ROH on HDNet – Episode 008 – 9th May 2009
It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed some ROH on HDNet. I got really bogged down in the Never ay Die/Validation double shot which was fairly uneventful, and as material for review became heavy going. But I strongly praised Episode 007 as the most slick, complete episode of the show thus far with strong timing, a superb opening segment, storyline progression and a decent (if not stellar) main event. Now the challenge is to build on it and ensure that that standard set is a minimum, not an exception. As ever, our destination is The Arena in Philadelphia, PA with Dave Prazak and Mike Hogewood.
Hog and Prazak (suited and booted this evening) open the show hyping Danielson/Black II tonight, then send us to the ring where Nigel McGuinness is waiting.
Nigel gets some promo time, still covered in taping, bandages and generally looking like a walking mummy. Weirdly, he almost admits that it was the relief at finally gaining the total respect of the fans (whilst competing with two bad arms in Houston) that finally saw him lose the belt. He then compares himself to Ric Flair, vowing to recover from his injuries then come back and get his belt back just like the Nature Boy did so many times.
Kyle Durden has Tyler Black and Bryan Danielson together. There’s mutual respect, but Danielson points out that, even with #1 Contendership on the line this evening, he’s ALWAYS been at the top of the ROH pecking order.
Jimmy Jacobs/MsChif vs Delirious/Daizee Haze
This is a pretty cool opening match. Obviously Jacobs and Delirious have heat stemming from Delirious’ quitting Age Of The Fall and rekindling his friendship with Daizee – who herself has had issues with Jacobs and AOTF. Daizee has the added incentive here with MsChif, as SHIMMER Champion getting involved. A win over MsChif would propel her into contention for a title shot.
Delirious is so determined to get to Jacobs, and so intimidating in his attempts to do so, that Jimmy turns tail and opts to let MsChif start the match instead. After some brief Haze/MsChif exchanges we eventually do get Jacobs and Delirious…and Delirious wastes little time before going for the Cobra Stretch. Jacobs pulls on the referee and manages to drag his masked opponent to his corner where Chif lends a hand with an illegal shot. Tag to the Haze who beats on MsChif until Jacobs comes in to manhandle here. Delirious saves and nails a tope suicida on him. Heart Punch/Mind Trip combo wins it for Daizee (and Delirious) at 05:20
Rating – * – I was expecting this to be fairly heated but, other than some basic ‘heel guy wants to wrestle babyface girl’ spots, this was utterly bland. For my money the Jacobs/Delirious feud ended with the Markham Street Fight so I found very little to engage with here.
We get some highlights of Castagnoli/Albright from Episode 005, then comments from both men. Albright plans to avenge that shady defeat next week when he gets a rematch with Double C
American Wolves vs Orange Cassidy/Leslie Butterscotch
This is a HDNet debut for the American Wolves (still pre-Tag Title win at this stage). Richards was in Japan during the first tapings, and in his absence we’ve seen Edwards on the wrong end of a couple of defeats. They’ll be looking to make an impact as a unit, and make an example of these two recent ROH Academy graduates.
Richards and Edwards mow through their opponents from the outset, throwing Butterscotch to the floor and easily beating down Cassidy. Amusingly Hog is absolutely burying the jobbers on commentary. Orange is totally isolated from his corner as the Wolves put on a tag team wrestling clinic at his expense. Tag to Butterscotch…who gets lifted straight into the DOUBLE ALARM CLOCK! SUPERKICK GERMAN COMBO! The Wolves win at 03:48
Rating – * – A tad too long for my personal taste, but it was a great exhibition of what Richards and Edwards are capable of as a team and made them look an immediate force in the tag division.
Kyle Durden wants to interview the Wolves, but finds his microphone stolen by Davey Richards. He and Eddie indicate that they’re coming for Steen and Generico and the Tag Titles.
COMMERCIALS – A hot girl is on the weekly MMA panel chat show HDNet runs, whilst Bobby Lashley has a live fight.
In the junk room Kyle Durden is with Ric Flair, who tries to act like ROH isn’t a huge step down for him. He does a good job of talking up the level of competition on the ROH roster.
We also get clips of a cut segment featuring the HDNet debut of Colt Cabana, getting into a little argument with Prince Nana and Ernie Osiris of The Embassy.
Tyler Black vs Bryan Danielson
This is a rematch from Episode 006, when these two men fought to a 20-minute draw in what is universally considered to be the best HDNet match thus far. Added spice tonight comes in the form of the #1 Contendership to the ROH World Championship.
Jerry Lynn is watching this one in the locker room. Having contested so many fierce battles in the past, it’s understandable that both are tentative in the opening minutes. It’s slow going, with lots of tense and hard-fought jostling for superiority in every hold. It’s Danielson who seems more comfortable there, but when the pace quickens it’s the athletic Tyler who is able to take American Dragon down. Black gets 2 with his face stomp. Danielson uses a basic dropkick to keep him at bay before slowing it right back down again to the pace he’s comfortable at. Mexican surfboard is blocked so Bryan stomps the backs of his knees instead. Within 2 minutes Danielson has done enough damage to Tyler’s leg that he’s limping around the ring with success in this match looking like it’s fading away. He gets sent to the floor…then stays out there playing possum as he suckers Danielson into a missed pescado. RUNNING SOMERSAULT PLANCHA BY BLACK! Back inside he snaps off a neckbreaker then the springboard clothesline for 2. Lionsault misses…FEINT TO THE BLACK STAR PRESS for 2. Sayama flip from Dragon at great speed, before rolling Black into the Lance Storm Half Crab. Tyler finds a rope so gets blasted with a running knee strike for 2. He goes for the Half Crab again, only to be countered to Tyler’s own version of the Mr Small Package for 2. They bust out a rolling cradle to make the point that they’re so even. Roaring Elbow from Danielson…Pele Kick from Black…both men go down! Tyler lands the F-5 but finds the Buckle Bomb countered to the Triangle Choke. In a nice tip of the hat to previous matches, Danielson neatly evades the counter to the Buckle Bomb which has worked before. RUNNING BUCKLE BOMB OUT OF THE CORNER! SUPERKICK! But Bryan is so close to the ropes he’s basically in them as Black tries to cover. 20 minutes now gone (tonight’s time limit is ‘TV time remaining’) as Black climbs looking for the Phoenix Splash…AND GETS SHOVED ALL THE WAY TO THE FLOOR! SPRINGBOARD SUICIDE DIVE INTO THE CROWD BY DANIELSON! Both scramble to the ring to beat the count…and just as Tyler looks to be lunging into the ring at 19, Dragon grabs his boot and pulls him back. It’s a double count-out at 21:40
Rating – **** – Although the non-finish was more irksome this time around, it was undeniably well executed. I loved the tease on Black FINALLY beating Danielson, only for Dragon to pull him back at the last second. It’s a terrific and simple way of putting Black over whilst still giving Danielson an ‘out’ and building for an inevitable third and deciding bout. This was much slower than almost anything they’ve done together previously, but it worked. The slow going early on was absolutely perfect so soon after their memorable first clash, and it did a fine job of re-establishing the basic principles of Danielson as the dominating mat technician whilst Black has all the athleticism, speed and courage. The scary part is, having seen their matches during 2008, you know that, even as they moved through the gears in the second half of the match, they were keeping SO much back in the tank for a future rematch. Danielson/Black III, when it happens, is sure to be one to watch.
The Ring Of Honor fans in Philadelphia show how well they’re adapting to ROH changing up their formats for TV. They quickly realise the reasons behind the non-finish, and give the two men a deserved ‘that was awesome’ chant rather than the usual ‘five more minute’ dismissal.
Tape Rating – *** – Although the top to bottom quality was better last week, the fact that Danielson/Black 2 was so good makes this a comparable show. They kept a lot of the smart ideas from last week (such as hyping the World Title picture with Lynn, Nigel, Dragon and Tyler all involved), kept some storylines going like Steen-erico/Wolves and gave us a reason to watch next week with unanswered questions coming from the main event, and the promise of an Albright/Claudio rematch on Episode 009. I don’t think the Nigel promo segment was anywhere near as good as Flair/Aries/Lynn from last week, and the match content outside of Dragon vs Tyler was fairly lousy. But for a second week in a row ROH got the basic principles of episodic television down, and this time managed to couple that with a cracking main.