jigsaw nailed a powerbomb on Generico.  Jigsaw and Steen went back and forth.  Jigsaw attempted a backslide but Steen reversed it and snapped him with a backbreaker.  Ruckus dove at Steen, but was caught and slammed atop of Jigsaw.  Generico hit a tope on Ruckus.  Steen superkicked Jigsaw, then nailed a swanton.  Generico nailed a top rope frog splash for the pin.

Your winners, Kevin Steen and El Generico!

Fun stuff here.  The crowd chanted "Ole, Ole" for Generico after the win.    You couldn't ask for a better opening match.

A quick video feature on the Briscoes aired.  That placement makes sense after a match where the announcers touted the importance of the tag team scene and how no other company could touch ROH's tag roster.

Davey Richards vs. Claudio Castagnoli

As Richards made his way to the ring, ROH featured what was called a "new feature" on the PPVs, Broken, Torn & Snapped.  It's just a quick clip of a submission hold to get over what the finishers are, but sometimes a quick, simple idea is all that's needed to educate the audience.

Since the winner could be Nigel McGuinness' next ROH title challenger, McGuinness joined Prazak and Leonard in the announcer's booth.  This was another good back and forth back where the focus was on who could get their finisher first.  Richards' Kimura armbar was put over as a monster finisher early as every time he went for it, Castagnoli fought to get to the ropes and escape. 

Castagnoli began making a comeback and McGuinness knocked Claudio for always using European uppercuts.  The announcers pointed out that Nigel always relies on lariats, which he got mad at.  Was that a nod to Bret Hart always ripping Ric Flair for having the same match, when Hart...always had the same match?  Claudio and Richards battled on the top.  Claudio nailed a wheelbarrow suplex but Richards rolled through and nabbed the Kimura, forcing Claudio to use the ropes.

Richards used the divorce court to set up the Kimura again.  Claudio fought his way out and attempted the giant swing , but Castagnoli stood right up and applied the giant swing.  He grabbed his arm after dropping Richards.   Richards charged but Castagnoli caught him and elevated him into a European uppercut for the pin.

Your winner, Claudio Castagnoli!

After Castagnoli's win, the announcers were pushing that he was 3-0 in singles bouts on PPV.  Again, something simple but it works in a "Just the facts" sort of way.  Why does Castagnoli deserve a title shot?  He's been on a winning streak.  In the current presentation of professional wrestling, all too often, wins and losses are meaningless.  ROH is the last real throwback to the importance of actually, you know, WINNING, on PPV.

Sweet N' Sour Inc. were backstage.  Larry Sweeney promised that Brent Albright would learn he made a mistake crossing then.  Adam Pearce teased revealing what he had in his briefcase but Sweeney told him to save it for later.  Sweeney began putting over everyone in the stable, but once he got to Bobby Dempsey, he said Dempsey was like all the other fat bums and made him sick.  That was pretty funny.  Hero promised to knock out Albright tonight.  Their music hit, so they headed to ringside.  Sweeney may be the best talker in the company, period. 

As Hero and his cohorts made their way to the ring, Albright cut a promo in the back saying he had been betrayed by someone he considered his brother.  He said he had let Pearce into his house and who had held his kids.  He said they had formed the Hangmen 3 only to see Pearce sell it to Sweeney.  Albright said he hated Larry Sweeney and ripped him apart, calling him a son of a b**ch.  He said everyone found out in New York City, he does things his way.  They aired clips of Albright's babyface turn from The Hammerstein Ballroom. He ended up giving Shane Hagadorn an insane looking Awesomebomb out of the ring to the floor.  After seeing how the Ballroom looks on TV, ROH HAS to tape PPV there, permanently.

Albright said he had recruited help tonight and introduced Delirious and Pelle Primeau.  OK, I don't see Pelle striking fear into the hearts of anyone, not even Bobby Dempsey, but it's nice to see the ROH students in the mix.  Albright said he kept knocking down Pelle when they fought, but he kept getting back up.  Delirious started with his gibberish.  Albright then announced Daizee Haze would be in their corner to offset Sara del Rey, since as a "big old country boy, I was raised not to hit women."

Brent Albright & Delirious & Pelle Primeau vs. Chris Hero & Adam Pearce & Eddie Edwards

The match was designed around building Albright as the focal point, since it was all about giving him the hot tag late in the bout.  For some reason, the sight of Sweet N' Sour in a football huddle before the match really cracked me up.

The heels tagged in and out a lot early, working over Primeau, who was in the Colin Delaney role as the young kid getting killed, except in this case, it's actually working.    When Primeau finally made a comeback and caught Pearce with a small package, the referee was caught up with the babyfaces complaining about the heels.  Shades of Jim Powers, who almost always cost Paul Roma all those Young Stallions matches. 

Primeau finally made the tag to Delirious, who cleaned house on everyone.  Del rey tripped Delirious, giving Pearce the chance to his an Olympic Slam.  Albright finally got the hot tag, but the referee didn't see it.  Whoever laid this match out was watching some old Mid-Atlantic tag bouts, since it was laid out almost the exact same way.  Albright finally got the tag and the place went nuts, so the point of the bout got over.  del Rey interfered but Haze attacked her.

It finally broke down into all six battling.  Primeau hit a dive to the outside into head scissors.  Edwards and Albright went back and forth.  Edwards avoided the full nelson slam and hit a superkick.  Albright came back with the Air Raid Crash, butterfly-locked his arms and began kneeing him in the face.  Edwards didn't respond to the referee, who called it.

Immediately, Pearce nailed Albright with his briefcase.  Sweeney and the rest of the stable stood over the fallen Albright.  He said that everyone wants to know what's in the briefcase.  He said there's one belt that is all about prestige and honor and it's not the ROH belt.  They revealed the NWA championship belt inside.  You could hear the crowd groan. 

I'm not sure we really got an indication of how well the NWA title angle worked here, but you can't argue with how the six man tag was laid out.  In terms of building up Albright as a player here, it worked.

They aired video highlights of the Erick Stevens vs. Roderick Strong feud.

Fight Without Honor  - Erick Stevens vs. Roderick Strong

The announcers claimed they had already started the battle and we went right to both brawling around ringside.  Nice way to save time for the PPV by eliminating entrances.  They stiffly exchanged forearms and punches around ringside.  Strong pulled a ladder out from under the ring and bridged it between the ring and the barricade like Sabu used to do with tables.  Man, that seems like 60 years ago.  Stevens reversed a whip, sending Strong into the ladder.  He flung chairs into the ring.  Stevens nailed Strong with a chair, then wedged one between two turnbuckles.  He whipped Strong into the chair.

Strong made a comeback and nailed Stevens with several chairshots, focusing on his leg and back.  Strong put a chair in Stevens' face and kicked it.  Damn!  He set up a ladder over one of the turnbuckles.  He tried to whip Stevens into it but Strong's whip was reversed and he ate ladder himself.  That busted Strong open.  Stevens began biting at the cut, complete with close-ups of the scene.  Someone's been reading old issues of Ring Wrestling.  All we needed was the bug-eyed shots we used to see of the Sheik and Freddie Blassie.  Strong was a bloody mess.

They went back and forth with the brawl.  Stevens ended up busted open as well after being rammed into the barricade.  When was the last time we saw a double juice brawl?  Strong tossed Stevens back into the ring and began flinging chairs.  One landed right on Steven's face.  Sheesh.  Stevens made a comeback and suplexed Strong atop a pile of the chairs collected in the ring, then hit his pump-handle slam. 

Stevens set up a ladder on the outside.  Strong cut him off and tried to slam Stevens onto the bridged ladder.  Stevens reversed it and hit a TKO off the apron onto the ladder.  That was pretty original.  The fans loved it.  A table was tossed into the ring by Stevens.  They returned to the ring and started chopping the hell out of each other.

Stevens lariated Strong down.  Strong responded with a chairshot, then set up a table.  Strong set up the ladder inside the ring.  Stevens and Strong battled up the ladder.  The fans chanted, "Please don't die."  Paul London just filed a lawsuit for copyright infringement.  Strong began slamming Stevens head into the ladder and superplexed him off the ladder through the table. 

They teased that both were out cold but Strong finally covered Stevens for the pinfall.  Great match.  It was the type of violent bout that we don't get often anymore.  The weapons were used as weapons, not as paint by spot props.  Easily the best thing on the show at this point.  The crowd chanted and applauded both men.  They aired lots of replays of the big spots.

ROH plugged their website, using footage of past names that have come through their doors.  Was Ricky Morton's appearance really going to sell any DVDs though?

ROH champ Nigel McGuinness vs. Go Shiozaki.

The announcers noted that Shiozaki received the title shot via ROH's relationship with NOAH, putting over Takeshi Morishima's past here.  They noted that Shiozaki's moonsault as the finisher to watch for.  One thing McGuinness doesn't get enough credit for is the way he carries himself as champion.  You get the impression watching him as he comes out that he's the real deal.

They do some nice back and forth wrestling to open the bout, with McGuinness ending up on the outside.  Shiozaki teased a dive off the top rope but Nigel walked off.  Shiozaki raced to the floor and attacked him at ringside.  The storyline was that Shiozaki wanted the win to make himself a bigger star in his native Japan.  He dropped Nigel throat-first across the barricade.   Shiozaki attempted a dive to the floor but was nailed with a Tower of London on the floor.  Nigel worked over Shiozaki

Shiozaki started to make a comeback but McGuinness started working him over with submissions, focusing on the shoulder, starting to build towards the London Dungeon.  Shiozaki made his way to the his feet and they exchanged chops but Nigel cut off the momentum.  Nigel nailed a superplex, but Shiozaki got back up.  Nigel superkicked him but Go kept fighting him off.  Shiozaki went to the top for the moonsault for a two count. 

Nigel went back to work on the shoulder and attempted the London Dungeon.  Shiozaki escaped the attempt for a two count.  Shiozaki nailed a kick but McGuinness rebounded off the ropes with the jawbreaker lariat, then locked on the Dungeon for the submission win.

A good match.  I never felt like Shiozaki was going to win the belt, but in terms of giving Nigel a win on PPV and building Shiozaki as someone who wouldn't go down without fighting all the way, it worked.  I liked that unlike the earlier matches, they started slow, which was needed as a change of pace, especially after the Fight Without Honor that preceded it.  Solid stuff.

Bryan Danielson appeared in the entranceway and challenged McGuinness to give him his ROH title shot and to do it on PPV.  They aired several replays of the title finish.

ROH aired a video feature on the Austin Aries-Lacey-Jimmy Jacobs triangle.

ROH Tag Team champions Jimmy Jacobs & Tyler Black vs. Austin Aries & Bryan Danielson

Everyone started brawling at the bell.  Jacobs and Aries began brawling with chairs.  The referee threw the match out and they teased a double DQ.  Danielson tried telling Aries he needed to calm down because the only way they could hurt Jacobs was to take the title belts.  Black tried to calm Jacobs as well.  They announced that the match would be restarted, recognizing the importance of the title belts.  The announcers had put over that the tag belts were as important as the ROH title, unlike other companies that treat the tag team belts as secondary championships.

Once they re-started, it was a textbook example of how good professional wrestling in 2008 can be.  I was originally going to do a play-by-play, but honestly, nothing I write is going to do the match justice.  It's that good.
  Late in the bout, Danielson attempted his cattle mutilation but Black for to the ropes.  Black got caught in another armbar submission but Black began nailing kicks to the face and head.  He nailed a small package driver for a near fall that the entire building thought was the ending.

Black then went up top and hit an incredible looking Phoenix splash for the pin.  Aries and Jacobs fought to the back. Nigel McGuinness comes out and tells Danielson that he's pathetic.  Nigel says that if Danielson wants a shot at the best wrestler in the world, he has to be kidding, since he just lost to Tyler Black.  He says that until Danielson had beaten every "single person" Nigel has beaten, he'll never get a title shot on PPV and there's nothing anyone can do about it.

The crowd chanted for Tyler Black as the PPV went off the air.

All in all, yet another strong showing from what's turning into the best kept secret on PPV, Ring of Honor.  The ROH Tag Team bout between champs Age of the Fall and challengers Bryan Danielson & Austin Aries is worth the $10 price tag alone.  The Fight Without Honor between Strong and Stevens is a fitting end to their feud with the blow-off grudge match we rarely see in the realm of sports entertainment.  From top to bottom, if you want athletics in your wrestling, you want ROH, who start their second year of PPVs the same as their first - with a wrestling PPV focused on great wrestling.  It's nice to see the production rebound from some of the issues with the last broadcast as well.

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