Proving Ground 2008 (DVD Review)

*** ROH DVD Reviews by Brad Dykens ***
January 11, 2008 – Boston, Massachusetts

The YRR (Kenny King & Jason Blade w/The YRR) vs. Pelle Primeau & Eddie Edwards: The show began with a match featuring members of an FIP faction that goes by the name of the YRR – which stands for “Young, Rich, and Ready for action.” The YRR always has a big entourage, including a couple random hotties to make themselves look like studs. Rain is a regular member of the group, but they usually pick up some other skin on their way to the show. A few of the random girls looked familiar, but the only one I could identify was a pretty young thing named Lexxus (from NECW). One of them might have been Amber. I’m pretty sure she’s dating Eddie Edwards, so that would make sense. Chasyn Rance was on crutches, and Sal Rinauro (FIP Florida Heritage champion) was there backing up his band of pretty boys. Jason Blade & Kenny King just happen to be the FIP Tag Team champions. The YRR scored the victory and started bragging about their recent dominance in Florida, defeating the Briscoe Brothers for the FIP belts. The Briscoes hit the ring and quickly got rid of the YRR “faggots” (Jay’s words). Jay said they would deal with the YRR in Florida, but here in ROH the World Tag Team titles were coming back to the Briscoes. Man up! Man up! Man up!

Daizee Haze vs. Alexa Thatcher: I’ve always had a little crush on Alexa Thatcher. She’s super cute, and she is super talented in the ring. I have often called her every boy’s high school crush because she has those unique “charms.” She was a very good opponent for Daizee Haze, who just finished her feud with Lacey and has moved on to SHIMMER champion Sara Del Rey. Alexa did a good job, but she was no match for the Haze and her Heart Punch/Mind Trip Combination. Daizee showed respect for her opponent by shaking hands and raising Alexa’s arm after the match.

Claudio Castagnoli vs. Ruckus (w/Julius Smokes & Mercedes Martinez): Mercedes Martinez debuted at Final Battle and was dubbed the “Booty Vulture” by Jack Evans. The Latina Sensation is one Indy diva that definitely belongs in Ring of Honor. Ruckus is a tough pill to swallow but once you see him a couple of times you will become a huge fan of his style. There was a little bit of good natured fun at the start of this match since both men are fan favorites. As usual, Claudio eventually gained the majority of the fan support before the end of the match. Double C scored the victory and shook hands with Ruckus afterwards.

Daniel Puder (sub for Chris Hero) w/Sweet & Sour Inc. vs. Mike Bennett: Larry Sweeney led his crew of S&S clients to the ring, including Chris Hero, Daniel Puder, Bobby Dempsey, and Sara Del Rey. Hero was on crutches and wearing braces on his neck and leg, so it became apparent that he was not able to compete tonight. Bobby Dempsey dropped to his hands and knees so that Hero could sit down and rest. Sweeney claimed that Hero injured himself trying to beat the Guinness World record for most consecutive back-flips. Sweeney proclaimed that Daniel Puder was ready to make his in-ring debut! Daniel Puder is the second last person I ever wanted to see in ROH… the first being Jonny Fairplay. Sweeney issued an open challenge, which was quickly accepted by Claudio Castagnol! Sweeney screamed that he had a restraining order on Castagnoli and ordered that he be escorted backstage. The “illustrious ring veteran” Mikey Bennett came to the ring and got eaten alive by the MMA master, Daniel Puder, who forced Bennett to tap out with an Ankle-lock. Sweeney raised Puder’s arm and bragged about his accomplishment. Suddenly the light’s went out and “Final Countdown” started to play in the sound system, signally the appearance of “American Dragon” Bryan Danielson! Dragon praised Puder’s submission skills, and brought up the time he saw Puder tap out Kurt Angle on TV. Danielson said he had skills too and challenged Puder to a match RIGHT NOW! Sweeney refused and said they would hold out until there was money was on the table! Claudio Castagnoli returned to ringside and attacked Sweeney from behind and he brawled with Puder to the back. Meanwhile, Bobby Dempsey had to carry Chris Hero (bearhug style) up the ramp behind the curtain with Del Rey following behind looking oh so good.

“American Dragon” Bryan Danielson vs. “The Shooter” Brent Albright: Bryan Danielson was left standing in the middle of the ring alone, so he called out Brent Albright and suggested they settle their issue tonight. The quickest and easiest way to get launched into ROH stardom is to wrestle Bryan Danielson, because he just makes everybody look so much better than they actually are. This was a very long, hard-hitting, grueling, but extra phenomenal match. The contest ended with Albright passing out while in the grasp of a deadly submission hold by American Dragon. Dragon was clearly impressed with Albright, and showed respect by offering a handshake after the match. Albright thought about it but ended up turning his back and walking out in true Hangman 3 fashion.

“Mr. Wrestling” Kevin Steen vs. Necro Butcher (w/Jimmy Jacobs & Tyler Black & Lacey): I’m just waiting for the day that my neighbors hear the AOTF entrance “music” (featuring Lacey screaming at the top of her lungs) and call the police on me. Jimmy Jacobs cut a promo before the match about the Ultimate Endurance match tonight where they will defend their ROH World Tag Team titles against three different teams. Jacobs apologized to Kevin Steen, warning him that he was in for the beating of his life tonight. Steen hit the ring and started trading punches with the Butcher. Steen stopped his assault and focused his attention on Lacey at ringside, just before blowing snot all over her. Classic. A few minutes later, Steen set up Butcher on some chairs at ringside and did a suicide flip dive over the top rope and crashed down onto the chairs which provide very little cushion before Steen landed back-flat on the hard wood floor. Ouch! After a couple more crazy stunts, Butcher lost his mind and begged Mr. Wrestling to smash him in the head with a chair. Steen did it once, but when Butcher asked for another chairshot, Steen balked and kicked the Butcher between the legs. Steen followed up with a Package Pile-driver for the 1-2-3 to inch closer towards a future shot at the ROH World championship! Steen had a lengthy celebration and definitely has the support of the fans. Steen maintained his focus on the ROH World Tag Team titles.

Delirious vs. Sal Rinauro w/The YRR: FIP Florida Heritage champion Sal Rinauro, a long-time star in the Southeast, was accompanied to the ring by Chasyn Rance, Jason Blade, Kenny King, and a gaggle of random groupies. Delirious seems to be stuck in orbit, doing pretty much the same act he’s been doing for years. I’m thinking it’s time to make some changes to the Delirious and establish a little character development. For this match, it was Delirious’ job to get Rinauro over with the ROH fans since they were not familiar with him. Delirious won by making the YRR stud tap out with the Cobra-stretch. Dave Prazak pointed out that Delirious had scored a non-title victory over the FIP Florida Heritage champion.

Roderick Strong vs. El Generico: No Remorse Corps leader Roderick Strong was up against the bizarre force of El Generico – a melting pot of wrestling styles from across the globe. Generico also happens to be one of the most fan friendly characters in the history of the wrestling business. Roderick is just coming off the disappointing loss of his cherished FIP World championship to Erick Stevens at a recent FIP event. Strong won the match, and quickly exited before getting caught up in any post-match activity. Brent Albright & B.J. Whitmer, known as the Hangmen 3, attacked El Generico and promised to win the Ultimate Endurance match later!

Becky Bayless (cutie) & El Generico + Kevin Steen: Kevin Steen found El Generico in pain and asked him what happened. Generico muttered the words, “Los Hangmen!” and “Hangmen Tres!” Steen cut a promo on the Hangmen 3 and promised to break Brent Albright’s next the following night!

Erick Stevens vs. Austin Aries: These two guys are former stable-mates in a faction known as the “Resilience.” FIP title matches seem to be considerably less intense when they occur at ROH events. If you want to see some hot FIP title action, then check out the Full Impact Pro DVD series. This match was very methodical, and initially ended in a rare double count out. Champion Erick Stevens refused to let the match end that way, and wanted to give the people their money’s worth! Stevens quickly regretted that decision because he became the victim of a flurry of offense from Austin Aries! Stevens blocked the 450 splash by Aries, and hit the belly-to-back suplex. The closing moments of this match were, in a word, INTENSE! It seemed like a title switch was on the horizon, but Erick Stevens toughed it out. Stevens got a burst of energy and planted Aries with the Doctor-bomb to get the 1-2-3 and retain his FIP World championship! The ROH fans gave both men a standing ovation – which they deserved – but booed when Aries declined Stevens’ offer to shake hands after the match. Aries is on the cusp of a major character make-over.

The Age of the Fall (Jimmy Jacobs & Tyler Black) vs. The Vulture Squad (Jack Evans & Jigsaw) vs. Hangmen 3 (Brent Albright [sub for Shane Hagadorn] & B.J. Whitmer) vs. The Briscoe Brothers (Mark & Jay Briscoe): This match featured four teams competing in three consecutive matches, with one team being eliminated after each phase of the competition. The Briscoe brothers have been very successful in previous Ultimate Endurance matches when they were in the position of being the reigning champions.

******* TAG SCRAMBLE: The crazy action got started immediately, and highlighted the high flying antics of the Vulture Squad. Mercedes Martinez and Lacey got involved and started to brawl before disappearing behind the curtain. It’s really quite amazing that Brent Albright was wrestling again after his grueling match with Bryan Danielson. The Vulture Squad was the unfortunate victims of the first fall, and were eliminated from the competition.

******* NO-DQ MATCH: Things got interesting when Jimmy Jacobs and B.J. Whitmer came face-to-face. The directions of both men’s careers were forever changed after the culmination of their epic two-year feud. Jacobs pulled out a spike, but Whitmer pulled one out too. Neither man wanted to revisit their brutal history, so they decided to join forces and work over the Briscoes with a 4-on-2 advantage. They used the spikes on the Briscoes and sliced their foreheads wide open, resulting in a river of blood! The alliance between the AOTF and the H3 eventually dissolved and it became the Briscoes advantage. A ladder suddenly appeared at ringside, and Mark Briscoes jumped off the top of it onto B.J. Whitmer to get the 1-2-3. The Hangmen 3 were officially eliminated from the competition!

******* TRADITIONAL TAG TEAM MATCH: The winner of the final phase would regain OR retain the ROH World Tag Team titles! The Briscoes started the night wanting to get their hands on the Age of the Fall, and now they have gotten their wish granted by the ROH Gods. The Briscoes were trying to become five time ROH World Tag Team champions, but tonight was not their night to accomplish that feat. Tyler Black pancaked one of the Briscoes with the Phoenix Splash and both her and Jacobs covered him for the 1-2-3 to retain their ROH World Tag Team championships! Man the AOTF music is CREEPY!

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