ROH on HDNet – Episode 027 – 28th September 2009
What with the conclusion of The Final Countdown Tour in Boston and New York from the weekend just past weekend, I’ve seen absolutely no mention of this HDNet episode at all. Most of last week’s episode was spent shilling matches at Glory By Honor 8 too, but in the midst of the fanfare for the big shows this weekend, this should be a strong episode. Tyler Black and Jerry Lynn team for the first time, whilst Brent Albright and Claudio Castagnoli settle their feud in ROH on HDNet’s first Steel Cage Match. Dave Prazak and Mike Hogewood will provide commentary from The Arena.
Kenny King/Rhett Titus vs Jerry Lynn/Tyler Black
Last week it was revealed that Jerry has taken Black under his wing and will attempt to mentor him over his ‘dropping the ball’ problem. I remain very unconvinced about how well that will work at getting Tyler over, but you can’t deny this match should be a good way to start the show.
‘This can do nothing but help Tyler Black’s career’ – Hog on the Lynn/Black team. I just don’t agree with that at all! ANX bring the comedy from the outset with King mocking Black for being a choker whilst Rhett rips on Lynn for being old. Jerry takes the youngster to school with a big body slam then some pelvic thrusting of his own. He then serves King with some dance moves too! He can’t hang in a Michael Jackson dance contest with Kenny though. Amazingly, it’s actually King who gets serious first, trying to work a wristlock only to be dragged into the babyface corner and ambushed by Black. Tyler comes in and botches an armdrag spot, which the crowd REALLY jump on for some reason. The fans get back on board when Jerry and Tyler nail a drop toehold/quebrada combo for 2. Double team chops/elbows on Titus next for another nearfall as the new team start to impress. That is until King grabs Jerry from behind, leaving him in position for the big Titus dropkick. Sound strategy from Kenny as he pounces on the older competitor and tries to work the back. Lynn hits an inverted DDT and thinks about a tag, only to see Rhett dragging Black off the apron. The ANX isolate Lynn until Titus blocks the traditional Jerry sunset flip bomb out the corner…so Jerry turns it into a Razor’s Edge instead! Hot tag to Tyler who gets an immediate 2 with the Black Star Press. Flying Elbow Drop on Titus, before hoisting him up for a leg drop/sidewalk slam combo with his partner. Jerry hits the TKO on Lynn, then turns into a powerbomb from Kenny…who in turn eats Tyler’s Pele Kick. Buckle Bomb attempted but Rhett saves with a swinging neckbreaker. Thrust Buster on Black…but Jerry saves from the Doomsday Blockbuster. STEREO SOMERSAULT PLANCHAS TO THE FLOOR by Black and Lynn. King recovers to crotch Lynn on top then leaps into an enzi kick. ROPE RUN SEX FACTOR GETS 2! Lynn blocks the Blindside Lariat…and Tyler flies back in with the springboard lariat. Jerry in with the CRADLE PILEDRIVER TO TITUS! Lynn and Black win at 12:45
Rating – *** – It’s sort of gone unnoticed but the All Night Express are having a terrific year on the undercards of these HDNet shows. Working shorter TV length matches ideal for them as it doesn’t expose their weaknesses too much, but gives them plenty of opportunity to show off their characters and increasingly fluid double teams. Check out their matches with the likes of Steen-erico and the Stevens/Omega team from earlier episodes too if you need further proof. This one has to go down as one of the top opening matches on the show so far with lots of solid work building to a really exciting finish. Had Tyler not been working a little sloppy (I think his neck was really affecting him at this taping) this would have been edging towards an even higher rating.
SIDENOTE – Tyler Black is supposed to be one of the anointed chosen ones to carry the promotion now Danielson and Nigel have left. Not to criticise the Pearce regime too much as the last month or so has been really good, but I am severely sceptical about Black’s creative direction. Having him go on this ‘dropping the ball’ storyline was always pretty risky territory for someone you’re looking for people to buy into as the next big thing. Fans don’t like supporting choke artists. So having him overcome that by scoring big wins over Dragon and McGuinness on HDNet…only to go BACK to making him drop the ball is even more detrimental. And now to follow that pushing him as some kind of protégé to Jerry Lynn, a guy the fans have already spectacularly rejected this year, just doesn’t seem wise at all. I’ll see where it goes, and I thought they made a half decent team in this match. But after finally seeming to repair Tyler’s main event credentials with those huge wins a few episodes ago, he looks as far away from the red hot potential main event talent that he was at the end of 2008 than ever.
Brent Albright cuts a promo ahead of the main event…and it’s promo in which he attempts to use the phrase ‘steel cage’ as many times as is humanly possible.
Sara Del Rey vs Nikki Roxx
This is a HDNet debut match for Nikki who I think may well have spent some time in TNA on top of being pushed hard in Dave Prazak’s SHIMMER promotion. I stopped following SHIMMER too closely after the first 10 shows but at that point Nikki was getting lots of main event level exposure. She gets a chance to impress against one of the most intimidating Women Of Honor in the Death Rey.
They botch a shoulder tackle spot…so Sara slaps Nikki straight in the face. Ugly dropkick from Roxx drives Del Rey back…only for Sara to explode out of the corner again with a capo kick. Simultaneous double boots connect and both women go down. Nikki up first with elbow smashes, an atomic drop then a big exploder suplex for 2. Barbie Crusher blocked by a big kick combo, before Del Rey finishes things at 3:13 with the Royal Butterfly
Rating – ** – This was brief, but it was comfortably the best women’s match on HDNet thus far. They started shakily but after that put in an energetic, hard-hitting little match which showcased Sara’s striking ability, interesting personality and also Nikki’s obvious experience working televised matches. Going from her early SHIMMER work I’m not Roxx’s biggest fan but, on this showing, she’s improved a lot since then.
Claudio gets promo time too. Apparently before the Flag Match he had TV executives telling him things he could and couldn’t do with the American flag on television. Tonight he’s not letting anyone tell him what he can or can’t do to Albright.
Sonjay Dutt vs Alex Payne
These were the first set of HDNet tapings for Sonjay, who thanks to his TNA experience could be a real asset to the HDNet show. He’ll be looking to establish himself with a victory over Sugarfoot.
Payne goes right after an ankle lock but can’t keep Dutt away from the ropes. Hurricanrana and a headlock next, but this isn’t Chicago and a few fans actually start booing him. Sonjay takes over with a spinning elbow. Shaky headlock counter, clotheslines and a dropkick from Sugarfoot as more hecklers start to get on him. Diamond Dust out of the corner gets 2. Standing Shiranui blocked by Dutt and countered to a crossface. Finally Dutt sticks something, nailing a springboard dropkick then locking in a deep camel clutch for victory at 04:30
Rating – DUD – I don’t like Payne at all, so I was glad to see him get a hard time. I’ve always felt he’s one of the weaker ROH school graduates, and has been allowed to coast along and become one of the more visible students thanks to his inexplicable popularity in the Chicago market. And to that end, this match was 90% Sugarfoot offence, which as ever looked weak and shoddily executed, and therefore dragged most of it down. At least Sonjay won.
Durden interviews Sonjay Dutt, who rambles on to Ultimate Warrior-esque levels of weird. He has a rematch with Delirious next week and plans to avenge his defeat last time.
We then get a hilariously strange skit from the ROH Wrestling School with Daizee Haze and a random Japanese guy putting Delirious through his paces. There hasn’t been enough fun stuff like this on the show’s run thus far.
Colt Cabana has a brief video package charting his recent success before we go to the announcement of next week’s main event – a Tag Team Honor Rumble. Nigel McGuinness gets some face time too.
Claudio Castagnoli vs Brent Albright – Steel Cage Match
This is the conclusion of a feud that started way back at Motor City Madness 2009 early in the year. They’ve traded shady wins, no-contests, been involved in Survivor Series tags, Flag Matches, beaten each other up, brawled all over buildings…but never been able to finally score a decisive victory. Most recently we saw Castagnoli bloody Albright by stomping a folded steel chair over his head. Brent made the challenge for this match after suffering defeat in a European Rounds Match against Claudio at Death Before Dishonor 7 weekend. After a year at war, and with a cage in play to keep The Embassy out, these two finally settle their differences tonight.
Big slug-out to start, with Prazak pointing out that Albright has a heavily taped knee covering an injury which will probably require surgery at some point soon. Claudio wastes no time in trying to escape the cage but gets caught and crotched over the top rope. Brent continues to brawl…but is held back with the Les Artess Lift, a wrestling hold, and once again Castagnoli lunges for the exit. Even with the help of Ernie Osiris he can’t quite make it out, but it does allow Prince Nana to slam the cage door shut on Albright’s face, busting him open. It’s not a heavy laceration as yet, so Claudio jump all over it, driving the head repeatedly into the cage to cause more blood to flow. Alpamare Water Slide countered to a small package, but Double C gets straight back to his feet to deliver the Bicycle Kick for 2. Finally Albright gets his sh*t together and bloodies Claudio with repeated throws into the steel. He tries a slingshot, but Claudio SPIDERMANS against the cage to counter, springboards back in to hit a one arm powerbomb for 2. Claudio tries to escape…AND GETS GERMAN SUPLEXED OFF THE CAGE! They climb again, and Albright catches Castagnoli FOR AN EXPLODER SUPLEX OFF THE TOP OF THE DAMN CAGE! Somehow he kicks out at 2! Half Nelson Suplex attempt…and Brent sidesteps the low blow counter from Claudio that has almost become customary now. But it’s a Cage Match with no rules, so Castagnoli comes out of the corner with a straight-forward punt to the balls. With Brent down, he wants to repeat the scene from a few weeks ago as he places a steel chair over the head. CHAIR STOMP MISSES! Albright nut shots Castagnoli then delivers his own CHAIR STOMP! Albright scores the win and ends the feud at 13:24
Rating – *** – This was probably the best match in the feud, so it’s fitting that it decided it. In truth only the anniversary show match from New York even comes close (although the Flag Match was good-hearted fun too), so the fact that this was, in reality, a very average cage match says a lot about the overall quality of the feud. As I’ve said a few times, I really admire Adam Pearce for trying to get this over. They were two midcard guys with no direction, and no apparent reason to hate each other. But he managed to milk a 9-month feud out of that through persistence and determination. In the end, it’s not been a particularly memorable feud, but there have been some solid matches and it all built to this climactic match which brought out their best work. That Exploder Superplex spot was insane, and the rest was a pretty heated, if slightly generic, battle in front of one of the best crowds they’ve had. Claudio’s match with Davey at the Final Countdown Dayton show demonstrates he has much to offer moving forward in ROH…whilst Brent will now go to rehab the knee and ponder where his career goes from here.
Tape Rating – *** – Another pretty decent episode here. Sure the middle portion didn’t set the world on fire, but a strong opening match and bloody Cage Match main event make this a pretty worthwhile hour of wrestling. The Del Rey/Roxx match was good for what it was too.