Manhattan Mayhem II (DVD Review)

*** ROH DVD Reviews by Brad Dykens ***
August 25, 2007 – Manhattan Mayhem II – New York City, NY

BACKSTAGE
Adam Pearce & B.J. Whitmer & Brent Albright & Shane Hagadorn: The DVD started with the recently formed yet-to-be-named faction consisting of Adam Pearce, B.J. Whitmer, and Brent Albright shaving the head of man-servant Shane Hagadorn and bragging about making Delirious’ mask a permanent fixture – by stapling his trademark mask to his face at the last show.

TAG TEAM MATCH
The Resilience (Matt Cross & Erick Stevens) vs. Mike Quackenbush & Jigsaw: This was your typical opening contest with a lot of solid offense showcasing everybody involved. It was no surprise to me when the Resilience picked up the victory, since the entire faction has been on a roll since Austin Aries reclaimed his leadership role.

MATCH
Jimmy Jacobs vs. Top of Class Trophy holder Mitch Franklin: I get a bitter sweet feeling knowing what I know now about the direction of Jimmy Jacobs’ character. Jacobs just returned the previous night and was welcomed back by the ROH fans with open arms. They are desperately trying to turn Jacobs babyface, but the future holds a great deal of intense drama as far as Jimmy Jacobs is concerned. Stay tuned.

SIX MAN TAG TEAM MATCH
Adam Pearce & Brent Albright & B.J. Whitmer w/Shane Hagadorn vs. Delirious & Nigel McGuinness & Pelle Primeau: I don’t think the heel faction of Pearce, Albright, and Whitmer has been officially named at this point – but they would eventually dub themselves the “HANGMAN 3″ – a name that I really don’t approve of, considering it was used just two months after the Benoit Tragedy (intentional or not). Former cult favorite, B.J. Whitmer, planted little Pelle Primeau with an Adrenalin Pile-driver for the win, but continued the assault after the match. The other heels joined in, with Adam Pearce barking orders until Nigel and Delirious made the save. It was too late, however, because little Pelle was left a bloody mess on his back in the middle of the ring.

IN THE RING
ROH President Cary Silken & NOAH representative Ryo Nakata: They announced that Ring of Honor events on 11/2 in Philadelphia amd 11/3 in New York City will feature NOAH stars KENTA, Naomichi Marufuji, Takeshi Morishima, and a rare U.S. appearance Mitsuharu Misawa – and the crowd goes absolutely NUTS! The mere mention of this Japanese legend’s name even got my heart racing.

MATCH
Davey Richards vs. PAC: The young British up-and-comer, simply known as PAC, continued his International tour gaining some valuable experience and exposure against some of America’s top wrestlers. The more matches that I see with PAC the faster he climbs up my personal list of favorite wrestlers. The guy is quite brilliant but he is going to have to start winning some matches if he wants to keep coming back to the Ring of Honor.

GENERATION NEXT TRIPLE THREAT MATCH
Austin Aries vs. Roderick Strong vs. Jack Evans w/Julius Smokes: Before the match, Jack Evans said he was having a hard time forming his own crew, so he has brought in someone to help out with the recruiting. Julius Smokes, the charismatic former manager of Homicide, showed up and announced the formation of the Vulture Squad! For those of you who has never seen Julius Smokes, you are realling missing out. He is like WWE’s tag team known as Cryme Tyme, except with the entertainment factor turned way up. There is so much history between Aries, Strong and Evans, it’s hard to know where to begin when describing their developing rivalry. Faction warfare has slowly but surely taken shape in ROH, and this match featured the captains of three of those factions. All three of them happen to be founding members of a group known as Generation Next, which dominated Ring of Honor for two years (2004-06). What began as a friendly rivalry between members has escalated into a hate-fueled war, ignited by Roderick’s dastardly betrayal of Austin Aries in early 2007. Eventually, No Remorse Corps enforcer Davey Richards showed up to blatantly interfere on behalf of Roderick Strong. Mouthpiece Julius Smokes called for help, and Ruckus (wearing a BLKOUT shirt) hit the ring and bounced around the ring cleaning house. Austin Aries confronted Jack Evans, but Smokes remarked “why live in the past?” while Evans and Ruckus attacked Aries! Matt Cross and Erick Stevens hit the ring to defend Aries. All hell broke loose, and I realized the match hadn’t officially ended because the referee was bumped and didn’t see any of the chaotic interference. When the smoke cleared, Resilience leader Austin Aries hit the 450 splash on Roderick Strong for the win! What an awesome way to push the faction warfare gimmick closer to fruition.

MATCH
Ruckus (w/Julius Smokes & Jack Evans) vs. “Die Hard” Eddie Edwards: The newest member of the Vulture Squad (Ruckus) was faced with the task of wrestling one of New England’s finest wrestlers – Eddie Edwards. All I can say is, “it’s about time Ruckus joined ROH.” This guy is a stick of dynamite ready to explode (and I mean that in a good way). This match was designed to introduce Ruckus to the ROH audience, even though most of them were well aware of who he was – thanks to his reputation around the indy circuit. Ruckus scored the victory and put the Vulture Squad on the right path.

GRUDGE MATCH
Chris Hero (w/Sweet & Sour Inc.) vs. Claudio Castagnoli: This just goes to show how loaded this event was. I thought they could have pulled the trigger on this feud a little sooner, but ROH is known for not rushing too fast into hot story-lines. Chris Hero was accompanied by Larry Sweeney, Tank Toland, Bobby Dempsey, and Sara Del Rey. Daizee Haze came to ringside to stalk SHIMMER champion Sara Del Rey, after Del Rey interfered on Hero’s behalf. The match had a lot of excitement but not the level of heat (drama) you might expect from a highly-developed rivalry. Claudio Castagnoli scored a decisive victory to prove that he was the better man (on this night). Chris Hero, and the rest of Sweet & Sour Inc., blamed Bobby Dempsey for the loss. Hero fake hugged Dempsey, but then slapped him across the face twice! Larry Sweeney, who was sweating more than Chris Hero, spouted words of encouragement at his number one client as they walked towards the dressing room.

ROH WORLD TITLE MATCH
Takeshi Morishima (c) vs. “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson: American Dragon was more determined than ever to recapture the ROH World title, and become the first ever two-time champion. The match quickly became a scary encounter after American Dragon suffered a very serious eye injury. Spectators were aware that something was wrong, but Dragon refused to let it get in the way of putting on an amazing match for the ROH fans. Sometimes you have to put your health ahead of your pride. Dragon foolishly continued wrestling, as a seemingly clueless Takeshi Morishima repeatedly smashed and bashed his resilient challenger. Dragon went above and beyond the call of duty to provide entertainment to the fans in attendance and watching on DVD around the world. Thank you, Dragon. Despite being in excruciating pain, “American Dragon” fought with as much passion as he ever has, pulling out some of his signature moves, only to have his dreams crushed by a stiff Lariat and huge Back-drop driver from Morishima. I think the fans sensed that they would not be seeing their hero wrestle for a while, so they gave him a heartfelt post-match standing ovation and chanted “Best in the World!” at him. Dragon grabbed the microphone and said the best in the world is the guy who holds the ROH World championship – giving Takeshi Morishima his glowing endorsement. Nobody realized just how serious the eye injury was, until Dragon made it backstage after the match and his eyeball literally rolled in back of his head due to a detached retina (it’s not on the DVD, but that’s from internet reports).

ROH WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE 2/3 FALLS MATCH
The Briscoe Brothers (c) vs. Kevin Steen & El Generico: At this point, the Briscoes and Team Steenerico had gone back and forth for several months. Earlier in August, Steen and Generico beat the Briscoes in a Non-title Street Fight, and then beat each Briscoe in hard-fought singles matches. The previous night in Hartford the redefined the word “intensity” inside of a brutal Steel Cage, where the Briscoes reigned victorious. This match was a Best 2/3 Falls contest, a specialty of the Briscoe brothers, who have a habit of winning these bouts in two straight falls! The Canadian team of Kevin Steen and El Generico provide a unique dynamic, because one of them is clearly heel (Steen) and the other is a huge crowd favorite (Generico) – yet they maintain a solid somewhat healthy friendship. Like many Briscoe matches, this match started out like any other match on the card, and escalated to an astounding pace. Steen and Generico once again took the Briscoes to the limit, but the ROH World Tag Team champions proved to be far too dominant in this genre. The Briscoes won in two straight falls to retain their coveted ROH World Tag Team championships!

After the match, the crowd encouraged El Generico to shake hands with the Briscoes and he did so. Kevin Steen was positively pissed that Generico would do such a thing, but then the crowd got behind Steen, chanting “Mister Wrestling!” and encouraged him to shake hands with the champions too. Steen proceeded to kick both Briscoes between the legs, and then pulled a ladder from under the ring. Steen rammed the Briscoes with the ladder, and ordered Generico to help him with the destruction. Steen and Generico stole the ROH World Tag Team title belts and left with a mountain of heat placed upon them!

If you would like to purchase this or any other ROH DVD, please check out ROHwrestling.com —- if you need some convincing, you can check out streaming video of various ROH matches for free at www.ROHVideos.com