ROH on HDNet – Episode 014 – 20th June 2009
Not sure much needs to be said about this episode. KENTA debuts on HDNet in what promises to be a violent main event against Roderick Strong. The Kenny’s collide as Omega meets King too. We return to the ECW Arena in Philadelphia, PA with Dave Prazak and Mike Hogewood.
The commentary team open the show with the major news that Austin Aries became the new ROH World Champion in New York last week. Considering last week ended with A-Double hot on Lynn’s heels for the belt, putting the conclusion to that cliffhanger on a DVD release rather than on free TV gives a great incentive for the newer HDNet audience to go seek out some DVD’s and start sinking some money into the promotion.
Claudio Castagnoli vs Necro Butcher
As a paid associate of The Embassy, Claudio’s mission tonight will be to teach Necro a lesson after he got involved in Embassy business again last week, saving Grizzly Redwood from the Heel Hook of Jimmy Rave. Apparently you can also follow him on Twitter. Was that worthy of it’s own graphic?
Claudio drops Necro with waistlocks in an attempt to prove his wrestling superiority, only for Butcher to return the favour and ride him on the canvas amateur style. Generic ‘I’m not just a hardcore guy’ monkey flip from Necro before he triumphantly clotheslines Castagnoli to the floor. He gives chase, giving Claudio a tablecloth snapmare. Bicycle Kick from Double C gets 2. The pace of this one is incredibly tedious though, which makes it hard to get into. Punches into a bulldog out of the corner get Butcher a 2, as the crowd watches on in almost total silence. Necro-canrana nailed, but out comes Jimmy Rave to create a distraction. Low blow gets Claudio the win at 05:56
Rating – DUD – Lousy way to open the show. I’m probably being harsh, but that was just SO boring. There was nothing of interest at any stage of the match, and to be frank, it LOOKED like a match between two guys who are having really disappointing 2009’s thus far. Necro is incredibly stale at this point, and really does nothing to make me want to see his matches. One of my least favourite matches thus far on HDNet.
Rave and Claudio think about doing a number on Necro until Brent Albright makes the save with a steel chair. The Embassy leave to a barrage of ‘USA’ chants.
Nevaeh vs MsChif
After the lousy Necro/Claudio match this isn’t a promising start to the show. Nevaeh hasn’t featured too prominently in ROH up to this point but, as she herself points out in her promo, this is a major opportunity for her to work the SHIMMER Champion on national TV. Can she take advantage?
Headlocks from Nevaeh, then a flipping neck snap to sliding clothesline combo for 2. MsChif fists her in the throat and starts stomping her into the turnbuckles to quickly put poor Nevaeh in her place. Incredibly, they botch a basic small package spot and both sit on the turnbuckles looking like lemons. Cobra clutch into a gutbuster by the SHIMMER Champion…but she misses a Lionsault to keep things interesting. Neckbreaker combo gets Nevaeh a nearfall. Desecrator blocked to a German suplex which gets her another close 2-count before Jimmy Jacobs tries to intervene. GREEN MIST from MsChif in the ensuing chaos, followed by the Desecrator for 3 at 04:00
Rating – DUD – Had that botch not been in the middle of this, I’d probably have given a generous star, but the overwhelming lack of necessity for this one to be on ROH’s TV product just made this borderline unwatchable. No offence to the women involved, or to Dave Prazak, who works damn hard on his SHIMMER promotion…but I just don’t see how a short, lifeless half-ass little match like this is any kind of positive exposure for his company or the Women of Honor ‘division’. MsChif is a great character for TV, but Nevaeh was as bland as it gets out there, and on a weekly televised wrestling show, bland talent is unforgivable.
THE ART OF PRO-WRESTLING – A few years ago on the DVD releases Cabana had his own talk show, Good Times, Great Memories. He’s relaunching the format (under a new name) for the HDNet series, and he’s joined by Brent Albright. It’s mostly a hard shill for ROH merchandise, but Brent shows a surprising about of comedic timing.
Ric Flair gives his farewell promo for the HDNet audience, it’s cut to less than 10 seconds, which after Prazak’s ‘future endeavours’ jibe last week, is another amusing backhand from ROH to Naitch.
Kenny King vs Kenny Omega
Simply put, King wants revenge for Omega beating him clean in a triple threat back on Episode 010. That was Omega’s first HDNet victory, and he’ll be looking to string a few together and start climbing the ROH ranks.
Kenny King brings Rhett Titus and 2x random skank to the ring with him. Skank #1 basically has her tits out, Skank #2 produces more gratuitous upskirt shots than you see in those unscrupulous celebrity trash mags in a month. Sweet Japanese armdrag from King to start proceedings, only for Omega to pop up into a gorgeous armdrag of his own. Inverted enziguri knocks King to the floor, but Omega misses a baseball slide and gets grabbed by Titus. King tries a somersault dive off the apron but only manages to hit Rhett…SOMERSAULT PLANCHA BY OMEGA! But Titus sweeps Omega’s leg from under him as he goes for another running start, leaving him open for King to start raking the eyes. He gets crotched in the corner, allowing King to wind up for a STANDING corkscrew enzi right to the back of the head. Frog Crossbody from Omega leaves both men down though. Leapfrog Bulldog nailed next to get Omega a 2-count. Stop Sign Enzi countered with King’s Capo Kick, then SHOTGUN KNEES for 2. Rhett gets involved again, ensuring Omega is in position to take another enzi kick to the face. He falls back into the ring and into the CORONATION! But Omega kicks out at 2. Coronation attempted a second time…but it’s countered into the same roll-up Omega used to beat him last time. This time King gets a shoulder up. STOP SIGN ENZI! Titus on the apron again, but this time King accidentally lays him out. REVERSE RANA ON KING! ELECTRIC CHAIR SUPLEX! Omega wins at 08:16
Rating – *** – Tremendously exciting and athletic match between two of ROH’s new breed talents starting to rise up the card. Lots of fast paced exchanges, intricate sequences, kicks, counters, dives and all the usual tricks you see in a modern day indy match. Both are extremely charismatic in their own way too, and given nearly 10 minutes to themselves, gave a great exhibition of what they’re capable of. This could’ve satisfactorily been a HDNet main event…
Rhett Titus tries to beat up Omega, but we rehash basically the same ‘babyface saves the day’ scene from earlier, this time with Erick Stevens in the role of Brent Albright and saving the day.
Eddie Kingston vs Andy Ridge
Last time we saw Kingston he was getting disqualified for dishing out an unrelenting beating to Chris Hero, then punching out Todd Sinclair. He clearly wants to meet Hero again, and tonight will look to use recent ROH academy graduate ‘Right Leg’ Ridge as a punching bag on which to take out some pent up aggression.
Immediate pay-off from Hero/Eddie comes when Kingston takes Ridge straight to the corner and gives a nice clean break. No such courtesy from Ridge, who does the same and tries to dish out a kick. Big mistake as King absolutely obliterates him with stiff chops. Andy tries some kicks, which have no effect whatsoever, and he walks into the BACK FIST! Kingston wins in 01:41
Rating – * – Emphatic squash, and another impressive performance by Kingston, who has always seemed a rough fit for ROH in the past, but has totally made himself at home and become an interesting and marketable part of Ring Of Honor’s HDNet venture.
We get a video package for next week when we get Jimmy Jacobs and Delirious in a Fight Without Honor. Is that the same week as the Wolves vs Dragon/Black defence? That could be a huge show. We then go to a Jimmy Jacobs interview with Kyle Durden. DVD continuity is neatly tied in as Jimmy hypes his Steel Cage Match with Tyler Black next week in Detroit, along with the Delirious bout.
Roderick Strong vs KENTA
There’s not necessarily a lot of backstory behind this one. All you’ll need to know is that they are going to chop, kick and beat the hell out of each other here. They had an awesome singles match back during KENTA’s 2006 run at the Throwdown event, and later in the year were part of a tag team MOTYC which helped relaunch the ROH product in the Boston market at Honor Reclaims Boston. KENTA, borrowed from Pro Wrestling NOAH for this set of tapings, will look to make a big splash on his HDNet bow for ROH.
Strong winds up for a big chop against the ropes, but KENTA ducks away to evade it. Same scenario reversed, and this time it’s Roddy ducking quickly to escape a big roundhouse kick attempt. CHOP NAILED! KICK NAILED! CHOP VS KICK DUEL! They strike to a stand-off, receiving a big ovation from the Philly crowd. KENTA takes a run up and delivers another big kick to his seated opponent, giving him a clear advantage for the first time. He hammers him in the corner with another succession of kicks. But Roderick tosses him away and tries to chop his way back into things. KENTA tries to no sell, so Roddy chops him even harder, stomps him into the canvas, then scoops the NOAH star up into the first backbreaker of the contest. Grounded bearhug briefly locked in, before delivering a resounding dropkick as KENTA escapes and tries to run the ropes. Flying clothesline from the top rope brings KENTA back into proceedings, only for Roderick to take him down again with the slingshot falcon arrow. Back suplex backbreaker nailed for 2. High octane kick combo from KENTA ends with a basement dropkick in the corner, into a Ligerbomb. Busaiku Knee scores but it’s too early and Strong is able to kick out at 2. Go 2 Sleep blocked and Strong comes out of the corner with a big superplex. To the apron where KENTA delivers a big kick to the spine…but he sprints at Roddy, into a CRADLE BACKBREAKER ON THE APRON! DEATH BY RODERICK! SICK KICK! That was close to a major victory for Strong. Gibson Driver COUNTERED TO GO 2 SLEEP! KENTA WINS! It’s all over in a hugely physical 12:15
Rating – **** – Everything a sub-15 minute main event should be on ROH’s TV show. It was unrelentingly quick, jaw-droppingly physical, exciting, and the decisive victory for KENTA immediately cements his place as a main event level talent. Getting NOAH to send him over for TV is a massive coup for ROH, and the originator of the Go 2 Sleep’s talent and mass of experience on TV and on major shows in Japan will be huge asset. This was also my favourite Roderick Strong match this year – even ahead of the A Cut Above World Title match.
Tape Rating – *** – The first half was really bad, but the second half featuring Omega/King, Flair’s comically curtailed send off and the great main event saved things and made the episode well worth checking out. ROH has struggled a little in 2009, but KENTA is a world class athlete, has already produced two of ROH’s best match this year (McGuinness/KENTA and Richards/KENTA) and getting him back for another series of shows, much as they did in ’06, is a significant boost to the company. His emergence onto the HDNet scene was perfectly done in a must-see main event.