ROH on HDNet – Episode 023 – 31st August 2009
After Episode 022 I had a bit of a rant about ROH’s free TV show, and I’m feeling a little bad about it. It’s not a bad show, it’s really not. It’s great that ROH is regularly putting out a great, free, 20 minute matches – far more than you’d usually see on Raw or Impact week after week. The problem is, wrestling is already a pretty niche market, with the fanbase getting ever smaller. Putting themselves on weekly television has put them into a position where they have to be at the top of their game just to be competitive and stand a chance…I’m finding it hard to watch the promotion I’ve loved and watched fanatically since 2002 struggle to make the impact I’d like it to. A couple of months ago it felt like we’d turned a corner and things were getting really good, but the last month has really seen the show take a disappointing step backwards in terms of quality. We’re nearly a quarter of the way through the show’s entire run on Mark Cuban’s HDNet network, hopefully things pick up from here. And hopefully that starts tonight with a fun-sounding main event when The Embassy take on the allied forces of their adversaries in Cabana, Necro, Albright and Grizzly. Show was taped in Philadelphia, PA. Mike Hogewood and Dave Prazak will announce as ever.
Delirious vs Sonjay Dutt
ROH has done a pretty good job over the last two weeks of hyping up Sonjay Dutt’s return to national television with them. I’ve been pretty positive on his Ring Of Honor work thus far in 2009. He’s never going to be the best worker on the card but he’s a solid hand, a great high flier and will add name recognition for those familiar with his stuff in TNA. This should be pretty good.
Dutt wisely downplays Delirious’ insanities after the ring bell. He wisely keeps the match very grounded, not letting the masked man run around like a goon and build any momentum. Hurricanrana sends Delirious to the floor…so he hides under the ring for a while. Sonjay with an apron 619 kick when he emerges. But Delirious knocks Dutt back with a torpedo headbutt to the ribs…only for him to take charge again moments later with a double boot in the face. Another couple of minutes slip by with Sonjay in total control until Delirious drops him out of nowhere with the Here It Is Driver. German suplex gets the lizard man a 2. Dutt hits a turnbuckle bulldog into a flying guillotine leg drop and a springboard splash for his own nearfall. RKO blocked though, and Delirious turns him straight into the Cobra Stretch. No submission so he thinks about Shadows Over Hell and gets caught. Musclebuster from Dutt…for 2. I’m sorry, but stealing Samoa Joe’s finisher in ROH, and using it for a heatless nearfall is basically sacrilege in my book. Cobra Stretch again only for Dutt to make the ropes. Delirious drops him with a neckbreaker from the second rope, then drills home the Panic Attack. Shadows Over Hell misses though so they go through a pretty sloppy nearfall sequence. Delirious manages to hold Dutt’s shoulders down for 3 at 11:43
Rating – ** – This match had some decent moments, and I was glad to see it get some time. I can’t put my finger on what it was it was missing, but for some reason neither I, nor the live crowd, could really get into it. The start was pretty impressive, but things seemed to tail away, to the point that the crowd was basically silent in the end.
In the back Prince Nana fires up his men ahead of the main event.
American Wolves vs Up In Smoke
I’m looking forward to this one too. Cheech and Cloudy have appeared a few times on HDNet as enhancement talent, and have looked pretty entertaining. If we go down the route of a squash then they’ll do a good job of making Richards and Edwards look great. But I personally feel like, if they wanted to do a vaguely more competitive match, these two teams could deliver the goods on that front as well. Lets see how this develops…
Stereo headscissors and dropkicks from Cheech and Cloudy send the champs the floor. Sadly for them, they follow it up with STEREO MISSED PESCADOS! Cloudy floors Eddie with a missile dropkick, then manages to trade some kicks with Davey too. DOUBLE ALARM CLOCK! POWERBOMB TO LUNGBLOWER! ACHILLES TENDON LOCK! Edwards submits Cloudy in 02:01
Rating – ** – I’m sure people will think it’s weird that I’m giving a 2 minute squash the same rating as the opening match. But I loved this, where as I was indifferent about Dutt/Delirious. Up In Smoke did a few fun little bits, before getting convincingly decimated by the Wolves. This was the epitome of a well executed squash match.
Dark City Fight Club run in to beat up Cheech and Cloudy again. Cheech eats the Dark City Street Cutter…as Davis and Chavis send a clear message to the reigning Tag Team Champions.
Cabana gives his team a military-style pep talk, including more amusing exchanges with Brent ‘Sergeant Meathead’ Albright.
Next week’s main event sees Jerry Lynn get his match against the man who effectively cost him the World Championship in Tyler Black. He puts it over as one of the biggest matches of his career.
Silas Young vs Erick Stevens
Neither of these two has a lot going on storyline wise right now. Erick is being put over as a runaway powerhouse on HDNet, and has scored some high profile wins. He’s yet to do anything that’s really high profile in 2009 though. Silas has a mean streak, but is still basically nothing but fodder.
Headlocks from Silas, until he nearly gets shoulder blocked out of his boots by Stevens. He powers Young into a back suplex…but the fact that Hog and Prazak have spent most of the match thus far talking about hair styles should tell you how (un)exciting this has been thus far. Young starts to attack Erick’s neck, clubbing him down with a northern lariat for 2. Stevens scores with a second rope tackle then catches Silas with a Samoan drop. Silas shows more resilience though, lifting Stevens into a suplex backbreaker. Arabian Press misses and Erick drops him on his neck with a German suplex. Choo Choo Avalanche, then the Doctor Bomb to win it at 05:43
Rating – * – To me, this didn’t work. This match did more to make Silas look good than it did Stevens, and when Erick is supposed to be the established guy getting over on matches like this, it has to be considered a failure. The commentary team even pointed out the fact that Young has never won on HDNet. The fact that it took Erick over five minutes, and saw him take a beating for long portions of that time makes him look weak.
Kyle Durden gives Eddie Kingston some more interview time, and he has more to say about Chris Hero. He’s counting down the days until he gets Hero in a match…
Jimmy Rave/Claudio Castagnoli/Ernie Osiris/Prince Nana vs Colt Cabana/Brent Albright/Necro Butcher/Grizzly Redwood
This is a rematch of sorts from Death Before Dishonor 7. That night The Embassy team were able to pull off the victory over the babyfaces when Joey Ryan capitalised on some interference from Nana to defeat Cabana in the final fall. Tonight The Embassy have a weakened line-up with Nana replacing Joey and Ernie Osiris replacing Bison Smith. Will they pose the same kind of threat (even with Necro carrying an injury) that they did up in Canada?
Big seven man brawl gets us started…whilst Nana hangs out on the outside avoiding physical interaction with anyone at this stage. Eventually Rave and Claudio throw Osiris to the proverbial wolves and leave him to battle Necro Butcher. Redwood in to hit a BEARD-MARE on Ernie. But Grizz getting involved is the cue for Jimmy Rave to want in legally for the first time. Necro tagged, so Rave goes straight to Castagnoli…who puts Butcher in an abdominal stretch, reaching to his corner for some illicit assistance. Unlikely satellite headscissors from Necro, then his own abdominal stretch. His partners form an entire chain with the WHOLE FRONT ROW to give some assistance to Necro there. The babyface team take it in turns to work Rave over…and when he tries to leave the ring Necro wipes him out with a cannonball senton off the apron. HIPTOSS TO THE FLOOR from Brent to Claudio. ASAI MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR BY CABANA! In the melee Osiris pins Redwood at 06:54, eliminating the Littlest Lumberjack. Colt takes over as legal man, taking a four-on-one beating at the hands of The Embassy. Cabana spends several minutes in the ring taking a beating at the hands of Rave, Castagnoli and Osiris before he finally gets a hot tag to Albright. He lays out Ernie with the Air Raid Crash but can’t capitalise with a pin as Claudio grabs him. TOPE SUICIDA ON DOUBLE C! Brent and Claudio fight into the crowd, getting the pair of them counted out at 11:50. That means it’s Necro and Cabana left to fight Rave, Osiris and Prince Nana. Speaking of the Prince, he spits in Butcher’s face, allowing Jimmy to STO him onto the apron. They position that bad ankle over a chair. SOMERSAULT SENTON THROUGH THE CHAIR BY OSIRIS! HEEL HOOK! Necro has to tap at 13:11, leaving Cabana by himself to fight three men. Nana stays on the apron, opting to watch as Jimmy and Ernie circle their victim. COLT 45 ON ERNIE! He’s done at 15:08. Flying Asshole on Rave next but Jimmy recovers to go for the Heel Hook. That’s blocked, so the Crown Jewel delivers a spear instead. Amusingly, Nana tags in legally for the first time, stomps Cabana in the chest then tags out again. COLT PINS RAVE! Out of nowhere he does it at 17:34…and Prince Nana has no choice but to fight now. Flying Asshole nailed, then the Billy Goat’s Curse. Nana taps at 18:29
Rating – *** – I don’t think the story-telling was as deep and complex in this one as it was in the DBD7 match, although that’s entirely understandable given that the house show version was nearly twice as long. I didn’t like the ‘Colt beats everyone’ finish either since I don’t think it did a lot for the credibility of The Embassy…and the Albright/Claudio double elimination was completely lifted from the first match when Necro and Rave did the exact same thing. However, this was still a great main event, given a decent time allocation, and delivering lots of fun, some great wrestling and once again saving an otherwise lacklustre hour of TV. Special mention to Ernie Osiris who I thought looked great in this. He’s nothing more than comic relief, the newest incarnation of The Embassy’s footstool (bring back Jade Chung!) if you will. However, he had some key moments in this match – the first elimination, the somersault senton on Necro etc…and he delivered. With Rhett Titus making strides, Redwood getting his Lumberjack gimmick surprisingly over, and now Dirty Ernie coming to the party as well, are the ROH students finally starting to prove their worth?
Tape Rating – ** – Same again really…average episode saved by a good main event. I will say this, that main event will have done a lot more to hook in casual, WWE-style fans than longer, more technical encounters we’ve seen in recent weeks like Tyler/Nigel, Aries/Strong, Tyler/Dragon etc. As an ROH fan, obviously I liked those matches more, but I know lots of casual wrestling fans, and I’m quite sure the 8-Man Tag tonight would have held their attention far better.