Friday, 21 August 2009

ROH Steel City Clash - DVD Review

We're taking another trip to Ring of Honor territory with my latest review, with a look back at their March 20th show in in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania and Steel City Clash, headlined by a tag team encounter pitting KENTA and El Generico against Nigel McGuinness and Davey Richards.

The show opens with Sterling James Keenan taking on the masked man Delirious, accompanied by Daizee Haze. Keenan has completely changed his appearance since the last time I saw him, which was actually quite a while ago on 1PW's debut show. It's the usual quick ROH show opener. It's not bad, but it's not exactly the best ROH match I've ever seen. There's some nice exchanges, but nothing to really set the pulse racing. The masked man came out on top here, getting the pin after finishing Keenan off with a top rope splash.

Tag team action followed, with Kenny King & Rhett Titus facing Erick Stevens & Matt Cross. Before the match began Austin Aries came down to the ring, to apparently apologise to his former prot�g�s Stevens and Cross. The apology wasn't exactly heartfelt, as he quickly joined King and Titus in beating them down, before he was chased off by Roderick Strong. It's another good, strong outing from King and Titus, once again showing just how good a team they are. Cross and Stevens provide some worthy opposition for them, with Cross pulling off some extraordinary moves. But the flashy moves weren't enough to earn them the win, with Titus and King getting the win after taking Cross down with their blockbuster power bomb move thing. Hey, Dave Prazak doesn't even have a name for that move yet. Anyway, nice match.

Then it's onto to Bryan Danielson, going up against Mike Quackenbush. An outstanding encounter here between two technical masters. No heel or baby face battle lines here, just great wrestling with Danielson and Quackenbush matching each other move for move and hold for hold, with either man looking like they could get the win at any time. And you know what was remarkable about this match? There was absolutely no punches, and that's something you just don't see these days. The winner - Danielson with a small package, and ending it with a simple move made sense after the great technical action.

Then it's on two three way action, with Claudio Castagnoli, Brent Albright and Jerry Lynn. Unlike the three way on my previous ROH review, this one is contested under the rules we wrestling fans are more accustomed to. A really enjoyable match with all three men putting in some good performances, and a good storyline which saw Albright more intent on punishing his rival Castagnoli than Lynn. I'm really beginning to like Double C's heel work in ROH, but then again I may be a little biased because he's a fellow European. Plenty of near falls towards the end, and at one point it looked like Albright was going to get the submission win when he locked in his crowbar on Lynn's left arm. It was to no avail though as Castagnoli got back into the ring and dispatched Albright, before finishing off what his rival had started by applying his own version of the crowbar, with Lynn tapping out seconds later. Very good match this.

It was back to tag team action next, a falls count anywhere anything goes brawl with The Age of the Fall team of Jimmy Jacobs and Brodie Lee facing Tyler Black and Necro Butcher. As you can imagine with this sort of match, there's not much actual wrestling, just tons of brawling which takes in most of the arena. There's also quite a bit of chair use, mostly from the Butcher. Performance wise, it's the usual sort of thing from the Butcher, which means that it's not exactly that riveting. Brodie is still your typical big man who doesn't seem able to do much, while Jacobs and Black are clearly the best thing in this match. The bad guys came out on top here. Black was about to take Jacobs down with a top rope move when Lee clobbered him with a chair. Jacobs then applied his guillotine, and with Black unconscious, the referee stopped the match. You know, if they took out the Butcher and Lee, this wouldn't have been that bad.

Thankfully, normal service is resumed with the next match, with Austin Aries and Roderick Strong making their second appearance of the evening. Another great match, almost as good as the Danielson/Quackenbush encounter, between two former tag team partners who know each other so well. The great storyline here was Aries doing everything he could to avoid Strong's powerful chop. Aries couldn't avoid the chop for long though, as Strong soon began to unload with several, turning Aries' chest a deep shade of red. That little storyline aside, this match featured some top notch action, with Strong looking like he was going to get the win with a Boston crab. But then Kenny King and Rhett Titus came down to the ring, and although Strong was able to send them packing, he soon fell to Aries brain buster, with A double getting the pin straight away.

Main event time, with one half of the ROH Tag Team Champions, El Generico, teaming with Japanese star KENTA against ROH World Champion Nigel McGuinness and one half of the American Wolves, Davey Richards, accompanied by Sara Del Ray and Shane Hagadorn. They saved the best for last on this show. Four great performances in a match designed to advertise their show in New York the following day. The exchanges between Richards and KENTA were brutal, with neither man holding anything back. Richards continues to impress the hell out of me, but in the end the best thing here were the exchanges between McGuinness and KENTA. It was great to see two masters of their art in action, and it was these two who ended the match. As McGuinness went for a second London Dungeon submission, KENTA countered with the go to sleep, getting the pin ahead of their title match the following day. Outstanding, just outstanding.

As well as the usual ROH Video Wire, there's two bonus matches in the extras section, Shiima Xion versus Brandon Morino, and Alex Payne & Grizzly Redwood versus Tony Kozina and Brandon Day.

In conclusion - well, I know I'm going to sound like a stuck record here, but this is another good outing from the Ring of Honor crew, well, if you take out Necro Butcher's match again. The highlight for me was definitely the main event tag team match, which definitely made me eager to see the following day's matches at the Hammerstein Ballroom. But I guess that's another DVD review for another time.

With thanks to the powers that be at Ring of Honor for supplying a copy of this release.

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