ROH on HDNet – Episode 029 – 12th October 2009
Ring Of Honor’s 2009 fourth quarter ‘resurgence’ as I’ve previously called it is well and truly under way. The excellent Final Countdown Tour, was followed up by a strong weekend of DVD tapings in St Louis and Indianapolis. And around the house shows, the HDNet episodes have really started to kick into gear. The last few have been very watchable, and that’s a trend that promises to continue to tonight. Our main event is the hotly anticipated KENTA vs Chris Hero bout, with Austin Aries promising another A-Double L-Double for the lucky Philadelphia, PA crowd too.
The A-Double L-Double starts the show. The winner is…Alex Payne. Urgh.
Austin Aries vs Alex Payne – ROH World Title Match
I really hope A-Double obliterates Sugarfoot. I got a couple of emails recently asking me what my actual reasons are for disliking Payne so much. Being completely honest, I don’t think he’s particularly good. I can see he works hard, and I respect his obvious passion for the business. However, I think his in ring stuff has not progressed particularly quickly, he’s one of the few students not to give himself any kind of discernable character, and he’s always been one of the most visible products of the ROH school…without ever in my mind doing much to justify it.
Crowd is solidly behind Aries from the outset. Last time Payne wrestled against Sonjay Dutt he actually drew quite a few boos, and he’s clearly not popular in this one either. The champ dominates early, his total control aptly summed up by being able to land the conventional headscissors escape dropkick with no resistance from Sugarfoot. Payne does counter the Brainbuster with a Russian legsweep, and gets roundly boo’d. Diamond Dust countered to a shoulderbreaker by Austin, before he thrusts Alex in the corner for the IED. Brainbuster nailed…but he pulls Payne’s shoulders up at 2. ‘One more time’ – Philadelphia. He slaps on the Last Chancery for the convincing victory at 03:31
Rating – * – A star for Aries squashing Sugarfoot, but not much else. The last one worked because the live crowd actually liked Grizzly Redwood. This time around it was just people cheering Aries for beating up a jobber, and since he’s supposed to be a heel, that has to make this A-Double L-Double a failure. I love the gimmick though.
Aries refuses to let go of the Last Chancery until Bryan Danielson runs out to break things up. He demands a World Title shot…naturally Austin refuses.
Chris Hero calls his style a hybrid of heavyweight and junior heavyweight styles, thus making him more of a threat than the archetypal junior heavyweight KENTA.
Bison Smith vs Necro Butcher
This one could get real ugly. Last time we saw Bison and Necro, they had a pull apart brawl, requiring most of the (jobbers in the) locker room to separate them. This match was always going to be inevitable after that. Which one of these intimidating brawlers will score the win tonight?
Bison backs Necro into the corner and pounds away on him, then drags him out of the ring for a vicious throw into the railings. Big punches by Necro, followed by a big boot and he manages to floor Smith against the turnbuckles. But he can’t get Bison up for a body slam and straight away Smith takes control again, beating Butcher down then distracting the official whilst Prince Nana lands some cheap shots. BIG PUNCH KNOCKS SMITH OUT OF THE RING! Awesome selling by Bison there! Necro flies off the apron with a cannonball senton to take the big man down again. CHAIR DUEL! But they get so preoccupied brawling on the floor that they don’t realise they’ve both been counted out at 05:10
Rating – ** – Match was way better than I’d been expecting, but the finish was a real drag. Kudos to Bison who bumped around and sold way more than he usually does to make Necro look good.
They fight in the crowd, sending fans, jobbers and camera man scattering in their wake. Smith thinks he’s settled it with a big chair shot…only for Necro to get up and jump all over him again.
Rhett Titus vs Tyler Black
This is a pretty big match to toss into the undercard of a HDNet show. Last time we saw these two in action it was Tyler Black, teaming with Jerry Lynn, who came out victorious against Rhett’s All Night Express tag team. Can Rhettski avenge that defeat tonight?
Much as he did to Roderick Strong at Survival Of The Fittest, Titus feigns a handshake, using it only as an opportunity to punch his opponent in the face. Black goes for his big stomp but Titus rolls away before dropping him face-first into the turnbuckles. Black likes up the springboard lariat but Rhett BLOCKS IT WITH A DROPKICK! He cranks on Tyler’s problematic neck, but finds his Sexy Neckbreaker attempt countered with a neckbreaker from Black instead. Tyler misses a moonsault but recovers to boot Rhett in the head then nail the Springboard Lariat for 2. Buckle Bomb blocked though, and Titus eventually rolls through to boot Black in the face. That doesn’t do enough damage for him to hit the Muff Driver unfortunately. PEROXISM ON BLACK gets 2! Tyler hits the Pele Kick, then God’s Last Gift to chalk up the win at 06:31
Rating – *** – Rhett’s best singles match on HDNet thus far. Good aggressive work from him, focusing on the neck, blocking Tyler’s trademark stuff, stealing his moves and generally working as a great heel foil for Black to bounce his comebacks off. In less than 7 minutes this was a really decent little encounter.
Jerry Lynn comes out to congratulate Tyler – whilst Hog on commentary attributes Tyler’s renewed focus to Jerry’s mentoring.
NEXT WEEK – Stacked line-up with Cabana/Castagnoli, King/Lynn and Aries/Danielson for the World Title all signed.
Chris Hero vs KENTA
These two have clashed in a number of tag matches now – each time engaging in some fiery exchanges – with Dave Prazak pointing out that these two carry an existing rivalry from wins and losses traded in Japan. KENTA has been hugely impressive on HDNet – so for Hero, who can already boast wins over Bryan Danielson and Lance Storm this year, it would be a major feather in his cap if he could best one of NOAH’s biggest stars here.
KENTA goes after the arm of Hero, possibly to negate the elbow threat but Hero is able to back him to the ropes. No clean break from Chris, instead dishing out a big chop. SLAPS by KENTA, then a volley of kicks which noticeably rattles the ‘Gaijin Godzilla’. Knees to the stomach next, even after Hero tries to rake his eyes. He seems set on working the midsection, dropping repeated elbow drops there before working a grounded bodyscissors. But he makes a critical mistake, looking for a big shoulder tackle to the stomach and winding up missing it and flying shoulder-first into the ringpost. There’s a section of fans in the crowd chanting for Eddie Kingston which is proof that that feud is getting over. Meanwhile KENTA manages to evade the Flash Kick baseball slide and dishes out some big kicks. REBOUND ELBOW SMASH OFF THE GUARDRAILS BY HERO! Back inside he floors KENTA again with a big elbow across the throat for 2. Out of nothing KENTA cranks up the pace, exploding with forearms and clotheslines, then a big boot to the face. Flying clothesline gets the NOAH star a nearfall. STF applied but Hero is a big guy to put that on. Instead he thinks about a Busaiku and gets clocked with another elbow strike. Stretch Plum by Hero, a move applied many times to KENTA’s mentor Kenta Kobashi over the course of his career. Go 2 Sleep blocked…elbow NO SOLD! Diving lariat by KENTA to leave both men down. YAKUZA KICK IN THE CORNER! HERO RESPONDS WITH THE SAME! YAKUZA KICK BY KENTA! CRAZY FLYING KICK IN THE CORNER! To the top rope…DOUBLE STOMP GETS 2! BUSAIKU KNEE! TWO AGAIN! Shane Hagadorn and Sara Del Rey try to distract him as he lines up Go 2 Sleep. ROARING ELBOW! DEATH BLOW! KENTA KICKS OUT! Perplexed, Hero tries to steal Go 2 Sleep (well, if CM Punk can), and when KENTA fights out he flattens him again with an elbow strike. Loaded Elbow comes into play as Hagadorn distracts again. EDDIE KINGSTON RUNS IN AND STEALS IT! GO 2 SLEEEEEEEEEEP! KENTA scores the victory at 16:29
Rating – **** – This didn’t quite venture into MOTYC territory, with the early going being pretty much perfunctory stuff with 2 guys working body parts for no reason other than to waste time. But once they started lighting each other up with big strikes this one caught fire. The crowd was as loud for this as anything on HDNet thus far, creating a raucous atmosphere as these guys traded nearfalls. The finish was admittedly a little overbooked, but in an entertaining rather than a distasteful way. It allowed ROH to please the NOAH office by putting KENTA over again, but gives Hero enough of an out to save face, AND keeps that hot feud with Eddie Kingston going.
Tape Rating – **** – I have this down as one of the best episodes of ROH on HDNet thus far. Obviously the outstanding Hero/KENTA main event is a big part of that, but I thought the rest of the show was tremendous viewing too. Even if I didn’t like Payne getting the Lucky Lottery spot, his quick dispatch, and build to a big World Title match for next week was a hot way to start the show. Bison and Necro provided a really chaotic, watchable little brawl with memorable scenes in the aftermath of that. Tyler/Rhett was strong too, with Black continuing his resurgence following his alliance with Jerry Lynn, and again that builds to next week when his partner Jerry faces Rhett’s partner Kenny King. From an in-ring and creative aspect, this was a really solid episode for the TV show.