The DVD starts with clips from “Generation Next” with Roderick Strong and Austin Aries jumping the Christopher Street Connection. Alex Shelley and Jack Evans join them. The idea for tonight’s show was the fans would vote for which of the newer wrestlers they were most impressed with after a series of singles matches, and those who did the best job according to the fans would get contracts. Shelley puts the ixnayon all that, saying he doesn’t like entrusting the idiot fans with his future. He, Aries, Shelley and Evans are high jacking the name of the show as the name of their stable. They claim that they are the future of Ring of Honor.
Generation Next (Austin Aries, Roderick Strong & Jack Evans) vs. Special K (Izzy, Dixie & Angel Dust)
“Generation Next” – Philadelphia, PA – 5.22.2004
Aries and Dixie exchange strikes. Dixie gets two with a swinging DDT and a leg lariat. Dust comes in with a neck brace. He dropkicks Aries, so Aries of course gives him a neckbreaker. He even takes off the neck brace before dropping a knee across his neck. Evans tags in. He gets in some kicks before Dust rolls him around on the mat. Izzy takes him down with a moonsault dropkick. Strong breaks the pin. Evans German suplexes Izzy inside out. After getting the better of Izzy, Strong throws him to the corner. Izzy dropkicks Strong to the floor then dives out after him. Izzy cuts off Evans’ dive. Evans dropkicks his legs out and spikes him in a reverse huracanrana. Dust breaks the pin. He gives Evans a Joker Driver and Aries breaks his pin. Aries hits the Pendulum Elbow. Dixie breaks the cover. Strong blocks his rana with a powerbomb backbreaker. Izzy drops Strong with a Blockbuster. Strong gives Hydr a backbreaker. Aries hits a 450 splash on Dust and Evans a 630 splash on Izzy, giving Generation Next triple pinfalls at 7:57. The finish was a perfect way to build this new stable, but Special K got in WAY too much offense. A nice showcase of moves but not much in the way of substance. **
Alex Shelley says that match confirmed his suspicion that there isn’t a single real wrestler in Special K. Hydro (Jay Lethal) takes exception to that and gets in Shelley’s face. This leads right into a singles match.
Alex Shelley vs. Hydro (Jay Lethal)
“Generation Next” – Philadelphia, PA – 5.22.2004
The fans are solely behind him. Hydro does not shake Shelley’s hand. They start with a wristlock exchange. Shelley turns him over into a modified surfboard. Shelley key locks the legs and goes for a chinlock. Hydro flips out of it when Shelley loosens up on the hold. Shelley puts Hydra in a leg-lock parachute stretch. Hydro goes for an armbar but Shelley gets the ropes quickly. Hydro knocks him down with a back elbow for two. Hydro lays in some strikes against the ropes. Shelley drives Hydro’s neck across his knee, then clotheslines him into a neckbreaker across his knee. Shelley uses a few different submissions to wear down Hydro’s neck. He comes off the top with a knee strike to Hydro’s neck for two. He calls for Shell Shock. Hydro instead O’Conner rolls Shelley for two. Shelley rolls out and goes for the Border City Stretch. Hydro rolls out. Hydro takes him down into the Last Chancery. Shelley slips out. Shelley catches him with the Shell Shock. He puts on the Border City Stretch for the submission at 7:30. That was a really excellent technical display. Both guys made the most of their seven minutes and really got themselves over. This is a shining example where both guys come out looking better than they did going in. ***
Shelley admits he was impressed with Hydro and offers him a spot in their group. Hydro turns them down. Shelley says with or without him, tonight is the night they rise as a group and they will be damned if anyone stops them. Later in the night, The Briscoes come out for a match. Generation Next comes out to confront them. Shelley says they’re going to take their spots as well. The Briscoes are willing to fight them. When Shelley points out that the sides are uneven, Jimmy Rave and John Walters come out. They were scheduled for a singles match earlier in the evening until Generation Next attacked them. Walters says they will join The Briscoes for match. Just like that, we have an impromptu eight man tag.
Generation Next (Alex Shelley, Austin Aries, Roderick Strong & Jack Evans) vs. The Briscoes (Jay & Mark Briscoe), John Walters & Jimmy Rave
“Generation Next” – Philadelphia, PA – 5.22.2004
Rave gets control of Strong’s arm. He tags in Mark who takes Strong to the mat. Strong tags in Shelley after applying a wristlock. When Mark puts him in a headscissors, Walters comes in and goes to work on his leg. Shelley manages to take things to a stalemate and tags in Evans. Walters gives him an uppercut. Everybody on his team gets their shots in on Evans. He flips out of Mark’s wristlock and tags in Aries. Aries gets backed into the opposing corner where Walters tags in and takes control. When Jay tags in, Aries kicks him in the side of the face. Strong and Jay beat the snot out of each other. Strong softens up his back and nails a dropkick. Walters and Aries have a pretty intense exchange, but more methodical than Jay and Strong. Rave and Shelley tag in once they are done. They do a good job dodging each others’ offense. Shelley hits the floor. Strong and Jay go at it again. Jay back elbows him for two. Strong chops up Mark and tags in Evans. Mark turns him inside out with a clothesline. Walters tosses Evans off his shoulders onto both sets of Briscoes knees. This starts a trend of the non Gen Next team attacking Evans back in the hopes of keeping him grounded. Evans gets up his boot when Jay goes for a leapfrog, giving him a low blow. He kicks Jay in the head and tags in Strong. Shelley kicks out Jay’s knee so that Strong can successfully deliver a backbreaker. Gen Next now take turns going after Jay’s knee. Jay fights back against Strong and uses his last bit of energy to give him a boot. Rave tags in and cleans house on Strong and Rave. Shelley attacks him from behind. Shelley bails when Rave goes for the Doppler Effect. He superkicks Aries. He and Walters team up on Strong. Shelley accidentally crotches himself in the corner and falls victim to Walters’ back cracker. Walters block Strong’s backbreaker. He ties up his legs with Shelley’s and puts them in a tandem stretch. Evans dropkicks the Briscoes to the floor and moonsaults onto them. Strong and Walters German suplex each other. Strong gives him a Gutbuster. Aries, Strong and Aries wear down Walters’ neck while also keeping his team at bay. When they let Evans in, Walters is able to hit him with a clothesline and tag in Mark. He missile dropkicks Aries and throws some kicks at Strong. The Briscoes hit the Doomsday Device on Aries for two. Shelley dragonscrews Jay’s previously worn down leg. He puts on the Stryker Lock to mock ROH roster member Matt Stryker. Rave breaks the hold and puts Shelley in a crossface. Shelley gets the ropes and hits Rave with an enzuigiri. Rave finally nails the Doppler Effect. Strong breaks the pin. After some momentum shifts, he gives Rave a backbreaker. Mark and Evans hit stereo splashes from opposite corners. Evans suplexes Mark onto his head! Mark comes back with the Cut Throat Driver. Mark is too hurt to go for the cover. Jay goes for the Jay Driller on Strong. He connects, only to fall to a 450 splash from Aries right after. Walters powerbombs Aries from the second rope! Evans breaks the pin. He springboard dives onto the Briscoes and Rave. Shelley stomps Walters’ neck and puts him in the Border City Stretch. Aries prevents Rave from breaking the hold and locks him in the Rings of Saturn. Walters taps out at 41:12. This match did a tremendous job of establishing Generation Next as a dominant unit. Not only that, but all four members got to show off their strengths, weaknesses, and personality types while also putting down some ROH stalwarts, an up and comer, and outshining one of the better technical wrestlers on the roster. This was a great way for ROH to establish four new top guys to replace those who left in the wake of the Feinstein incident. ****
At “World Title Classic”, Shelley offered Matt Stryker to walk away from their scheduled match or get beaten down by Generation Next. He was too proud to walk away, so Generation Next beats him down as promised and Shelley bloodies him with a chain. Jimmy Rave and John Walters run out. They manage to catch Evans while the other Generation Next members bail. Walters powerbombs Evans right onto the wooden floor! Generation Next checks on Evans as Rave and Walters check on Stryker. Officials start taking Stryker to the back. Walters and Rave issue a challenge to Gen Next. Shelley accepts, but says it will be a handicap match.
Generation Next (Alex Shelley, Roderick Strong & Austin Aries) vs. Matt Stryker, John Walters & Jimmy Rave
“World Title Classic” – Dayton, OH – 6.12.2004
Generation Next’s advantage doesn’t last long as Stryker heads to the ring to join Walters and Rave right after the bell. Shelley and Strong hit the floor and Stryker tosses Aries onto them. Shelley and Walters end up exchanging wristlocks. Walters grabs the bottom rope immediately when Shelley goes for his legs. Strong tags in. Walters gets him in a Camel Clutch variation. He releases when he notices Shelley trying to sneak in. Rave puts Strong in a side headlock. He transitions to a wristlock and tags in Stryker. He angrily throws some chops and kicks Strong in his shoulder blades. Walters jams Strong’s leg across his shoulder. He and Rave target that leg in their offense. Stryker helps out a couple times but he’s still groggy from the post-match attack. Strong throws Rave to the mat by his hair. Aries is met with a chop the moment he tags in. He stops Rave’s huracanrana. He and Shelley lift up Rave and assist Strong with a backbreaker. Rave shows a good amount of fighting spirit while Generation Next keep him isolated. Todd Sinclair is extremely incompetent in the amount of triple teaming from Gen Next he’s missing, as well as two tags Rave made to Stryker that he did not see. Thankfully, Rave is able to fight off the three Gen Next members again and tag in Stryker right in front of Sinclair. He has enough adrenaline to clean house and powerslam Aries for a two count. He German suplexes Shelley three times. He gives two to Strong and then Walters comes in with a back cracker. Rave huracanrana’s Strong. Aries heads up top, but Stryker suplexes him off. Walters drops Shelley in a Backpack Stunner. Shelley whips him into the barricades while Rave puts Strong in the Crossface. Aries breaks it with a 450 splash to Rave’s back. He then puts on a Rings of Saturn which causes Rave to tap at 16:48. I know it’s wrestling, but the ineptitude of Sinclair in this match was really frustrating. Thankfully the six men involved were good enough wrestlers that they had a good match in spite of that. ***1/2
Generation Next (Roderick Strong & Jack Evans) vs. Special K (Izzy & Dixie)
“Reborn Completion” – Elizabeth, NJ – 7.17.2004
Izzy armdrags Strong a couple times and headscissors Evans to the floor. Izzy sends Strong out with a rolling kick. Evans goes back to the floor after a moonsault dropkick. He springboard flips onto them. Dixie flubs a huracanrana on Strong. He recovers with a corner dropkick and a bulldog. Izzy flies in with a springboard block buster for two. He gives Strong a running boot and Evans breaks the cover. Special K double dropkick Strong, and again Evans has to save him from being pinned. Evans kicks Dixie from the apron and Strong kicks him to the floor. A brawl between Generation Next and Special K ensues. Evans springboard dives onto everybody. He and Strong gang up on Dixie back in the ring. Evans takes out Izzy as well. Gen Next bust out the Ode to the Bulldogs and receive a standing ovation for it. It only gets a two count on Dixie though. He manages to hit a springboard DDT and enzuigiri on Strong. Izzy tags in and spikes Evans with a reverse huracanrana. Special K double hip toss Strong into a tandem facebuster. Strong clotheslines Izzy. He blocks Dixie’s huracanrana, and he and Evans give him the Death By Knee. Strong gives him the CX ’02. Evans follows with a 630 splash for the pin at 9:00. I don’t understand why the less coordinated and sloppy Special K got in so much offense in the beginning. Thankfully Strong and Evans got the win and looked awesome by the end. **1/4
Later on in the show, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat is standing over CM Punk with a ring bell to his throat. Generation Next attacks Steamboat. Punk is now standing over him. Punk looks like he’s about to join Generation Next. However, he tells Steamboat that he is going to be the man that Steamboat believes he can be and starts fighting the members of Generation Next. Punk becomes overwhelmed. Steamboat recovers and helps Punk fight them off. Generation Next have now found new enemies in Punk and Steamboat.
Generation Next (Austin Aries, Roderick Strong & Jack Evans) vs. John Walters, Matt Stryker & Jimmy Jacobs
“Death Before Dishonor II, Part One” – Wauwatosa, WI – 7.23.2004
Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat is in the corner opposite Generation Next. Evans mocks Steamboat by giving Jacobs some armdrags. Jacobs snaps off some of his own. Evans kicks Walters and tags in Strong. Walters gives Strong his own armdrags. Stryker grabs Strong’s arm. Strong punches him away and tags in Aries. Stryker goes after his arm as well. Aries kicks Stryker in the corner. Stryker misses a knee strike in the corner. Aries kicks out the knee and targets the limb with the help of his partners. Stryker crawls back to his corner after giving Aries a divorce court. Jacobs chops all of his opponents in the head. Shelley distracts the referee so that Strong can come in and pop Jacobs up into a missile dropkick from Evans! Now it’s Jacobs’ turn to be isolated in the Gen Next corner. Jacobs manages to toss Evans onto Strong and Aries, giving him the chance to tag in both of his partners. Stryker and Walters do some damage to Aries’ back. Stryker drops Strong across Walters’ knees. Stryker puts Evans on his shoulders in an electric chair. Walters gives Evans a back cracker off of his shoulders. Aries breaks the cover. Strong powerbombs Stryker into a 450 splash from Aries. Jacobs comes in with a senton to break the cover. Shelley grabs Walters’ legs. Steamboat comes over to neutralize him. Evans misses a 630 splash. Walters then puts him in a crazy body submission that causes Evans to tap out at 16:40. Generation Next took no time to become a great unit. The triple team on Jacobs was awesome, as was just about everything else in this match. It’s hard to have a bad time watching matches like these. ***1/2
Generation Next (Roderick Strong & Jack Evans) vs. John Walters & Matt Stryker
“Death Before Dishonor II, Part Two” – Chicago Ridge, IL – 7.24.2004
This is an impromptu match, as Stryker and Walters save Jacobs from a post-match beatdown. Stryker and Walters show tremendous proficiency as a team and manage to take the match early on. Strong catches Walters with a gut buster and a running boot to stop Walters’ arm work. Evans and Strong use their agility and strength (respectively) to trap Walters on their side of the ring. Walters escapes by giving them a simultaneous back cracker (one knee each). Stryker tags in and double clothesline Gen Next right away. He leg lariats Evans for a two count. He gets another with a powerslam. After a Thesz Press he pounds away at Evans’ face. He misses a quebrada. Strong grabs Walters so he and Evans can bust out the Ode to the Bulldogs. Stryker gives Evans a gutbuster before Walters gives Evans a back cracker off of his shoulders shoulders. Stryker and Walters lock Strong and Evans in simultaneous submissions. Steamboat fails to stop Shelley from interfering. Aries attacks Steamboat from behind. Stryker comes out to help Steamboat fight off Aries and Shelley. Strong breaks Walters’ submission on Evans. He gives Walters the Spinal Shock. Evans tornado kicks Stryker to prevent him from breaking the cover. Strong pins Walters at 10:47. This was entertaining but lacked some of the excitement that the trios matches have had. The Ode to the Bulldogs still rules all these years later. **3/4
Austin Aries vs. CM Punk
“Glory By Honor III” – Elizabeth, NJ – 9.11.2004
Punk and Aries trade control of a wristlock. Punk controls Aries by his left arm. Aries tries escaping with a monkey flip, but Punk keeps his grip on tight. He arm whips Aries’ into an armbar. Aries puts on a headlock. Punk puts him in a headscissors which Aries traditionally is known to escape with a dropkick. Punk takes note and ducks the oncoming dropkick. He goes back to the left arm. Aries dropkicks him away. He misses the IED. He shoulder blocks Punk to the floor and dropkicks him stomach first into the barricades. Punk gets his knees up to block a slingshot senton. Punk holds onto Aries arm as he dropkicks him to the floor. Punk goes for a pescado. Aries pulls the barricade closer so that Punk collides with it. Aries slingshots onto Punk but also hits the floor in an unfavorable way. This time the slingshot senton connects, as does a frog elbow. Aries does some damage to Punk’s mid-section. He gets two with a DDT. Same goes for a TKO. Punk shoves Aries off the top rope and connects with a missile dropkick. Punk strings together a couple mule kicks and an enzuigiri for two. Aries blocks a Shining Wizard with his hurt arm. Punk puts on a Fujiwara armbrar. Aries maneuvers his way to the ropes. Aries takes him down with a backbreaker and STO. He gets two with the Powerdrive Elbow. Aries blocks another arm attack with a brainbuster. Punk kicks out. He stops Aries from hitting a 450 splash an goes for the reverse Pepsi Plunge. Aries counters with a Sunset Bomb. Punk rolls through and hits the Shining Wizard. Punk busts out Welcome to Chicago before putting the Fujiwara armbar back on. Aries again makes it to the ropes. Punk accidentally whips him into referee Todd Sinclair. Strong and Evans attack Punk while Sinclair is down. Ace Steel runs in to chase them away. Shelley runs out and chokes Punk on the mat. Aries give Punk a gut buster across Shelley’s knee. Steve Corino comes out to chase Shelley away. Punk rolls up Aries for the pin (which the camera misses) at 18:31. All that work for such a long time amounted to nothing. The crowd wasn’t ever really into the match and the convoluted finish didn’t help lift their spirits either. You’d expect a lot better out of these two, but I can understand why they would keep things simple when a finish like that was coming. **1/2
Generation Next (Alex Shelley, Austin Aries & Jack Evans) vs. The Second City Saints (CM Punk & Ace Steel) & Jimmy Jacobs
“Gold” – Dayton, OH – 10.15.2004
Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat and Traci Brooks are in the corner opposite Generation Next. Shelley and Jacobs feel each other out in the opening exchange. They pick up the intensity after slapping each other in the face. Shelley begs off after Jacobs forearms him in the face. Punk and Aries tag in. They exchange forearms right away. Aries hops over Punk and comes out of the corner with a back elbow. Punk delivers the Welcome to Chicago and tags in Steel. They roll Aries up into a modified slam. Steel chops him up in the corner. Aries baits him into an eye poke. Evans and Punk tag in. Evans “serves” him with some breakdancing. Steel pushes Evans into a schoolyard trip over Punk’s back. The Saints bully Evans with some (at times) humiliating offense. When Jacobs starts stomping on Evans, Aries and Shelley send him to the floor. They bail when Punk and Steel enter the ring, so the Saints just suicide dive after them. Jacobs then crossbody’s onto them. He tries for the Contra Code on Evans back in the ring. Aries catches Jacobs mid-move and powerslams him. The momentum shifts now as Gen Next wear down Jacobs in their corner. Jacobs catches Shelley with a senton and tags in Punk. Punk simultaneously DDT’s Shelley and stuns Aries. He and Aries criss-cross the ropes. Aries purposefully baseball slides Traci, leading to a brawl between the teams on the floor. Steamboat takes her backstage. Meanwhile, Punk has been worn down significantly. Gen Next takes advantage of that by keeping him in their corner now that things have settled down. They specifically target his neck and upper back. Steel saves Punk from being pinned by Evans’ brainbuster. After a lengthy beatdown, Punk leapfrogs over Shelley causing him and Aries to collide. He takes the opening to tag in Steel. He springboard dropkicks Shelley and Aries and drives Evans back first into the corner. He gets two on Aries with a Tiger Driver. He drops Shelley with a lifted DDT. He puts Evans in a Gory Stretch. Punk swantons onto Evans, leading to Steel giving him a Spinal Shock. Punk enzuigiri’s Aries for two. Punk German suplexes him and Shelley frog splashes onto Punk. Jacobs Contra Codes Shelley while also landing with a splash on Aries. He puts Punk onto Aries to get a two count. Punk and Steel set up for a Doomsday Device. Aries counters by sending Steel to the corner with a huracanrana, crotching Punk on the top rope. Evans wipes out Steel and Jacobs with a dive to the floor. Strong comes in with a chair. Steamboat neutralizes him. He helps Punk get up. Punk hits the Pepsi Plunge on Aries for the pin at 32:07. Another really fun trios match. This could have been better with a hotter crowd and maybe half the time, but it never got boring and they did a good job building heat between the two factions for later encounters. ***3/4
Generation Next (Austin Aries & Roderick Strong) vs. The Second City Saints (CM Punk & Ace Steel)
“Weekend of Thunder Night 2” – Elizabeth, NJ – 11.6.2004
The Saints jump Generation Next before the bell. Steel suicide dives onto Strong. Punk gets two on Aries with a Michinoku Driver. Punk whips Strong into the barricades. Aries takes him down with a Heat-Seeking Missile. He rams Steels’ back into the barricades multiple times. Strong sends Punk through a chair with a backbreaker. In the ring, Aries slingshots in with a splash to Steel across Strong’s knees. Punk trips Strong to the floor and throws him into the barricades. He and Steel drop Aries in a legdrop/suplex combo. The Saints meet Strong with a double spinebuster. Punk kicks him in the groin. Evans emerges ringside with a ladder. Punk dropkicks it into him and then pescados onto the ladder and Evans. Steel brings the ladder into the ring and side slams Strong onto it. Aries gives Steel a receipt with a Side Russian legsweep onto it. Punk powerbombs Aries onto the ladder. Evans misses a springboard tornado kick onto Punk. The Saints try to take Evans out. With Strong’s help though, they are able to take out Punk with a Doomsday crossbody. Aries frog splashes onto Punk for two. Aries whips Steel into the ladder in the corner. He and Strong both dropkick Steel into it. Strong helps Evans perform a twisting senton. Steel comes back with a fisherman’s buster to Strong. Aries and Evans take out Steel on the floor while Strong sets up Punk’s leg in the ladder. Aries slams a chair onto the ladder. Strong sets up the chair and drives Punk’s knee onto it. Strong and Aries slam Punk onto the ladder. Exhausted, Steel smacks Aries in the back with a chair. Aries whips Punk into the chair in the corner, then dropkicks his head into it. Steel butterfly suplexes Aries onto the ladder. He flubs a chair-assisted legdrop as Punk knee strikes Strong in the corner. Punk suplexes Strong onto the ladder. Steel meanwhile has set up Aries on a table ringside. Strong stops Steel from climbing the ladder with an electric chair slam. Punk is now on the ringside table. Evans barely hits the table with his splash, getting the worst of the dive. Aries goes for an elbow drop off the apron. Punk moves and Aries collides with the table (it does not break). Strong gives Punk a backbreaker across his shoulder. Punk blocks a second Doomsday Crossbody by catching Evans and powerslamming him onto a ladder. Steel helps Punk give Strong a piledriver onto the ladder. Aries blocks Steel’s attack and Finlay Rolls him onto the ladder. He follows with a 450 splash that misses, causing him to collide stomach first with the ladder. Steel powerbombs Evans through the ringside table. Strong gets two on Punk with a backbreaker. Punk puts Strong away with an ultra sloppy Pepsi Plunge onto the ladder for the pin at 19:56. That went far too long for a sequence of disconnected moves in which many were missed. I think it would have been much better for Gen Next to go over here too, especially given that they had the numbers advantage. Also, if the entire ROH locker room hates Gen Next, why was nobody there to help the Saints out? This gets points for some nifty spots, but otherwise this was a rare miss for the guys involved. **1/2
The disc opens up with two slips from “Final Battle 2004.” The first is of Alex Shelley & Roderick Strong taking on CM Punk & Steve Corino. Shelley taps out to Punk’s Anaconda Vice. Aries get on the microphone. He reminds Shelley that they formed in the same building back in May. That night he reminds Shelley that he told Aries that night to remember where his loyalty lies. Aries is upset because lately Shelley has been absent. Aries says before he takes Samoa Joe’s ROH World title, he wants one more spot: Shelley’s spot as leader of Generation Next. He tells Shelley he’ll let him step down, but then jumps him. Strong gives Shelley a backbreaker as well! Aries says that if Shelley has talent on loan from God, then he’s his Personal Jesus. With that, Shelley is out of Generation Next. We then see a clip from Aries’ title shot against Samoa Joe. After a brainbuster and a 450 splash, Aries ended Joe’s nearly 22 month reign as champion. Joe tells Aries to carry that belt with respect, and to carry it like he respects the ROH fans. Aries takes those words to heart and shakes Joe’s hands. Thus, Generation Next has now changed their perspective. You can see this match in full on Austin Aries’ ROH compilation. In the early part of 2005, Shelley would get singles matches against all three of his former partners.
Jack Evans vs. Alex Shelley
“Third Anniversary Celebration Pt. 3” – Chicago Ridge, IL – 2.26.2005
Before the match, Shelley admits he acted like a “douchebag” during his Gen Next tenure and offers Evans to side with him and take a new approach to reaching the top of ROH. Evans slaps him in the face. Shelley does a little chain wrestling before forearming Evans to the floor. Evans goes for a quesadora bulldog. Shelley holds on, bending Evans back in a modified Dragon Sleeper. Evans kicks Shelley away and rolls him up for two. He tries for a springboard and Shelley sweeps his legs out. He ties up Evans’ legs and puts him in a Bow and Arrow. Evans flips out but gets armdragged into a Skull F*ck. Shelley then puts him in a reverse Boston Crab which bends Evans in half. He then bends Evans over his shoulder. Evans armdrags Shelley to the ropes. He misses a Busaiku Knee and falls to the floor. Shelley dives after him with a twisting crossbody. In the ring though, Evans catches Shelley with a tornado kick for one. He stretches out Shelley’s arm before getting two with a standing twisting splash. He also lands a twisting quebrada. He puts on a modified headscissors until Shelley gets the ropes. Shelley pops him up for a powerbomb. Evans sweeps out Shelley’s leg to stop a superkick. He drives his knees into Shelley’s chest for two. Shelley catches him with Shell Shock. Evans kicks out which surprises Shelley. He tries for a slam. Evans reverses it into a DDT. He misses a 630 splash but lands on his feet. Shelley superkicks him for another two count. Evans recovers and connects with the Busaiku Knee. He then fisherman brainbuster’s Shelley from the second rope. Shelley kicks out of that. Evans tries again for the 630. Shelley gets his knees up. He puts on a Half Crab over his knee and Evans taps at 13:49. At this point, Evans had only had one other singles match in ROH, so this was a chance for him to showcase what he could do as an individual. Luckily he took the ball and ran with it, and ended up looking really strong by going toe-to-toe with Shelley and kicking out of his biggest moves until being submitted into a loss. Shelley himself also looked like his usual, proficient self. ***
Aries attacks Shelley after the match and gives him a brainbuster. He places Shelley’s arm between two chairs so that Evans can 630 splash onto them! This would take Shelley out of action in ROH for the month of March.
ROH World Championship
Austin Aries (Champion) vs. Alex Shelley
“Manhattan Mayhem”– New York, NY – 5.7.2005
Shelley breaks a lock-up cleanly, but Aries smacks him in the face. Shelley then spits in his. Some chain wrestling ends with Aries breaking a headscissors and nailing a dropkick. Shelley spots Aries coming off the second rope with a back elbow and catches him with a German suplex. He drives his knees into Aries’ chest. He punts Aries in the chest after he kicks out. He gets two after a slingshot elbow as wear. Aries gets sent to the apron. He comes back in with a back elbow, but Shelley explodes out of the corner with a clothesline right after. He hits a twisting dive to the floor. Aries snaps Shelley’s throat across the top rope. He gives him a neckbreaker on the second rope too. Shelley blocks a brainbuster with the Golden Gate Swing. Aries uses the top rope for a twisting neckbreaker (like the Total Anarchy). Aries puts on the Last Chancery. He drops his knee onto Shelley’s neck for two. He catches Shelley coming off the ropes with a side slam. The powerdrive elbow gets a two count. When Shelley fights back, Aries drops him neck first across his knee. Aries snaps his neck on the top rope before hitting a twisting slingshot press. Shelley gets his knees up to block a quebrada. Shelley gives him an enzuigiri and turns him inside out with a clothesline. He gets two with a frog splash, then transitions right into the Border City Stretch. Aries breaks right away and fish hooks Shelley’s mouth whilst twisting his neck. Shelley rolls Aries back into the Border City Stretch. Aries bites his wrist to escape. Aries blocks a superkick. He strings a shin breaker and suplex together. With Shelley in the corner, Aries hits the IED twice. A Finlay roll leads to a 450 attempt. Shelley moves and hits the Shellshock for two. Shelley blocks a crucifix bomb with a TKO. A second Shellshock results in another two count thanks to Aries grabbing the ropes. Aries knees out of a brainbuster attempt. A rolling forearm, a punt to the head and a brainbuster lead to the 450 splash. That gives Aries the win at 19:32. As former partners, these two were able to showcase their best offense and had the fans believing they had an equal chance of walking away champions. I love that not only did Aries work over Shelley’s neck the entire time, but also used the same combination of moves he used to win the title to retain against one of his tougher opponents. This match is part of the reason while the “Manhattan Mayhem” show name carries so much weight. ****
We cut to the ending of Alex Shelley vs. Roderick Strong from “The Final Showdown.” Shelley ends up putting Strong away with two Shell Shocks. They would have a rematch a few weeks later.
Roderick Strong vs. Alex Shelley
“New Frontiers” – Williamsville, NY – 6.4.2005
As Strong is talking to Aries, Shelley pescado’s onto him. Strong sends Shelley into the barricades, but Shelley then backdrops him into the crowd. Shelley throws him into the barricades when he makes his way back ringside. He sends Strong face first into the walls of the ice rink with a modified Shell Shock. He suplexes Strong back into the crowd, but it’s Strong who takes control and throws Shelley back to the aisle way. Shelley however back suplexes him back into the crowd and dives after him. He DDT’s Strong onto the ring apron and spits water in his face. In the ring, he scores two nearfalls, one with a crossbody and the other with a diving knee strike. He rolls Strong into a neck and arm stretch. Strong blocks a tornado DDT with a backbreaker. He gets one with a dropkick. Shelley low blows Strong to block a German suplex. Strong puts on a Camel Clutch. Shelley picks up Strong and uses a backpack chinbreaker to escape. Shelley also armdrags out of a half-nelson suplex. He drops Strong with the Shell Shock. Strong recovers and hits the Sick Kick for two. Shelley gives him a Manhattan and Atomic Drop. Shelley’s back is too hurt to suplex Strong. He does however pull off the Golden Gate Swing for two. Strong comes back with a gutbuster and a Sick Kick to the back of Shelley’s head. He puts on the Stronghold. Shelley gets the ropes. Shelley puts on the Border City Stretch. Strong rolls out. Shelley however drops him with two reverse DDTs for two. He puts on the Border City Stretch again and this time Strong gets the ropes. Strong does some more damage to Shelley’s back before getting the pin with a half-nelson suplex at 20:02. The brawling in the crowd was really cool and I love how Strong worked down Shelley’s back and teased the half-nelson suplex a bunch. The real problem here was the dead crowd who turned what could have been an engaging methodical brawl into a borderline chore. ***
Aries comes out with a pipe. He wedges it in Shelley’s legs while Strong reapplies the Stronghold. Referees get them to leave and check on Shelley afterwards.
At “The Homecoming”, Alex Shelley tells the crowd that his apologies for what he did in his time with Generation Next have got him absolutely nothing. He says that this is still the wrestling “business”, meaning his goal is to make the most money possible. He tells us that he didn’t sell out, but rather “bought in.” With that, The Embassy (Jimmy Rave, Fast Eddie, Mike Kruel, manager Prince Nana, and “slave” Jade Chung) welcome Shelley as the newest member of their faction. Shelley and Eddie would go on to have a tag match against Roderick Strong and Austin Aries. Thanks to Jimmy Rave sending a chair into Aries’ face with a Shining Wizard, Shelley was able to pin him.
Generation Next (Austin Aries, Roderick Strong & Matt Sydal) vs. The Embassy (Alex Shelley, Jimmy Rave & Abyss)
“Redemption” – Dayton, OH – 8.12.2005
Earlier in the night, Aries told Matt Sydal that due to Jack Evans recovering from injuries, they would give him a shot in a six man tag tonight. If Generation Next wins, Sydal will become a member of their team. The Embassy on the other hand has TNA’s Abyss as a hired gun for their group. Since Sydal is in Generation Next now, his manager Daizee Haze has also joined. Strong stretches Rave’s back out across his knee. He chops Rave which causes him to tag in Shelley immediately. Strong grabs hold of his arm and tags in Aries. He and Strong give Shelley the Hart Attack for one. Aries connects with a back elbow from the second rope. He then slingshots in with a twisting splash and a quebrada. He fishhooks Shelley’s mouth while applying an armsubmission. He tags in Sydal after a Finlay Roll. Sydal comes in with a cannonball legdrop for two. Shelley suplexes Sydal and tags in Abyss. Sydal avoids his initial offense until Abyss tosses him up in the air. He misses a corner charge and Gen Next all attack Abyss in the corner. Abyss press slams Aries onto Sydal. This allows Gen Next to isolate Sydal in their corner for a bit. Sydal legdrops Shelley into the mat and dropkicks Rave as he attempts a crossbody. Aries tags in and gets two on Shelley with the Powerdrive elbow. Abyss bridges the top rope to bring Aries to the floor. He rams Aries back into the ring and chest into the barricades. Of course the Embassy targets Aries’ back and mid-section when they isolate him. Todd Sinclair is tied up with the Embassy when Aries tags Strong, so it doesn’t count. Jeez what’s with Sinclair sucking in Dayton? Aries does get another tag after ducking Rave’s Shining Wizard. Shelley takes a few backbreakers. Abyss is too big for a gut buster. He German suplexes Strong. Aries and Sydal dropkick Abyss to assist Strong with his own German suplex. Strong Sick Kicks Abyss to the floor. Sydal hits a standing moonsault on Shelley. Aries sends him into the barricades with a Heat-Seeking Missile. Sydal moonsaults onto Abyss on the floor. Rave spears Strong. He sets up for the Rave Clash. Aries stops him. Strong gives him a half-nelson backbreaker. Aries follows with a 450 splash for the pin at 16:52. That was a really energetic, fast-paced match and a great way to set the tone for the feud between these two factions. Abyss kills Generation Next after the match. ***3/4
Generation Next (Austin Aries, Roderick Strong & Jack Evans) vs. The Embassy (Alex Shelley, Jimmy Rave & Abyss)
“Buffalo Stampede” – Buffalo, NY – 10.15.2005
Jade Chung is now in Gen Next’s corner. Strong and Aries duck Abyss’ oncoming clothesline and dive onto Rave and Shelley. The fight into the aisleway while Abyss tosses Evans into the air. He catches Evans’ cartwheel elbow and drops him with the Shock Treatment. Evans gets trapped in the ring. The Embassy prevents Aries and Strong from entering the ring. Shelley skull f*cks Evans onto a wooden chair. Strong and Aries finally enter the ring and bring a ladder with them. The ladder traps Abyss in the corner and both Strong and Aries attack him. They double flapjack Shelley onto the ladder as well. They team up on Rave on the floor. Shelley sends them into the barricades. Abyss boots Evans who has finally recovered. Aries crossbody’s onto Abyss on the floor. Strong and Shelley are now fighting by the merchandise table. Shelley DDT’s Strong onto a chair. Aries chases Prince Nana until Abyss catches him with a kick to the gut. Aries, Abyss and Rave have taken their fight out into the crowd with Shelley and Strong. Abyss ends up setting up a table with Evans dragged behind him. In the ring Rave uses a chair to send a ladder into Aries’ head. Strong gives Shelley a gut buster. Aries drives Rave’s knee into a chair and the barricades. Abyss throws Strong into a wall. Aries and Strong send Abyss multiple times into some batting cages in the back of the arena. Evans then sends Abyss through a table with a 630 splash! Aries chokes Evans while Strong sends Shelley shoulder first into the barricades. Strong gives Rave a half-nelson backbreaker. He sets up two tables next to each other. Aries looks to send Rave through them with a Razor’s Edge but Shelley stops him with a superkick. Shelley ends up sending Strong through the tables with a Shell Shock off the apron. Nana gets in a few shots to Aries. Jade Chung low blows him! Aries Finlay Rolls Rave onto the ladder. He goes up top. Nana distracts him. When he does go for the 450 splash, he hits the ladder. Rave and Nana put the ladder on top of Aries and pin him at 17:55. Another wildly fun brawl between the two factions. The Abyss spot and the ending were awesome which bumps this up, though some of the bland crowd brawling takes this down a slight notch from the Redemption encounter. ***1/2
Generation Next (Austin Aries, Jack Evans & Matt Sydal) & AJ Styles vs. The Embassy (Alex Shelley, Jimmy Rave, Abyss & Prince Nana)
“Vendetta” – Chicago Ridge, IL – 11.5.2005
Prince Nana is in the Embassy’s corner while both Jade Chung and Daizee Haze are in Gen Next’s corner. Strong had a World title match against Bryan Danielson tonight, so AJ Styles has stepped in for him since he and Rave are long time rivals. Jimmy Rave has promised to unveil a new finishing move tonight. The winning faction will get the advantage in the “Steel Cage Warfare” match on December 3rd.
Aries hits Rave with the IED right off the bat. All of Gen Next get their shots in on him in the corner. They knock the Embassy off the apron (except for Nana) when he goes for a tag. Nana of course wants nothing to do with Gen Next. Rave goes to the floor to rest. Styles follows. He dives into the crowd to avoid being whipped into the barricades, and Aries dives onto Rave while he’s distracted. Shelley spinwheel kicks Sydal and snaps his neck on the top rope. Aries pulls Shelley to the floor and Sydal dives onto him. Abyss and Styles join the fracas. Evans lands on Abyss with the Sasuke Special. Aries motions towards Nana. Shelley stops him but falls to a slingshot senton and frog elbow. Abyss stops Aries from attacking Nana. Styles dropkicks Abyss and catches Rave with a backbreaker. Evans hits him with a springboard tornado kick for two. Nana shakes the ropes to stop Evans’ springboard move. Abyss clobbers him with a clothesline from behind. Evans gets beaten down by The Embassy, with Nana even getting in some shots. Not until he feels Evans is significantly worn down, however. Funny enough, Evans is able to slip through Nana’s legs so he can tag in Sydal and Aries. Nana immediately bails once they come in. Styles, Aries and Sydal wipe out the other Embassy members and corner Nana. Abyss tries to splash them but ends up splashing Nana instead! Styles sends Abyss out with a flying forearm. He enzuigiri’s Shelley. Shelley superkicks him into a spear from Rave. Aries drags Rave to the floor. Abyss places a table in the corner. Evans tries sending Abyss through it but gets dropped with a reverse chokeslam for his troubles. Abyss then gives him the Black Hole Slam. Abyss clotheslines Aries and then slams Sydal onto him. Styles German suplexes Abyss through the table! Aries drops Shelley with a STO. Sydal does a standing moonsault onto him, then legdrops Rave into the canvas. When he and Aries look towards Nana, Nana grabs Daizee by her hair and brings her into the ring. Sydal and Aries look to hit Nana, but Haze low blows both of them! Chung comes in to stop her. Nana however sends Chung into the Mind Trip from Haze. Nana then hip attacks Aries and Sydal in opposite corners. Shelley drops Aries with an Air Raid Crash. Rave busts out his new finisher, the Pedigree, on Sydal, and both he and Shelley get simultaneous pins at 20:05. This was a perfect set-up for Steel Cage Warfare. The Embassy goes into the match not only with the man advantage, but they also stole Daizee Haze away from them and picked up a crucial victory. It also wasn’t the “real” Generation Next they defeated, so them losing before Steel Cage Warfare didn’t detract away from the appeal of that match. Oh yeah, the action was really fun too. That’s probably worth mentioning. ***3/4
Steel Cage Warfare
Generation Next (Austin Aries, Roderick Strong, Jack Evans & Matt Sydal) vs. The Embassy (Alex Shelley, Jimmy Rave, Abyss & Prince Nana)
“Steel Cage Warfare” – New York, NY – 12.3.2005
One man from each team starts out in the cage and then every five minutes a new person comes in with each team alternating. Since The Embassy won the eight man tag at “Vendetta”, the second entrant will be from their group. This match is under elimination rules. You can pin somebody at any time; you do not have to wait for all eight people to be in the match.
Rave and Aries start out. Rave pokes Aries in the eyes so he can escape to the floor. Aries stops him from going backstage and from climbing into the crowd. Inside the ring he crotches Rave on the top rope. Aries knocks him down with an elbow. He reverses an Irish whip and backdrops Rave. Aries has control when Alex Shelley enters the cage with a chair. He’s wearing a Generation Next shirt as a measure of playing mind games. Aries knocks Shelley into the barricades as he tries entering the ring. Aries springboards off the second rope and knocks both Shelley and Rave down with back elbows. He throws them both into the cage. The Embassy take him down with a spear/clothesline combo. They pretty easily dominate over Aries until Matt Sydal comes in. He throws both Rave and Shelley into the cage right away so Aries can recover in the corner. He drop toe holds Rave onto Shelley, then moonsaults Rave onto Shelley for a two count. Sydal and Aries go for many pin attempts but can’t seem to keep them down. Abyss comes in and is jumped by Sydal and Aries right away. He boots Sydal and drops Aries in the Shock Treatment. That gives the Embassy the chance to turn things around. Shelley cracks Aries with a chair while Abyss tosses Sydal into the cage. Shelley skull f*cks Aries onto the chair. Roderick Strong is the next man out. He throws out chops and backbreakers on Shelley and Abyss like they’re going out of style. When Rave turns around, he gets chopped and kneed into the cage. Abyss overhead suplexes Strong into the cage. He gives Sydal the Black Hole Slam. Raven the Pedigrees Sydal to eliminate him at 22:17. Rave throws Strong into the barricades so that Shelley and Abyss can beat down Aries inside the cage. Prince Nana enters as the fourth and final member of the Embassy. He is thrilled with how dominant The Embassy is at the moment. Rave brings Strong back into the cage. 4 on 2, the Embassy have an easy time wearing Aries and Strong down. Jade Chung comes out on the microphone. She was taken out at the end of “Vendetta” with a Pedgiree on the concrete. Nana orders The Embassy to go after them. At the same time, Jack Evans enters the ring as the final participant. With all of the Embassy on the floor, Evans climbs the cage and does a double rotation moonsault onto them! Strong and Aries join Evans on the floor and send the Embassy into the barricades. They end up getting Abyss alone in the cage. Strong gives him a gut buster. Rave comes back in. From the top of the cage, Evans and Strong perform the Ode to the Bulldogs on Abyss to eliminate him at 32:15. The sides are now even. Rave is crotched on the top rope from Strong’s roll in that move. Gen Next attack him while he’s hanging. Shelley crotches Aries on the top rope. Evans elbows him in the corner and delivers the Busaiku Knee. He follows with a 630 splash but Shelley gets his knees up. Shelley gives Evans the Air Raid Crash off the second rope for the elimination at 35:44. Aries powerbombs Rave from the second rope. Rave spears Strong. Shelley superkicks Aries. He blocks the Pedigree, but Shelley gives him the Shell Shock. Strong breaks the pin. Rave then drops Aries with Ghanarhea for two. Nana comes in hoping to hip attack both Strong and Aries. He has both Rave and Shelley hold them. Unbeknownst to him, he accidentally hip attacks his own men. Rave and Shelley also accidentally attack Nana. Strong gives Rave the Orange Crush backbreaker and two half-nelson backbreakers. Meanwhile, Aries drops Shelley with a brainbuster through a chair. He pins Shelley at 40:00. At the same time, Strong makes Rave submit to the Lion Tamer. That lives Nana alone with Strong and Aries. He tries escaping the cage but gets caught. They pummel him for fun until finally putting him down with a half-belson suplex/450 splash combo at 41:36. This match was booked brilliantly. The order of entry was just right and each person in Generation Next got the revenge they needed to blow off the feud in a satisfactory way. The five minute intervals resulted in a lot of stalling, but even that didn’t feel like completely wasted time. This was the best way to possibly to blow off the feud and to this day the best of the three Steel Cage Warfare matches ROH has had. ****1/4