ROH on HDNet – Episode 005 – 18th April 2009
After the entertaining Aries/Omega curtain-raiser to last week’s episode, it actually went on to be the worst instalment in the ROH on HDNet series thus far. Coming off the high quality of Danielson/Aries on Episode 003 this was a real disappointment. Hopefully we’ll see a strong rebound tonight in this, the penultimate episode coming from the very first two nights of TV tapings at The Arena in Philadelphia, PA. Our scheduled main event is Albright vs Castagnoli – lets join Mike Hogewood and Dave Prazak
Jimmy Jacobs vs Necro Butcher
More Age Of The Fall fall-out on HDNet here. After Episode 1 was headlined by Tyler Black defeating his former leader, Jimmy will be looking to rebound with his first victory against another former team-mate in Necro Butcher. Necro himself needs the win after losing to Chris Hero on his first HDNet appearance.
Necro brings a staple gun to the ring, and is so intent on using it that Jacobs is able to use the ref’s battle to get the weapon from Butcher to his advantage and get the jump on him. He tries to offer the hand of friendship to Necro and takes a right hand to the jaw before dropping like a lead balloon. Ring bell to the ribs next, and a throw across ringside using the table cloth from the timekeeping table solidifies Butcher’s ascendancy until Jimmy hits a desperation suplex on the hard floor. Plastic bag choke by Jimmy then the PESCADO THROUGH A CHAIR! He goes for the spear but sprints right into another big Necro punch. Chokeslam rolled into the Tiger Driver…but Butcher opts not to pin Jacobs there and heads back outside for his staple gun. Brodie Lee does a run in to force the DQ finish and give Necro the win in a time of 05:47
Rating – ** – Entertaining, chaotic opening match. Given that this was taped before their much better (and hopefully final) match at Take No Prisoners 2009, I’d say this was a strong prelude to it, featuring some engaging brawling in the 5 minutes they were given. This one did a lot more to promote Necro’s ‘hardcore Wildman’ gimmick than the bout with Hero did, which is testament to the strength of Jacobs in making his opponents look good.
Brodie and Jacobs try to staple gun Necro but get fought off and make a hasty retreat.
Into the dungeon of random chainlink and ROH signs, with Kyle Durden and Brent Albright. Brent vows to show the whole country how much hatred he has for Claudio.
Sami Callihan vs Eddie Kingston
This is actually one of the more intriguing matches we’ve seen on the HDNet series thus far, purely because neither man is a regular, and this appears to be a chance for one of these two to nail down future bookings with Ring Of Honor. And in an irrelevant aside, I’ve been spelling Sami’s name wrong basically every time he’s wrestled in ROH thus far. My bad…
Massive ovation for Eddie Kingston, who of course, competes extensively in the Philadelphia area. It’s legitimately one of the most emphatic and audible crowd responses of the whole series thus far. Running STO into the Koji Clutch from Sami, but King is basically already in the ropes before the hold is locked in. Overhead belly to belly suplex throws Callihan away. INTENSE strike exchange next, and that leads to Eddie chasing Callihan around ringside dishing out big chops. Losing in the strike battle Sami rakes at the eyes to put himself back on top. Headbutt to the back of the neck whilst Kingston is choked in the ropes, succeeded by more big strikes by the New Horror. HUGE HEADBUTT FROM EDDIE! That busts Sami open but doesn’t stop him delivering a Saito suplex for 2. BACK DROP DRIVER BY KINGSTON! SPINNING BACK FIST! Kingston wins at 06:02
Rating – *** – Where on earth did that come from? It was like a mini, street fighting version of Joe vs Low Ki in it’s stiffness. As the announce team pointed out, there wasn’t a whole lot of wrestling, just ferocious back and forth striking which really rocked the house. Obviously Kingston was the intended star here, and got a raucous response from the Philadelphia house. He’s a smart addition to the roster for HDNet, as he’s a great promo guy and is massively popular in Philly where HDNet shows are taped. However, I actually thought Sami’s performance here was equally impressive. He did a great job of working heel and pissing the crowd off whilst still looking like a legit tough guy in his own right. On this showing both men need to be booked more…
Claudio Castagnoli cuts a pretty racist promo in the name of hyping up the main event.
After the commercials Dave Prazak and Mike Hogewood interview new champion Jerry Lynn. He tells the HDNet commentary team he intends to be a fighting champion.
Bobby Dempsey vs Orange Cassidy
Two products of the ROH Wrestling Academy here. Obviously Dempsey has been on the scene for a few years now, whilst Cassidy is a more recent graduate (he looks like a skinny version of that ginger haired guy from the Nexus in WWE…Heath Slater??). Since Orange doesn’t get an intro or promo, I’d assume this is going to be vintage jobber squashing. Bobby’s promo is absolutely terrible btw.
Cassidy looks to land some strikes but walks straight into the fatty avalanche. BIG FAT DEATH VALLEY DRIVER! He turns his opponent to porpoise-slapping pulp at 00:23
Rating – N/A – Just as with Alex Payne, I’m not sure Bobby is a guy ROH should really be featuring too heavily on their TV show in truth. That said, he’s a popular part of the roster, and this whole segment took less than 90 seconds of TV time so it’s completely inoffensive
BUZZ WORDS – Brief promo video hyping Erick Stevens…
Up In Smoke vs Kenny King/Rhett Titus
We saw former Special K members Cheech and Cloudy get mowed down by the Dark City Fight Club on Episode 3. Will they fare better against the duo of King and Titus, who haven’t been seen since the very first episode of ROH on HDNet.
King and Cheech trade some basics before the all four men pile in. Mounted punches from Cheech and Cloudy, into stereo bulldogs for 2. Titus lures Cloudy into the ropes, and into a big knee strike from Kenny. He nails the suplex to mounted forearms for 2, but the courageous Cloudy counters the Sexy Suplex into a small package. Running knee strike gets Rhettski a nearfall, with Kenny entering again moments later for the hidden lariat. Tag to Cheech who CARTWHEELS off the top rope into a superkick on King for 2. Cloudy hits a somersault senton off Cheech’s shoulders so Rhett wisely tags his partner out. 619 Dropkick combo on Titus…but they turn their back on Kenny, who THROWS CLOUDY INTO THE GUARDRAILS! DOOMSDAY BLOCKBUSTER! ANX win at 06:00
Rating – ** – A little more competitive than I’d have liked, particularly after the DCFC got such an emphatic victory over Up In Smoke two shows ago, but this was pretty good. I have a hard time buying into Cloudy’s offence because he’s THAT small, but the main purpose here was to get King and Titus over as a team, and it did a decent job in that respect.
Claudio Castagnoli vs Brent Albright
These two have been feuding since a shady finish to their match at Motor City Madness 2009. We’ve seen non-finishes, shady finishes, cheating, finisher theft, Claudio costing Albright the World Title in St. Louis (with Ric Flair at ringside) and most recently DVD watchers saw former World Champion, and former ally of Double C, Nigel McGuinness actually COST Claudio a fall to Albright at Take No Prisoners 2009. Now they bring their feud to HDNet for the first time.
Claudio steals Jimmy Rave’s footstool gimmick, which I suppose solidifies himself as an associate of The Embassy. He attacks Brent as he makes his entrance to the ring to get the fight started. Albright nails him with a swinging backbreaker as they enter the ring for the first time. Monkey flip sends the Swiss competitor back to the outside and into position for a pescado attempt. CLAUDIO CATCHES ALBRIGHT AND SLAMS HIM INTO THE GUARDRAILS! Unbelievable strength from Double C. That does some significant damage to Albright’s back, and is followed with the Les Artess Lift, once again down onto that back. Belly to belly suplex on the floor from Albright, but it does almost as much damage to himself as it does to Claudio, and Castagnoli responds by dragging him off the apron and dropping him face-first back to the floor. Back inside Albright hits an exploder suplex and another belly to belly moments later. Swinging neckbreaker gets 2 only for Claudio to fire back with a springboard European. Big Swing scores but the running European is blocked. Bicycle kick instead for another nearfall. Crossface turned into the Crowbar…but Castagnoli finds a rope quickly. He blocks the Half Nelson Suplex, but Brent evades the Pop-Up European moments later. Rope-assisted victory roll…and Double C steals another cheap win at 11:43
Rating – *** – Not as good as their 7th Anniversary Show match, and honestly, after an energetic and impressive first half, it degenerated pretty quickly into a predictable, paint by numbers contest. However, they still did enough to make it into 3* territory. Like I’ve said before, I admire the sentiment behind this feud. I like the fact that Pearce wants to turn what had seemed like a throwaway midcard bout into a major feud for ROH…it’s just odd to see these guys getting SO much focus when there are guys like Roderick Strong and Jay Briscoe who have been floating around with almost no purpose for most of 2009 thus far. I just don’t feel like Claudio and Brent have the chemistry to put on a real show stealing bout…which is probably my biggest issue with this feud.
NEXT WEEK – Huge main event as Tyler Black faces Bryan Danielson.
Tape Rating – ** – I’m calling that best episode of ROH on HDNet thus far. Snappy little opening bout, squash matches in the middle that both entertained AND served a purpose, a main even which, although not overly exciting, was a big step up from last week…and the unexpected little gem of a match between Callihan and Kingston. I said after Episode 4 that ROH had really failed to deliver on every level with that show, and I stand by that. But the improvements here were vast. Everything had a purpose, we saw feuds start to develop, a new star made in Eddie Kingston…and even the Hog/Prazak announce team started to show some signs of cohesion for the first time. When the book closes on ROH on HDNet, I’m sure nobody will particularly remember this episode, but, as a complete instalment of episodic television, I think this is the best of the first five attempts.
ROH on HDNet Episodes 1- 5 – Top 5 Matches
5) Eddie Kingston vs Sami Callihan (*** – Episode 5)
4) Nigel McGuinness vs Jay Briscoe (*** – Episode 2)
3) Austin Aries vs Kenny Omega (*** – Episode 4)
2) Tyler Black vs Jimmy Jacobs (*** – Episode 1)
1) Bryan Danielson vs Austin Aries (**** – Episode 3)