Background: A short time before this event, Kevin Steen won a number one contender’s tournament to face the Ring of Honor World champion. This was his title opportunity.
April 12, 2008
Nigel McGuinness vs. Kevin Steen
Before the match, Steen saw a fan with a sign for the challenger in shape of the Quebec flag proclaiming “Mr. Wrestling” as the next champ. Steen showed off the sign before autographing it with his snot. I kid you not.
Steen snotted on Nigel’s hand when the champ offered his hand for an honorable shake. Nigel followed up by slapping Steen with the mucus-covered hand. Steen’s response: snotting on his own hand to give Nigel a feel of snot slapping face. This lead to the two going strike for strike, with Steen leveling the champion long enough for Steen to go for the sharpshooter. Nigel was able to escape out of the ring. Nigel walked around the ring, jawing with the fans until Steen gave chase. This was, seemingly, the champ’s plan as he led Steen into a trap. Nigel tried to unleash the Jawbreaker Lariat, but Steen was too fresh, sidestepping the move before pitching Nigel out of the ring. Steen took to the sky, dropping McGuinness with the somersault plancha!
The challenger was having a good time, using the ropes to mock Nigel’s set up for the Jawbreaker. Nigel was able to use the ropes to do another rebound, propelling to the floor before forearming Steen in the mouth. McGuinness whipped Steen headfirst into the steel guardrails. When the action returned to the ring, Nigel used the referee’s five count to his advantage. The champ went from choking Steen out illegally to trying to put him to sleep. Steen was able to free himself, putting Nigel on his shoulders. In honor of Davey Boy Smith, Steen proclaimed himself British before using the running power slam. McGuinness was able to use Steen’s momentum against him by sidestepping an attack, hitting that kick to the back-forearm to the chest combo in the corner.
Nigel’s game plan shifted as he focused on Steen’s arms. Steen tried to fight back, but Nigel was in control, avoiding Steen’s attacks while targeting the left arm and shoulder. Nigel got a few cheap shots in, raking his forearm against Steen’s face as Kevin laid against the steel ring post. Steen had to get some distance from the champion after taking a slew of European uppercuts. Nigel wasn’t having it, staying on top of his challenger. Steen was able to take it all, dropping Nigel with a missile dropkick after catching the champ’s legs in the ropes. Steen used his body to wreck Nigel’s chest. Nigel’s head bounced off the bottom turnbuckle after that cannonball rush in the corner. Steen went for the sharpshooter again, but Nigel kicked him away. Nigel wanted to go for the Tower of London, but the challenger’s weight saved him.
Nigel switched it up, driving Steen onto the canvas with the Lariat. Steen powered off the mat, keeping the match going. Nigel was able to put Steen on the top rope for the Tower of London, but Steen turned it into a cross body block for a two count. Steen tried to follow up, but fell into the London Dungeon.
Steen slipped free, causing Nigel to run to the top. The challenger caught him on the top, slamming him off. Steen took his spot on the ropes, using it as a distraction to lock the champion in the Sharpshooter. Nigel used his long body to grab the ropes. Steen had to crawl up the ropes, but got caught due to that. Nigel pulled Steen off with the Tower of London … to gain a shocking near fall!
Nigel went back to the hurting arms, using a series of elbows before using his body to wrench the arm out of place in a sickening fashion. Steen was able to roll through the hold, going for the sharpshooter again. Nigel slipped under the bottom rope to save himself. The champ grabbed the bottom rope, causing it to whiplash into Steen’s face. Nigel grabbed Steen’s head, hitting the Tower of London on the floor! Steen was out … or so we thought. Somehow, Steen was able to kick out of McGuinness’ follow up pin, frustrating the champ. Nigel was looking for another Tower of London, but Steen fought his way out of it; landing on top of Nigel for a near fall. Steen struggled to his feet, hitting the super kick when Nigel turned around. Steen ran up the ropes, coming off with the Swanton. Steen crawled on top of the champion, but couldn’t hold him down for the three count.
Steen had Nigel set up for the Package Piledriver, but couldn’t use his left arm to hoist McGuinness off the mat. Nigel got free, going for the Jawbreaker Lariat, only to fall into the sharpshooter. With his left arm so weak, Steen couldn’t stop Nigel from making it to the ropes. Steen went for the Package Piledriver again, but Nigel tripped him up, putting Steen’s shoulders again the mat. Nigel floated over, grabbing the middle rope without the referee’s knowledge to hold Steen for the three count.
Steen’s partner El Generico ran out in protest. Steen began to argue with the officials as the fans chanted, “Bulls***!”
Winner: Nigel McGuinness (21:34)
Is It A Classic: Nigel McGuinness and Kevin Steen perfectly set the stage for something bigger and better with an absolute phenomenal first time title encounter. To truly grasp the concept of this battle, you need to see the rematch from a few months later. But even on the match’s own merit, this is a very good bout that didn’t give away everything in preparation for the inevitable rematch.