214 ROH Motor City Madness 2009 1/30/2009

ROH 214 – Motor City Madness 2009 – 30th January 2009

ROH began its 2009 season in somewhat lacklustre form. Full Circle was a decent, but fairly unremarkable effort, whilst Injustice 2 stood and fell on the success of the ambitious McGuinness vs Black main event which, in terms of match quality delivered, then left a sour taste in everyone’s mouth with bizarre and unnecessary finish. Plenty of positives, but also plenty of negatives and question marks as we move into the new year, so a real mixed bag. Plenty to build on going into this, the first pay-per-view weekend of the year. Traditionally the show BEFORE the ppv taping can be fairly weak, but I actually like the card for this one. Kevin Steen and El Generico make their first appearances of ’09 to defend the Tag Titles against the American Wolves in the main event. Jerry Lynn and Tyler Black have a rematch from Ring Of Homicide 2 and there’s also a non-title rematch from Chaos At The Cow Palace back in 2007 as Nigel McGuinness meets Jay Briscoe. I’m hoping we’ll also get an explanation for the ridiculous 48:13 ‘one hour’ draw on the last show. We’re in Detroit, MI unsurprisingly, with hosts Lenny Leonard and Dave Prazak.

ROH VIDEO WIRE (21/01/2009-27/01/2009) – Video wire opens with more hype for Steel Cage Warfare. Jay Briscoe officially joins Team Albright, whilst a slightly demonic Larry Sweeney hypes up the Wolves, and says he’s in contact with all former S’n’S Inc. members to potentially be in their team.

– Daizee Haze cuts a strangely powerful promo whilst wielding Jimmy Jacobs’ spike.

– Tyler Black challenges Aries and Jacobs to a tag team match at Caged Collision.

– A sombre Jerry Lynn compares his career to the plot of The Wrestler. It’s partially depressing, partially heavy handed, although I appreciate the effort on recent video wires to advance the characters of everyone on the roster from the students and undercard crew right the way through to guys like Lynn

– Jimmy Jacobs tries to convince Delirious not to get distracted by Daizee. I love how far we’ve come from the Jimmy loves Lacey story that it’s now Jacobs doing the ‘get your head in the game’ speech

– The Wolves, then Steen and Generico cut promos on their pending title clash.

– Julius Smokes makes a random appearance on the newswire, then some even randomer noises. No clue what that was about. He needs more subtitles than the Dragon Gate guys…

– The DVD also includes the dark matches (is this going to become a regular thing?) from the card, so we get Kenny King taking on Alex Payne, then Irish Airborne supposedly taking on Grizzly Redwood and Andy ‘Right Leg’ Ridge…only for Bison Smith to decimate all four of them.

Jay Briscoe opens the show arguing that he doesn’t get enough respect for his skills as a singles wrestler. He’ll beat the World Champion tonight to prove all the doubters wrong.

Rhett Titus vs Bryan Danielson

This is a major encounter and an important stage in Rhett’s career development. He’s starting to step out of the shadow of the ROH Wrestling School and be considered a ‘talent’ in his own right. His showings have been getting better with every show he appears on as well, and he has very much earned this chance to step into the ring with the ‘Best In The World’. It’s hardly a major match for Dragon (although he could do with a win after losing at Full Circle and Injustice 2), but just stepping into the ring with Titus will be invaluable experience for the up and comer.

No handshake from Rhett, just a pelvic thrust in Dragon’s direction. He gets taken to the mat by Danielson, but manages to escape his clutches and celebrates with more pelvic gyration. Titus tries to take Dragon down in the same way, but Danielson effortless escapes and floats to a groin stretch. WANKING WRISTLOCK by Titus. ‘That was gay’ – Detroit. He dropkicks Titus to the floor, then tries to help him back in with a big smile on his face. Titus drills his ass into the neck of his opponent, then tries to steal the Mexican surfboard. BRUTAL KICKS from Dragon, clearly pissed off by that insubordination. He drags Rhett to the mat and teases the Mexican surfboard, changing it at the last moment to a choke sleeper. German suplex gets 2 on the Academy graduate. Rhett acts like Danielson caught him low, then uses Dragon’s ensuing argument with the ref to score with his dropkick. Neck crank followed by a neckbreaker, rolled into a full nelson choke. Sadly for him Danielson is able to power his way out and deliver another violent kick to the chest. Sexy Party elbow smash from Dragon, then a big kick to the back which knocks Rhett’s head into the nutsack of the referee. TOPE SUICIDA FROM DANIELSON! Missile dropkick next, then Titus attacks the neck again to hit a Rocker Dropper for 2. Rude Awakening blocked. MMA ELBOWS! CATTLE MUTILATION! Titus taps at 13:41

Rating – *** –
Terrific way to start the show. I criticized both opening matches at the last weekend, calling them dull, lifeless and seemingly the exact opposite of what a curtain jerker is supposed to do. This one was much better and delivered on all fronts. It had the right mix of comedy, crowd interaction and solid wrestling. Titus, aided by the superb American Dragon, delivered his most complete in-ring performance to date. It wasn’t a breakout match in the ilk of Danielson/Black from the Breakout show at this time last year, but I’d say it was a performance that solidifies and confirms Rhett’s transition from ‘top ROH student’ to ‘ROH wrestler’.

Austin Aries vs Silas Young

The first shows of 2009 saw the debut of the A-Double persona. To say it has reinvigorated Austin’s ROH career would be an understatement. Not that he was going downhill or anything, because he was still putting on great matches. But having been heel, been face, had a run as World Champion, a run as Tag Champion, leader of two different stables, a run at winning BACK the ROH Title, multiple matches with Danielson, blood feuds etc…he’s essentially done it all in Ring Of Honor. A total revamp on his character, becoming an embittered, narcissistic showman opens up so many new possibilities for a guy who, at the end of 2008, appeared to have hit a wall (and as such, saw people turning on him to cheer for Tyler Black in their match at Final Battle).

Aries attacks the soundman and makes him stop playing Journey during Silas’ entrance which is just GUARANTEED to make him unpopular in Detroit. He runs Silas down, and implies he’ll sleep with his wife after he gets injured in this match. Young attacks Aries for his personal insults, causing A-Double to flee the ring. Finlay roll by Silas, but Austin rolls outside again as Silas lines up the headstand Arabian press, then hauls his opponent to the floor to stomp on him. Gone is the traditional high impact, explosive offence from the former ROH Champion. He rakes Young’s eyes on the ropes, then chokes on him. Power Drive Elbow (with push-up cover) gets 2. Brainbuster blocked so Austin lays in shots to the kidneys, a back rake then the Impact Explosion Dropkick for another nearfall. Young goes for the headstand Arabian again but this time flips into Austin’s knees. BRAINBUSTER nailed, into the Last Chancery. Young taps in 09:10

Rating – ** –
Very basic, but the terrific pre-match promo by Aries meant that there was a really lively crowd which definitely helped matters. In run of the mill, throwaway midcard bouts like this it’s important to have a crowd 100% invested in what’s going on in the ring and this crowd were really urging Young to pick up the victory. To that end, this match delivered well.

Kyle Durden asks Claudio Castagnoli why he’s started 2009 by challenging Brent Albright and Kevin Steen on consecutive nights. He’ll take care of them the ‘European way’ apparently. I’m European, and I don’t know what that means…

Brodie Lee vs Necro Butcher

This is a rematch from The French Connection. Brodie debuted during the Homicide return weekend last year, and was set to get a real chance to shine and build a significant feud with Necro towards a big blow-off hardcore match at Final Battle weekend. But the change of booker hasn’t really worked in his favour. His big match with Necro came in Canada, saw Necro badly injured in the early going and basically stunk up the place…and he hasn’t been seen since that weekend. But he’s back tonight, still very much aligned with Age Of The Fall and once again looking to get a piece of Necro.

Lee jumps Necro before he’s even in the ring. He takes some of Butcher’s feared right hand punches flush on the jaw but absorbs them and doesn’t even look like going down. Saito suplex drops Butcher again but the big boot in the corner moments later misses. Necro decides to take things outside and hiptosses Brodie over the ropes to deliver a CANNONBALL SENTON off the apron. He tears one of the ‘ROH’ metal sheets clean away from the railings and flays Lee with it, nearly taking out several front row fans in doing so. Protective mats are moved next but it’s Necro who winds up taking a back drop on the exposed concrete. The fight spills into the crowd…and as the two men start launching chairs at each other’s heads the bell rings for a double count-out. It’s over at 05:17

Rating – ** –
Yet another screwy finish to contend with, but the positive side of this was that they had a far better match than the one they produced in Montreal. They didn’t do anything special, but it just had far more energy about it. Necro being healthier meant he was better at selling Lee’s offence and making him look like a monster. It had a vibe of two big, tough dudes having a fight, rather than two big, tough dudes lumbering around like idiots. The non-finish was irksome however, although hopefully ROH will get behind Lee and book him for a few more shows and we’ll get a decisive match

Just because the match is over it doesn’t stop them fighting. Jimmy Jacobs joins Brodie in the crowd and lashes a steel chair in Necro’s direction. They brawl back towards the lights where Butcher pins Lee against the railings and flings a few more chairs in his direction. He goes to the top rope but is nutshotted from behind by Jacobs. Delirious is out here too meaning it’s now 3-on-1. Necro and Brodie fight up the ramp and to the back so Jacobs takes a mic to address the fans. He calls Strong and Stevens ‘Neanderthal jocks’ and tells them to get out for their scheduled match

Jimmy Jacobs/Delirious vs Roderick Strong/Erick Stevens

There’s not a lot of storyline behind this one, although Jimmy did just inject some relevance into proceedings by pointing out that popular ‘jocks’ like Strong and Stevens are the antithesis of what Age Of The Fall stand for. Strong and Stevens are in Steel Cage Warfare tomorrow night so this is all about building momentum for them.

Delirious almost does the ‘lose his mind’ from the bell thing, but is restrained in the corner by Jacobs. Age Of The Fall stall and spend the first 90 seconds staying well away from their opponents. Panic Attack misses in the early going and leads to the babyface team alienating Delirious from his partner. Strong sends him into a second rope shoulder tackle from Erick for 2. Tag to Jimmy, only for him to take a press slam from the top rope. Eventually Delirious starts chewing on Stevens’ leg, distracting him long enough to allow Jacobs to hit a pescado. With that the pendulum swings in the direction of AOTF who have an opportunity to work Stevens over. Back/chest rake combo into the Anaconda Vice by Delirious. But he can’t hold Stevens down and takes a suplex…only for Jacobs to knock Roddy off the apron before Erick can make it to their corner. Finally the hot tag does come and in comes Strong to cradle backbreaker Jacobs over Delirious’ knee. Big boot Death By Roderick countered into a COBRA CLUTCH SUPLEX for 2. Jacobs cuts Roderick in half with the Spear into End Time. Strong stands up and walks to his corner for a tag. Choo Choo then a running Samoan drop by Stevens. Doctor Bomb attempted but Delirious saves with SHADOWS OVER HELL! Elevated Sick Kick Powerbomb by Strong and Stevens! That is enough to pin Delirious at 13:15

Rating – ** – Nothing wrong with this. They worked the formulas, timed the comebacks etc. It just felt a little paint by numbers. Both teams have come together in the last few months, and both showed signs of development in terms of fluidity and cohesion as a double team unit, and progression is always welcome. More needed though…

Once again Jimmy Jacobs gives Delirious a slap for losing the match…

Claudio Castagnoli vs Brent Albright

I believe it was during the final 2008 Video Wire that we saw Claudio set his agenda for the coming year. After main eventing the first two Hammerstein shows, his stock had fallen so low that he was LOSING in the opening match by Final Battle. He has vowed to head back to the top of ROH this year, and has started by issuing challenges to two of the biggest workers in the locker room in Albright and Kevin Steen. Brent leads his team into Steel Cage Warfare tomorrow night but will need to make sure he doesn’t look past this one.

They start with some really crisp chain wrestling with Albright looking to focus on the arm in preparation for the Crowbar. Gradually Brent starts to take control, continually taking Castagnoli down by the arm and looking to work it with armbars. Having had enough of it, Claudio shoves him all the way over the top rope. DEAD LIFT gutwrench suplex gets 2 as Brent Albright continues to struggle after taking that spill to the floor. Sweet’n’Sour Inc. are on the ramp scouting Brent ahead of the cage match tomorrow night. Castagnoli forces Brent to take several more hard bumps onto his back, which Lenny Leonard points out will certainly soften him up and increase the effectiveness of the Riccola Bomb. Foolishly Brent goes for a crossbody block…and takes another UGLY fall out of the ring. Bicycle Kick misses so Double C uses his own body weight to heave Albright through the ropes for a third time. DDT ON THE APRON! With Brent now in a collapsed heap on the floor Claudio looks content to win via count-out as we near 10 minutes. He barely beats the count and is rocked right away by a flurry of European uppercuts. His comeback begins with a flash powerslam but takes an age to follow up. Belly to belly suplex then a swinging backbreaker nailed next, but he’s still very slow on his feet and eventually turns into the Bicycle Kick of Double C. Castagnoli teases the Big Swing but refuses to please the fans by doing it. Albright does the Big Swing on Claudio instead, but then has his attention taken by Larry Sweeney. POP-UP EUROPEAN COUNTERED TO THE CROWBAR! Claudio makes the ropes…but Albright refuses to let go and is disqualified at 13:30

Rating – ** –
The match was good – much better than I was expecting in fact. They meshed surprisingly well as opponents with Claudio bringing out the terrific technical wrestler in Brent Albright that we saw so much of in OVW but really haven’t seen as much in ROH. They were having a decent, competitive back and forth match…but once again the booking spoilt the finish. Interference and a banal DQ finish – it’s so frustrating. I know booking ROH can’t be easy. But if you don’t want to job Claudio (lets face it, Albright needs to look strong leading a team into a ppv main event tomorrow) then don’t book yourself into a corner by putting Claudio in a match with someone who you also can’t job out. On his ‘ROH Secrets’ Kayfabe Commentaries DVD, former booker Gabe Sapolsky talks about booking himself into a corner from time to time. At the moment it feels like Adam Pearce is doing that a LOT. Either that or he’s worryingly out of touch with the ROH fans and what the ROH concept should be – which at heart is a wrestling product designed to be the antithesis of non-finishes and screw jobs the likes of which we’ve been seeing increasing amounts of recently.

In the back Jimmy Jacobs threatens Daizee Haze until she pulls out the spike on him. Something about that segment was quite unsettling…which I suppose is the point

Tyler Black vs Jerry Lynn

This is a bout between two men who are right in the hunt for another ROH World Title shot. Jerry lost to Nigel in Nashville, but some intensely personal comments by McGuinness subsequent to that match have forced Lynn to refocus on his career and work towards a rematch. Meanwhile Black will be looking to rebound after he was screwed out of the World Title in Edison when the 60 minute time limit expired 12 minutes early…just when he had the match won.

Heel Dave Prazak running down Jerry’s ‘New F’n Show’ nickname is pretty funny. Am I wrong to be really annoyed that we’re being given no explanation whatsoever for how Nigel managed to knock 12 minutes off the time limit at Injustice 2? First major knockdown goes to Jerry who scores with a spinning elbow smash then looks to control the younger man with a side headlock. They work a neat series of headlock reversals on the mat which establishes that they are evenly matched and are well prepared for each other having met before last year. Lynn scores with an inverted DDT the second Black makes a major offensive move, giving the former ECW Champion the first pronounced advantage. Satellite headscissors nailed, before grounding Black again with another headlock. That was a sensible strategy, and the second he tries to pick up the pace with Tyler, it’s the younger man who gains control as Tyler rolls through a crossbody attempt and delivers a dropkick. Tree of woe dropkick scores next, followed by a grounded abdominal stretch variant. But that was Tyler’s mistake. As soon as he tries to mat wrestle Lynn is immediately able to counter and bring himself back into the match. Tornado DDT blocked…but Jerry has Tyler’s new finisher the Superkick scouted and knows to roll aside and evade it. Tyler scales the ropes, but that’s youthful inexperience as Jerry is nowhere near worn down enough for the Phoenix Splash. SUPER RANA gets 2 for Lynn, followed by the LEG DROP IN THE ROPES! More inexperience from Tyler as he should have that Jerry Lynn staple scouted. DDT ON THE APRON! Both men roll around on the mat looking the worse for wear. Tyler is up first, and he MISSES A GUARDRAIL MOONSAULT! Both men scrape back into the ring before the 20-count. Tyler kicks Lynn in the head…ASAI MOONSAULT FEINT INTO THE BLACK STAR PRESS FOR 2! He looks for the Buckle Bomb only for Lynn to counter into a roll-up. Jerry goes for that inverted DDT for a second time, but this time Black knows about it and counters to PEROXISM! Springboard clothesline is nailed for 2. God’s Last Gift evaded with a small package. AIR RAID CRASH GETS 2! Epic counter wrestling from the veteran! They fight in the corner where Black counters a tornado DDT into the F-5! SUPERKICK SCORES! LYNN IN THE ROPES! One minute left in the time limit as Lynn prevents Tyler from climbing the ropes to hit the Phoenix Splash. ELEVATED DDT! Black in the ropes now! The 20:00 time limit expires so we have a draw.

Rating – **** –
I’m hugely frustrated about ANOTHER non-finish, but I’m going to set that to one side because I think that’s an accumulated frustration based on having already had a DQ and a double count-out finish on the same show. Luckily these two are great wrestlers, and even when hamstrung by having a third shady finish on a card which is rapidly becoming overbooked to hell, they managed to put on a superb match. They have such a natural juxtaposition that it’s so fun to watch when Jerry’s experience and technical know-how meet the youth, agility and speed of Black. The early portion of this match was all about each man sticking to what they do best, then being punished when they tried to move into the other’s area of expertise. Ultimately they were evenly matched so it became a tense and exciting finale as both men traded nearfalls looking for the big win.

A standing ovation and chants of gratitude meet the two athletes shaking hands and showing respect in the ring.

Jay Briscoe vs Nigel McGuinness

Clearly the belt isn’t on the line here as Jay hasn’t really done much to get into singles title contention. It’s a real chance for him to shine whilst his brother is on the shelf though. As we saw at the top of the show, he came into ROH as a singles wrestler at Era Of Honor Begins, and doesn’t feel he gets the respect he deserves when working solo. Inflicting another non-title defeat on the World Champion, who comes in struggling with injuries and a ppv title match against El Generico tomorrow night to prepare for, would be a feather in his cap.

There’s even more bandaging on Nigel’s right arm tonight than there was at Full Circle/Injustice 2. It doesn’t stop him assuming full control of the early stages, comfortably moving Jay around the ring and into various holds. Having had success there, he feels confident and tries to enter into a slugout with Briscoe. He appears to injure his own leg kicking Jay in the spine, and tries to flee the ring only for Jay to give chase and fling him into the railings. Nigel runs away and draws Jay into colliding with the timekeeping table. Shoulder into the ringpost next and, much like their World Title match in California, Nigel has used that part of the ring to inflict an arm injury onto his opponent. He boots Briscoe in the arm as he tries to re-enter the ring then drags him down to the canvas to work on the arm and shoulder some more. Cobra Clutch McLariat countered to an Ace Crusher by Briscoe, but McGuinness simply grabs hold of the injured arm and yanks Jay back down again. Headstand mule kick attempted but Jay blocks it and hits a flatliner into the turnbuckle. DVD gets 2 for the former Tag Champion. Nigel is noticeably favouring that right arm with the torn biceps now. Jay Driller attempted but Briscoe’s arm is too worn down. He EATS a McLariat from close range. Briscoe flies off the top into a guillotine leg drop but still can’t hit the Jay Driller. Jawbreaker Lariat blocked. JAY DRILLER! Nigel is in the ropes! He snaps a ringrope into Briscoe’s eyes, then scores with the Jawbreaker Lariat to win in 15:55

Rating – *** –
I always felt this was lacking a little something to kick it into a higher gear. It was a good match and I liked the notion that Nigel could easily outwrestle the guy more used to working tag matches, but then was at a disadvantage whenever they tried to brawl. However, I don’t think they explored that enough as they didn’t really emphasise Jay’s proficiency as a street fighter, or go overboard on Nigel’s skill as a technician. It was just a very middling affair throughout. The commentators raised a good point that it will take Briscoe a while to adjust to working solo again. At times it did feel like he was easing his way back into things rather than going full pelt. In defence of both men, Nigel is clearly very banged up at the moment. If the aim of the game here was to put on a good match but try to protect Nigel as much as possible ahead of a pay-per-view title defence then it was ok. Not sure that the knee injury off that kick was a work though…

Kevin Steen/El Generico vs American Wolves – ROH Tag Title Match

Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards only debuted as a team four shows ago, but the impact they have had already has been tangible. Mark Briscoe is out injured, Steen and Generico were kept off the first weekend of the year after the attack they suffered at the hands of the Wolves in Manhattan. Then back to back wins in Manassas and Edison. Even if the means of doing it have been somewhat nefarious, the Wolves have clearly emerged as top contenders to the ROH Tag Team gold. They represent the sternest test thus far of the Steen-erico Tag Team title reign.

Steen fires off some snot rockets in Davey’s direction as the bell rings. That gives you an idea of the intensity etched all over the faces of everyone as they prepare for this match. Davey’s head is rattled backwards by a flurry of big forearms from Mr Wrestling. The champions use a series of double teams to send both challengers out of the ring for a rethink. Generico sends both Richards and Edwards out of the ring for a second time, then does an Arabian press dive fake-out as the Wolves pace the floor looking enormously frustrated. It takes some double team chokes and some illegal shots from the outside from Larry Sweeney to finally give them a firm foothold in the contest. Drop toehold into the somersault leg drop by Steen and Generico, but the ref is preoccupied with the rest of S’n’S Inc. and isn’t in position to count the fall. He does watch as Generico hits a standing moonsault for 2. Having disposed of Eddie he pops up to deliver a series of armdrags to Richards…which prompts Davey to spit in his face. That lures Generico out of the ring…where Edwards POUNCES and sends the luchador into the guardrails in sickening fashion. Thanks to some more questionable tactics, once again it’s the Wolves with an offensive advantage. Edwards spears Generico into the barricade again whilst the ref tries to pull Richards and Steen apart. Pop-up Alarm Clock into the Oklahoma Stampede next. But Eddie tries one spear too many on the outside and wipes himself out on the guardrails. Steen tagged and immediately hits a SOMERSAULT PLANCHA to the floor. POWERBOMB INTO THE APRON! How is Eddie not dead after that? Steen lines Richards up but MISSES the moonsault. Powerbomb on Edwards anyway, then a Sharpshooter. Davey tries to break but is held back by Generico…then finally does get through to hit a gross headbutt. STANDING Shining Wizard by Edwards. Richards rolls away from the Package Piledriver and missile dropkicks Steen right across the mouth for 2. Steen has to fight off both men and manages to get Eddie into the corner for a YAKUZA KICK! That’s followed by a pumphandle cradlebreaker then the STEEN-TON SPLASH COMBO FOR 2! JUMPING Lungblower from Edwards, then a SUPERKICK BRIDGING GERMAN for a superclose nearfall for the Wolves. Larry Sweeney tries to interfere but is chased away by Brent Albright. Richards accidentally levels Edwards with Sweeney’s shoe…allowing Steen to cover for the win at 19:28

Rating – **** –
Good match, but once again Adam Pearce’s booking borderline spoils this. Here’s the thing Pearce. If you don’t want to job the Wolves yet. Why the f*ck are you booking them in a Tag Title match five shows after their debuted? Luckily we had a quality tag bout (with a really different flavour to the traditional ‘Briscoes’ style of ROH Tag main event we’ve seen over the past 18 months) before another atrocious finish left ANOTHER sour taste in my mouth. The positive is that, as good as this match, you really don’t feel they shot their proverbial wad here. There’s plenty of steam left for future rematches if that’s where Pearce wants to take this…

The Wolves try to attack the champions after the match only for Mr Wrestling to chase them away with a steel chair.

Jerry Lynn chuckles that time limits haven’t been able to contain Tyler Black in his last two outings. He wants a third match with Black – with no time limit.

Tape Rating – *** –
It’s very easy to rant about this show, so I think I’ll avoid that first off and mention some big positives from this show. Firstly, this was a MASSIVE improvement on the Full Circle and Injustice 2 shows. The match ratings might not always have reflected this, but the workrate on the card tonight was markedly and noticeably upped. Danielson and Rhett produced a quality opener. A great Aries promo gave us a reason to care about what was otherwise a squash. Necro and Brodie had the match they should have had last year in Canada. There were lots of competitive matches where you struggled to pick a winner, a strong main event and Tyler Black in another showstealing effort. Unfortunately, as strong as the wrestling is, as talented as the ROH roster may be, they’re only as good as the guy driving the ship so to speak…and the last two DVD releases have started to seem like Pearce is losing the plot.

He wrapped up most of Gabe’s loose ends at Final Battle, so this is, by and large, HIS show now…and it is certainly a mixed bag. I’ve got no problem with shady finishes in small doses. That’s not a problem. But this is Ring Of Honor. Anyone who books a double count-out, a DQ, a time limit draw AND an interference finish in one night, coming in off one of the most monumentally abysmal decisions in ROH history (the 48 minute hour draw) at the last event is either wildly out of touch with what ROH is all about…or someone struggling with his creative vision. Whichever it is, it doesn’t make for the strongest viewing experience. It felt like he’d booked himself into a corner several times over on this event. If you don’t want to job Claudio, why book him against Albright who needs to look strong going into a ppv? If want to make the American Wolves look strong since they’re just starting out, why are you booking them in a Tag Title match if you don’t want to hotshot the belts onto them. It’s elevating nobody, and making everyone look a little worse since ROH fans do NOT like an abundance of non-finishes. I know Pearce’s instruction was to bring a more old school, storyline orientated approach. But if copious non-finishes are his sole method of doing this then I’d suggest that he’s a little out of his depth.

Please, PLEASE don’t let my own personal dislike for the booking on this event let it put you off it from a wrestling point of view. As I said, the actual wrestling on this show is really good, and I think the Ring Of Honor wrestlers deserve a real pat on the back for stepping things up after a very average first weekend of 2009. This is, of course, one of the B-shows, but it’s one of the better ones. My problem is that, bad booking should NOT be overshadowing good wrestling in Ring Of Honor, and this is the second show in a row where I’ve come away frustrated at a mediocre creative rather than enthusing about great matches.

Top 3 Matches

3) Bryan Danielson vs Rhett Titus (***)

2) Kevin Steen/El Generico vs American Wolves (****)

1) Tyler Black vs Jerry Lynn (****)

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