As I sit here on Saturday morning, my 38th birthday incidentally, the morning after Ring of Honor's Best in the World pay-per-view I can't help but think that last night I witnessed, from top to bottom, most likely the greatest wrestling show I have ever been too. It's not a adjective that I take lightly labeling this show as,and I'm not sure I will be able to put into words just how fantastic this show was, but I'm going to give it a go:
Friday June 23rd in the early afternoon, after only 3.5 hours sleep because I worked my night shift, I headed out to Mikey's in Auburn to pick up the guys so we could travel south to Lowell, Massachusetts for my second ever Ring of Honor show, which also happens to be my second Ring of Honor pay-per-view. Both held in Lowell at the Memorial Auditorium and we had the same exact front row seats on the aisle. You can read about my first show here.
Because Roy was running late, I stopped for a bite to eat at the famous Simone's Hot Dog Stand in Lewiston as it is right on the way to Mikey's and I don't get over that way often. I had a could red snapper steamers which came with an onion ring and french fry combo side. It was excellent!
I arrived at Mikey's just seconds before Roy and Greenleaf, so we piled in Vanna for the two hour drive to to Lowell Memorial Auditorium. Roy had made these wrestling trivia games that we played on the way down and back. He a really puts a lot of work and creativity into and they are a lot of fun. For instance, name all the wrestlers that have held both the NWA/WCW/WWE United States and the WWE Intercontinental Championships.
We parked behind the auditorium, like last time, but got there before the attendants were there to collect the parking fee so we got free parking! We walked over to the Pizza Shop Stop for dinner. Roy and I split an Ultimate Pepperoni Pizza and it was solid. After eating we headed back to the venue where we stood in line for over an hour before doors opened. We were less a dozen people from the front of the line.
Much like last year they had pre-show meet and greets with a select list of talent: Jay Lethal, Kushida, The Young Bucks, El Terrible & Ultimo Guerrero and Bully Ray. I got my picture taken with and got a signed trading card from Kushida.
I regret now not getting one with Terrible and Guerrero, but that is only regret of the day. Greenleaf got one with Jay Lethal, who joined in with the rest of his shitting on him for not buying a meet and greet ticket from the guy when the rest of us did instead walking right by him.
We loitered around the lobby and hallway checking out the merchandise stand and grabbing a drink at the concession stand. Mikey won two tickets to the TV taping on Saturday June 24th also in the same venue. He and Roy already bought tickets so he sold them to someone at a deep discount.
They all were waiting for Bully Ray who was coming out later for his meet and greet so I headed to my seat. When the unadvertised internet exclusive match started I was the only one in my seat, but the others trickled in before the action go under way.
Internet Exclusive Dark Match: Flip Gordon and Coast to Coast: LSG & Shaheem Ali defeated Cheeseburger and the Tempura Boyz: Sho Tanaka & Yohei Komatsu
Flip was over huge as he's a local boy. This was a really good match, with all guys working hard to show the fans what they can do. The finish came when Will Ferrara ran down distracting Cheeseburger leading to Flip Gordon getting the pin for his team.
Post match Cheeseburger challenged Ferrara right then and there and he seemed to accept as he entered the ring and the ref called for the bell. Ferrara then made a hasty retreat through the crowd. Technically Cheeseburger should have won by count out as the bell had rang, however this was never addressed and everyone returned to the back.
Dark Match: Kris Wolf & Sumie Sakai defeated Mandy Leon & Donna Purazzo
This Women of Honor match was heavily advertised as the debut of World of Stardom High Speed Champion Kris Wolf who teamed with fellow Stardom joshi and veteran Sumie Sakai. It was a high spirited match that ended when Wolf pinned Purazzo while Sakai and Leon were tied up in some sort of hold that I couldn't tell who was applying it to who from my angle.
El' Terrible & Ultimo Guerrero defeated The Kingdom: Matt Taven & Vinny Marseglia with TK O'Ryan
This match was contest under Lucha Libre rules which made it all the better. I'm not sure people expected very much or even knew what to expect from El Terrible or Ultimo Guerrero but they blew everyone away taking it to The Kingdom.
Action was in and out of the ring and Terrible slapped the shit out of Marseglia in corner at one point, it was a vicious beat down! Phenomenal! Taven has spent some time in Mexico withe CMLL as of late so when he was in the ring it looked a lot like a traditional Lucha match. Both teams really put it all out there kicking off the pay per view portion of the card in great fashion!
Ultimo Guerrero pinned Marseglia for the win. El' Terrible has a bad ass t-shirt that I hope to find online.
Incidentally The Kingdom had a pretty solid entrance with Taven in a thrown wearing a antler themed crown, Marseglia doing the Sabu/Hannibal Lecture gimmick, and TK with an elaborate headdress.
Strap Match: Frankie Kazarian defeated Hangman Page
This was not the traditional strap match that I was expecting with both men connected to each other via a 10 or 12 foot strap that is attached to their wrists. Instead they both had a three foot strap around their wrist. It was still a great match!
The action spilled down in front of us with Kazarian laying in a wicked lashing on Page right next to me! The welts on Page's back were immediate. Page got his licks in later as well after he ripped off Kaz's strap and threw it into the crowd.
Page retrieved a strap that was spiked with nails that he had apparently hid under the ring earlier. after teasing it both men eventually used it on each other. I was pretty shocked as this was literally just nails driven threw a length of leather. The results were both men's backs were tore up.
Losing Team Must Disband: Search & Destroy: Motor City Machine Guns: Alex Shelly & Chris Sabin, Jay White and Jonathan Gresham defeated The Rebellion: Caprice Coleman, Kenny King, Rhett Titus & Shane Taylor
This match started with all eight men colliding at the end of the entrance way right in front of us! Shane Taylor and Jay White threw each other into the barricade in front of us pushing it way, way back it was awesome!
Once they got back in the ring Gresham played the Ricky Morton role for a very, very long time before finally making the hot tag to Jay White. They match then broke down again and it eventually lead to all the baby faces having all the heels in submission holds. However Gresham and Titus were legal men so it was Gresham's Octopus Stretch that won the match for Search and Destroy forcing the Rebellion to disband.
I wonder if this all means the end of the All Night Express: Rhett Titus & Kenny King who have been teaming together since 2009.
Post match Punishment Martinez ran in laying everyone out focusing primarily on Jay White.
Jay Lethal pinned "Pro Wrestling's Last Real Man" Silas Young
The Beer City Bruiser had accompanied Silas Young to the ring however pre-match Lethal came through the crowed attacking Beer City with a chair essentially eliminating him from ringside. Lethal really layed in those chair shots too!
This was a very good match with action in and out of the ring including a near double count-out. Lethals in ring work is better than it's ever been showing us why he was champion for over a year. Young busted out some ariel offense that I didn't expect from him. In the end it was a pin similar to how Bulldog beat Bret for the title that gave Lethal the win.
Post match Bruiser returned to the ring to aid in a beat down on Lethal. They then took the half keg and wedged it between the top and middle turnbuckles. Young then stood on the outside of the ring behind the ring post holding Lethal by the arms as Bruiser repeatedly splashed Lethal in the back driving his chest and ribs into the keg.
It reminded me when I was a kid and Muraco and Bundy did the same things to Hogan setting up the WrestleMania 2 main event.
Dalton Castle and The Boys defeated World Six-Man Tag Team Champions: Bully Ray and The Brisco Brothers: Mark & Jay to win the championships
Dalton Castle's entrance is just amazing! It's just a fantastic visual when the opens up his cape and it is enhanced by the fans throwing streamers at just the right time!
This match was set up when Castle was teaming with Bully and the Brisco's and the Boys pushed Castle out of the way so Bushi ended up spitting mist in Jay's face causing him to be pinned. He out to kill The Boys.
The match was great, Bully busted out some comedy that I wasn't expecting. Dalton had his usual hilarious theatrics. Once Jay got his hands on the Boys he beat the absolute tar out of them! I mean he lit them up with chops and you could see the bruises on their chests.
Ultimately it was Jay's anger towards the Boys that cost them the match and the titles. While he was out chasing them, Bully Ray was trying to talk him down, Dalton rolled up Mark in a small package for the three count crowning new Six Man Tag Team Champions.
The crowd popped big time on this finish with a you deserve it chant breaking out. It was pretty awesome.
ROH World Television & IWGP World Junior Heavyweight Champion: Kushida pinned "The Villain" Marty Scurll
This was a great match! It was different than others as even though they did go to the floor a bit, it primarily stayed in the ring and was very mat and reversal based British style wrestling. Marty kept going for his finger break spot and Kushida kept blocking it. Kushida then used Marty's finger break on him and it was a grotesquely loud popping noise!
Kushida got the pin and retained his title with his small package driver.
ROH World and IWGP World Junior Heavyweight Tag Team Champions: The Young Bucks: Matt & Nick Jackson defeated War Machine: Warbeard Hanson & Raymond Rowe and Best Friends: Trent Beretta and Chuck Taylor
This was supposed to be a traditional tag team match, however Best Friends: Trent and Chuck interjected themselves making it a Tornado Three team tag team match. This was all over the place and absolutely crazy! I think the crowd was the most into this match than any other all night. I'd have to say this was the best match of the night.
Every time anyone hit a Superkick it was met with a loud cry of "superkick" from the audience that would make Steve Corino proud! The Young Bucks are so friggin good! I know not everyone thinks they are, but man can they go.
As much as the crowd was solidly behind the Bucks, everyone was very excited about Chuck Taylor being in the match and it would have been cool to see Best Friends walk away with the tag titles.
Matt pinned Chuck after for the win after they somehow get War Machine to hold Best Friends in tombstone position for a double Indytaker and then superkicks to War Machine to take them out. It's hard to describe, but the set up made sense as to why War Machine where holding them that way.
"American Nightmare" Cody Rhodes pinned World Heavyweight Champion: "The Almighty" Christopher Daniels to win the championship
Another great match to close out a night of pretty damn fantastic wrestling. Cody had his lip busted open early on in the match up but it didn't slow him down. At one point Marty ran down to help out Cody after referee Todd Sinclair was knocked down, but Frankie Kazarian came out to make the save battling Marty to the back.
Rhodes dodged the Best Moonsault Ever and survived Angels Wings hitting two Cross Rhodes to get the pin and capture the Championship.
I feel very honored, no pun intended, to have been present to see Cody Rhodes win his first World Heavyweight Championship. His emotional reaction when he won, which I was able to capture on camera, was what I hoped it would be. He truly appreciates it and it means something to him to be World Champion.
Post match Marty and The Young Bucks came out and celebrated with Cody who cut a post match promo as the pay per view went off the air.
Top to bottom his card as a whole was better than All Star Extravaganza from last September, however none of the matches tonight came close to knocking Ladder Wars off the top of my best match I've seen live list. My only complaint was this ringside photographer that during the entire main event match stood in front of me at the ring blocking every time I tried to take a picture of the action.
Before leaving the arena floor I managed to grab a photo with Ring of Honor's Cary Silkin. The man is so nice, watching the majority of the show from ringside and socializing with the fans thanking them for coming out.
After the show we went to Jimmy Johns to grab Kate a sandwich. Thank goodness they are open until 2am! Temperatures reached 90 degrees and that sandwich would not have survived being in the van if I had to get it before the show.
We headed back north playing more wrestling trivia which really helped pass the time. Roy spends a lot of time working on these games and I appreciate it. I dropped the trio off at Mikey's in Auburn and completed the last leg of the trip solo. Luckily I had Something to Wrestle with.......Bruce Prichard to help me stay awake until I rolled in the yard at 3:30 am. A long but extremely awesome day!
It's so much fun going to these shows because the match quality is so high and Ring of Honor brings in talent from New Japan Pro Wrestling and CMLL, guys I doubt I would be able to see live otherwise, to compliment their roster. If Ring of Honor returns to Lowell for another pay per view, rest assured we will go again and with any luck get the same seats we have enjoyed for the last two shows.
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