ROH on HDNet – Episode 002 – 28th March 2009
Week 1 of the HDNet experiment gave ROH a pretty harsh induction into the world of weekly television. Despite a number of positives, the critics weren’t overwhelmingly positive about what was served up last week. But, despite the shortcomings, there was much to praise as well, and ROH will now look to build on that in the weeks to come as they look to introduce more and more of their supremely talented roster to a wider audience. And that starts tonight as ROH World Champion Nigel McGuinness steps onto HDNet for the first time. I believe he’s scheduled for a non-title match against Jay Briscoe in the main event tonight. Let’s get to The Arena to join Mike Hogewood and Dave Prazak
Eddie Edwards vs Kevin Steen
Hot way to open the episode. Obviously the Steen/Generico vs American Wolves feud is one of the primary feuds ROH is running at the moment so it’s important to get them on TV as quickly as possible (not helped by the fact that Davey Richards was in Japan when ROH taped the first 6 episodes). We’ve seen the Wolves repeatedly target the problem knee of Kevin Steen but seen them come up short when challenging Steen and Generico for the Tag Titles on two separate occasions – most recently in New York at the 7th Anniversary Show. El Generico was absent from the tapings too – explained previously when he was attacked by Sweet’n’Sour Inc. at the Proving Ground 2009 shows. Larry Sweeney is in Eddie’s corner, and he’s a guy that is cut out for HDNet.
Both are understandably intense from the bell. Edwards declines a clean break in favour of booting Steen in the gut, but Mr Wrestling floors him seconds later for a snot rocket of disrespect. Somersault leg drop scores and does some noticeable damage to the neck. Back suplex gourdbuster nailed by Eddie for 2. He follows that with a kick to the spine then a version of the camel clutch. Hog is FURIOUS when Edwards starts clawing at Steen’s face out of that hold. And he’s even angrier when Larry Sweeney takes a cheap shot after Eddie had him choked in the ropes. Steen kicks the same ropes somewhat suspiciously into Edwards’ crotch, and capitalises to hit the overhead belly to belly followed by the cannonball senton for 2. Steen-ton Bomb goes right into Edwards’ knees, who follows up with the Backpack Stunner and gets a 2. Package Piledriver wins it for Steen at 07:53
Rating – ** – This was pretty good for a TV show opener. Obviously it was basic and they were working well within themselves, however, despite limiting their output they clearly gave the impression throughout the match that they were enemies. This wasn’t a ‘lets have a good match’ style opener like Lynn/Delirious from last week. It was intense, physical and hard hitting stuff – basically everything ROH on HDNet promised it would be. Criticisms would be the sudden finish and a somewhat sullen crowd (although HDNet has made a stylistic decision to turn the crowd mics down VERY low anyway). Another impressive show opening though.
Kyle Durden is with Nigel McGuinness. Nigel doesn’t introduce himself. He’s the ROH Champion and doesn’t NEED an introduction apparently. Jay Briscoe has very few ways to avoid certain death tonight apparently. Very intense stuff…
Daizee Haze vs Sara Del Rey
These two were all going to get onto HDNet fairly quickly. Obviously people who are new to ROH will have no idea that these two have wrestled each other about 30,000 times before this. It’s a chance to showcase the ‘Women Of Honor’ and the SHIMMER promotion too.
Sara instantly uses her power to move Haze into the corner and toss her off the turnbuckles. Second rope butt splash gets an early nearfall. Daizee fires back with a rope run lucha armdrag then a satellite headscissors. Horrifically ugly crossbody is caught by Del Rey, who presses her into a bridging suplex for 2. Powerful backbreaker next puts the Death Rey totally in control. She starts working Haze’s back, muscling her into a torture wrack. Daizee counters to the Heart Punch/Yakuza Kick combo but her lack of size means she struggles to make a pinfall. Sara powers her up again into a Mafia kick to the chest but gets overly confident in the corner and takes a facecrusher. Capo kick into the Royal Butterfly for Sara Del Rey to become the first female victor on HDNet at 05:27
Rating – * – To be fair, this was an insight into how these two work. Daizee is likeable and fun, but can sometimes be really sloppy – and that was on display. For all the work she’s done on her gimmick, Del Rey still comes off as a little lacking in personality, but definitely looked like a decent wrestler.
Kyle Durden interviews the Briscoes. They’re so redneck they just about manage to stop short of saying ‘hey momma’. Mark is still injured, so Jay plans to beat Nigel and earn him a title shot.
COMMERCIALS – Given that HDNet only advertises it’s own shows, how is there any external revenue coming into this network? And why would they advertise showing an Alanis Morissette live show with the most tone deaf, awfully performed version of ‘Ironic’ you could possibly imagine?
Back from the break with Kyle Durden is with Prince Nana. He hypes Bison Smith…
Alex Payne vs Claudio Castagnoli
Can’t say I’m the biggest fan in the world of Alex Payne, so I really couldn’t care less about seeing him on HDNet. Hopefully he’s here to put Claudio over swiftly and emphatically rather than get involved in World Title feuds as we saw at Rising Above 2008. I know it sounds like I’m being harsh but if ROH is looking to use HDNet to expand it’s fanbase, someone like Payne shouldn’t be used in anything more than a jobber capacity.
Even Hogewood mocks Payne for looking like a little boy. He desperately tries to land a sunset flip only for Claudio to drag him back to a vertical base and blast him with a European uppercut. Headscissors takedown from Sugarfoot, who then botches a basic leapfrog spot then gets twisted into a backbreaker for 2. Les Artess Lift nailed soon afterwards, then a diving uppercut to the neck. Bicycle Kick nearly gives Hog another coronary but doesn’t win the match. Hog’s RANDOM SHOUTING at strange junctures of matches are really distracting. Payne hits back with a flurry of dropkicks and a sliding clothesline. Castagnoli renders his comeback meaningless with the Pop-Up European then the Riccola Bomb. He takes the win at 06:25
Rating – * – At least this was totally one sided and there was no attempt made to give Alex Payne any real credibility. Like I said, it’s harsh on the kid but you have to be realistic about things. He is NOT someone ROH should be featuring if they’re looking to attract more mainstream wrestling fans. Claudio, on the other hand, has an impressive physique and looks far more like the kind of wrestlers new fans would be used to seeing. This was fine for a showcase of Claudio’s abilities, but it went on far too long, and probably could have been halved in duration whilst achieving the same thing.
Jay Briscoe vs Nigel McGuinness
Much as it was the last time these two men wrestled (in Detroit at Motor City Madness 2009 I believe), this one is non-title. But, similarly to last time, Jay is still looking to make an impact as a singles competitor whilst his brother is out injured, and securing a World Title shot by beating the champion here tonight would certainly bolster his singles credentials.
Nigel goes after the arm immediately, working a wristlock and clinging to that hold despite a variety of escape attempts from Briscoe. Finally Jay escapes and goes to a headlock, and we see the same sequence in reverse with Briscoe working the headlock as Nigel tries to find an escape. The World Champion does find an escape by driving Jay to the mat arm and shoulder-first. Jay hangs in the air to hit a dropkick but comes up clutching his arm to demonstrate just how much pain he’s already in. Hammerlock DDT takes Briscoe down once again as the clock ticks past 5 minutes. Wristlock suplex into That Arm Submission (‘oooooooooooooooooooooooooooh my goodness’ – Hog) dials up the pressure on that injured limb. The former Tag Champion hits a spinebuster, but staggers round the ring nursing the bad arm again before finally dropping for a cover. Tower Of London blocked for Jay to hit the flatliner to the turnbuckles, then a running DVD gets 2. Jay climbs the ropes, and after pushing Nigel away ends up having to fly most of the way across the ring to nail a beautiful guillotine leg drop. Jay Driller countered to the JAWBREAKER LARIAT! Nigel wins at 12:05
Rating – *** – Not a good as Black/Jacobs from last week but still a decent television main event. The one thing ROH will offer is a strong wrestling match like this each and every week on TV. This was the kind of wrestling match that, when it’s run on RAW, Smackdown or Impact the announcers make a big deal out of it. The fact that this was just a run of the mill Ring Of Honor contest shows the real strength of this company and the area in which they can showcase themselves as an real alternative. I had this down as better than the Motor City Madness ’09 match if you’re interested.
NEXT WEEK – Former World Champions and great rivals debut as Bryan Danielson and Austin Aries meet each other in the main event.
Tape Rating – ** – This was basically the same episode as last week. Good opening match, fun main event with the middle portion of the show dragging things down. Wasting nearly 10 minutes of TV time on an Alex Payne match seems like a waste to me, and in a time when WWE has a plethora of token hotties in their Diva ranks, whilst TNA still had the likes of Amazing Kong and Cheerleader Melissa on their Knockouts roster it doesn’t strike me that the ‘Women Of Honor’ will be a huge pull for Ring Of Honor. The massive positive coming out of this was that Nigel McGuinness came off like a real star. His promo was intense, and his performance in the main event was commanding – just what you’re looking for in a World Champion. Hogewood is really growing on me too. He clearly isn’t too clued up on the ROH product, but has buckets of enthusiasm, is doing his homework to learn quickly, and his style has a real clichéd, old school vibe to it that I like. He totally overshadows Dave Prazak and really SELLS the product to new viewers, almost because he’s a new viewer himself. American Dragon and Austin Aries main event next week’s show, and you’d hope that with the arrival of those two onto the HDNet scene that ROH’s television experiment clicks into a higher gear.