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*** Official ROH DVD Reviews by Brad Dykens ***
July 28, 2007 - RACE TO THE TOP - NIGHT 2 - Edison, New Jersey

The previous night saw first round matches take place in Deer Park, NY, where fans witnessed eight wrestlers advance to the quarter-finals of the Race to the Top tournament - the winner of which would receive the prize of a shot at the ROH World championship. Pelle Primeau, Davey Richards, Claudio Castagnoli, Mike Quackenbush, Chris Hero, El Generico, Brent Albright, and Jack Evans were each victorious in their opening round efforts.

Quarter Finals - El Generico vs. Chris Hero w/Sweet & Sour Inc.: The night began with the familiar sounds of El Generico's adrenalin-pumping entrance music - Olay! Olayolayolay!! The cheers turned to jeers, as "Super Agent" Larry Sweeney marched to the ring, flanked by his Sweet & Sour clients; including Chris Hero, Tank Toland, Bobby Dempsey, and Sara Del Rey (looking so sexy wearing the SHIMMER championship around her waist). As usual, Sweet & Sour members were constantly interfering on behalf of Chris Hero, but El Generico kept fighting back and, against all the odds, countered the Hero's Welcome into a backslide to score yet another upset victory to continue building a tidal wave of momentum heading into the semi-finals!

Quarter Finals - Pelle Primeau vs. Davey Richards : Little Pelle inadvertently broke the Top of Class trophy as he entered the ring, and the fans laid into him with chants of "You F*cked Up!" It turns out that was the least of Pelle's worries, because he was going up against the cold-hearted enforcer of the No Remorse Corps, Davey Richards. The underdog Pelle fought with everything he had, but all the heart in the world couldn't stop the dominant Davey Richards from securing his spot in the semi-finals.

Quarter Finals - Brent Albright vs. Jack Evans: Brent Albright wasted no time taking the fight to the break-dancing fan-favorite known as the "Man from the Heavens" Jack Evans. Evans took his usual hardcore beating, even crashing through a table at ringside, but somehow continued to stay afloat. Albright cinched in the dreaded Crowbar submission, but Evans refused to tap, instead making it to the ropes and forcing the break. While Albright was arguing with the referee, Evans recovered and hit a knee-strike, followed by a 360 splash off the top rope, and scored the pinfall to gain an absolutely miraculous victory!

Quarter Finals - Claudio Castagnoli vs. "Lightning" Mike Quackenbush: These two are very familiar with each other, being two key figures in the popular Pennsylvania-based Chikara promotion. It was a long battle, going back and forth, but Double C proved to be the superior athlete on this occasion bumping himself up into the next bracket in the Race to the Top tournament.

In the ring, Becky Bayless introduced the two captains for the $10,000 eight man tag team match later - Nigel McGuinness and "American Dragon" Bryan Danielson. Bayless executed the coin toss, which landed on tails, giving Danielson first pick from the ROH roster. Danielson wanted to pick the Briscoes, but could only pick one teammate at a time, and debated which Briscoe he wanted, because Nigel said he would take the other Briscoe. Danielson's next pick was Jimmy Rave, but Jimmy Rave suffered a ruptured ear-drum and couldn't compete. Larry Sweeney came out and offered the services of Matt Sydal to Bryan Danielson - who did, in fact, pick Sydal. McGuinness countered by picking Sydal's biggest rival, Delirious. Danielson then picked Austin Aries, and McGuinness finished by picking Roderick Strong. How interesting, the teams are mixed with heels and babyfaces all over the place. Danielson and McGuinness then started hurling insults and one another, building towards their showdown later!

Semi Finals - El Generico vs. Davey Richards: The cold-hearted Davey Richards methodically disected El Generico, attempting to symbolically rip out the pages of Generico's Cinderella story. After taking a merciless beating, El Generico gutted it out and hit a super-crazy Brain-buster on the turnbuckle on his way to scoring the victory and earning his position in the tournament finals!

Semi Finals - Claudio Castagnoli vs. Jack Evans: Announcer Dave Prazak explained that Jack Evans was the only member of Generation Next to never gain the spotlight of main event status in Ring of Honor. Jack Evans was very confident, maybe a little too confident, but fought extremely hard for his own glory. It was a great match, but Jack Evans came up short, and Claudio Castagnoli moved on to the finals! Backstage after the match, Jack Evans wished Castagnoli luck and requested a rematch some day.

In a Sweet & Sour backstage segment, Sweet & Sour Inc. locked Bobby Dempsey into the Hot Box of Doom for two hours and told him to ride a stationary bike. Chris Hero remarked "Hey guys, $5 says he dies!" This Bobby Dempsey gimmick stinks.

6-Man Mayhem - Erick Stevens vs. B.J. Whitmer vs. Kevin Steen vs. Matt Cross vs. Hallowicked vs. Jigsaw: And the hits just keep on coming. All of these guys are young, and totally eagar to climb up the ladder of success in Ring of Honor. It ended up being shorter than most 6-Man Mayhem matches presented by ROH. Erick Stevens' star continued to rise with another big victory.

$10,000 8-Man Single Fall Tag Team Match - American Dragon & Austin Aries & Matt Sydal & Mark Briscoe vs. Nigel McGuinness & Roderick Strong & Delirious & Jay Briscoe: As you can imagine, it took some time to get all the egos under control before they could officially begin this huge star-studded match. It sort of felt like the infamous Wild Card match from WWE Survivor Series 1995. Each team was fighting for a total of $10,000, split four ways comes out to $2500 a piece. After a few minutes, both Briscoes were tagged into the ring and they briefly fought each other before getted fed up. The Briscoes worked as a team and took on everybody for a couple of minutes before hauling ass backstage to get some beer. Delirious and Roderick Strong proved that they were unable to work together, and ended up fighting and dropping out of the match. Unfortunately, this left Nigel McGuinness to fend for himself against American Dragon, Austin Aries, and Matt Sydal. Even some minor dissension between Dragon and Aries couldn't get in the way of putting McGuinness down for the count. Decent match, built some stuff for the future, including a program between Dragon and Aries which should be phenomenal and help reestablish Aries as an ROH star.

Race to the Top Finals - Claudio Castagnoli vs. El Generico: I think it would have been extremely hard to predict these two would meet in the finals, but nobody can deny that both of them deserve it one hundred percent. They built a beautiful match, starting with some innocent crowd interaction, and then worked their asses off to construct the perfect match. Bringing the crowd to its feet with multiple near falls, and spectacular high-flying moves, earning an appreciative "This is Awesome!" chant! The crowd erupted for Castagnoli after he nailed Generico with a Splash Mountain Ricola Bomb and scored the 1-2-3 to end the match and win the Race to the Top Tournament! After the match, while clutching his trophy, Double C thanked El Generico and they embraced in the middle of the ring. The exhausted generic luchadore led the crowd in chants of "HEY!" in honor of Claudio. Castagnoli then gave a speech about leaving his country, his friends, and family to move to the United States for moments like this. Claudio said it was an honor to be in ROH and thanked the company and the fans before making his triumphant exit!

Final Thoughts: Pretty spectacular main event considering how unlikely it was for things to turn out the way that it did. It would be easy for me to question some of the booking decisions throughout this tournament, but as always, Ring of Honor scored a homerun with the finished product. I have learned to trust Gabe Sapolsky. I hope the Race to the Top tournament becomes an annual tradition.

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