Intercut between some matches are clips of Nigel McGuinness talking about some of the matches on this set. He was excited about his ROH debut match against Chet Jablonski because he didn’t feel at the time he was good enough or had the look for the bigger companies. Spanky passed along an ROH tape to him and knew he would have the chance to go balls to the wall if he got the chance to do so.
Nigel McGuinness vs. Chet Jablonski
“Wrath of the Racket” – Dayton, OH – 8.9.2003
Jablonski controls McGuinness by his arm. McGuinness the ropes to flip out and forearm Jablonski in the face. Jablonski gives him a spinebuster for two. Jablonski shoulder tackles him for another two. A couple McGuinness gets in a couple European uppercuts. Jablonski gives him a fisherman’s suplex out of the corner. McGuinness uses the ropes to deliver an armdrag. McGuinness uppercuts the back of Jablonski’s neck and kicks his lower back. McGuiness slaps on an STF. Jablonski gets the ropes to break. McGuinness trips him back into the hold. Again Jablonski gets the ropes. McGuinness stretches out Jablonski’s back. Jablonski double clutch armdrags McGuinness into the corner. Jablonski gets two with a fisherman’s Northern Lights suplex. McGuinness uses an O’Conner Roll and a folding press to get two. Jablonski hits a reverse cradle brainbuster for two. Jablonski misses a senton. McGuinness captures him in a bridging cradle for the pin at 6:29. That was a nice showcase for both guys, who at the time were new to ROH and representing the HWA. I’m actually surprised we didn’t see more out of Jablonski as he looked really solid. **1/2
Nigel McGuinness vs. Homicide
“Midnight Express Reunion” – Philadelphia, PA – 10.2.2004
McGuinness controls Homicide in a headlock. He turns it into a cravate, which Homicide uses the ropes to escape. McGuinness puts on an overhand wristlock and traps Homicide’s arm in a legscissors. Homicide key locks his legs and puts on a chinlock. He transitions that into a Rings of Saturn, which McGuinness quickly breaks with his foot on the rope. McGuinness twists up Homicide’s arm before delivering an armdrag. McGuinness gives him a clothesline while holding onto the arm for two. Homicide smacks McGuinness’ chest as he takes the corner. McGuinness twists up his legs and puts on a crossface. Homicide crawls to the ropes. Homicide chops McGuinness in the hopes he will stop doing damage to his legs. McGuinness responds with his own chops before capturing Homicide’s head and under his leg. Homicide rolls him into a hammerlock while scissoring the neck. Homicide puts on a three quarter nelson. Homicide dropkicks McGuinness off the ring apron. Homicide comes off the apron with a double axe handle instead of diving. Homicide accidentally clotheslines the ring post. McGuinness throws Homicide shoulder first into the ring post and the barricades. McGuinness twists the arm up in the ropes. Homicide pokes his eyes. McGuinness armwhips Homicide to block a tornado DDT. McGuinness gets two with a backbreaker. McGuinness gets two with a German suplex also. Homicide turns referee Todd Sinclair around so he can low blow McGuinness. Julius Smokes gets in a cheap shot too. Homicide delivers a running knee strike while McGuinness is seated in the corner. Homicide gets two with a release belly-to-belly suplex. Homicide puts on a leg lock STF. McGuinness grabs the bottom rope. Homicide’ diving headbutt gets two. McGuinness suplexes Homicide off the top rope. McGuinness puts Homicide in a hammerlock. He suplexes Homicide onto his arm for two. Homicide gives McGuinness a Complete Shot into the corner and a piledriver for two. McGuinness throws him bad arm first into the mat. Homicide’s briding t-bone suplex only gets a two. McGuinness headstands in the corner. He turns that into the Tower of London. Smoke puts Homicide’s foot on the bottom rope. Smokes also grabs McGuinness’ leg as he goes to the top rope. Homicide sneaks in the Hamachan Cutter. He uses his bad arm to hit a lariat. Because it’s not as strong, McGuinness kicks out. McGuinness fights out of the Cop Killer. He gives Homicide a Divorce Court and locks on an arm submission, turning it into the cradle for a big win at 20:01. As much as Homicide has been characterized as a brawler for most of his career, this match proves he was capable of doing some good mat wrestling when the time called for it. They were very methodical and smart in their movements and holds which made for a fun exhibition. ***
Present Day: McGuinness says he was a bit intimidated before facing Homicide in the previous match. He knew it was his opportunity to move up the card and thankfully it went well. He will always be greatful to Homicide for that match.
We then get a video package of McGuinness and his feud with Colt Cabana. They started out as a team, but McGuinness didn’t think Cabana was taking things to seriously. They had a series of matches that McGuinness won through nefarious means (a low blow, grabbing the ropes, spitting in his face). That would lead to Cabana going over to England to get better and get a better idea of how McGuinness worked.
Present Day: McGuinness loved and was proud that he and Cabana could incorporate a lot of the British wrestling from yesteryear that wasn’t being showcased into their feud.
Soccer Riot Rules
Nigel McGuinness vs. Colt Cabana
“Night of the Grudges 2” – Morristown, NJ – 8.20.2005
Cabana was able to name the stipulation for this feuds blowoff. It was not the European Rules or technical match McGuinness was expecting, but rather a Soccer Riot bout. Cabana is wearing a soccer jersey and has a soccer ball in hand. He headbutts McGuinness to start the bout. He lists off a bunch of moves and things that are legal (which essentially translates this into a Falls Count Anywhere match). Hey, there’s Larry Dallas in the front row! Cabana throws multiple chairs at McGuinness. Cabana is in control as they fight up into the crowd. McGuinness delivers a low blow but Cabana comes back pretty quickly and crotches him on the stair railing. McGuinness escapes a potential dive from Cabana. Cabana however clothesline him over a railing and back onto the floor of the building. Cabana throws back into forth into some fans chairs. McGuinness gets in a chair shot before throwing Cabana back to ringside. He throws Cabana into the barricades. In the ring, McGuinness sets up the soccer ball and accidentally punts it into the crowd. Cabana boots McGuinness in the chest. The fans throw the soccer ball back to Cabana. He throws it right at McGuinness’ crotch. Cabana gives him Shattered Dreams. Cabana misses a pescado. McGuinness kicks him low and sets up the timekeeper’s table. Cabana and McGuinness fight it out on the ring apron. Cabana hits a missile dropkick for two. Cabana gets two with a moonsault. Cabana picks up the iron McGuinness brings with him to the ring. McGuinness low blows Cabana before he can use it. McGuinness sets up two chairs in the ring and goes for a superplex. Cabana fights McGuinness off. McGuinness grabs his iron, clocks Cabana with it and it sends Cabana through the ringside table. McGuinness quickly goes for the pin but only gets two. As it turns out, Cabana brought his own iron to the match. He blasts McGuinness with it but only gets a two count. McGuinness goes for the Rebound Lariat, only for Cabana to counter with his own lariat for the pin at 17:37. This was fun but sort of all over the place. Cabana winning with a lariat out of nowhere was cool, but also a bit underwhelming considering everything else that took place before it. ***
ROH Pure Championship
Samoa Joe (Champion) vs. Nigel McGuinness
“Dragon Gate Invasion” – Williamsville, NY – 8.27.2005
This would be McGuinness’ second shot at Joe’s Pure title, as Joe defeated him two months prior at “The Future Is Now.” McGuinness earned this shot for putting in an impressive showing in the Soccer Riot match. McGuinness takes Joe’s arm on the mat. Joe puts on a headscissors. McGuinness pops out. Joe kicks him in the chest after breaking a knuckle lock. McGuinness uses an illegal closed first behind referee Todd Sinclair’s back. McGuinness puts on a headlock. When Joe looks to escape, McGuinness punches Joe with a closed fist. Joe throws one of his own and gets caught. He only gets a warning instead of having a rope break taken away. A Manhattan Drop and boot take McGuinness off his feet. Joe blocks the Rebound Lariat with a powerslam. McGuinness uses one rope break to block a cross armbreaker. Joe casually steps out McGuinness’ crossbody path. Joe lands a senton on his back for two. McGuinness rolls to the floor and goes under the ring. As Joe is about to dive after him, McGuinness smashes a chair into Joe’s arm. Sinclair takes McGuinness’ second rope break away because of it. McGuinness twists up Joe’s hurt arm, forcing him to use up his first rope break. McGuinness fakes out Joe with a Rebound Lariat. He puts on a Fujiwara armbar, causing Joe to use his second rope break. McGuinness hooks Joe’s arm under his leg. He’s taunting Joe to get the ropes. Joe rolls out instead. Joe’s temper gets the best of him and he uses another closed fist. That costs him his third and final rope break. McGuinness rolls through a uranage and hits a superkick. Joe catches him with a uranage the second time. McGuinness brings Joe out of the ropes with another Fujiwara armbar. Joe whips McGuinness across the ring. Joe boots McGuinness when McGuinness does a headstand in the corner. Joe slaps McGuinness silly before going for the Muscle Buster. Joe’s arm gives out so he delivers an enzuigiri instead. McGuinness hits the Tower of London for the pin and the title at 14:48. Joe had his foot on the ropes, but since he used all his rope breaks up it didn’t matter. I thought the story was totally brilliant here. It was a great precursor to how McGuinness’ Pure title reign would play out and really pushed him from the guy who was poised to be in the main event to a main event level guy. Very ingenious stuff. ***1/2
Present Day: McGuinness puts over Samoa Joe in a big way. He says his match with Kenta Kobashi is one of his all time favorites. He learned a lot from Joe.
ROH Pure Championship
Nigel McGuinness (Champion) vs. Austin Aries
“Unscripted II” – Lake Grove, NY – 2.11.2006
We get some arm work out of both men in the early going. McGuinness elbows Aries in the face to break a wristlock. Aries rolls out of the corner and misses a back elbow. He does however connect with a Japanese armdrag. McGuinness going to the corner with a collar and elbow tie-up counts as a rope break. Aries gives him a slingshot back elbow in the corner. McGuinness locks Aries shoulder while applying a headlock on the mat. Aries turns it into a headscissors. McGuinness key locks his legs and throws some forearms to the face. Aries pops out of a headscissors. McGuinness blocks the dropkick, flips Aries off and locks his legs again. He pulls back on Aries’ legs while his face lay across McGuinness’ leg. Aries nails a clothesline. McGuinness suplexes him for two. Aries finally hits the dropkick out of headscissors. He gives McGuinness the Heat-Seeking Missile on the floor. Aries hits a jumping elbow drop for two. McGuinness headstands in the corner. He catches Aries with a boot to the back/elbow combination. McGuinness drives his arm into the mat for two. McGuinness Divorce Courts his arm, again for two. Aries uses his first rope break to stop McGuinness’ successive pin attempts. McGuinness rolls Aries shoulder first into the bottom turnbuckle. Aries is able to muster a Saito suplex while McGuinness wears him down. Aries gets two with a rolling elbow and a Powerdrive elbow. He gives McGuinness a Finlay roll and frogsplash. McGuinness gets his shoulder up. McGuinness tosses Aries on the top rope. He lariats Aries back to the mat. Aries uses his second rope break to stop the pin. Aries’ chinbreaker leads to McGuinness hitting the Rebound lariat for two. McGuinness uppercuts Aries in the corner, which leads to McGuinness giving Aries the Tower of London. Aries uses his final rope break to save himself. Aries puts on a front chancery and bridges up on McGuinness’ neck, causing McGuinness to use his first rope break. McGuinness hits the Tower of London again. Aries manages to kick out. He even cradles McGuinness, but only for two. Aries hits the IED while McGuinness headstands in the corner. Aries drops him with a brainbuster. McGuinness uses his second rope break to stop the pin. Aries hits the 450 splash. His shoulder is too hurt to go for a pin right away, so when he does go for it, McGuinness has enough energy to kick out. McGuinness locks on a bodyscissors and hammerlock at the same time. Aries wraps himself in the ropes and taps out at 18:50. Aries and McGuinness gave the crowd a great match in spite of the card change. This was one of those matches where both guys come out looking great and the title seems all that more prestigious. Although McGuinness had some good defenses before this, this was really stood out amongst the pack. ***1/2
Present Day: McGuinness reminds us that Aries ignored TNA’s decree to its wrestlers to come to Florida for the PPV the next day when a snow storm was about to hit the area. Jay Lethal, Alex Shelley, and Homicide obliged but Aries and Roderick Strong stayed behind. McGuinness is very grateful for that fact. He appreciates that Aries knew it was an important match for him and feels he did a good job holding up his end of the bargain as well.
Another tremendous video package is shown chronicling McGuinness’ reign as Pure Champion, Bryan Danielson’s reign as World champion, and their feud against one another. At “Unified” in August of 2006, in McGuinness’ home country of England, McGuinness and Danielson faced each other to unify the belts to settle the dispute over which champion is the better wrestler.
Present Day: McGuinness says Bryan Danielson made his career. He puts over his abilities and skills as both a fan and a fellow wrestler. He’s always been impressed with how well he can work with anybody.
ROH World Championship & ROH Pure Championship Unification Match
Bryan Danielson (ROH World Champion) vs. Nigel McGuinness (ROH Pure Champion)
“Unified” – Liverpool, England – 8.12.2006
To clarify, this match is in fact contested under Pure Rules. In the case of someone being counted out, the title WILL change hands. An aggressive lock-up is broken against the ropes. Danielson smacks McGuinness in the face. McGuinness armdrags Danielson and slaps him in the face. Danielson digs his elbow into McGuinness’ face. Danielson breaks McGuinness’ wristlock and dropkicks him to the ropes. Danielson twists up his arm. McGuinness snapmares him into a Dragon kick. As they jockey for position Danielson pushes McGuinness to the corner. He whips McGuinness arm first into the mat. Danielson stomps on his elbow. He bends McGuinness’ fingers while applying more pressure to the wrist and shoulder. He delivers a dropkick for two. Danielson butterfly suplexes McGuinness into a cross armbreaker. McGuinness is forced to use his first rope break. McGuinness catches Danielson in the corner with a kick to the back and an elbow. McGuinness drives Danielson’s arm to the mat for two. McGuinness applies a Cobra Clutch after an uppercut. Danielson ducks a clothesline and delivers an enzuigiri. Danielson stomps both of McGuinness’ knees into the canvas. Danielson delivers a superplex. A diving headbutt follows. When that doesn’t get Danielson the pin, he puts on the Cattle Mutilation. McGuinness uses his second rope break to escape. McGuinness catches Danielson climbing the ropes. He delivers the Tower of London. McGuinness breaks the pin by using his first rope break. McGuinness puts on the Cattle Mutilation himself! Danielson uses his second rope break to escape that. They fight spills out to the floor. Danielson throws McGuinness face first into the timekeeper’s table. Back in the ring we get a forearm exchange. McGuinness ducks Danielson’s rolling forearm and delivers a lariat for two. McGuinness does a headstand in the corner. Danielson dropkicks and hits his rolling forearm. He puts on the Crossface Chicken Wing with a bodyscissors. McGuinness uses his third and final rope break to escape. Danielson is very happy about this. Danielson hits a German suplex. McGuinness gets his boot up to block a diving headbutt. Danielson wins an intense slap battle. McGuinness crotches him on the top rope and nails a lariat. Danielson uses his final rope break to stop the pin. Danielson catches McGuinness on the top rope with the Chicken Wing. McGuinness turns it into the Tower of London for a two count. Danielson pulls McGuinness head first into the ring post four times. The impact legitimately busts him open. Danielson dropkicks him into the crowd and springboard dives onto him. Both men make it back into the ring at eighteen. McGuinness is fired up and bloody. He and Danielson throw simultaneous headbutts, as if they were freakin’ rams or something. Danielson counters it the first time, but the second time McGuinness scores with the Rebound lariat. McGuinness crawls over to Danielson and only gets two. Danielson puts on Cattle Mutilation. McGuinness escapes, so Danielson traps his head and lays in a barrage of elbows to the side of his head. The referee stops the match at 26:20, giving Danielson the win and the titles. Easily one of the best matches in ROH history, one of the best matches of both guys’ careers, and one of the most classic matches ROH has had. No doubt about it, if you have not seen this match, you need to. ****3/4
Present Day: McGuinness talks about concussions. He mentions how even a simple back bump can cause some head damage. He has some regrets about the unprotected blows his head took the turnbuckle. He clarifies that he didn’t quit wrestling due to head trauma. He knew the Unification match was a big deal. Even though he doesn’t think he will make it to WWE, he takes great pride in certain matches he has had. That match is one of them. He doesn’t know if he would have received the opportunities he did or stood out if he didn’t take some of the calculated risks he did. He then talks about the first time he came to New York City in 1998 and how one day he hoped to return and wrestle in Madison Square Garden. While he never did that, wrestling in the Manhattan Center was almost just as good. Specifically, he was proud of his match with Naomichi Marufuji in September of 2006.
GHC Heavyweight Championship
Naomichi Marufuji (Champion) vs. Nigel McGuinness
“Glory By Honor V, Night 2” – New York, NY – 9.16.2006
Each man breaks a lock-up against the ropes. Marufuji works his way out of a headscissors. He uses the ropes to reverse McGuinness’ wristlock. McGuinness snapmares him into a side headlock. Marufuji breaks free and trades forearms. McGuinness sends Marufuji to the apron. Marufuji dragonscrew leg whips McGuinness’ in the ropes. Marufuji twists on his knee in the corner. He kicks the inside of his leg repeatedly. He throws the leg into the ring post and dragonscrews it again. Marufuji puts on a figure four leg lock. McGuinness fails to slap himself free, so he grabs the bottom rope. McGuinness sends Marufuji shoulder first into the ring post. McGuinness suplexes’ Marufuji onto his arm for a two count. McGuinness drops him with a Divorce Court. McGuinness captures his arm and leans back on it. McGuinness turns him into a short-arm lariat for two. He puts on an Anaconda Vice. Marufuji fights out, kicks out McGuinness’ leg and delivers a clothesline for two. Marufuji hits another clothesline. McGuinness mule kicks Marufuji from a headstand position. McGuinness snaps the top rope into Marufuji’s eyes when he goes to the ring apron. Marufuji superkicks him. He gives McGuinness a Shiranui from the ring apron and to the arena floor! McGuinness makes it back inside before the count. Marufuji goes for a superplex. McGuinness shoves him onto the top rope. He lariats Marufuji off the ropes for two. McGuinness drops him with the Tower of London. Marufuji gets to his feet and hits a Shiranui. Both men lay lifeless but manage to get up before the ten count. McGuinness hits an uppercut in the corner. He nails the Rebound lariat for two. McGuinness takes him to the top rope so he can deliver the Tower of London onto the ring frame! When he rolls back in the ring, McGuinness goes for a pin. Marufuji kicks out. They slap each other from their knees to their feet. They each hit a superkick. Marufujui roundhouse kicks and superkicks McGuinness for two. Marufuji kicks McGuinness while he’s doing a headstand. He hits a coast-to-coast dropkick. Marufuji hits the Shiranui from the second rope, giving him the victory at 22:32. Even though the outcome was obvious, the New York crowd bought on more than one occasion that McGuinness had synched the victory. If nothing else, this raised his credibility in both American and Japanese fans’ eyes and was just another crucial step for him to take on his path to the World title. ***3/4
Highlights: “I Quit Match” – Nigel McGuinness vs. Jimmy Rave (Battle of the Icons – Edison, NJ – 1.27.2007)
McGuinness concentrated his effort on picking apart Rave’s arm. Rave on the other hand worked over McGuinness’ arm. He put McGuinness in a Heel Hook, causing the referee to stop the match. I guess he was doing for McGuinness’ well being but that was still lame. McGuinness never said “I Quit”, yet still lost? That’s just silly. They should have not had that be the stipulation if that was the plan. We would get the payoff to this feud on the final Fifth Year Festival show.
Present Day: He calls Jimmy Rave one of the most underrated and underappreciated guys in ROH history. He doesn’t understand why the fans never got behind him, but personally has a lot of respect for him.
Fight Without Honor
Nigel McGuinness vs. Jimmy Rave
“Fifth Year Festival: Finale” – Liverpool, England – 3.4.2007
McGuinness’ right leg is taped up from his match with Samoa Joe the night before. He sends Rave to the floor with a lariat. Rave throws McGuinness onto the apron. McGuinness uses the ropes to bounce back and hit another lariat. He throws Rave into the guardrails. McGuinness brings a chair into the ring. Rave dropkicks the chair into McGuinness’ hurt leg. Rave slams the leg against the ring frame. Rave teases ramming McGuinness’ head against the ring post. McGuinness instead throws Rave’ shoulder into it. McGuinness pulls a steel guardrail out from under the ring and slides it into Rave’s chest. He props up the guardrail between the barricades and the ring. McGuinness flap jacks Rave onto it. Rave kicks McGuinness’ leg to block a chair shot. Rave hits the Doppler Effect for two. He gives McGuinness a knee strike in the corner before delivering a neckbreaker for two. Rave ducks a lariat and hits a spear for two. McGuinness responds with a short arm lariat, also for two. McGuinness goes for the Tower of London. Rave fights out and hits a missile dropkick. McGuinness blocks his charge with a boot. He hits the Tower of London this time for two. Rave gets a knee up to block a running uppercut. Jimmy hits Ghanarhea and the Pedigree for two. Rave goes for a springboard DDT. McGuinness blocks, places Rave on the top rope and lariats him off. Both men fight on the apron near the guardrail. Rave ends up dropping McGuinness back first on it which bends the guardrail in half. That only gets Rave a two count. McGuinness fights off the Heel Hook and backdrops Rave onto the guardrail, which falls to the floor. McGuinness sets the barricade back up (sort of). McGuinness gives him the Tower of London on a steel chair. Rave kicks out of the pin. Rave trips McGuinness to block a lariat. He puts on the Heel Hook. McGuinness grabs the ropes to try and wiggle free. He kicks the referee by accident in the process. He then gives Rave the Twoer of London onto the guardrail! Todd Sinclair comes out to make the count. Rave kicks out. He spear McGuinness, who turns that into the Rebound lariat for the pin at 21:17. That was quite the battle, and likely Jimmy Rave’s best ROH match ever. I think the Tower of London on the guardrail would have been a more fitting ending, but as it was they still did a great job. For the record, the Rebound lariat ended up breaking Rave’s jaw. Nigel renamed the move to the Jawbreaker lariat because of this. ****
Highlights: ROH World Championship – Nigel McGuinness vs. Takeshi Morishima (Fighting Spirit; 4.14.2007)
This was McGuinness’ first shot at the title with Morishima as champion. Morishima would successfully defend the title, but not without a valiant effort from McGuinness.
Highlights: Nigel McGuinness & Bryan Danielson vs. Takeshi Morishima & Naomichi Marufuji (United We Stand; 6/22/2007)
McGuinness won the match for his team by pinning Morishima with the Jawbreaker Lariat. This would earn him another shot at Morishima’s title, this time in Morishima’s home country of Japan.
Highlights: ROH World Championship Nigel McGuinness vs. Takeshi Morishima (Live in Tokyo; 7.16.2007)
The Jawbreaker Lariat could not get the job done this time. Morishima would end up defending his title successfully once again, using the Back Drop Driver to pick up the win. This would not be the last time these two met for the title, as Nigel won himself a title shot at the “Man Up!” PPV just a couple of months later. He would then challenge for the title at ROH’s next PPV, “Undeniable.”
ROH World Championship
Takeshi Morishima (Champion) vs. Nigel McGuinness
“Undeniable” – Edison, NJ – 10.6.2007
Morishima doesn’t budge on McGuinness’ shoulder block. They each go for their finisher (the Jawbreaker Lariat and Back Drop Driver) but are not successful. They trade forearms. Morishima blocks another Jawbreaker Lariat attempt with a side slam. He steamrolls McGuinness with his large frame. McGuinness rolls to the floor. Morishima hammerlocks his arm and throws it into the ring post. He stomps on the arm and twists it in the bottom turnbuckle. He continues to work on the arm back in the ring. McGuinness fires up as Morishima throws some forearms. He smacks Morishima in the side of the face. Morishima forearms him to the mat. Morishima boots him in the corner. McGuinness uses his body weight to block to the Back Drop Driver. His first lariat doesn’t do much, but his second knocks Morishima down and gets a two count. He nails a running European uppercut in the corner. Another lariat gets him two. Morishima blocks another Jawbreaker Lariat. Morishima splashes him in the corner and delivers a missile dropkick for two. Morishima goes up top. As he comes down, McGuinness nails a lariat. Morishima kicks out. McGuinness headstands in the corner. Morishima boots him and hits his own lariat. He delivers the Back Drop Driver. McGuinness kicks out at two. McGuinness goes for the Tower of London. When that fails he delivers a superplex instead. It only gets a two count. McGuinness wears down his neck. Morishima hits another Back Drop Driver. McGuinness rolls through and hits the Jawbreaker Lariat for two. McGuinness goes up top. Morishima follows and looks for a super Back Drop Driver. McGuinness turns that into a Sunset Bomb for two. McGuinness lights up Morishima with slaps to the face. McGuinness hits a running lariat for one. McGuinness turns his hip attack into the Jawbreaker Lariat for the pin and the title at 14:21. The fans went absolutely bonkers for this finish, and at the time it really did feel like it was a long time coming. The match itself was not at the level of some of their previous encounters and had a few moments of questionable selling, but it was definitely the right call to give Nigel the belt. ***1/2
The locker room empties to celebrate McGuinness’ big win. Danielson gets in his face to try and spoil the party, but Austin Aries runs him off. Morishima respectfully hands him the title.
Present Day: Nigel realized he had to adapt his style if he wanted to reach the top tier of ROH. He threw a lot more strikes and realism into his arsenal which his NOAH tours helped him out with. He feels the realism in his matches with Morishima translated to the people. He had recently watched the finish of the match for his upcoming documentary and was blown away by the reaction of the crowd. He feels one of his failings in his career was looking ahead to the future and not soaking in moments like that one. With his newer style came bigger bumps and bruises, and he started accruing injuries more rapidly than before. They started catching up to him at a bad time; right after he won the World title. He tore his bicep the week after winning the belt. He says he owes Gabe a great amount of gratitude for sticking with him through his injuries. He talks about his first full match back with Austin Aries. In that match he got a concussion after taking the Heat-Seeking Missle face first into the barricade. He carried on with the match and gives Aries a ton of credit for the match (which many call one of the best in both men’s careers). He’s proud of it regardless of head trauma. He talks about the speech he gave at Final Battle 2007 and how half the fans understood him taking off while the other half felt cheated. He goes more in depth about head injuries and how he’s happy the wrestling industry is smarter to what they can do long term.
Nigel McGuinness Speech (“Final Battle 2007” – New York, NY – 12.30.2007)
Many fans are chanting “Drop the Belt” at Nigel, hoping that in lieu of his injuries that he will simply surrender the World title. He considers doing just that but instead says that the injuries he has accrued is what make him worthy of being a champion. He’s going to keep the belt for the fans who love professional wrestling and took his side.
ROH World Championship
Nigel McGuinness (Champion) vs. Tyler Black
“Take No Prisoners” – Philadelphia, PA – 3.16.2008
Black earned this shot by defeating Delirious, Go Shiozaki, and Claudio Castagnoli in a four corner survival match earlier tonight. McGuinness starts off by throwing Black’s shoulder into the ring post. He throws Black shoulder first to the canvas as well. He puts on a chinlock in the ropes. McGuinness throws him down by the arm again while antagonizing a fan. Black hops over McGuinness in the corner. He delivers a backdrop and a suplex. Black stomps on McGuinness’ face. McGuinness stomps on the back of his head. When Black begins throwing chops, McGuinness arm whips him back to the mat. Black gets two with a dropkick. McGuinness brings Black to the floor and whips him into the barricades. He uppercuts him into the barricades too. McGuinness picks up a chair but Black superkicks him into the crowd before he can use it. Black dives into the crowd where McGuinness catches him with a chair shot. Black manages to crawl his way back in looking totally defeated. McGuinness goes for the quick pin and Black kicks out. Black ducks a lariat and schoolboys McGuinness for two. McGuinness hits a running uppercut in the corner and lariats Black as he comes out of the corner. Black kicks out. He puts on the London Dungeon. Black gets his foot on the bottom rope to break it. Black comes off the top with a Diamond Dust. McGuinness goes for the Jawbreaker Lariat and Black blocks it with a running boot. Black ducks a lariat and kicks McGuinness in the back of the head. He hits Paroxysm for two. Black misses a corner attack. McGuinness kicks him in the back and grounds him with a lariat. McGuinness can’t believe it only gets him a two count. Black strings together a superplex and an F5 for two. The crowd loses it. McGuinness stops Black for hitting a Phoenix Splash. He gives Black the Tower of London for two. Black counters a lariat with God’s Last Gift. The fans again go wild when McGuinness kicks out. He misses the Phoenix Splash. McGuinness put him in the London Dungeon. Black turns that into a cradle and gets a two count. McGuinness lariats Black off the top rope. He kicks out again. Black spits his gum in McGuinness’ face. McGuinness turns him into a lariat. Black kicks out again. Black kicks McGuinness. McGuinness uses the momentum to hit the Jawbreaker Lariat. Black, amazingly, kicks out again. McGuinness lariats Black and puts the London Dungeon back on. Black finally taps out at 21:22
The one thing I love about the ROH main eventers is they pay their success forward. Danielson put over McGuinness to elevate him to the next level and that’s exactly what McGuinness did here for Black. This was THE moment Black broke out of the pack and went from “a dude in the Age of the Fall” to “future World champion.” This was truly incredible. ****1/4
Present Day: McGuinness was impressed with Tyler when he first saw him. Gabe did too. He talks about how they structured the match to get the right emotion out of the crowd they wanted. He knew the Philadelphia crowd hated him and used that to his advantage. He then turns his attention to Claudio Castagnoli. He respects that he came to the United States, worked hard on the indies and got better and better throughout the years. He looks back on those matches fondly. What he can remember, anyways.
ROH World Championship
Nigel McGuinness (Champion) vs. Claudio Castagnoli
“New Horizons” – Detroit, MI – 7.26.2008
Right away Claudio hits Swiss Chin Music for two. McGuinness counters the Ricola Bomb with a lariat. Claudio hits one of his own and then delivers the Ricola Bomb for two. McGuinness rolls to the floor. Claudio throws some uppercuts around ringside. In the ring, McGuinness snaps the top rope into Claudio’s eyes. Claudio knocks him to the floor. McGuinness cuts off his dive. Claudio blocks the Tower of London. He throws McGuinness head first into the barricade while holding onto a cravate. McGuinness crotches Claudio on the barricade. Claudio forearms McGuinness to block a lariat. McGuinness does however hit the Tower of London onto the floor. They trade uppercuts back in the ring. McGuinness delivers a lariat to end the exchange. He applies a headscissors. Claudio leans back and gets a two count. McGuinness skullf*cks Claudio and kicks him in the back. He stretches his back out across his knees while putting on a chinbreaker. McGuinness releases it and pins Claudio for two. Claudio winds up with some uppercuts. He gives McGuinness the Match Killer for two. He suicide dives onto McGuinness when McGuinness rolls to the floor. McGuinness and Claudio fight it out on the top rope. Claudio forearms McGuinness to the mat. He misses a high crossbody. McGuinness Divorce Courts his shoulder for two. McGuinness kicks him in the back and lariats him to the mat. McGuinness gives him the Tower of London for two. Claudio catches him with an uppercut in the corner. He hits Swiss Chin Music for two. McGuinness trips Claudio to block the Ricola Bomb. Claudio counters the Jawbreaker Lariat with a Big Swing. He releases and pins McGuinness for two. Claudio jumps to the top rope. McGuinness crotches him and sets up for a lariat. Claudio enzuigiri’s him to counter. He gets two with a superplex. He deadlifts McGuinness into a German suplex also for two. Same thing goes for the Alpamare Water Slide. Claudio nails a Springboard European uppercut. McGuinness uses the momentum for a Jawbreaker lariat, but Claudio counters it with Swiss Death. When McGuinness kicks out he goes for the Ricola Bomb. McGuinness slips out. Claudio backslides McGuinness to counter the Jawbreaker Lariat. McGuinness kicks out. McGuinness rolls through an O’Conner Roll. He finally hits the Jawbreaker Lariat for the pin at 19:21. This had a lot of really exciting moments mixed in with their general great wrestling. This was a far step above all of their 2005 encounters, as well as their title match from “A New Level.” ****
Present Day: McGuinness jokes around by saying that wrestling El Generico is like wrestling Skeletor. He then puts him over like a million bucks, talking about his ability and how exciting he is. He feels Generico “gets it.” He then uses a Bobby Heenan joke to talk about him.
ROH World Championship
Nigel McGuinness (Champion) vs. El Generico
“Glory By Honor VII” – Philadelphia, PA – 9.20.2008
McGuinness breaks a lock-up cleanly in the corner. Generico chops McGuinness after breaking a lock-up against the ropes. McGuinness locks his arm around Generico’s arm while grabbing at his face. Generico rolls to the ropes to break it. McGuinness sits down on Generico’s shoulder. McGuinness playfully smacks him. Generico smacks back and McGuinness back elbows him in the face. He forcefully whips Generico to the corner. He thrusts his hands into Generico’s throat for two. Generico responds with a leg lariat. Generico hits a springboard huracanrana for two. McGuinness mule kicks Generico from a headstand in the corner. McGuinness throws Generico shoulder first into the corner. He suplexes Generico by his shoulder as well. McGuinness pitches him out to the floor. Generico gets his boot up to block a running uppercut. McGuinness is able to hit a lariat anyways. McGuinness throws Generico’s hurt arm against the ring post. Back in the ring McGuinness throws some uppercuts. Generico throws some chops of his own. Generico kicks McGuinness to the floor. Generico hits a springboard moonsault onto him. In the ring Generico misses a yakuza kick. He kicks Generico in the back and lariats him to the mat. McGuinness delivers a running uppercut for two. Generico grabs the ropes right away when McGuinness goes for the London Dungeon. Generico evades the Tower of London. He schoolboys McGuinness for two. He gets two with a Blue Thunder Bomb. McGuinness crotches Generico on the top rope. He successfully delivers the Tower of London for two. Generico begins to fight back only to be hit with a lariat. McGuinness gives him the Tower of London on the ring apron! McGuinness only gets a two count, so he locks on the London Dungeon. Generico gets the ropes again. McGuinness goes to the top rope. Generico stops him and goes for a super brainbuster. McGuinness shoves him off but Generico yakuza kicks him. Generico follows with a coast-to-coast somersault dropkick. McGuinness grabs the bottom rope to stop the pin. McGuinness throws him to the mat in an arm wringer. Generico blocks the Jawbreaker lariat and toreadors into a brainbuster. McGuinness kicks out. McGuinness gives him a lariat off the top rope for two. Generico rolls McGuinness up to block the London Dungeon. McGuinness kicks out and delivers a DDT. McGuinness takes off the top turnbuckle pad. He grabs his world title belt while the referee is fixing that. Kevin Steen comes in to superkick him. Generico hits a yakuza kick for two. McGuinness fights out of a super brainbuster. He gives Generico a jackknife pin for the victory at 20:59. This took some time for the crowd to really get going, but that’s Philly for you. Otherwise it was a great effort from both men but fairly forgettable for an ROH Championship match at Glory By Honor. ***1/2
Present Day: McGuinness admits by this point in his reign he was running on fumes. He lists all the injuries and soreness he felt at this point. He talks about how the notion of giving Jerry Lynn the title was inspired by “The Wrestler”, which is pretty obvious. He remembers a match they had at the Rex Plex in 2004 when he though the crowd was going to be difficult until they went crazy for Jerry. He feels the title switch was his ROH career coming full circle. Most of his thoughts were focused on how to not injure himself further rather than making the match good. He wasn’t thrilled about following KENTA and Davey Richards who tore the house down earlier or the fact that he saw fans leaving before his match even begun. He feels Jerry Lynn should have gotten more out of the wrestling business given how much time he put in.
Highlights: ROH World Championship Nigel McGuinness vs. Jerry Lynn (“Supercard of Honor IV” – Houston, TX – 4.3.2009)
Jerry was the guy to finally unseat Nigel’s epic ROH World title run. It was a 545 day title reign in his thirty-eighth defense. That tied Nigel for the most successful defenses ever with Bryan Danielson, and places him second in reign longevity to Samoa Joe’s 645-day title reign from 2003-2004. Those statistics are courtesy of my buddy Jake Ziegler. Cheers mate!
Bryan Danielson vs. Nigel McGuinness
“Glory By Honor VIII; The Final Countdown Tour: New York” – New York, NY – 9.26.2009
Danielson works out of a full nelson. McGuinness snapmares Danielson multiple times but each time Danielson holds onto his wrist. McGuinness twists up Danielson’s wrist himself. Danielson nails a dropkick. McGuinness cartwheels out of an ankle hold. Danielson hammerlocks his arm and stretches the other arm back, grinding his elbow against it. Danielson steps on his arm to get a two count. McGuinness stretches out Danielson’s arm. Danielson smacks him in the side of the head. Danielson stomps his knees into the mat. McGuinness digs his knee into Danielson’s head. McGuinness grabs Danielson’s arm and suplexes him overhead. McGuinness works over the arm in the corner. Danielson comes of the second rope with an uppercut. He knees McGuinness in the stomach when he comes off the ropes. Danielson dropkicks and suplexes McGuinness before going up top. Danielson hits a diving headbutt for two. McGuinness ducks Danielson’s charge. He kicks Danielson in the back and lariats him to the canvas. McGuinness places him on the top turnbuckle. Danielson shoves him off. McGuinness catches his top rope dropkick and goes for a folding press. Danielson turns it into a Triangle Choke. McGuinness gets his foot on the bottom rope. Danielson and McGuinness trade some quick pins with no success. Danielson flips out of the corner and hits a running elbow strike. McGuinness fights off Danielson’s suplex attempt. He dropkicks McGuinness in a tree of woe. Danielson suplexes him off the top rope. McGuinness goes for Cattle Mutilation. McGuinness powers out of it and flips Danielson into the Tower of London. Danielson kicks out. Danielson sends McGuinness into the crowd with a knee strike off the ring apron. Danielson springboard dives onto him. Danielson celebrates on the barricade. This gives McGuinness the opening to shove him face first into the ring post. McGuinness gives Danielson (who is now busted open) the Tower of London off the ring apron. It does some damage to McGuinness as well. McGuinness gets revenge for the “Unified” match by pulling Danielson head first into the ring post three times. McGuinness thinks he has the match won, but Danielson crawls back in before the twenty count. McGuinness almost goes for the Tower of London in the ring but changes his mind. He instead delivers the hold shoulder first onto the ring frame. McGuinness goes for a pin right away but Danielson kicks out. He puts him in the London Dungeon. Danielson grabs the ropes to break it. Danielson ducks a top rope lariat. He hits a missile dropkick which fires him up. McGuinness goes for another Tower of London. Danielson works out of it and hits a running knee strike. McGuinness uses the momentum to hit the Jawbreaker Lariat for two. He puts the London Dungeon back on. McGuinness traps Danielson’s legs and stretches him out over his own legs. Danielson flips out of it, traps McGuinness and throws some elbows. McGuinness switches out quickly and throws elbows of his own. Danielson fires up. Danielson throws rapid elbows. McGuinness O’Conner rolls him for two. In another “Unified” throwback, they throw headbutts at each other. Danielson small packages McGuinness to block the Jawbreaker Lariat and gets a two count. McGuinness hits it on the second attempt. Danielson turns McGuinness’ pin over and applies the Cattle Mutilation. Danielson locks his arms and reigns down with elbows to McGuinness’ head. Danielson stomps McGuinness’ head in while holding onto his arm. Danielson rolls him into the Triangle Choke. Danielson throws more elbows while applying the hold. Referee Todd Sinclair calls for the bell when McGuinness seems hopeless.
This match was a great way for both men to leave the company. It wasn’t their best match, but it was a nice “Greatest Hits” bout to play homage to some of their classic bouts. It was a fitting that each men left facing their most popular, and arguably best, opponent one last time. Sadly, the heat for the home stretch could have been much better but I don’t blame either guy for that. Both guys will certainly be missed and contributed a zillion great matches during their ROH tenure. ****