Manhattan Mayhem Review

“Manhattan Mayhem IV” is less than a week away.  It looks like a great card from top to bottom on paper and should be a great show.   The original “Manhattan Mayhem” is generally considered one of the best shows Ring of Honor has ever run.  Let’s go back to May 7, 2005 and see how this show holds up six years later.

The show starts off with “Good Times, Great Memories” with Colt Cabana.  He is out on the streets of New York and his asking people about his opponent for “Manhattan Mayhem,” Nigel McGuinness.  The best answer he got was a man asking him, “Are you always this annoying?”  You got to love the people of New York.  It was a fun and hilarious way to start the show.

We then go to Samoa Joe, who is in the ring before the fans are let in.  Jay Lethal makes his way to the ring and thanks Joe for taking him under his wing and turning his life around.  Joe gets mad because Lethal is being nice to a man he is defending the Pure Title against later in the night.  Lethal throws him in the corner and basically tells him that he will show no sympathy.

Dunn & Marcos vs Lacey’s Angels (Izzy & Deranged) w/ Cheech and Cloudy vs Dixie & Azrieal

The stipulation of this match is that the losing team must break up.  Dunn and Marcos are the first to enter the ring.  The Carnage Crew, however, run in and beat them down before the other teams are introduced.  The beat down involves hubcap shots to the head and a pile driver from the apron through a table on the floor.  This was a crazy way to start the night!
The first match now looks like this:

Lacey’s Angels (Izzy & Deranged) w/ Cheech and Cloudy vs Dixie & Azrieal

This was a fun match and was a great way to start the show.  The match was full of action from the opening bell until the very end.  All four men really worked well together and it delivered a good tag team match.  Lacey’s Angels controlled a good portion of the match because of the numbers advantage, but Dixie and Azrieal were eventually able to fight out of it.  The ending sequence of this match was very cool.  Azrieal went for a double stomp off the top onto Deranged, but Izzy pushed Dixie into the way and he gets taken out with the move by his partner.  Azrieal then goes after Izzy and lands a double stomp on him.  Azrieal lands a nice series of kicks to Deranged, but it was not enough for the pin.  Azrieal whipped Deranged into the corner, but he was able to float over and land a reverse hurricarana for the three count and the win for Lacey’s Angels.  Dixie and Azrieal can never tag with each other again.  This was just a hot way to start the show.

Rating: ***

Nigel McGuinness vs Colt Cabana

I loved this match.  I think I will like it a lot more than most people do, but it was a very good match.  These two men are both great at the European style and we saw that come through throughout this match.  There was a lot of chain wrestling involved, as well as a lot of comedy.  The story going into the match was McGuinness broke up the tag team the two had because he felt Cabana was not serious enough.  Cabana proved in the match, however, that you can have fun and still wrestle a great match.  There were a lot of very funny parts to this match, especially the different ways the two wrestlers got out of various pin attempts.  The only thing that holds this match back, however, is the ending sequence.  Cabana whipped McGuinness into the corner, but he was able to catch himself and turn and roll back to the center of the ring.  It appeared as if McGuinness kicked Cabana low during this roll.  A victory roll got the three count for McGuinness, which kind of surprised me.  But the weird ending was not enough to ruin this match.  McGuinness and Cabana put on a chain wrestling clinic and made it fun.

Rating: *** 1/2

We cut to the back and we see the man challenging for Austin Aries’ ROH Title, Alex Shelley.  He complained about various things, most notably to injury he suffered just as he was about to become a full-time roster member.  Shelley talked about the formation of Generation Next and that he was showing to show Aries that he is better.

Black Tiger vs James Gibson

This was another good match, but it may have been the worst match on the show.  When a match this good is the worst match, you know you are watching a great show.  These two battled for about 15 minutes and hit some nice spots throughout the match.  Black Tiger was in control for a good portion early in the match, until Gibson reversed a cross arm breaker into a Texas Cloverleaf.  Black Tiger locked in an ankle lock several times throughout the match, including once from the top rope.  Gibson was able to pick up the win after hitting a Northern Lights Suplex and locking in a guillotine that forced Black Tiger to tap out.  This was a good match, but on a show full of very good to great matches, this match was the weakest.

Rating: ***

ROH Tag Team Title Match:
Roderick Strong and Jack Evans vs BJ Whitmer and Jimmy Jacobs (c)

This match is a forgotten classic.  This match is hardly ever talked about when people discuss the best tag team matches in Ring of Honor history, which is a shame because this is a great match.  The four men in the match went all out for the duration of the match and hit some insane spots.  There were several times I thought a wrestler, usually Jimmy Jacobs, was seriously hurt because of the punishment they were taking.  The action started off hot when Whitmer launched Jacobs over the top rope and onto the challengers on the outside.  Jacobs took a beating for much of the match and received one of the sickest moves I have ever seen.  He was draped in across the second rope in the corner and Strong and Evans up in a power bomb position.  Evans flipped out of that position and landed a double stomp that looked like it broke Jacobs in half.  Jacobs and Whitmer were able to pick up the win after a Power Bomb and Contra Code combination.  This is my match of the night and it is really a shame that this match does not get the recognition it deserves

Rating: **** ¼

ROH Pure Title Match
Samoa Joe vs Jay Lethal (c)

This was another very good match.  Joe and Lethal worked so well together and told a very good story in this match.  Joe was kind of an underdog in this match because he was not accustomed to Pure Rules and Lethal was.  This match started off hot and both men were delivering stiff shots.  Joe used all three of his rope breaks before Lethal used his first.  Lethal locked in a sleeper hold on the apron, but since Joe was out of rope breaks there was nothing the referee could do to break the hold.  Joe ran down the apron with Lethal on his back and flipped onto a table at ringside that hurt both men.  Lethal appeared to have the match won after he hit a Tiger Suplex, but Joe kicked out.  Joe won after hitting a series of suplexes and became the first Grand Slam winner in Ring of Honor history.  This was a very good match that made Lethal look like a million bucks.

Rating: *** ¾

The Rottweilers attacked Joe and Lethal after the match and Low Ki revealed himself as the man who attacked Lethal a few shows prior.

McGuinness said the low blow was accidental.

Spanky was in Japan during this show, but when he returned he had his sights set on the ROH World Title.

Dog Collar Match
Jimmy Rave w/ the Embassy vs CM Punk

Prince Nana said that Jimmy Rave was sick from drinking New York City water and sent him to the back.  Punk has to face Killer Kruel.  Punk made his entrance, but was attacked by Rave from behind.  Punk was busted open early in the match after being pulled into the ring post while he was holding a chair.  Every time Punk seemed ready to mount his comeback, The Embassy interfered and helped Rave regain control.  This was the story of the match and in the end, Punk had to try and fight off all of The Embassy, which allowed Rave to grab a chair and nail Punk six times with it for the victory.  I am going to be honest, I am not a big fan of Dog Collar matches, so I am probably underrating this a little bit.  I still thought this was a very good match, but other people probably enjoyed a lot more than I did.  It was still one of the better Dog Collar matches I have seen.

Rating: *** ¼

ROH World Title Match
Alex Shelley vs Austin Aries ©

The ROH World Title match was another great match on “Manhattan Mayhem.”  Shelley tried to use his knowledge of Aries from his days of leading Generation Next to win the match, but Aries was always able to find a way out of whatever predicament Shelley had him in.  Shelley had the Motor City Stretch locked in several times, but Aries was always able to reach the ropes.  Shelley even hit two Shell Shocks, but Aries was able to kick out both times.  Aries was able to win the match and retain his title after hitting Shelley with a brain buster and a 450 Splash.  Aries proved just how good of a wrestler he was with his in-ring presence and knowing where he was at all times, and Shelley looked great because he took the champion to the brink.  This was a great match that flew by for the roughly 20 minutes it went.

Rating: ****

The Rottweilers once again hit the ring after the World Title match and were attacked by Joe and Lethal.  The Rottweilers tried to escape, but Joe and Lethal hit Suicide Dives and we now have an impromptu main event!

Low Ki and Homicide vs Samoa Joe and Jay Lethal

This match was absolute mayhem, which is fitting given the name of the show.  Tag rules were thrown out the window almost immediately and these four men beat the snot out of each other for the entire match.  The match only went about 10 minutes, but this is one of the most action packed 10 minute matches you will ever see.  There was not a moment to catch your breath as there was something happening the entire time.  The ending came when the Rottweilers hit a Cop Killa/Double Stomp combination on Lethal that broke his neck.  It is one of the sickest bumps you will see in a non-hardcore match.  This was a great way to end a great show.

Rating: *** ½

Is “Manhattan Mayhem” the best Ring of Honor show ever?  I am not sure if I could say that, but I would not argue against someone that said it is.  There is not a single bad match on the card, and the weakest match is still really good.  There are several great matches on this show as well.  If you are a Ring of Honor fan and have yet to see “Manhattan Mayhem,” go order it now.  It is a great show from beginning to end.  If “Manhattan Mayhem IV” is anything like the show it gets its name from, then we should be in for a great night of wrestling, and maybe a surprise or two.  But “Manhattan Mayhem” is a great show from beginning to end.  I do not know what other grade to give it other than an A+.

Jon Shumake

Jon has been with ROHWorld since March 2011. The American Bearded Nightmare is one half of ‘Team America’ on ROHCast, which is available every week on ROHWorld, iTunes and Stitcher.

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