Ring of Honor: Nigel McGuinness – In It to Win It

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Disc One

ROH Pure Championship
Nigel McGuinness (Champion) vs. Samoa Joe

“Buffalo Stampede” – Buffalo, NY – 10.15.2005

This is a rematch from “Dragon Gate Invasion” where McGuinness defeated Joe for the Pure Title. McGuinness talks some trash before the bell. When he says Joe will be the star in “Shrek 3”, Joe attacks. McGuinness goes after the arm. Joe immediately gets the ropes. He gets them again when McGuinness goes for an armbar. He then places Joe’s hand on the ropes when he has him in a headlock, costing Joe all three of his rope breaks right away. Joe blocks McGuinness going through his legs with multiple Kawada kicks. Joe chop him to the corner and delivers a facewash kick. He drops an elbow for two. McGuinness throws some uppercuts. Joe evades a charging variation. He suplexes McGuinness for two. McGuinness uses a rope break to escape a headscissors. Joe gets two with a snap powerslam. Same goes for a running chest kick. He powerbombs McGuinness into the STF. McGuinness uses a second rope break to escape. A Boston Crab costs him his third rope break, evening the playing field. Joe blocks the Rebound Lariat with a boot and gets two with a senton splash. Joe facewash kicks McGuinness into the barricades. McGuinness avoids it a second time and Joe’s leg gets stuck in the barricades. He makes it back in right before the twenty count unbeknownst to McGuinness. Joe lights him up with slaps. He goes for the Muscle Buster. McGuinness escapes and goes for the Tower of London. Joe counters into the Coquina Clutch. McGuinness rolls back so that Joe’s shoulders are on the mat and uses the ropes to get the pin at 10:55. A step below their initial encounter, but still fairly solid. The incorporation of the ropes into the finish was a nice touch. ***

ROH Pure Championship
Nigel McGuinness (Champion) vs. Christopher Daniels

“Weekend of Champions Night 1” – Dayton, OH – 4.28.2006

Both guys are cautious in the early going. Daniels takes control with a wristlock. McGuinness goes for a hammerlock but Daniels snapmares through it. McGuinness pokes his eye and drives his forearm into Daniels’ face. Daniels stops the attack by utilizing a rope break. He works over McGuinness’ neck after taking a break on the floor. He puts on the Koji Clutch. McGuinness uses his first rope break to escape. McGuinness catches Daniels in the corner with a back kick/falling clothesline combo. He shoves Daniels shoulder first into the corner. He focuses his attack on the shoulder from then on. Daniels manages to get a Half Crab during this period, forcing McGuinness to use a second rope break. McGuinness divorce courts the arm so he can get back to business. He sweeps out Daniels’ leg while hitting a left-armed clothesline. Daniels boots McGuinness to block a corner attack and comes out with a neckbreaker. After comes clotheslines, Daniels drops McGuinness with a modified neckbreaker for two. He STO’s him for another two count. McGuinness catches him with a lariat. He does a handstand in the corner. Daniels gives him a palm strike and carries him into a Death Valley Driver for two. Daniels shakes out his worked over arm before calling for the BME. He misses it but lands on his feet. He drops McGuinness with a Complete Shot for two. He puts on a chicken wing. McGuinness uses his final rope break to escape it. McGuinness hits the Rebound Lariat for two. He tries for the Tower of London but Daniels reapplies the Chicken Wing. Since the ropes are of no use, McGuinness tumbles to the floor with Daniels to escape. McGuinness throws the camera girl into Daniels after a strike exchange. McGuinness makes it back into the ring while Daniels is counted out at 20:18. The story here was awesome, with both guys sticking to the body part they chose to work over. True, the finish was a little cheap, but that’s what McGuinness’ reign as Pure Champion was all about. It worked in a way where you didn’t feel like you wasted twenty minutes. It may not have been as heated as you would want, but there’s no denying how good the action was. ***½

ROH Pure Championship
Nigel McGuinness (Champion) vs. Jay Lethal

“Ring of Homicide” – Edison, NJ – 5.13.2006

McGuinness keeps Lethal grounded in a headlock. It looks as if McGuinness threw a closed fist punch which the referee missed. Lethal throws a bunch of chops, but McGuinness blocks them and snapmares Lethal into a chinlock. Lethal blocks some more snapmares and puts on a wristlock. He connects with some chops. McGuinness headbutts him in the stomach. Lethal hip tosses him into a dropkick for two. McGuinness grabs the ropes to break a chinlock. He catches Lethal in the corner with a kick to the back and a clothesline into the canvas. Lethal uses a rope break to prevent being pinned. McGuinness throws Lethal overhead in a hammerlock. After a hammerlock divorce court, Lethal has to use a second rope break to stop another pin attempt. He fights his way out of the Tower of London and comes off the second rope with a leg lariat. He gets two with another leg lariat and a spinebuster. McGuinness goes for a lariat. Lethal ducks and nails a superkick for two. McGuinness lariats him off the top rope. Lethal uses his third and final rope break to stop the pin. He suplexes McGuinness and heads up top. He nails a diving headbutt for two. McGuinness blocks a Dragon suplex. He hits a running uppercut in the corner and the Rebound Lariat for two. Lethal throws McGuinness off the top rope. McGuinness grabs Todd Sinclair as Lethal goes up top to block his trajectory. McGuinness crotches Lethal and hits the Tower of London. Lethal kicks out! A second Tower of London gets him the pin at 14:23. Lethal made it convincing that he had a fighting chance in the end which took the match up a notch. I also appreciated that this took the rope breaks in a different direction. Usually guys would use them to stop submissions, but Lethal used all of his to prevent pin attempts. Freshening up that made me like the match just a bit more. Nothing mind blowing, but fun. ***¼

ROH Pure Championship
Nigel McGuinness (Champion) vs. Roderick Strong

“Death Before Dishonor IV” – Philadelphia, PA – 7.15.2006

Strong chops McGuinness to end his pre-match speech. Strong chases him on the floor and back into the ring. McGuinness blocks Strong’s chops and brings him down in a hammerlock. Strong sneaks in some chops and forearms before getting two with a backbreaker. McGuinness uses a rope break before the Strong Hold can be locked in. He drives Strong’s arm into the canvas. He works over Strong’s arm until Strong takes him down in a crucifix pin for two. Strong does the deal with a Falcon Arrow and gets another two count. McGuinness uses a second rope break to block another Strong Hold. McGuinness drives shoulder and arm into the mat various ways. Strong tosses McGuinness to the corner to prevent it from happening a fourth or fifth time. A belly-to-back suplex and dropkick earn a two count. He also gets two with the Tiger Driver. Another Strong Hold attempt wipes out McGuinness’ third and final rope break. When Strong goes for the Strong Hold again, McGuinness slips out to the floor. Strong follows with a forearm strike off the apron. McGuinness snaps the ring ropes into Strong’s face. Strong gives him a back breaker onto the ring frame. Strong throws some chops. McGuinness tosses Strong in the crowd in the hopes of getting a count out win. Strong however makes it back in the ring at the count of 19. McGuinness kicks Strong into a falling clothesline. Strong uses his first rope break to stop the pin. McGuinness gives him an uppercut. He headstands in the corner. Strong hits him with the Sick Kick and Death by Roderick. McGuinness goes for a Rebound Lariat but takes another Sick Kick. He Rebound lariats back from that! Strong gets his foot on the bottom rope, using his second rope break to stop the pin. McGuinness tries a senton but Strong gets his knees up. Strong wants a super gutbuster. McGuinness stops him and hits the Tower of London for two. He keeps Strong on the floor and drops him with a DDT on the concrete floor. McGuinness pulls him away and runs into the ring giving him the count victory at 15:43. They played up the count out stipulation really well here. I also think it was great that McGuinness lost all his rope breaks quickly instead of the opponent, which is usually how it works out in these matches. The crowd ate up everything they did and McGuinness rebounding after the Sick Kick was a sight to be seen. Maybe McGuinness’ most underrated ROH match ever. ***¾

Nigel McGuinness & Doug Williams vs. Takeshi Morishima & Chris Hero
“This Means War II” – Lake Grove, NY – 4.13.2007

McGuinness and Morishima aggressively throw forearms. Hero tosses Williams out and helps Morishima boot McGuinness. Williams takes double boots as well. Morishima clubs McGuinness in the corner while Williams and Hero wrestle on the floor. Morishima catches McGuinness with a hip attack before bowling over him with his body weight. Hero gives him a roll-back senton. McGuinness kicks him in the back and clotheslines him into the canvas. McGuinness and Williams put on stereo top wristlocks. Williams and McGuinness damage up his left arm. Hero throws a series of punches to Williams. Williams staggers to enemy territory after taking a chinbreaker. Morishima gets in on the fun and helps Hero isolate him in their corner. Williams is able to escape their grasp by catching Hero with his signature swinging DDT. He enzuigiri’s Hero before tagging McGuinness in. He throws uppercuts and thrusts at his chest. Morishima comes in to save but ends up splashing Hero. McGuinness superkicks Morishima to the floor. Williams dives off the top rope with a knee strike to the floor. McGuinness nails a lariat for two. McGuinness puts Hero in a hammerlock after a divorce court. Morishima breaks it up. Hero chokeslams McGuinness. Morishima cartwheels into a corner splash. Williams holds Morishima’s leg as he climbs the top rope. This allows McGuinness to hit the London Dungeon for two. Morishima shrugs off some clotheslines and other strikes. McGuinness is able to take him down with a lariat for two. Morishima and Williams volley Morishima between them with shots to his neck. It ends with McGuinness hitting another lariat for two. Williams gutwrench suplexes Morishima but Hero breaks the pin. Williams throws a couple of knee strikes including one from the top rope. Morishima and Williams trade forearms. Morishima takes him over with a uranage. Williams belly-to-back suplexes him. McGuinness tags in. He evades a Back Drop Driver so Morishima sits on his chest. Hero knocks McGuinness down with a rolling elbow for two. He gets two with a Shiranui as well. McGuinness blocks a Go 2 Sleep but eats a big boot. A series of moves knocks everybody down. McGuinness lariats Hero. Williams helps him out with a Tower of London. Morishima breaks the pin. Morishima sends Williams into the barricades. Morishima blocks McGuinness’ lariat attempt on Hero with a side slam. He follows up with the Backdrop Driver for two. Williams throws Hero into Morishima. McGuinness lariats Hero for the pin at 18:57. No heat and not much rhyme or reason to what was going on. Essentially this was good wrestling with little keeping it together. ***

ROH World Championship
Takeshi Morishima (Champion) vs. Nigel McGuinness

“Live In Tokyo” – Tokyo, Japan – 7.16.2007

Each guy goes for their finish early but can’t get it. McGuinness goes after Morishima’s left arm and shoulder. He tries a sunset flip to the floor but Morishima sits down on his chest to block. Morishima throws him into the barricades and follows with a hip attack. In the ring Morishima snapmares McGuinness into a chinlock. McGuinness rolls to the floor and Morishima follows with a shoulder tackle off the apron. McGuinness uses the ropes to deliver a lariat on the floor. He then comes off the top with a crossbody. McGuinness does more damage to Morishima’s left arm and hand back in the ring. Morishima knocks him down with a forearm strike. He bowls over McGuinness with his body weight twice. He misses a cartwheel splash. McGuinness kicks him in the back and drives him into the mat with a falling clothesline. McGuinness gives him a running uppercut and a lariat for two. He headstands in the corner. Morishima boots him and delivers a lariat of his own. McGuinness catches him on the top rope and delivers the Tower of London for two. McGuinness headstands into a mule kick. Morishima shoulder blocks him and heads up top. He hits a missile dropkick. McGuinness rolls through and lariats Morishima for two. Morishima blocks the Jawbreaker Lariat with the Backdrop Driver. They both get to their feet at the same time. Morishima absorbs three superkicks. He lariats McGuinness. McGuinness lariats him off the top rope for two. They fight on the top rope until McGuinness gives Morishima the Tower of London onto the ring apron. It only gets him a two count after he gets Morishima in the ring. Morishima avoids another top rope lariat. He side slams McGuinness off the ring apron and to the floor! He boxes McGuinness’ head back in the ring. He knocks down referee Todd Sinclair when he tries to stop him. Morishima gives McGuinness a Backdrop Driver for two. Morishima tries a hip attack. McGuinness turns it into the Jawbreaker Lariat for two. A small package has the same results. Lariats are traded until Morishima hits the Backdrop Driver for the pin at 20:12. This wasn’t exactly my kind of match, but I really appreciated what they did here. In front of the Japanese crowd they had a more Japanese “Strong Style” type of bout. What I thought was most interesting was just how behind McGuinness the crowd was. You’d expect some sort of national pride going on, but not here. It really made for a fun dynamic that some of their other matches didn’t have. Even with some no selling and Morishima annoyingly dismiss the arm work in the latter half of the contest, I enjoyed this. ***¾

#1 Contendership for the ROH World Championship
Nigel McGuinness vs. Naomichi Marufuji vs. Chris Hero vs. Claudio Castagnoli

“Man Up!” – Chicago Ridge, IL – 9.16.2007

McGuinness and Marufuji spirited opening exchange reaches a stalemate. Hero begs to be tagged in and McGuinness obliges. Hero does some showing off after working over Marufuji’s wrist. While distracted, Claudio tags in. Hero notices and immediately bails to the floor. He comes back in just to tag Marufuji. Marufuji jumps to the top rope in a double knuckle lock. He snaps the ropes into Claudio’s face and applies a claw while standing on the top rope. Claudio puts on a claw as well. Marufuji kicks the inside of his leg. Marufuji tags in Hero. He trips Claudio and stomps away. Claudio throws an uppercut and Hero bails once more. McGuinness and Claudio trade uppercuts. They get into a series of various pin attempts. Hero blind tags in so he can attack Claudio from behind. He boots Claudio in the side of the head a few times. Claudio fires up after taking some more kicks. He backdrops Hero and uppercuts him in the neck. He slams Hero into a legdrop. Claudio follows him to the floor with a double axe handle. Marufuji tope con hilo’s onto both of them. McGuinness dives off the top rope onto Hero and Claudio in the crowd! Back in the ring Marufuji strings an enzuigiri, dropkick to the leg, and a basement clothesline together on McGuinness for a two count. Marufuji hits the Shiranui. Hero breaks his cover. He tags Marufuji with a rolling elbow and releases him out of a suplex. Claudio breaks the pin. He gives Hero the Alpamare Waterslide for two. McGuinness lariats Claudio for two. Marufuji stomps McGuinness’ face into the mat. He gets two with a superkick. McGuinness crotches him on the top rope. He gets two with the Tower of London due to Hero interjecting. Hero gives him a Cravate Cutter and a top rope double stomp. Claudio lifts Hero out of the pin and into a German suplex. He then gives Hero the Giant Swing and a running uppercut for two. He goes for the Ricola Bomb on Marufuji. Marufuji ends up rolling him up for two. He calls for the coast-to-coast dropkick. McGuinness instead crotches Marufuji on the top rope and lariats the back of his neck. He also lariats Hero before lariating Marufuji to the mat. Claudio comes off the top rope with a diving European uppercut to McGuinness. He hits the Ricola Bomb on Marufuji. Hero makes the same by diving onto referee Todd Sinclair. Hero nails him with a rolling elbow. Claudio comes back with Swiss Chin Music. He uppercuts McGuinness who uses his momentum for the Jawbreaker Lariat, giving McGuinness the win at 17:59. One of the best opening matches in ROH history. The action was hot, everything made sense, it built the Hero/Claudio feud organically while also making McGuinness the stand out amongst the pack of three other top flight wrestlers. Great stuff. ***¾

ROH World Championship
Nigel McGuinness (Champion) vs. Jay Briscoe

“Chaos in the Cow Palace” – San Francisco, CA – 10.19.2007

This is Nigel’s first defense of the title since winning it from Takeshi Morishima at the “Undeniable” PPV on October 6th, 2007. Mark Briscoe is in Jay’s corner. They back each other to the ropes and shove one another. They trade chops and uppercuts. McGuinness throws Jay shoulder first into the ring post. Of course, McGuinness now targets his attack on that arm and Jay’s neck. Jay gets a reprieve when he dragonscrews McGuinness’ leg and stomps away at it. He traps McGuinness’ leg in the ropes and kicks away at it. He gets two with a suplex. Jay works over the leg. He and McGuinness trade strikes until Jay kicks his leg out. Jay boots him. McGuinness goes for the Jawbreaker Lariat. Jay blocks it and gets two with a Gord Buster. McGuinness belly-to-back suplexes him. He places Jay on the top rope for the Tower of London. Jay fights it off and missile dropkicks McGuinness to the corner. McGuinness blocks the Jay Driller but gets sent into the middle turnbuckle with a Complete Shot. On the floor. Jay kicks the timekeeper’s table into McGuinness’ knee. He puts him in a half crab back in the ring. McGuinness gets the ropes. He crotches Jay on the top rope and pulls off the Tower of London for two. Jay avoids the top rope lariat. He tries a Jay Driller on the apron. Instead, he throws McGuinness into the barricades after blocking another Tower of London. Jay gets two with a Fisherman’s Buster. Same goes for a Death Valley Driver/super legdrop sequence. They fight on the top rope. McGuinness ends up giving Jay the Tower of London on the ring apron. He puts on the London Dungeon and Jay taps out at 19:12. Nobody ever believed Jay stood a chance, but they put in a lot of good work and it was still a fun watch. ***½

ROH World Championship
Nigel McGuinness (Champion) vs. Austin Aries

“Rising Above 2007” – New York, NY – 12.29.2007

The crowd is very hostile towards McGuinness. As he and Aries hesitantly go after each other, it is clear Aries has an interest in McGuinness’ taped up shoulder. McGuinness rolls to the foor when Aries slaps him in the face. As McGuinness is bad mouthing some fans, Aries gives McGuinness the Heat-Seeking Missile causing him to collide head first with the guardrail and a cut to be opened over his right eye. McGuinness bounces off the ropes to deliver a lariat on the floor. They switch positions throwing punches at each other on the mat. Aries pops out of a headscissors and delivers a dropkick. McGuinness sends Aries shoulder first into the ring post. McGuinness blocks another dropkick, so Aries just kicks him in the face and pounds away on his wound. He then goes after McGuinness’ shoulder. McGuinness drives Aries into the mat with a hammerlock divorce court. He aggressively whips him into the corner. Aries rolls him into a neck and shoulder stretch. McGuinness uses the ropes to break that and a Rings of Saturn. Aries dropkicks him when he does a headstand in the corner, sending him to the floor. McGuinness uppercuts him to block another Heat-Seeking Missile, then gives him the Tower of London onto the floor. In the ring he gets two with a lariat. He tries for another Tower of London. Aries instead delivers a missile dropkick. McGuinness gets his boot up to block the IED. He hits the Tower of London for two. Aries avoids the London Dungeon. He blocks the Jawbreaker Lariat and slingshots into a double axe handle. After unloading with elbows to McGuinness in the corner, Aries tries a brainbuster. McGuinness places him on the top rope to counter, then lariats him to the floor! McGuinness goes for an uppercut as Aries is seated. Aries instead gives him a brainbuster onto the top of the barricades! Aries hits the IED and a brainbuster. McGuinness gets his knees up to block a 450 splash. He puts on the London Dungeon. Aries escapes, gives McGuinness a brainbuster, then puts on the Last Chancery. When McGuinness escapes they trade slaps. Aries clotheslines McGuinness to block the Jawbreaker Lariat. He tries for the Last Chancery again. McGuinness lariats him in the back of the head. Aries kicks McGuinness to block the London Dungeon. However, McGuinness uses the momentum to hit the Jawbreaker Lariat and get the pin at 23:17. What a war these two had. The very unfortunate head injury McGuinness suffered added a lot to the drama of the match. The crowd got hotter, every fall felt like a bigger deal, and it had this big fight atmosphere that you can’t replicate at a whim. You could argue it was McGuinness’ best World title defense. ****½

ROH World Championship
Nigel McGuinness (Champion) vs. Roderick Strong

“Without Remorse” – Chicago Ridge, IL – 1.26.2008

They both take the time to control each other by the wrist and arm. Things really heat up when Strong throws his first chop. McGuinness absorbs a few more before delivering a pair of lariats. McGuinness does some more damage on the floor. Strong however gives him an enzuigiri to his hurt shoulder. He slingshots onto McGuinness before bringing him into the ring. Strong gets two with a suplex. McGuinness mule kicks him out of a headstand and sends him shoulder first into the ring post twice. He slaps Strong in the corner before delivering a running uppercut. Strong hits a half-nelson backbreaker right after. He slams McGuinness’ back on the barricades and then drops him on the floor. McGuinness avoids a charge in the ring. He kicks Strong in the back and clotheslines him to the canvas. Strong blocks the Tower of London. He comes off the second rope with a dropkick for two. He gets two with a backbreaker. He shows sign of shoulder pain after superplexing McGuinness. McGuinness hits the Tower of London for two. Strong Sick Kicks McGuinness to block a headstand mule kick. McGuinness uses the momentum for a Jawbreaker Lariat before collapsing. Back on their feet they go chop for uppercut. Strong blocks an uppercut with a Backslide for two. He also gets two with the Tiger Driver. McGuinness snaps the top rope into Strong’s eyes. As they fight for a suplex, McGuinness places Strong on the top rope and lariats him off. Strong blocks the Tower of London with a belly-to-back suplex on the ring apron. He puts on the Strong Hold. McGuinness gets the ropes. On the floor McGuinness uppercuts Strong into the crowd. He gives Strong the Tower of London onto a chair. Strong kicks out of the pin attempt. After they trade pin attempts, Strong lifts McGuinness into a backbreaker for two. Death by Roderick, the Sick Kick, and the Tiger Driver can’t do the job either. McGuinness catches Strong coming off the ropes with a lariat for two. The Sick Kick sends McGuinness to the ropes. McGuinness comes back with the Jawbreaker Lariat for the pin at 26:31. Unfortunately these two were unable to capture the spirit of their Pure Title encounter. It felt very much like they were going through the motions, and I would argue Strong at times looked like a goof. It was more of the same from the both of them which didn’t create something all that interesting. Going 26 minutes was also totally unnecessary. ***¼

Disc Two

ROH World Championship
Nigel McGuinness (Champion) vs. Kevin Steen

“Return Engagement” – Chicago Ridge, IL – 4.19.2008

This is a rematch from “Injustice” just a week ago where McGuinness used the ropes illegally to retain his title. Steen kicks McGuinness right in the groin during his entrance. Steen gets the better of a strike exchange on the floor, thanks to an eye poke. McGuinness goes for the Jawbreaker Lariat. Steen dropkicks him to the floor instead and follows with a splash off the apron. He sends McGuinness into the barricades. As Steen comes back into the ring, McGuinness kicks the ropes into his groin and throws Steen shoulder first into the ring post. McGuinness does more damage to the shoulder on the floor and back in the ring. Steen rolls through a shoulder hold and drops two elbows. He goes for the Sharpshooter. McGuinness gets to the ropes before it can be applied. Steen bites his chest in the corner. He misses a cannonball senton. McGuinness tries the Tower of London. Steen trips him into the sharpshooter. McGuinness grabs the bottom rope. He drives Steen into the mat in a hammerlock before applying the London Dungeon. Steen makes it to the ropes. McGuinness goes for a mule kick. Steen instead powerslams him and finally connects with the cannonball senton. McGuinness catches Steen, places him on the top rope, and hits a lariat for two. Another lariat has the same result. Steen can’t maintain another sharpshooter due to his worn down shoulder. He does pull off a pump-handle neckbreaker across his knee. A Swanton and frog splash only get him two. After a short exchange, Steen superkicks McGuinness to block the Jawbreaker Lariat for another two count. Steen tries to Graham Cracker McGuinness as a measure of revenge. When that fails, he hits the Package Piledriver. McGuinness puts his foot on the ropes to break the pin. They fight on the apron. McGuinness kicks Steen in the back and clotheslines him through the timekeeper’s table. When Steen makes his way back into the ring, McGuinness lariats him. Steen manages to kick out. McGuinness tries the Package Piledriver. Steen sits down on it but McGuinness kicks out. He goes for the sharpshooter again. McGuinness rakes his eyes and hits the Jawbreaker Lariat with the tights for the pin at 18:29. Their “Northern Navigation” bout was easily the best of the triumvirate, but this was a solid middle chapter. McGuinness had to rake Steen’s eyes to finally hit him with the Jawbreaker. It lacked the heat of their first match and the crowd didn’t ever really buy into Steen, but the action and story were solid enough. ***½

ROH World Championship
Nigel McGuinness (Champion) vs. Go Shiozaki

“Respect Is Earned II” – Philadelphia, PA – 6.7.2008

McGuinness elbows Shiozaki to cut off his momentum. Shiozaki dropkicks him to the floor when he goes to the top rope. He chops up McGuinness around ringside and hot shots him onto the barricades. Back in the ring Shiozaki holds onto McGuinness’ wrist so he can lay in multiple chops with ease. McGuinness headstands into a mule kick. Shiozaki comes back with a belly-to-back suplex. McGuinness rolls to the floor. Shiozaki tries a suicide dive but gets caught with a throat thrust. McGuinness gives him the Tower of London on the floor. McGuinness does some damage to his throat and face. Shiozaki headbutts him in the corner but gets sent shoulder first into the post. McGuinness softens up Shiozaki’s shoulder and arm after that. He nails a lariat for two. He uppercuts Shiozaki in the corner and throws another lariat for two. McGuinness manages a superplex. Shiozaki fires up. They both throw superkicks. Shiozaki German suplexes McGuinness into the corner. He throws some chops in multiple corners. After his own superplex he misses a moonsault. He blocks McGuinness’ Jawbreaker Lariat attempt and German suplexes him. McGuinness rolls through for another Jawbreaker Lariat but Shiozaki meets him with his own lariat. Two overhand chops get a two count. He lands the moonsault on the second try but it’s not good enough. McGuinness blocks the Go Flasher by throwing Shiozaki shoulder first to the mat. Shiozaki superkicks McGuinness after blocking the London Dungeon. The Go Flasher only gets him two. McGuinness goes for a crossbody. Shiozaki rolls through and gives him a modified Emerald Frosion for two. After a slap exchange, McGuinness hits the Jawbreaker Lariat. He puts on the London Dungeon and Shiozaki taps at 16:26. McGuinness uses the arm work a lot in his matches, but here it wasn’t used just to pay off the finish but to also minimize Shiozaki’s specific arsenal. That, and Shiozaki working to hit some of his bigger moves, helped get the crowd riled up and elevate the contest. ***¾

Nigel McGuinness vs. Jerry Lynn
“Vendetta II” – Chicago Ridge, IL – 6.28.2008

After some chain wrestling does not lead to a victor, Lynn delivers a dropkick. He awkwardly lands on his shoulder. He tries a quick roll-up and gets two. He tries another one after he and Nigel slap each other in the face. McGuinness feels disrespected. After a strike exchange Lynn gives him a backdrop. Lynn mocks McGuinness from the floor. McGuinness baits him into an arm whip which sends Lynn to the mat. McGuinness works over his arm. Lynn eventually catches McGuinness on the apron, but McGuinness avoids a leg drop, snaps Lynn’s arm across the top rope, then clotheslines him down. Lynn however does capture McGuinness with a legdrop in the middle rope a few moments later. McGuinness misses a lariat on the floor but sends Lynn back first into the barricades. Lynn backdrops him into the crowd when he charges. Lynn then dives onto him. As they came back to ringside, Lynn gives McGuinness a swinging DDT onto the floor. He comes into the ring with a high crossbody. He follows with a headscissors and a spear. McGuinness blocks a cradle piledriver with a hammerlock divorce court. Lynn ducks the Jawbreaker Lariat and gets two with a German suplex. He tries a TKO. McGuinness avoids it and connects with a lariat for two. He hits the Tower of London. He goes for a headstand mule kick, but Lynn kicks his legs out and delivers a lungblower instead. McGuinness recovers and fights Lynn on the top rope. Lynn gets the better of it with a Sunset Bomb for two. Lynn blocks the Jawbreaker Lariat with his own clothesline. He then delivers a TKO for two. McGuinness catches him with a short-arm lariat for two. McGuinness wears him down with a few more lariats but can’t get a three count. Lynn sneaks in a few roll-ups along the way but also fails to find a victory. McGuinness ends up trapping his legs and picking up the win in a cradle at 19:44. It was really smart to redebut Lynn against McGuinness in a non-title match. Nobody would have believed Lynn had a chance, and it would have been an unworthy title shot anyhow. Because it was non-title, the fans were able to get more into the nearfalls. I question why they built up the Jawbreaker so much only for it not to play into the finish at all, but they were able to build a story for their future matches and make Lynn look great. ***½

ROH World Championship
Nigel McGuinness (Champion) vs. Jimmy Jacobs

“The Tokyo Summit” – Tokyo, Japan – 9.14.2008

Jacobs attacks McGuinness during the opening announcements. He throws McGuinness to the floor, but Nigel makes it back into the ring unscathed. He’s able to side step Jacobs a few times, but Jacobs does get in a few strikes against the ropes. McGuinness hits the floor then comes right back in which frustrates Jacobs. McGuinness controls him by his wrist and shoulder. Jacobs does some slight damage to McGuinness’ wrist as well. He twists up Nigel’s ankle. McGuinness uses his legs to bring Jacobs into a side headlock. Jacobs does not fall for the headstand mule kick. He sends referee Todd Sinclair into him to get him off the ropes. Jacobs kicks him in the groin behind Sinclair’s back and rolls him up for two. He dropkicks McGuinness’ head into the ring post. Jacobs does some damage around ringside until they get to the entrance ramp. McGuinness goes for a lariat, but Jacobs spears him onto the ramp causing Nigel some damage to the back of his head. Jacobs gets the End Time in the ropes. McGuinness rolls to the floor. Jacobs places him on a chair and lands a plancha. McGuinness gives him a Tower of London onto the floor. In the ring Jacobs blocks a second attempt by biting McGuinness’ ear. He bites at his face before shoving him to the mat and landing a super senton. McGuinness kicks out. Jacobs gets two again with the Contra Code. McGuinness throws him to the mat to avoid the End Time. He drops him with the Tower of London for two. He lariats Jacobs off the top rope for the same result. He goes for the Jawbreaker which Jacobs blocks with the End Time. McGuinness gets the ropes. Behind Sinclair’s back, Jacobs pulls out a chain and punches McGuinness with it. Even with that, McGuinness is able to kick out. He catches Jacobs with a lariat in the face for two. Jacobs pulls out a chain after delivering a chinbreaker. While he’s pulling out the chain, McGuinness hits him with the Jawbreaker Lariat for the pin at 21:01. That certainly went a little long, but I really like how Jacobs used nefarious tactics the whole match only for it to blow up in his face in the end. It was effective storytelling, but I really feel this was not the right crowd for this title bout. I think the energy would have been much higher were it in front of a crowd more knowledgeable about their characters. ***¼

ROH World Championship – Elimination Match
Nigel McGuinness (Champion) vs. Go Shiozaki vs. El Generico vs. Kevin Steen

“The French Connection” – Montreal, Quebec – 11.7.2008

Steen and Generico are the ROH World Tag Team champions and Shiozaki is the FIP World Heavyweight champion. The fans are behind the French speaking Steen in his opening exchange with Shiozaki. They trade shoulder blocks for minutes with neither man going down. Steen eventually takes him down with a leg lariat. Generico snaps off some armdrags on Shiozaki. Shiozaki blocks a toreador with a chop. Generico sends him to the corner with a headscissors. McGuinness is tagged in. He controls Generico by his arm. He delivers a mule kick from a headstand. When Steen tags in, McGuinness retreats to the floor. Steen gets in a few shots until McGuinness tags Generico. Steen mocks Generico instead of fighting him. McGuinness shoves Steen into Generico, making Generico think Steen attacked. They use their raised tempers to knock McGuinness and Shiozaki off the apron and hit stereo tope con hilo’s. They team up to wear down Shiozaki. McGuinness runs in to send Steen shoulder first into the ring post when referee Todd Sinclair is tied up with Generico. He and Shiozaki then team up to isolate Steen, including some damage being done on the floor. Steen is able to shrug off a German suplex and deliver his own to Shiozaki so he can tag in Generco. Generico comes in with a high crossbody. McGuinness and Steen fight on the floor while Generico drops Shiozaki with a Blue Thunder Bomb for two. Shiozaki blocks a tornado DDT with a Falcon Arrow for two. Generico comes back with a yakuza kick. McGuinness kicks Generico so that Shiozaki can roll him into the Go Flasher, eliminating him at 21:16. Steen is left to fight off McGuinness and Shiozaki who have formed a partnership. Steen throws McGuinness to the floor to avoid a Tower of London on the apron. He goes for a sharpshooter on Shiozaki but can’t get it. Steen avoids a top rope knee strike and kicks the ropes into McGuinness’ crotch. Steen successfully applies the sharpshooter. Shiozaki taps and is eliminated at 25:31. Steen superkicks McGuinness after ducking a lariat. He hits a cannonball senton for two. He misses a moonsault. McGuinness puts on a sharpshooter, mockingly. Steen escapes and goes for it himself. McGuinness rakes his eyes to stop it. Steen blocks a Rebound Lariat. He successfully applies the sharpshooter. McGuinness makes it to the ropes. He gives Steen the Tower of London on the ring apron for two. He goes for it a second time in the ring. Steen shoves McGuinness away, who knocks into Sinclair. McGuinness tries using the title belt, but Generico yakuza kicks McGuinness and takes it away! Steen hits the Package Piledriver. McGuinness gets his foot on the ropes at the last minute. Steen goes for a Swanton. McGuinness gets his knees up. Steen kicks him away to stop a sharpshooter, but eats the Jawbreaker Lariat for the pin at 31:25. I really enjoyed the “tag team” dynamic they had, especially how Steen and Generico didn’t totally throw away their partnership when the time called for it. All the eliminations worked well and they had the crowd buying Steen was going to become champion at the end. It was a cute way to have all the champions in one match and kick off the “Pearce” era. ***¾

ROH World Championship
Nigel McGuinness (Champion) vs. Jerry Lynn

“Southern Hostility” – Nashville, TN – 12.6.2008

This is McGuinness’ impressive thirtieth defense of the World title. McGuinness is a little worried after he sees Lynn can keep up with McGuinness’ mat work and his pace. Lynn headscissors McGuinness to the apron. Lynn blocks a charge with a boot and gets two with a tornado DDT. McGuinness throws some uppercuts. Lynn ducks a lariat but gets sent to the floor when he comes off the ropes. McGuinness sends him into the barricades before working over his arm, wrist, and shoulder back in the ring. He also does some damage to his throat in the corner. Lynn dropkicks him off the apron and to the floor. McGuinness goes for the Tower of London. Lynn blocks it and delivers a reverse DDT for two. McGuinness’ first lariat gets a two count as well. Lynn comes back with an Air Raid Crash. McGuinness gives Lynn a Tower of London to the floor from the apron in the hopes of a count out victory. Lynn makes it back in the ring by the count of 17. McGuinness gives him a Tower of London off the ropes for two. Lynn sneaks in a couple of pin attempts to no avail. McGuinness superplexes him which yet again earns a two count. Lynn catches him with a Thesz Press before clotheslining him to the floor. Lynn follows with a tope con hilo. They fight on the floor until they get close to the twenty count. Lynn sunset bombs McGuinness for two. McGuinness traps Lynn against the barricades with a table, making sure he’s too hurt to move. However, Lynn makes into the ring just in time. He catches McGuinness with a cradle piledriver. McGuinness gets his foot on the ropes to break it. Lynn blocks the Jawbreaker Lariat with a TKO. McGuinness kicks out. He goes for the cradle piledriver. McGuinness puts him in a kneeling press and grabs the ropes for the pin at 22:20. Well, I can’t say they didn’t have the crowd going nuts by the end, or that it kept Lynn strong for a rematch, but it was kind of a ho-hum way to end the show. I thought they went overboard on the nearfalls too, because by the end I just wanted the damn thing to end. It wasn’t bad, but a little too much. I will give them credit for the finishing stretch because people were going wild. ***¾

ROH World Championship
Nigel McGuinness (Champion) vs. Naomichi Marufuji

“Final Battle 2008” – New York, NY – 12.27.2008

McGuinness and Marufuji end their opening exchange by trading multiple pin attempts. After a strike exchange, Marufuji counters a superplex with a tornado suplex. He twists up McGuinness’ neck with his feet. Marufuji pops out of a headscissors and kicks McGuinness in the jaw. He stomps his head into the mat for two. Marufuji then skullf*cks him a few times. As he is want to do, McGuinness gives Marufuji a hammerlock divorce court to turn the tide. He does more damage to his arm outside the ring. Marufuji catches him with a superkick and uses the barricades to deliver a Shiranui onto the floor! Back in the ring, McGuinness slams Marufuji in a hammerlock position and goes back to work on the arm. He throws Marufuji to the floor. He does some showboating, allowing Marufuji to recover and dropkick him from the floor. He baits McGuinness into a clothesline for two. Marufuji ties up McGuinness’ neck and delivers a lung blower. McGuinness goes for the Tower of London. Marufuji blocks and goes for a Shiranui. McGuinness blocks that, kicks him in the back, and drives him into the canvas with a clothesline. He goes for a Tower of London on the floor. Instead, Marufuji hits the Shiranui on the ring apron! He hooks McGuinness in a tree of woe. He misses a coast-to-coast dropkick. He does however throw McGuinness off the top rope and to the mat. McGuinness brings Marufuji out and successfully gives him the Tower of London on the apron. McGuinness goes for the Jawbreaker Lariat. Marufuji ducks it, but still takes a lariat for two. He lariats Marufuji off the top rope for two. He goes for a headstand mule kick. Marufuji superkicks him, drags him into the tree of woe position, and nails his second coast-to-coast dropkick attempt for two. Marufuji throws two dropkicks. McGuinness ducks the third. He hits the Jawbreaker Lariat for the win at 18:07. A bit of an abrupt ending and questionably selling, but both guys brought the type of action you would want to see between the two of them. Marufuji was fearless, McGuinness was cunning and ruthless and persistent in his attack. This was a very good follow up from their initial encounter two years prior. ***¾

ROH World Championship
Nigel McGuinness (Champion) vs. El Generico

“Caged Collision” – Chicago Ridge, IL – 1.31.2009

This is Generico’s fourth shot at McGuinness’ title during his reign. McGuinness attacks Generico right at the onset and sends him shoulder first into the ring post. He gives Generico a Tower of London on the floor hoping for an early count out win. With Kevin Steen’s encouragement, Generico makes his way back into the ring. Generico nurses his left arm as he tries to fight back. He dropkicks McGuinness off the apron. McGuinness trips Generico as he attempts to go for a dive. He sends Generico into the barricades. Generico does the same to him. McGuinness kicks Generico’s head into the barricades! He applies the London Dungeon back in the ring which Generico breaks via the ropes. He works over the arm before applying the move again. Generico gets the ropes again. He blocks a Jawbreaker Lariat and runs the ropes. McGuinness blocks a tornado DDT with an armwringer that sends Generico to the mat. Generico brings him to the floor with a headscissors. He follows with an Asai moonsault. In the ring he lands a crossbody for two. He also gets two with a Michinoku Driver. McGuinness kicks him in the back before driving him down with a clothesline. Generico kicks out of the Tower of London. Generico boots McGuinness to stop a top rope lariat. He misses a yakuza kick. McGuinness gives him the Tower of London on the ring apron! He sends Generico back first into the barricades. Generico jumps back in right before the twenty count. Angry, McGuinness goes for a lariat. Generico ducks and drops him with a brainbuster for two. He nails a yakuza kick and goes for the super brainbuster. McGuinness instead lariats him down to the mat for two. He puts Generico in the London Dungeon. Generico rolls him forward into a jackknife cradle for two. McGuinness delivers a lariat and locks the London Dungeon back on. Generico taps at 17:01. The beginning of the match added some great drama. It was unexpected and made Generico look tough right away. Them going back to it near the end kicked up the energy and made for a fun home stretch. McGuinness’ arm work and Generico’s selling are magic together. This was a great way to end the trilogy of their singles matches. ***¾

ROH World Championship
Nigel McGuinness (Champion) vs. KENTA

“7th Anniversary Show” – New York, NY – 3.21.2009

KENTA slaps McGuinness after backing him to the ropes. KENTA delivers a second one after ducking McGuinness’ slap attempt. KENTA kicks McGuinness’ left bicep which is heavily taped. KENTA delivers a running chest kick for a one count. KENTA throws McGuinness shoulder first into the ring post. KENTA twists up his arm on the mat. KENTA kicks away at the arm in the corner. KENTA gets two with a boot. McGuinness gets the ropes to break a kimura. KENTA misses a stomp from the top rope. McGuinness gives KENTA the Tower of London off the ring apron and to the floor. In the ring McGuinness throws KENTA shoulder first to the mat. McGuinness headbutts KENTA in the chest. He twists up KENTA’s shoulder some more. McGuinness hits a dropkick, but lands on his bad arm in the process. McGuinness kicks KENTA away to prevent KENTA from going for his legs. KENTA manages a suplex and heads up top. He gets two with a diving dropkick. KENTA reapplies the Kimura. McGuinness grabs the ropes to break it. McGuinness kicks KENTA in the back and clotheslines him to the canvas. KENTA evades a Tower of London. KENTA powerslams McGuinness and places him up top. McGuinness crotches KENTA on the top rope. KENTA ducks a lariat, but McGuinness shoves him to the floor to block a springboard maneuver. McGuinness whips him into the barricades. KENTA boots McGuinness into the crowd. KENTA double stomps McGuinness’ neck as McGuinness lay across the barricades! In the ring, KENTA boots McGuinness in the corner multiple times. KENTA’s fisherman’s buster only gets him a two count. KENTA ducks a lariat and hits the Busaiku Knee for another two count. KENTA ducks the Jawbreaker Lariat. McGuinness however manages to lock on the London Dungeon. KENTA scurries to the ropes to break it. The Tower of London can’t get the job done either. McGuinness fights out of a sunset bomb, but KENTA still pulls off a super Falcon Arrow. McGuinness kicks out. KENTA gets two with a German suplex. KENTA knees McGuinness in the back. McGuinness goes for the Jawbreaker Lariat. KENTA counters with the Go 2 Sleep. McGuinness gets his foot on the bottom rope to break the cover just in time. A fight over to the corner ends with McGuinness giving KENTA the Tower of London onto the ring apron. Both men make it back into the ring just before the twenty count. KENTA boots McGuinness. McGuinness blocks the Go 2 Sleep. McGuinness hits it himself! KENTA is able to kick out. McGuinness locks on the London Dungeon. KENTA turns it into a cradle for two. McGuinness hammerlock divorce courts KENTA’s arm before reapplying the London Dungeon. McGuinness bends KENTA across his knes, causing KENTA to tap out at 25:19. All of the work McGuinness put in on KENTA’s shoulder paid off in the end. Simple storytelling like that always, always works. They worked smart and left the bigger stuff for the latter portion of the match and really amped up the crowd. Brilliant work by both men in what I’d say is a pretty underappreciated match. ****

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