Retro Wrestle Respawn – ROH Gut Check 2006

I thought that seeing as I’ve never covered any Ring of Honour here on the website I’d break my duck with this show, mainly because it’s been on my “to watch” pile for aeons and I was interested to see the main event.

For those of you not acquainted with ROH, they are a company started 2002 by Gabe Sapolsky and Rob Feinstein. In a lot of ways the early ROH product was like a Super Bowl of independent wrestling, bringing together all of the big names of the era such as Bryan “Daniel Bryan” Danielson, CM Punk and Samoa Joe, and presenting them all on the same card.

The name of the company came about because it instigated a “Code of Honour” as a way to differentiate it from other companies of the time. This essentially meant that wrestlers would shake hands before and after matches, as well as agreeing not to fight dirty. As the company grew over the years the Code of Honour became continuously less important, and it’s not really integral to the groups’ identity any more.

This event is emanating from Chicago Ridge in Illinois on the 26th of August 2006.

Calling the action are Dave Prazak and Jared David.

We start by seeing Colt Cabana outside the building with his girlfriend Lacey, whilst Jimmy Jacobs looks on. Gabe Sapolsky, from behind the camera, asks for a promo from Colt, who looks more interested in hanging with his girl. Lacey brings up the idea of Colt bringing the World Title to her stable tonight, but he laughs it off. A flustered Lacey takes her anger out on Jimmy, demanding that he takes BJ Whitmer out tonight. Jacobs says he loves Lacey and that he’ll kill for love.

Cut to Whitmer, who cuts a stilted promo saying he’ll put Jacobs behind him tonight before going after the ROH Title. Promo skills were not BJ’s strong suite back then.

Opening Match
Nigel McGuinness, Jimmy Rave and Sal Rinauro Vs Delirious and Irish Airborne (Jake and Dave Crist)

Nigel comes into this show following a brutal match with Danielson in England, which saw him get pulled head first into the ring post and bleed a gusher. Sal and Rave are part of the heel Embassy group and get showered with toilet paper when they enter the ring in place of streamers, much to Nigel’s amusement. Irish Airborne are now in TNA/Impact Wrestling as part of the OVE group I believe. Delirious (real name Hunter Johnson) is actually ROH’s current head booker, although he was just in ring talent back in 2006.

Jake and Rave start things off, with Rave fighting dirty to gain an advantage. Delirious gets the tag, which causes Rave to flee and tag in Sal, who doesn’t look happy about it. Sal doesn’t know what to do with Delirious, who sticks a saliva soaked finger in his face for our first gross out spot of the night. Rave slaps Sal to fire him up, but he still can’t get anywhere with Delirious. Delirious kicks Sal and then tags in Dave, who gets a dropkick.

Airborne work over Sal for a bit by making frequent tags, and then work Rave over in a similar manner. Nigel finally gets tagged in (Getting a nice pop from the crowd in the process) and does some nice chain wrestling with Dave to a good reaction. Rave decides to harsh the crowds buzz however by cheap shotting Dave and then tagging himself in, much to Nigel and the crowd’s chagrin.

The Embassy now gets the heat on Dave, as Nigel looks on unimpressed. Dave manages to get away and make the tag to Delirious, who runs wild on everyone and hits Rave with a Michinoku Driver for two. Sal gives Delirious a cheap shot, which allows Rave to hit a running knee for his own count of two. Delirious goes for the Cobra Clutch on Rave but Sal delivers a super kick to stop that and Rave follows up with a spear for a near fall.

Airborne now come in with an Asai Moonsault on Rave before destroying Sal with a powerbomb/back cracker combo move, which gets a great reaction from the crowd. Jake gets a neck breaker on Rave but Nigel breaks it up at two and then drags Rave into the corner so he can make a legal tag. Delirious counters a Nigel lariat attempt with a drop toe hold and the piles The Embassy on top of him. This allows Jake and Dave to dive onto the pile with a splash and double stomp respectively, in a neat spot.

Airborne dive onto The Embassy outside, leaving Nigel and Delirious inside the ring. Nigel sets up Delirious on the ropes and goes up for a lariat, but the Airborne puts a stop to that. Nigel ends up hitting both of the Airborne with lariats and then pins Jake for the win.

WINNERS: NIGEL MCGUINNESS AND THE EMBASSY
RATING: ***

That was a fun opener. They balanced the baby face Nigel and heel Embassy interactions well and the Airborne got to hit some hot moves to get themselves over before getting pinned.

Match Two
Jimmy Jacobs w/ Lacey Vs BJ Whitmer

Where to start with this one? Jacobs and Whitmer were a mismatched baby face team that won the tag team titles together, but Jacobs ended up dumping Whitmer to join Lacey’s stable “Lacey’s Angels”. Jacobs was infatuated with Lacey, whilst she wasn’t romantically interested in him whatsoever, hence why she shacked up with Colt Cabana instead.

Lacey subsequently put a hit on Whitmer, something the lovesick Jacobs was happy to comply with, and the two have been beating the crap out of each other for most of 2006 as consequence. In a previous match on the “In Your Face” show, Whitmer even powerbombed Jacobs off the top rope into the crowd, in one of the craziest spots I’ve ever seen. To go along with his lovelorn gimmick, Jacobs has a soppy love song dedicated to Lacey as his entrance music, much to her annoyance.

Jacobs jumps Whitmer to start, but BJ fights back and throws Jimmy outside, before following with a dive. The two brawl outside, with Whitmer delivering some nasty chops to his smaller foe, but Jacobs throws him into the ringside barricades a couple of times to cut him off. Jacobs works over Whitmer back inside, as the commentary team mention that Jacobs actually walked in on Lacey and Cabana getting it on in the shower during one of the previous shows. It should be noted that Cabana is still a face in this story, but one who has no qualms getting his end away into a heel.

Jacobs gets a diving head butt for two and continues to hammer away on Whitmer, who comes back with a spine buster for a two of his own. Whitmer goes outside and sets up a table, but Jacobs cuts him off before he can use it. Whitmer over powers Jacobs and then tries to powerbomb him through the table, but Jimmy is able to wriggle out, so BJ splatters him with a buckle bomb instead. BJ tries powerbombing Jacobs into the crowd from the top rope again, but Jimmy fights him off and then rana’s BJ off the top rope to the table outside in a horrifying spot!

Whitmer hit the ropes on his way down to the table and the landing was pretty ugly as a result. The ref, believing this to be over, starts a ten count on Whitmer as other referees and crew try to help him to the back. Whitmer is having none of it though and shoves them off before getting back into the ring. Jacobs gets a senton off the top rope for two, at which point Whitmer starts firing up. Jacobs is able to roll Whitmer up during his comeback and then grabs the tights to get the three count.

WINNER: JIMMY JACOBS
RATING: **1/2

I’ve seen much better matches between the two. This one felt quite flat by comparison.

Jacobs assaults Whitmer with a chair post-match to please Lacey, and then stomps the chair whilst it’s over BJ’s ankle to really put him out.

We cut to a Samoa Joe promo on Claudio Castagnoli. He says that tonight he’ll eliminate Claudio for betraying ROH in favour of CZW.

Back at ringside, ring crew and referees help carry an injured BJ Whitmer to the back.

Match Three
The Briscoe Brothers (Jay and Mark) Vs Homicide and Davey Richards

Before the match starts we get promo time with Jim Cornette. Cornette had recently started feuding with Homicide on a previous show. Homicide had helped ROH out against the invading CZW and had requested three favours from ROH authority figure Jim Cornette in return. The first was a match with Steve Corino and the second was an ROH World Title match. Cornette was fine with those but the third one was for Cornette to bring back Low Ki, something Cornette wasn’t prepared to do, thus starting a blood feud. That tends to happen a lot with Homicide to be honest.

Anyway, the gist of Cornette’s promo is that he’s cool with anyone, be they wrestler, official or fan, who takes his side in the Homicide situation, or just stays out of it, but anyone taking Homicide’s side in it all will earn his wrath. He then turns to The Briscoe’s and says that he has no issue with Davey Richards but The Briscoe’s have authority to do whatever they want to Homicide without fear of repercussion. This was an interesting feud because Cornette wasn’t being the stereotypical “Heel Commissioner” but rather had an issue with a specific guy and was going to be fair to everyone else who didn’t want to get involved.

Homicide rushes the ring to start, deciding not to wait for his partner, and gets overwhelmed as a result. Richards runs down to even the score and we have a brawl on our hands! Once things settle down back inside, Davey and Homicide work over Jay for a while and mesh pretty well as a team. Mark gets a blind tag and gives Homicide a cross body and a knee drop for two. Northern Lights Suplex gets another two for Mark but Homicide is able to counter the follow up superplex attempt with an atomic drop and tags in Richards.

Davey gets a powerslam and then drops a leg from the second rope for a two count. Jay cheap shots Davey whilst on the apron and this allows Mark to get a spin kick to cut him off. The Briscoe’s work over Richards with some Demolition styled clobbering and then stay on top of him. Davey makes sporadic comebacks here and there but is always cut off again. Eventually The Briscoe’s go for a double back body drop but Davey fights them and makes the hot tag to Homicide.

Homicide runs wild and gets a piledriver on Jay, but it’s actually Mark who is legal and he attacks during the pin attempt. Homicide comes back with a T-Bone suplex on Mark but Jay is there to break up the pin. Jay sets Homicide up for a superplex but Homicide fights him off and then brings him down with a DDT, only to then get kicked down by Mark. Davey gets the tag and comes in with a German Suplex on Mark for two whilst Homicide dives outside onto Jay.

Davey gets a powerbomb and then transitions to the stretch muffler, but Mark is able to make the ropes to break. The Briscoe’s get a powerbomb/neck breaker combination move on Davey and then go for the Doomsday Device. Homicide stops that however, which allows Davey to get a Tombstone on Mark and Homicide follows with a splash for two. The fans totally bought that near fall. Jay comes in but ends up taking a cutter off the top from Homicide.

Mark cuts off a Homicide lariat attempt with an exploder suplex, but then walks into a kick from Davey. Davey suplexes Jay but gets clotheslined by Mark and everybody is down. Davey fights off one more Doomsday Device attempt but can’t avoid it on the third attempt and that’s enough for The Briscoe’s to pick up the win.

WINNERS: THE BRISCOE BROTHERS
RATING: ***1/2

That ending felt like they took it home at just the right time, which wasn’t always the case with Briscoe matches during this time period. This match had a lot of great moves and some tight near falls, as well as standard formula tag psychology. Fans were really into it during the home stretch as well.

Homicide shows respect to Davey after the match.

Intermission
Dave Prazak tries to give us an update on BJ Whitmer’s ankle but Jimmy Jacobs interrupts to yell about how love conquers all.

Match Four
Claudio Castagnoli Vs Samoa Joe

So the story here is that Claudio (Better known today as WWE’s Cesaro) betrayed ROH in their recent inter promotional feud with CZW, so Joe is looking for revenge. Fans seem to think that Joe will kill Claudio. Well, he did basically promise it during the pre-match promo so they might be on to something.

Claudio stalls to start and then jumps Joe as the referee tries to hold him back. Joe no sells Claudio’s attack and then batters him with strikes, including some vicious kicks in the corner. Claudio tries to fight back with a cross body, but Joe calmly steps out of the way and then smacks Claudio with an enziguri for two. Claudio makes sweat fly off Joe’s chest with some European uppercuts and then manages to get a big time Samoan Drop to take over.

Claudio puts on a chin lock but Joe gets out, only to walk into a dropkick for two. Claudio slams Joe with ease and then drops a leg. This is really impressive from Claudio here, as he’s throwing the massive Joe around almost at will. Claudio breaks out the old school heel antics by raking Joe’s face across the top rope, drawing honest to goodness heat from the “smart” ROH crowd in the process. Claudio gets cocky however and allows Joe to get back up, which isn’t a good idea at the best of times.

Joe gets a running boot and then squishes Claudio with a senton back splash for two. Joe gets a knee strike in the corner and then sets up for the face wash, but Claudio rolls outside to avoid any more pain. Undeterred, Joe dives out onto him and then ole kicks him into the barricades three times. Back inside, Joe gets two from the kicks but Claudio comes back with a face buster for two. Claudio throws more uppercuts and then gets the Alpamare Waterslide for another two count.

Joe comes back with a powerbomb and then transitions to an STF, but Claudio makes the ropes. Claudio goes for a monkey flip but Joe blocks it and then smashes him with an amazing looking Muscle Buster to pick up the win.

WINNER: SAMOA JOE
RATING: ***1/4

Fun stuff here, with Claudio bringing the uppercuts and impressive power moves whilst Joe brought the vicious strikes and bad ass legitimacy. Another match where they got in, told a good story and got out before overstaying their welcome.

Match Five
ROH Tag Team Titles
Champions: Austin Aries and Roderick Strong Vs Christopher Daniels and Matt Sydal

Daniels was a big baby face at this stage, after years of being a heel. Daniels’ big thing in the early days was that he would refuse to shake hands and had a desire to tear the Code of Honour down. However, prior to Claudio turning his back on ROH, he had earned the privilege of being the first man to receive a Daniels handshake at the 100th show.

Fans love everyone in this match, with everyone being faces. Daniels and Sydal decided to start teaming after having some singles matches and developing respect for one another. Aries has a taped up mid-section, housing broken ribs that he got from the UK tour. Sydal and Strong start out with some nice wrestling. Sydal uses his pace to make up for the size difference between the two. After a stalemate, both men tag out giving us duelling chants for Aries and Daniels.

Daniels and Aries proceed to deliver more solid wrestling, which ends with Aries dropkicking Daniels. Strong comes in for a chop, which ranks somewhere between a Megadeth concert and a Howitzer Shell on the sound scale, but Daniels is able to calf kick his way out of trouble. Both teams trade control, with the champs eventually isolating Daniels and getting some nice double team moves in.

Aries ribs haven’t as yet come into play here and, almost as if he hears me, Daniels puts his knees up on an Aries Frogsplash attempt and young Mr. Aries is in a lot of pain. With Aries hurting, the challengers now cut off the ring and start targeting the ribs. Aries may as well have written “attack me here” on the tape with a Sharpie if we’re being honest. Aries valiantly fights both guys in the corner but he can’t make the tag and gets put in an abdominal stretch from Daniels.

Sydal adds a springboard dropkick whilst Daniels has Aries in the hold in a nice bit of unnecessary cruelty. Both Daniels and Sydal take turns stretching the abs, but Aries eventually manages to catch Daniels with a suplex and makes the tag to Roddy! Strong runs wild and hammers both challengers, throwing Sydal around in particular with reckless abandon. Aries comes back in but ends up taking a Code Breaker from Daniels, roughly 18 months before Chris Jericho started doing it.

Daniels and Strong end up double clotheslining each other and we have a quadruple down. Daniels and Sydal botch what looked like an elevated face buster, but get two off it anyway. Sydal has busted his nose during all this somehow, but that doesn’t stop him diving onto Strong outside. Aries follows with a suicide dive onto Sydal, but then Daniels moonsaults onto both champs. What a fun sequence that was! I enjoyed how each dive upped the ante but all of them were still very safe as well.

Back inside, Sydal tries a rana from the top, but Strong rolls through and then powerbombs Sydal right onto his knee! OUCH!!! That looked all kinds of brutal, but thankfully Sydal seemed to survive it due to his flexibility. Aries comes in and Frogsplashes Sydal for two, but Sydal counters a brain buster with a cradle for a two count of his own. Daniels is not so lucky though and ends up on the wrong side of a brain buster for two. The challengers hit Aries with a moonsault each but Strong makes the save at the two count.

Sydal moonsaults outside onto Strong, leaving Aries and Daniels inside. Aries dropkicks Daniels in the corner for two and tries another brain buster, but Daniels counters into the Complete Shot and then transitions into the Koji Clutch. Aries manages to make the ropes whilst Roddy flings Sydal into the post outside the ring. Daniels tries the Angel’s Wings on Aries but Strong runs in to kick him the nead to stop that. Aries follows with the 450 splash and that’s enough for the champs to retain.

WINNERS AND STILL CHAMPIONS: ARIES AND STRONG
RATING: ***3/4

In a TNA moment, the belts are barely in the champs hands when we cut to something else. Bloody hell Gabe, you could have let that breath for a moment y’know? Anyway, this match had good wrestling, big moves and near falls, but they didn’t go over the top with them and went home before outstaying their welcome. This is one of the best paced ROH shows I’ve ever watched.

Main Event
ROH World Championship
Two out of Three Falls, 60 minute time limit, 30 second rest period between falls
Champion: “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson Vs “Classic” Colt Cabana

Colt is jazzed for this, being that it’s taking place in his home town and everything. Danielson playing the role of “insufferable jerk world champion” is always entertaining, especially as this was during a period where he was using Europe’s “The Final Countdown” as his entrance music. This is Colt’s last shot at Danielson for the title, after losing previous matches to the champion.

Colt holds his own in the technical battle to start, much to Danielson’s frustration. Cabana keeps his cool when Dragon slaps him early on and, after some more chain wrestling, he hits him with the Colt 45 out of nowhere to pick up the first fall! That means that if this match now goes the distance, as it has in previous Danielson title defences, then Cabana will be the new champion!

That first fall went little more than six minutes and was a nice call back to a previous match between the two at the 100th Show where Danielson caught Cabana early on with a flash pin fall. An angry Danielson now cheap shots Cabana and starts getting physical with strikes, in essence conceding the wrestling contest.

Danielson gets some head butts to the gut but Cabana dodges one and Dragon takes a nasty spill to the outside through the ropes to the floor. This somewhat innocuous spot caused a legitimate shoulder injury for Danielson which plagued him for the rest of the year. It’s quite obvious here that there’s something wrong with Dragon’s right arm, as he can barely use it.

Cabana keeps control over the one armed Danielson, but the champion is able to wear Colt down with some kicks, including a standing spin kick of all things. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Dragon do that move before actually. Danielson German Suplexes Cabana but can’t bridge due to the shoulder. Cabana fights off a superplex and gets a cross body from the top rope for two.

Danielson kicks Cabana’s leg out from under his leg when he goes for a springboard and then starts focusing on the left knee to finally get a sustained period of offence in. Danielson goes to an Indian Deathlock, swivelling his hips before dropping down, and this causes some of the women in the crowd to squeal like they’re at a Beatles concert. I know you think I’m joking, but I’m honestly not!

Both men tenaciously fight over a vertical suplex for a long while and Cabana finally manages to get it. They got so much out of that one spot there and it was brilliant. Danielson goes back to attacking the knee and locks in the figure four leg lock, getting bonus points for applying it to the correct leg (The straight one). Dragon even grabs the ropes for leverage in classic Ric Flair style.

Danielson misses a knee drop from the second rope and this allows Cabana to come back with punches and elbows, but he misses his own move from the second rope to stop the momentum. Both men fight over the cross face chicken wing, leading to Colt firing off a lariat for two. Colt tries to keep the pressure building, but ends up getting trapped in a single leg Boston Crab.

Cabana manages to make the ropes and then rolls outside to recuperate, but Danielson gives him no time to do so and follows him out with a somersault springboard plancha into the crowd. Danielson was brave to do that with such a gnarly injury, fair play to him. We now have a brawl in the crowd, which spills out all over the arena as the referee has completely lost control.

Normally I’d consider a section like this in a long match to be “padding”, but the fight feels like it spread outside organically and I think the match “earned” it, so I’m cool with it. Colt returns the favour to Danielson by doing his own dive into the crowd, and I like the fact it’s a retaliation to heel Danielson doing it first. In fact, Colt is the one who has been trying to wrestle all match whilst Dragon has been trying to turn it into a brawl, which I think is a nice bit of storytelling.

Danielson hits Cabana in the knee with a chair in the crowd, so Cabana responds by suplexing him through some chairs on the floor. Back we go to ringside, where Danielson drops Cabana knee first onto the time keepers table and then teases a table dive, before flipping the fans off. Cabana gets back inside and the two start trading strikes, which leads to a cradle DDT from Cabana for a two count.

Colt stupidly decides to head up top for a moonsault with his injured knee, which allows to cut him off and bring him down with a one armed super back drop for two. Danielson goes to the cross face chicken wing but Cabana is able to make the ropes to break. Regal Plex gets another two for Dragon and he then goes for Cattle Mutilation.

Cabana keeps rolling out of the hold, so Dragon delivers some elbows instead but Cabana manages to make the ropes. Dragon goes for a butterfly suplex but Colt counters it and then delivers a neck breaker onto the knee for two. Colt tries going for a Dragon Sleeper, but Danielson is able to flip out and then get a reverse suplex, which was always Triple H’s behind finisher on the N64 wrestling games.

Danielson tries Cattle Mutilation again and gets it, but Colt is able to make the ropes as fans chant “Next World Champ” for their hometown boy. Cabana gets the moonsault he was going for earlier, but it only nets him a two count. Cabana goes for the Colt 45 again, as we get the five minute warning from the ring announcer, and manages to get it but Dragon is able to get his foot on the ropes to stop the count.

Colt now goes to The Billy Goat’s Curse, as the clock continues to tick away, but Dragon is able to heave himself to the ropes to break. Danielson needs to get a fall here and fast or he can say goodbye to his title. Colt takes a moment to check for time remaining, which allows Dragon to get a flash roll up for a VERY close two count.

If I’m Cabana here I get to stepping and wind that clock down. Danielson elbows the heck out of Cabana but he holds on and manages to make the ropes. Colt rolls outside as we get the two minute warning, and he smartly decides to hang outside for a bit to eat some clock up, much to Danielson’s disconcertion. I love this as Dragon had done it in previous matches and now the tables are turned.

Danielson chases after Colt, knocking down a camerawoman in the process, but ends up getting sent into the barricade by the challenger. Danielson gets back in the ring and we have our one minute warning! Dragon gets a release German Suplex for two and then tries to get the cross face chicken wing applied to no avail.

Dragon asks the ref to check for time remaining and, as the referee turns to check, Danielson kicks Colt right in his Cabana’s before getting a small package to tie the match up right at the death. That’s absolute fried gold right there! So with the time up and the match tied at a fall apiece, that’s enough for the champion to retain.

TIME LIMIT DRAW
RATING: ****1/4

Cracking main event there with great heel work from Danielson. Credit to him for wrestling that match with such an unpleasant injury, which ended up being two torn tendons in his shoulder. Dragon would put off surgery until losing the title at the end of the year to Homicide. Danielson celebrates the draw like a win for that extra touch of douche bag behaviour. You can just tell how much fun he was having playing this character.

Final Thoughts
An enjoyable show that was well paced and peaked with a great world title match. I actually preferred the way the under card matches were good but not blow away matches, as it meant the show built nicely throughout. I kind of wish ROH did that sort of build more during this period, as usually it was just a string of hot matches that would usually mean I could never watch a whole show in one sitting because it would just wear me out. I didn’t really have that with this one. I’ll recommend this one quite happily

Thanks for reading

Written by
British, Evertonian, grapple fan and passionate about them there Video Games. Bit of a golden oldy these days weighing in at a pert 30 years of age. I'll be providing reviews, retro features, the odd rant and the occasional article on Pro Wrestling. I also like a nice pint of Porter now and then