ROH Honorable Mention: All Star Extravaganza VII Review
This weekend Ring of Honor’s All Star Extravaganza VII produced a major title change in what may be Christopher Daniels‘s last championship reign on a card that was solid from top to bottom and crescendoed with a bloody fracas.
Emanating from the Lowell Auditorium in Lowell, Massachusetts, the event kicked off with Donovan Dijak’s ROH World Television title shot against the champion, Bobby Fish. The size difference between two dictated Fish’s strategy of trying to take the bigger man’s legs out and the plan worked to perfection, helping the two tell a story throughout the match. Dijak was the crowd favorite as his hometown is Worcester, just a few miles away.
Despite having the support of the crowd, Dijak was unable to fend off Fish’s repeated strikes to his knees and knee bar attempt, severely hampering his offense. The end of the match saw Dijak hoisted Fish up for his finisher Feast Your Eyes, but the wily veteran wriggled out and was able to lock on a rear naked choke that forced referee Todd Sinclair to call for the bell and adding yet another successful title defense to Fish’s reign.
A four corner tag team match to determine the next number contenders took place between War Machine, the All Night Express, Shane Taylor and Keith Lee and the unlikely duo of Dalton Castle and Colt Cabana. The issues between Shane Taylor and Ray Rowe bubbled over in this match and their respective teams cancelled each other out in this one, allowing Castle and Cabana to come away with the win here. Whether the two will keep tagging remains to be seen, but the two play well off each other and would allow Castle to gain credibility and traction in the company with consistent booking. War Machine and the team of Lee and Taylor have unfinished business and this match did well to keep the hostilities between the two fresh.
Jay Lethal faced off against Naito in what amounted to a grudge match. During a ROH television episode, Lethal teamed with Naito and Evil to take on the Bullet Club, only to have his two partners desert him. Although Michael Elgin and Kyle’ O’Reilly came to Letha’s aid, he called Naito out after the match and demanded that Nigel McGuinness book the match for All Star Extravaganza. With Naito walking in the the IWGP Intercontinental champion, it seemed unlikely that Lethal would win this one, but the former ROH World Heavyweight champion was able to do just that in a stellar match. Lethal is promised a rematch for the title and beating one of the best in the world undoubtedly makes him look stronger heading into the match.
Adam Cole defended the ROH Heavyweight title against Michael Elgin, the same man who beat him for the very same title two years ago. With Cole have won the belt recently, it was unlikely that he would drop it here, but the story of redeeming himself against Elgin made it interesting. Elgin recently dropped the IWGP Intercontinental title in a match that saw him sell a leg injury and he continued to show ill-effects from same injury that impaired him enough to lose the strap in Japan. While this made logical sense, it was a bit odd to have a similar in ring story told during the TV and World Heavyweight title matches. That aside, Elgin’s time in NJPW has reinvigorated him and the match would have been an excellent main event if not for the Ladder Wars that followed.
In the main event, The Addiction defended their titles against the Young Bucks and the Motor City Machine Guns in what was ROH’s sixth Ladder Wars match. These men pulled out all the stops in this one, with a four table spot that was punctuated by a 450 splash off the top rope to the outside by Nick Jackson. Christopher Daniels, age 46, put his body on the line, even after being busted open early on in the match, losing the title but earning a tremendous amount of respect from the crowd and even his opponents breaking character and showing respect.
— The Young Bucks (@MattJackson13) October 1, 2016
With the title belts dangling right in front of him, Nick Jackson instead chose to launch off the ladder and execute a Super Indy Taker to Kazarian through a table, eschewing the win for the moment in order to risk his body once more. Although risk-taking doesn’t often reward the perpetrator for disobeying logic, the Young Bucks were both able to climb the ladder and simultaneously claim the belts, making them two ROH Tag Team champions. With the win the Bullet Club leaves an international footprint of supremacy that is unmatched in wrestling today.
Final Thoughts: A+
For the second event in a row, Ring of Honor put forth an incredible show, with the main event being worth the price of the entire PPV. Christopher Daniels’s promo before the match on ROH Television this week was gripping and the set the stage for his efforts to elevate everyone else that participated in the match. The event is a must watch for any fan of ROH and with four weeks of television taped the night after, it seems that the company is going to great lengths to create multiple entry points for fan engagement. The combination of the compelling storytelling and top notch wrestling bodes well for the build to Final Battle in December.