Rivalries: Bryan Danielson vs. Nigel McGuinness Part III – The Seminal Rivalry in ROH History

Hello everyone and welcome to the final part of Rivalries: Bryan Danielson vs. Nigel McGuinness! We have finally come to the conclusion of what has been a tremendous rivalry, with drama, story and insane action. Anyway, let’s get on with the final part!


Nigel McGuinness (c.) vs. Bryan Danielson – Non-Title Match – ROH Battle of the Best

            I mean, considering the matches these two had before, this is well below the usual standard. However, even this “well below the usual standard” match is a joy to watch. The primary driving factor here is story, which was quite well done and progressed the characters well. The first factor was that Nigel was clearly heel here, taking digs at Danielson, mouthing off at him, and generally being a dick. However, all of this was subdued, which made this feel more like sport than pro wrestling to a certain extent. Also cool here was how they told the story of Danielson out-classing Nigel on the mat, yet Nigel got the advantage with strikes. As soon as Nigel would feel like he had control, Danielson would whip out a beautiful transition or counter to bring the match back into his wheelhouse, which was just awesome. However, after extended submissions from Danielson on the mat, Nigel got control by bringing the match to the feet and striking proficiently. The story progression here was great, with Nigel finally having a surefire way to get the advantage. Early on in the feud Danielson could do as he may on the mat for nearly an hour at points, but not anymore. Also, it was very clear through the action that these two are familiar and have each other scouted. For example, this came through near the end, where Nigel smoothly and effortlessly transitioned from the Cattle Mutilation to the Tower of London, which was just incredible. On top of some really nice story work, the action here was just tremendous too. Danielson on the mat was pure gold, utilizing some of the best counters and submissions I’ve seen in a while. Nigel, to his credit, did just as well with the counter work and also added layers to it with the strikes. As per usual, the big moves were present, with the action in these moments being just as good as usual, with the strikes, counters, and signature spots rolled all into one nice package. However, this match was not in the same stratosphere as some of the other matches from these two. Primarily, the action felt like these two in a house show match, with the energy and urgency a bit dampened. This may also be due to a non-title match having very little intrinsic drama, but that’s beside the point. To be clear, these two’s house show quality match is better than what most wrestlers could ever do, but still, it’s a step down. Also, while good, the action down the stretch and the drama did not reach as high levels as it had in the past, partially due to the aforementioned decrease in effort, but also partially due to a certain numbness at this point. I really noticed here that some moves, like the lariat with Danielson crotched on the top rope or the Tower of London, have lost all significance. They are so overdone that no real urgency is associated with them anymore. To build on this, the Japanese crowd was so dead that any drama building was muted by the silence. This is not their best match by a long shot, but even with this sentiment, I can still safely say it’s still a really fun match, even if it isn’t lifechanging.

Rating: ***¾


Nigel McGuinness (c.) vs. Bryan Danielson – ROH World Championship Match – ROH Rising Above 2008

            Last match I complained these two were getting a bit blasé. This match proves me totally wrong. Here is a perfect continuation of such a long running feud, with old elements maintained and new elements added. This was truly some elite level work by two of the best. Early on it was pretty standard fare for this fued, with Danielson dominating on the mat. However, one wrinkle would change the match entirely: Danielson entered with an injured leg. This allowed what happened at ROH’s 6th Anniversary show to fully take hold; once again the tables turn. McGuinness, after targeting the leg, got to control the majority of the match, showing how far he had come since their first match. McGuinness’ leg work was top-notch too, using classic spots like figure 4 leglocks as well as new, innovative moments, like a snapmare into the ropes which bounced Daielson’s leg off the ropes. McGuinness was super focused here and any time Danielson seemed to get some hope, he’s snuff it out with an attack to the leg. Danielson did great here as well, selling like death to put over McGuinness huge. By the end he looked totally spent and it was great. Also great was his leg selling, as he would sell pain if he accidentally used it, attempt to use his other leg any chance he got, and even have it buckle a bit when he was bridging for a german suplex or for Cattle Mutilation. The subtly with the selling was absolutely tremendous. Then, down the stretch, the action was some of the best so far in the series, as they pulled out new and old spots, lacing them together. They reached really epic levels, even if it doesn’t exactly match their highest-end stuff. Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention two things. Firstly, the subplot of Danielson trying to win with the Crossface Chickenwing since that’s the move he won his first World Title with was brilliant. Also, McGuinness, who can get a bit lariat happy at points, really subdued that part of his style, making every lariat feel special. The only real huge flaw here is a bit of interference mid way through, but that’s only for a small part and only really caused a nearfall, so it’s all good. Other than that, this match is Danielson and Nigel firing on all cylinders, which is some of the best wrestling around.

Rating: ****½


Nigel McGuinness vs. Bryan Danielson – ROH Glory By Honor VIII: The Final Countdown

This was exactly the match this should have been for these guy’s last match in ROH. They didn’t tell an epic story or have an emotional rollercoaster; they instead had a match composed of call backs and their best hits, hand crafted for fans of this rivalry. The entire match was filled with callbacks, which were quite well executed. Danielson hit a huge dive a la their first match, Nigel pulled Danielson’s head into the ringpost like Danielson did to him in the Unified match, Nigel tried for the lariat when Danielson is on the top rope but Danielson reversed, etc. On top of these, it was clear these two worked really hard and took a lot of punishment. Danielson, for example, was both flung off the guard rail into the ringpost and then a few minutes later hit with the Tower of London on the apron. On top of this, some of the sequences down the stretch were just great, with crisp reversals and lightning fast action. I also loved how both guys, since they knew each other so well, reversed constantly, showing familiarity. To me, at least, it is also pertinent to note how Nigel looks back upon this match. On the DVD I own this match on, Nigel discusses how he can’t watch this match since he is so disappointed with how his career played out after this. He was supposed to go to WWE, but it didn’t work out. By the end of the year, both guys were in big companies (Nigel in TNA and Danielson in WWE), but Danielson had a much more illustrious career. Nigel retired early while Danielson won title after title in WWE, proving he is the best in the world. Now that is a tragic tale for Nigel. Overall, this was a very fun close to such an awesome rivalry, but hindsight brings a shroud of future misfortune over this match.

Rating: ****   

Overall Rivalry Rating: LEGENDARY!

How can this rivalry not get the highest rating possible to be honest? There is not one match under 3¾*, which means the worst stuff here is borderline great.They had 5 matches 4½*+. 5 matches I would consider genuine classics! That is sheer insanity. Any match from these guys is worth a watch in some way. Seriously, with free matches from these two on ROH’s official Youtube, there is no reason not to watch some of this rivalry.


Best Match:Bryan Danielson (c.) vs. Nigel McGuinness (c.) .) – ROH World Championship Match – ROH Pure Championship Match – Pure Wrestling Rules – Any Draw Will Lead to A Restart – ROH World Championship Can Change by Countout or DQ – ROH Unified

Worst Match: Bryan Danielson vs. Nigel McGuinness – Survival of the Fittest Qualifying Match – ROH Survival of the Fittest 2007

NEXT RIVALRY: Chris Sabin vs. Bully Ray

Thank you so much for reading my second Rivalries series! This series ruled and I’m so excited to adventure into TNA for a mini-rivalry in mid-2013. On top of this, I’m still working my way through 1990s AJPW and collecting new matches for RMR. Plus, Starrcade 1994 is in the works, so yay main event Brutus Beefcake! Other than that, check out new updates and such here, and check out some of my other writings at freeprowrestling.com. If you want to contact me, check here. Otherwise, like, comment, share, or do whatever else you want to do. Thank you for reading and see you next time!


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