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016 ROH on HDNET 7/11/2009

ROH on HDNet – Episode 016 – 11th July 2009

After a two week break (HDNet opted not to use Ring Of Honor as part of it’s Independence Day programming), ROH returns with a pretty packed episode lined up. There’s Claudio vs Albright in the first ever Flag Match in company history. New World Champion Austin Aries teams with his two protégés Kenny King and Rhett Titus to face former champion Jerry Lynn and other assorted babyface cohorts, whilst the main event sees the rubber match between Jay Briscoe and Roderick Strong. Lets go straight to the former ECW Arena to join Hog and Dave Prazak.

Claudio Castagnoli vs Brent Albright – Flag Match

The rules to this are fairly straight forward. To be victorious the wrestler must head up the aisle, grab their respective nation’s flag (both the Swiss and US flags hang from the entrance scaffold) and return to the ring. Given the rivalry between these two men the reality isn’t quite so straight forward. On HDNet Claudio is 2-0 against Albright, having gained two somewhat questionable victories on his hated opponent. On DVD shows through the year we’ve seen them trade nefarious wins, with neither man thus far able to score the decisive triumph. With the pride of their respective nations on the line, will they settle their feud tonight?

Double C tries to sprint out of the ring immediately but keeps getting dragged back by Brent. To the floor where Albright misses a shoulder tackle and stacks it against the guardrails, leaving Claudio’s path towards the Swiss flag clear. LES ARTESS LIFT ON THE RAMP! He’s got his flag now, but takes too long posturing with it, and watches in horror as Albright propels himself from a chair, over the railing and into a flying clothesline that stops Castagnoli getting back into the ring. Albright has the American flag as well now. Claudio looks for a Riccola Bomb on the floor but finds it blocked with a back body drop. Low blow instead…totally legal in this environment. And with Brent incapacitated he takes some time for some token flag desecration. That’s guaranteed heat of course, and it absolutely infuriates Hog, who basically has a coronary. Both men, flags in hand, battle on the apron, with Claudio diving in the ring only to find that Albright swiped the Swiss flag from his hands. FLYING AMERICAN CROSSBODY! With both feet inside the ring Brent wins it at 07:29

Rating – *** –
Sure it was cheesy, predictable and a little heavy-handed but this was something never before done in ROH. Personally I thought it was good fun and a great way to start a TV show. After the Fight Without Honor on the last broadcast, it was nice to throw something a little more family-friendly out there. The amount of kids chanting ‘USA’ in the audience would imply it was a success too. I’ve seen some pretty sour reviews of this match, so take mine with a pinch of salt, but I was fine with this

Kyle Durden catches up with friends Jay Briscoe and Roderick Strong ahead of their main event. They’re still friendly, but there’s a competitive edge, with both guys clearly desperate to win tonight.

Alex Payne vs D-Lo Brown

As I said when he last appeared on HDNet, I actually think D-Lo’s biggest use to ROH is as a HDNet talent. He may not be the most talented WWE reject out there, but he’s still a recognisable name and with lots of older (late 20’s/early 30’s) WWE fans who now watch HDNet for all the MMA, he’s a great guy to hook them in and check out the ROH product. On the other hand Sugarfoot, for all the improvements he’s actually made in 2009, is the wrong guy to be featured heavily. Hopefully D-Lo steamrolls him

Sugarfoot starts mocking Brown’s head bobbing…so D-Lo hoists him into a massive Ace Crusher. ‘Kill the Jobber’ – Philadelphia. Exploder suplex from Brown, then the Shining Wizard. Payne hits the Diamond Dust out of nowhere, but it only manages a paltry one count. He dives out of he corner, right into the SKY HIGH! Folding powerbomb wins it for D-Lo at 02:14. Head bob the porpoise…

Rating – * –
D-Lo looked good, Sugarfoot was treated as he should be on HDNet, so this did it’s job. Hard to see where they can go with Brown in ROH, but his presence doesn’t harm the show at all.

In the crap cupboard Eddie Kingston delivers the same promo to Kyle that he cut on DVD’s a few shows ago. He blames Chris Hero for not getting booked in Ring Of Honor sooner…and promises that somewhere down the line he’s going to do some serious damage to him.

THE ART OF PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING – Colt Cabana and Brent Albright are back to tell a few jokes and shill some more ROH merch.

Back from commercials and the announce team announce that Black/Danielson III has been signed. That will headline Episode 018.

Austin Aries/Kenny King/Rhett Titus vs Jerry Lynn/Erick Stevens/Kenny Omega

The entrances are edited out meaning Prazak and Hog can put over Aries as the current World Champ even though Lynn still had the belt when this was taped. I like the booking of this match as it brings together lots of sub-plots. Aries and Lynn obviously have issues over the World Title with A-Double assaulting Jerry a couple of weeks ago, then taking the belt from him in Manhattan. Meanwhile Omega will want to avenge a defeat he suffered to Aries on Episode 004. And whilst he wants that, King will want the same thing on Omega who holds a couple of pinfall victories over him. I believe Stevens holds a HDNet victory over Rhettski, and of course, he has history of Aries going back to 2007 and The Resilience – a stable they were both a part of.

Aries only agrees to start the match if Lynn doesn’t. In the end it’s Omega who locks up with him as the match begins. Not long before the new ROH Champion declines further participation and tags Titus in. Omega floors him with a high spinning heel kick and Rhettski immediately retreats and makes the tag to King. It turns out that King’s main aim is to prance around and distract everyone else whilst Aries and Titus start illegally double teaming Omega in the corner. Stevens tags and mows King down with a big shoulder tackle before bringing Jerry in for the first time. Aries trips him from the floor and as Lynn is now down, A-Double agrees to get in there with the former champ for the first time. But as soon as Jerry looks to make a comeback, Austin tags straight back out. Omega goes for a big dive to the floor onto to be guillotined on the ropes by the World Champion, right into the path of a running knee from Titus. King tags and gets 2 with a forceful spinebuster. Stop Sign Enzi on Rhett, only for Aries to knock both his partners off the apron leaving no-one for Omega to tag to. The hot tag to Jerry finally does come…and the now dethroned champion finds himself having to fight through King and Titus just to get near A-Double. Erick looks for the Choo Choo on them, only to be cut off by Aries who then hammers him with the IED. Cradle Piledriver blocked…so OMEGA LEAPS OFF LYNN into the leapfrog bulldog. BERMUDA TRIANGLE MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR! But as Lynn looks to capitalise Aries sneaks up behind him and waffles him with the title belt. Finally Stevens picks up the victory at 12:04 with the lifting lariat on Titus

Rating – *** –
I liked the constant action, and absolutely LOVED HDNet trying to keep up with current events by editing the show to portray Aries as champion. The Aries/Jerry exchanges, whilst brief, showed lots of promise. King and Omega looked full of talent during their brief cameos too. In my opinion, the only guy who really didn’t shine all that much here was the guy who ended up winning – Erick Stevens. He seems an odd choice to push at the expense of guys like Omega and King, but at least leaving him standing on the apron for most of this disguised his weaknesses and made him look like a manster whenever he did get in.

Next week’s main event is the American Wolves teaming with former Sweet’n’Sour Inc. partner Chris Hero to face KENTA, Kevin Steen and El Generico. I’ve heard good things about that one…

Jay Briscoe vs Roderick Strong

These two are good friends away from the ring, but with Mark still on the shelf, the main highlights of Jay’s year thus far as a singles worker have been his two entertaining bouts with Roderick. Strong used a roll-up to snatch a victory at Stylin’ & Profilin’, whilst Briscoe did similar at Tag Title Classic to make it 1-1 between them in ’09. They’re still friends, but are both dying to win the rubber match, especially now it’s being broadcast on national TV.

Mark Briscoe is at ringside with his brother again. Anyone who thought the Briscoes were going stale at the tail end of 2008 must surely be eating those words now. Going half a year without one of Ring Of Honor’s most marketable duos has been tough. This is Roddy’s third HDNet main event, although he’s thus far 0-2 with losses to Aries and KENTA on his resume. Basic mat wrestling to start us, which suits Jay as it means Strong can’t deliver any chops. Briscoe looks to have a slight speed advantage over his friend, so Roddy drives him into a contained space (the corner) so he can pepper him with big forearm smashes. Credit to Briscoe though, he can hang in that department too, actually out-chopping Strong before felling him with a sliding kick to the head. Flatliner to the turnbuckles gets Briscoe his first nearfall. Finally Strong drops his friend with the slingshot Falcon Arrow to buy himself some recovery time. It’s soon even again as Jay runs through Roderick with a spinebuster. He moves aside as Strong tries to dive at him from the apron, running into a mafia kick on the floor. Stretch Plum applied briefly but Roddy knees his way free. Urinage backbreaker gets 2 for the former ROH Tag and FIP Heavyweight champion. Jay nearly steals a win with the Stronghold counter roll up. Death By Roderick hit, but Briscoe counters the Sick Kick with a boot of his own and both men collapse in a heap. SNAP DVD out of nothing gets Jay a 2. Death By Roderick again…GIBSON DRIVER FOR 2! STRONGHOLD! Briscoe has to tap out, giving Roderick his first HDNet victory at 12:03

Rating – *** –
To put this one in perspective, I thought it was better than Collinsville but not quite as good as Markham. I really liked the general theme of them being ridiculously evenly matched and they played it out with great persistence. Unfortunately after a while the ‘even’ nature of the match sort of resembled ‘one guy hits a spot…other guy hits a spot…first guy hits a spot’ no sell, indy-riffic match that ultimately doesn’t mean all that much. Throughout this trilogy of matches I’ve really felt like these two have an absolute classic in them but they’re still yet to hit standards quite that high.

Jay and Roderick exchange angry words, but we cut from that scene to join Durden one last time – now with Nigel McGuinness. He ends the show by telling us that he’s going to shake things up next week by telling us who the next World Champion will be. What is this? His new gimmick is a fortune teller?

Tape Rating – *** –
Pretty consistent episode here. Nothing out of this world, but packing three decent 3* bouts into less than an hour of TV is good going and almost definitely more quality wrestling than Raw, Smackdown or Impact had that week. Not an episode that you HAVE to track down and see, but if you happen across this one it’s a competent week of TV from Ring Of Honor. The 6-man in particular stood out for me, with great performances by Aries, Omega, King and Lynn.

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