Here's my report from the show, had a great time. It's nice to be able to go to such a show and take in the "live experience", just can't get it from TV or DVD...(I posted this on the ROH boards originally, I've edited it a bit to make it easier to understand who everyone is)
My seat was on the right side of the ring. I was staring straight at the table with the bell guy, Bobby Cruise, and some other guys. Cary (Silkin, president/owner of ROH) was at ringside most of the night, Gabe (Sapolsky, ROH's booker) generally stayed in the back.
Crowd-late arriving, which is typical for the Washington area. Traffic. I arrived at the venue at 4:45 (left subway station where I park my car at 3:30) and there were already fans gathering. They opened doors at 6:05 (we were told 6), I'd estimate about 100 waiting at the time. At one point one of the NOAH cameramen came out to do some brief outside filming. I found it funny that he wore a Briscoes shirt.
At 5:30 PM, Chris Hero (wrestler) arrived. And parked his car right next to mine! (Psst...red Chevy Lumina with Ohio tags. I peeked) Didn't recognize him until he got out of the car. I didn't say anything, too busy watching my iPod. He even had a NOAH suitcase he was wheeling in. Must've left after his match because his car was gone when I went outside at intermission, probably headed to NYC for tomorrow. A couple other guys came out to chat briefly before the show, after seeing them compete I think they specifically were Austin Aries & Jimmy Jacobs. Jimmy even did a backflip for us.
All kinds in the crowd-diehards and smarks like myself, a few families and kids too, a few kids dragging their parents along...reminded me of my first (and before tonight, only other live) show that I dragged my mom to as a teenager. By start time I'd estimate 450-500, seating maybe 90% full with some staying upstairs. That's where the beer was. The row I was in (A3) and the row behind me surprisingly empty, everything else looked about full.
Show started at 7:02 (bell time was 7). No pre-show.
Nice face pop for S&S Inc., I sensed a lot of these fans were new to ROH and didn't care who was face & who was heel. Pelle Primeau did some nice high spots but it was mostly high-flyer against brawler, crowd behind Hero. When Sara Del Rey beat up the crew guy afterwards, I then knew I was sitting next to a non-smark fan. He thought the guy was legit hurt but I knew he was just selling and would be back at ringside in no time.
Second match was Rhett Titus & Rex Sterling vs. Mitch Franklin & Sean Denny, didn't get Mitch & Sean's names at first. Titus got heel heat for his outfit, his tights seemed to be pulled up in the back a bit too much. He also looked a little like Sammy Hagar. Really played it up to the crowd. Decent wrestling match but crowd didn't seem to care much.
4CS (4 Corner Survival, a 4-way 1 fall match)-another example of indifferences among the crowd, even Nigel (McGuinness, the current ROH World Champion) got a nice pop. Nigel wore the ROH World Title backwards when making his entrance (strap buttoned up on front). Good heat when Nigel & Claudio Castagnoli were in and the crowd wanted that. Fine post-match buildup for tomorrow. Damien Wayne didn't get as much of the local pop as I expected. Brent Albright won with knee strikes in a clinch on Wayne.
Aries-Stevens was a fun brawl.
Necro Butcher-Jack Evans (one of my faves in ROH) was crazy at times. Necro bled early from the forehead, but it wasn't a lot of blood. Was classic high-flyer vs. brawler, I enjoyed being able to see Evans up close, I've always liked his work. Finish with Necro hitting the backbreaker on the chairs was indeed sick.
Jimmy vs. Jay Briscoe was another solid brawl. They really went at each other a lot.
Bryan Danielson vs. Tyler Black was easily 4 stars. Danielson got his huge pop and masterfully led the crowd in singing "The Final Countdown" before the match began. Everything a Danielson match usually has, was surprised to see Black get out of the MMA elbows (one of Danielson's signature finishers) near the end. Well-deserved standing O for both guys after the match.
Main Event-this is what I paid for. To my surprise, it was the usual ROH intro for the NOAH guys (Takeshi Morishima, Naomichi Marufuji, Go Shiozaki) along with the usual barrage of streamers. Both the NOAH and NRC (Roderick Strong, Rocky Romero, Davey Richards) guys worked well together, their styles matching nicely. Go saw most of the action, and got a nice pop from the crowd when he was on the receiving end of a spot with the Kenta Kobashi rapid-fire chops. The chops were plentiful and the crowd loved everything Morishima-at one point he even did a half-decent cartwheel! (This guy's at least 250-275 pounds!) Lots of back-and-forth and the crowd stayed in it the whole time. NOAH guys win, well-deserved standing O for NRC as they limped to the back to end the show. We're done at 9:57.
For my first ROH live show, I went mostly for the live experience and to see the NOAH guys. I did not leave disappointed. The show started out just a little slow but built up more as it went along and the crowd did its part more once it got into the matches. Although it looked like a "B" show on paper, it came off like an "A" show, enough to call it a successful Manassas debut. On a 1-10 scale I give it a 9. My first live ROH show, and it almost certainly won't be my last. I'm planning on being at the August 1 show (return date).
2 other things I noticed that are very different between watching it live and on DVD: Live you can see just how much give the ring will have because at eye level like I was at, you can see how much it seems to be sagging in the middle. So I knew the ring would have a lot of give. Second, there is almost no down time between matches. Everyone heads to the back, they clean out chairs and streamers if necessary, then bald staff guy (Sara's beatdown victim tonight) takes his spot and Bobby's getting the next match going. Oh, and Bobby Dempsey still works with the ring crew after shows, he was helping take down the ring. Thankfully he wore a shirt. He also was interacting with a few fans who waited out the exiting crowds. And if you buy a program from ROH's "program girl", try not to, um, stare at her better features. She shouldn't wear push-ups under her shirt & jacket.
Had a great time and am looking forward to hopefully this becoming a 3-4 times a year thing.