ON THE ROAD: Ring of Honor (Manassas, VA – 05/09/08)


TKG: TOMK. Some sandwich thing.
PAS: Phil Schneider Peruvian Chicken
LB: Lee Benaka also Peruvian chicken

(Editor’s note: When Dean posted on the message board he wrote that the show was on May 12. It was on May 9. Dean is a fool.)

DHR: I get to Enterprise rent-a-car and they have upped me from ecomony to whatever the next step is. They ask if I want a Prius. Gas is $3.68 a gallon so I say, “yes”. My salesman is young and smells a little too good. He asks where I’m off to and tell him about ROH in NYC. He speaks about his friend who is somehow connected with UFC and was just returning from Arizona. I notice this well-groomed metrosexual may actually cross over into gay Belgian Kickboxer territory of sexually preferring, but it is just a conjecture based on every single iota of my shootfight gaydar pegging the ceiling. The Prius is the finest car I will eventually die in from hitting a deer. That was standing still. I make a thousand CDs of my harddrive mp3s and drive to hideous and artless Northern Virginia.

TKG: Meet up with Phil and Lee in front of at Friendship Heights metro, and we’re off to Manassas. I had gotten a ridiculous haircut at with a Tarras Bulba style extra tuft of hair that made me look like a womyns studies major. And most of the trip was spent mocking my hair and listening to Lee’s latest band adventures. Lee can viciously tear apart all the flaws of an indy band in less than two sentences. Impressive. We hit no real traffic and make it on time to pick up Dean and get Peruvian chicken. I already had several jerk chicken sandwiches and so only bought an horchata and off to the show… The space was nice. Floor pretty packed and they had skyboxes that served beer. At several points in the show I went up to the skybox to see if I could find Mack and the Cooke brothers.

PAS: The best thing about Lee eviscerating a band is that he does it such a mild pleasant way that it makes it even more vicious. Tom and I are both caustic Jews, even our compliments sound like insults, meanwhile Lee can make the nastiest rip sound completly judgement free. Pretty good Peruvian chicken, fries weren’t as good as Peruvian chicken place fries normally are, I should have gotten the yucca. As we are walking to the show from the parking lot we see a couple of guys we don’t recognize running through spots in the backyard outside the space.

LB: I was pleased to no end to fine that Phil and Tom met me on time at our pick-up spot. It would have been annoying to have left my family earlier than originally planned (due to fears of DC traffic and thunderstorms that blew through earlier that day) and to have to wait around for 10 minutes for late Phil and Tom. But I am happy to say that these are Carpoolers of Honor. Have no fear offering them a ride. I’m not sure whether I would have noticed Tom’s hair if Phil hadn’t been mocking it constantly for the first 15 minutes of our drive. I appreciate Tom and Phil’s discretion regarding my band mockery. I really shouldn’t mock because I am in a band (the Starlingtons), and we are worthy of a lot of mockery and scorn at times. But we will be awesome when we open for the Waco Brothers at the Rock and Roll Hotel in DC on Thursday, June 5. I did order the yucca with my chicken, and it was good, although I’m glad I could share some with Dean. And that mildly spicy green sauce, yum! I instantly regret mistaking Dean for being 45 years old when he is actually only 4 years older then me. Old paunchy family men represent! (I’m mostly talking about myself here.)

TKG: Crowd was about 25-30% Black and I really don’t get running in VA with no blacks on the card. Then again I don’t get running Philly/New York with no Puerto Ricans either. Both Phil Brown and Ron Pharaoh were in the crowd. Brown may be too tall to work ROH but I imagine them two and Xavier could work a smarter match against the NOAH guys than the main. I don’t get not using Joey Mathews in his home state either.

DHR: I straight up ask the question that we have all been too pussy to ask Lee since we’ve known him. It is Ben-a-kuh. It isn’t Be-KNOCK-ah. Lee is too cool and sensitive to have corrected us these last ten years. The arena reminds me of the Edison ROH building but with more of a 3 Death Who Concert Stampede vibe going for it- as there is one entrance/exit and it’s about 8 feet wide. It was a fun crowd stocked with 10% Virginia indie workers. I spot Phil Brown and Pharoah and wonder why they weren’t punching somebody in the face on this auspicious night.

LB: No worries about the last name, that mistake has been made for nearly four decades. It’s a German name, and it is spelled and pronounced in a variety of ways at family reunions. If only I were the heir to the Binaca blast fortune. The exit to this place was pretty sketchy. And there were odd breezes blowing large curtains that surrounded the ring area that at times threatened to topple lighting stands. If it wasn’t a Who stampede, it could have been a Curtis Mayfield-style crippling. Overall, the crowd was not too physically repulsive, or maybe my standards have lowered over time. And I did not feel mortally terrified to use this facility’s terlit (although I held it regardless).


TKG: I think I liked this more than anyone else. It’s an opener, Primeau takes big bumps and Hero is really good at eating ranas. Chris Hero is really good at eating ranas. He’s a guy who really makes it clear when he’s been taken down by the momentum of his opponents ranas and when his opponent has caught Hero’s momentum with a rana. I once played rugby when I was under 120 lbs and when you’re that tiny to tackle a guy twice your size you need to either hit him fast or catch him and sit down. Hero’s a guy who does nice job of really getting over which of those things is happening. I’m not sure if Pele has actually put as much thought into who is providing the momentum behind all his various ranas. And boy does he have a lot of ranas. To be working this type of tiny underdog gimmick, you need more than Ranas and neat roll ups. Pele really needs a self-propelled projectile spot ( a drop kick, Super Astro’s tope en reversa, Spike Dudleys battering ram to stomach, etc). Even Pele’s dive was a legs forward rana onto floor dive. Still fine lil opener.

PAS: I liked this a fair amount too, Pelle does need to mix in something besides a rana, but all of his rana’s looked good, and when Hero would hit him, he would hit him pretty hard. I think this had one too many sections of Pelle offense, as it felt about 2 minutes too long, still perfectly adequate opener.

DHR: Waaaay too many ranas. Made it too backyardy. Luchadores figured out the cure to this syndrom ages ago- SUPPLEMENT WITH COOL ARMDRAGS.

LB: I am in Dean’s camp on this, although perhaps that is due to the fact that I was sitting next to him during this match, when he said over and over with a world-weariness, “That’s a lot of ranas.” The match was a bit disjointed, and Chris Hero was not as impressive as I expected him to be.


TKG: Sterling is wearing new pants. I preferred his more douchey checkered shorts, but Dean likes the new pants which give him a Big Japan scummy rookie look. I think he’s better going for douche heel than scummy heel. Six of one and half a dozen of the other as him and Titus make an amusing scummy douches pairing. Both Va guys look good in this. The differences between your southern indy workers and your northern ones is really apparent when they’re on the apron as both Va guys are really good at interacting with the match and the audience when they are on the apron. Watching this and the main event realized that Todd Sinclair is not very good at reffing tag matches. During the ref is distracted by keeping face tag partner from interfering spots, Sinclair walks all the way into corner and really doesn’t give the face enough room to get into ring and do complaining spots.

PAS: So as Titus and Franklin come to the ring we recognize them as our backyarders from earlier in the evening. Their exchanges seemed to be crisper on grass, it is possible that when the moved to canvas their footing was off. Denny probably got over the best of all the VA guys on the card, although I question his new emo rocker haircut. I like Titus and Sterling as an undercard tag team, they should keep those two together, maybe give them a random Shimmer girl as a valet.

DHR: Sterling’s pants were awesome. He should definitely be taking a fluorescent lightbulb shot to the head from Jakkie Numazawa in the near future. I dug this match though it didn’t have enough Sean Denny. Denny’s High Angle German was the probably craziest thing of the two entire nights- though the Jimmy Jacob’s spear was close.

LB: I thought this match was fun and enjoyed Rhett Titus’s retro pretty-boy schtick. I agree that he and Sterling should be kept together.


TKG: YIKES!! I’ve seen Nigel and Claudio work shitty four corners matches before back when Nigel and Claudio were feuding over the Pure title. But Nigel now has the heavyweight belt and you’d think these things would be worked more meaningfully. I remember reading at one point about how Brent Albright didn’t like his ROH gimmick of guy who just does lots of power moves and complained to Gabe about how he was more well rounded than that and should be allowed to do more wrestling. But fuck I never want to see him work a hammerlock again. Where is Tank Toland? I remember a four corners match with Davey Richards that had better mat exchanges. Someone also needs to tell Albright that you can’t have a knee strike finish if you physically can’t lift your knee. Damien Wayne was the only guy selling in the match. He was also stuck spending way too much time matched up with Albright. Wayne’s offense has also looked better in the past but I don’t know if I should blame him or Albright for the clothesline, and the really bad looking set up for the Psichosis leg drop.

PAS: This was really disappointing, I have seen a bunch of Damien Wayne in my life and this is the worst match I have ever seen him in. He is in with three of the biggest guys on the roster, which made him look kind of small, and he was really treated like Pelle Primeau. Neither Nigel or Albright really sold for him much, and he seemed slotted way below the other three. He sold and bumped well, but underdog babyface isn’t really a good use of what he can do. Also crap did the Nigel v. Claudio sections look bad, rather then make me want to buy a ticket for their Saturday night main event, this made me want to explore other Saturday night options. Drive By-Truckers were playing the 9:30 club, Shear Madness was at the Kennedy Center, hell the Best of the Best was in the ECW Arena.

DHR: Hell, Old School Empire were wrestling the Hall Borthers in King and Queen County. We gauge all things having to do with driving throught the horrible North with saying, “Fuck it”- and driving to the NWA-Va show. In comes up at each of the 68 toll booths between the Maryland state line and the Lincoln Tunnel. This match completely sucked ass. I blame everyone, including Damien Wayne who I guess didn’t want to show up anybody so opted to suck as much ass as everyone else. God, Brent Allbright needs to leave my WrestleView Experience forever.

LB: This was my first experience seeing Nigel, Claudio, and Brent, and they were OK overall. I wish Damian could have gotten more offense in as well. I was also disappointed that the crowd didn’t rally around Wayne more. I think I looked at my watch a few times during this one.


TKG: I missed this to deal with a business call.

PAS: You didn’t miss much. This may have been the worst match of the show. Stevens is a guy they have been pushing, had him go over Danielson, Aries, he is main eventing the next Philly show. Here he was really treated like an afterthought jobber. Aries comes out in tight jeans and one of those weird tank tops he wears and calls out Jimmy Jacobs. He keeps dismissing Stevens, until Stevens slaps him, and then he basically squashes him while wearing Jeans. Aries has alot of atheltic spots which require flexability, spots he can’t pull off in nuthuggers, so all of his stuff looked like shit. Unless they have given up on Stevens, I have no idea why he is stuck in this role

DHR: This really sucked ass. I’m glad we watched the Aries/Nigel match later so I wasn’t going into the New York show with blinding hatred for half the ROH roster.

LB: I don’t think I hated this match as much as my friends, but it was just kind of there. A lot of our discussion in the seats related to how short Aries was, as I recall. The post-match promo was too long, and not much of the crowd was buying it.


TKG: Unfortunately no J-Train seconding Evans. Still this was just a blast and I want to see every match between the two. You have Necro who excels at working as never say die underdog whose sheer insanity makes him always dangerous opponent. He’s wrestling against Jack Evans who also rules in similar role and you might think this wouldn’t work. But both guys can also work from the top and while never worked even, both are really good at making the opponent always look credibly dangerous.

PAS: I would have liked to see this go a little longer, felt a bit abrupt, and I really don’t know the rational behind putting two no holds barred matches on the same show, especially a show in VA where you can’t bleed. Jacobs v. Briscoe was crazy enough, but this felt like it got the short shrift a bit. Still what they did was pretty fun, I loved Necro interupting a springboard move with a punch to the face and the finish was brutal. I wanted more though

DHR: I liked this a lot until I watched Jimmy Jacobs later do the same things as this match but crazier.

LB: This was fun. We chortled a lot about the fines ROH would face for Necro hitting himself in the head to bleed before the match started. Their styles were a bit different (punch-kick v. high spots), which added to the interest. I’m not sure I would have wanted this match to go longer. I’m sure the guys were pretty sore after the time they did spend in the ring.

TKG: They run an intermission. We socialize with Cowboy Wayne, Brian and Tim. I get liquored up and Dean tries to get me to hit on Baby Doll.

DHR: Tom is a moron. Baby Doll is looking great. Tom is a man who I ASSUME would fuck Aja Kong on the basis his respect for her body of work. What is it, Tom? Baby Doll’s work in the Magnum/Tully I Quit match wasn’t good enough you? Do you understand Professional Wrestling?

LB: Baby Doll is looking great? Have you really quit drinking, Mr. Rasmussen? But one does need to respect the career of the Perfect 10. I had no idea she came from a wrestling family as well, as mentiond in the recent Wrestling Observer obit of Penny Banner. I was almost tempted to at least go to the concession stand and offer to pay for her bag of Reese’s Pieces. But I’m not a Man.


DHR: This was my number 2 match of the night. Jacobs going face first into chairs when he had a gigantic match the following night is going the extra mile to make the fans get into the match- and that shouldn’t be lost on folks. Considering how shittily the main eventers of the following night fucking mailed it in to a paying crowd, it made it even more poignant. He earned the money I gave him and I appreciate that. I mean , it was more that just “busting his ass”. It’s a love of the craft; wrestling is a sleazy, hideous business where guys kill their wife and son and then their employer tries to send a squad of people to spin it in their favor. It’s nice to see somebody actually give a shit- especially since the last guy who seemed to really give a shit kinda killed his wife and child. Man, wrestling is fucked up. Jay Briscoe has a real Kerry Von Erich lovable dope vibe going now and I assume he started taking aspirin and shots of Everclear the moment this match was over to prep for the next nights match.

TKG: Yeah I don’t know how Jimmy Jacobs pulls off weakheel and crazy recklessness at the same time. But everything he did just felt amazing. I don’t really get the ROH booking where he only gets to go over American Dragon cleanly and needs outside help for everyone else. But fuck he’s a guy who totally makes you believe in a brawl. Brawling spots with neat setups and neat payoffs.

PAS: For your ROH 4 pillars (Jacobs, Necro, Nigel, Dragon), Jacobs came out of the weekend of wrestling the best. I am not a huge Jay Briscoe fan, and this match being in VA took away the option to bleed himself into my heart, (although he made up for it in NYC) still this was a batch of fun. The in ring mike portions of the Aries feud really kind of flopped over the two days, but the wrestling portions were great. Jacobs is so nuts, and his stuff looks so good that you buy him as a crazy bad ass brawler even though he is half the size of Spike Dudley. I have made the Jacobs as modern day Eddie Gilbert comparison before, but Gilbert wouldn’t have taken this kind of asskicking on a house show, Jacobs may need to learn how to hide a non existant chain to last untill he is 30, but Fuck was he killing it this weekend.

LB: I thought this match was great also. Jacobs was bleeding from the back somehow early on. The fellers recounted most of the awesomeness above, so I’ll just mention that it was slightly disheartening to see Damian Wayne as part of the crew running out to ineffectively try to break up the post-match brawl.


DHR: This was the best match of the night and maybe of the of the entire road trip. Tyler Black is deeply stuck in the second rope boomerang cresent savat kick X-Division Offense and its suckassity is really exposed when thrown up against the sheer brutal beauty of American Dragon’s brilliant offense, but Tyler Black can do something that a lot of wrestlers can’t do- Tyler Black can sell. That was the key. Dragon’s submissions looked great because Black sold them like death and THUS the match becomes a rich tapestry of pain and horror and crying. It was fucking great.

TKG: Man alive you watch a match like this and realize how important Dragon is to ROH. He has absolutely mastered the role of gatekeeper guy in semi main. I can’t think of anyone who does it better. It feels like you can take anyone on the roster and put them in a series against Dragon and after two matches they’ll be credible main event title contenders. Dragon is a guy who can beat someone and in the process make opponent look strong. Dragon is a guy who can be beaten and still leave looking strong. Watching this made me reflect on Dragon’s title run. Realized that it was hurt by the fact that ROH really doesn’t have anyone else who can effectively play his role (guy who makes title challenger credible). You really need American Dragon working a series with Roderick Strong, Delirious, etc to elevate them to title contention. You need an American Dragon to work those guys to keep them elevated after they loose their title shots (not having two Bryan Danielson’s meant after title series the losers slipped out of picture completely). Danielson is a blast to watch playing other roles (drop kicking babyface teamed with Metal Master v Rene Dupree and Carl Oulette). But in role of gatekeeper, feels like there is no one better.

PAS: I am very much not sold on Tyler Black yet, he would do three cool things and one thing that looked like shit. He definitely needs to ditch all of his spin kicks, especially when he is in a match like this. I did really like his stomps though. This was of course a Dragon show, as he has so many different ways of making things look painful. Dragon is also really good at working the crowd, he has enough shtick now, that he doesn’t need to do insane things to get over. This VA show felt like a show with some mailed in performances, I am not sure that Dragon wasn’t also mailing it in a bit, but he is such a master at what he does, that mailed in Dragon is easily the match of the weekend.

LB: This was my first time seeing Dragon in person, and it was not a disappointment. If Bob Backlund had learned a thousand extremely painful submission holds, he would be as good as Dragon. I thought Tyler Black was a fine opponent. I never had a sense that he could win, it was more a matter of how long can he hang in there, which was a compelling story. Dragon’s mugging and interactions with a Tyler Black fun was a lot of fun. I think it’s hard to pull off the emotions of really having a good time at the same time you are in a really physical match causing someone a lot of pain. And Dragon’s relentless kicks were pretty brutal.

TKG: Favorite part of this was the large sections built around the Romero special. Tyler Black really having to fight to get Danielson into the Romero special. Danielson having multiple variations on the Romero special, working it into pins, submissions, working I to focus on abusing Black’s knees, working it to work the highflyer’s back, etc. Just a ton of stuff worked in and out of Romero Special, where it really came off as a dangerous move.

NO REMORSE CORPS (Davey Richards/Roderick Strong/Rocky Romero) vs. TEAM NOAH (Naomichi Marafuji/Go Shiozaki/Takeshi Morishima)

PAS: The first thing you notice about this match is how tiny all of the American guys look. Marifuji is a Japaneese junior and he towered over everyone here, and Morishima v. Richards looked like Big Show v. Maywhether. The first part of this match was worked smartly with the NRC doing tiny heel comedy spots, Romero is actually pretty amusing as Downtown Bruno, he should move to Memphis and feud with Corey Maclin. Morishima and Go were also pretty good at working as face foils against tiny heels. Marifuji however comes in and wants to work even with guys half his size, and then this match stopped being a comedy match and got into a 2.9 finish Please Don’t Stop shitfest. I did get a bit of hope back when Marifuji and Romero tagged in and did mirror kick spots “Oh good they are back to doing comedy” unfortunitly I think they were serious. I mean Dragon Gate million finish six mans are bad enough, but doing that finish run when the heel team is a third of the size of the face team makes absolutely no sense. Especially when the first part of the match was built around the heels being overmatched, at one point they couldn’t slam the NOAH team, now they were hitting released German suplexes.

DHR: All my friends are divided into two camps- the Virginia Contingent wet their polyester paunts in orgasmic glory over this match, while the DC Contingent threw their Battlestar Galactica painted miniatures to the ground and tore at their Nation Of Ulysses t-shirts in rage at the shittiness of this match. I enjoyed the comedy and assumed the shittiness of the Manami toyota vs Kyoko Inoue Channels CZW 1999 Five Thousand Pointless Nearfalls was going to happen straight from the opening bell, so I’m came away non plussed.

TKG: Battlestar galactica figurines? I wish I had hobbies that were that socially acceptable. Man that would be so much easier to explain than my collection of Eddie Cantor ephemera. And I don’t think Manami Toyota and Kyoko Inoue would really work that match if tagged opposite Lobo and Ruckus.

LB: I was happy to see that they boys were thinking of leaving during this match because that meant I could get home by around 11pm. The opening was fun enough with the homoerotic mirror pile-ons in the corner and Morishima acting like a playful and fanciful Terry Gordy. An OK match to think about leaving early on.


DHR: This was waaaaaaaaaaaaaay better than we figured it would be going in. I can’t wait for them to come back. And hopefully I can get bankrolled again.

LB: It was great to see in person a lot of wrestlers I had only read about or seen on tape. The company could not be beat, the drive was pretty easy, so I hope they come back to Manassas or the DC area regularly.

PAS: I have been to much better ROH shows, but have rarely had as good of a time. Plus you can’t beat an hour drive