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240 ROH Clash Of The Contenders 10/9/2009

ROH 240 – Clash Of The Contenders – 9th October 2009

So here we go with Ring Of Honor in the post-Bryan Danielson era. By his own admission Dragon hasn’t exactly been the focal point of ROH this year, but just having him around meant you could rely on him to deliver at least one quality match to shift some DVD’s even if everything else goes horribly wrong (such as Unscripted 3 for instance). Losing Danielson as their safety net is pretty scary, and leaves a big void which the stars who are still here need to step up to fill. It’s a void made worse by the fact that one of the acts who have been at the heart of all the best stuff Ring Of Honor has pulled off this year, the American Wolves, have also been put on the shelf thanks to Eddie Edwards’ injury. But I don’t wish to be negative as this is a time of real opportunity in ROH. Lots of guys who have a ton of main event experience and potential are now going to get a serious chance to carry the ball, and this show will demonstrate that. In the singles division we have Steen/Strong, Richards/Omega and Hero facing the returning Tyler Black with every single one of those guys thinking they have a chance of stepping up to become the new go-to guys with Nigel and Dragon out of the way. Even in the tag division, the House Of Truth, the ANX and the Young Bucks also have a chance to step up to the level of the Briscoes, Steen-erico and the Wolves. Losing Danielson and Nigel at the same time is a scary prospect, made worse losing Edwards indefinitely too, and the ROH doomsday theorists have jumped on it like nothing else to proclaim this a company going downhill fast. After a really patchy ’09 season you can maybe understand why. But I really do see this as a time of great opportunity and excitement, and a time when Adam Pearce and the ROH roster have a real chance to significantly freshen up a product which has looked to be heading towards stagnation for large parts of the year. Lets return to the St Louis market (Collinsville, IL). Commentary is all over the shop tonight with Prazak, Santamaria, Hero and some other random guy (Lawrence something). Seriously, couldn’t they have offered Lenny Leonard enough money to relocate?

ROH VIDEO WIRE (05/10/2009) – Davey Richards and Eddie Edwards are triumphant in New York, and having survived Ladder War 2 with one arm, Eddie Edwards calls them the greatest tag team champions of all time.

– Elsewhere Kevin Steen tells El Generico that it’s his fault they lost, saying he was too focused on hurting them and not thinking enough about the Tag belts. He walks out saying his head isn’t right.

– Sonjay Dutt has strong words for Delirious and Daizee Haze.

– Austin Aries joins us from a living room in the 60’s. He’s bringing the famous A-Double L-Double once again, this time with an international flavour as he draws first a country the match will take place in, then a name from ‘everyone who has ever received an ROH Title shot’. Apparently he’s going to defend the ROH World Title in Poland (‘there’s a lot of happy Polaks out there’)…against the winner of the first Honor Rumble, Ruckus. There you have it, Aries vs Ruckus in Poland…at some point.

– Claudio Castagnoli admits that 2009 hasn’t been his best year, having spent most of it feuding with Albright. But even in losing the Cage Match on HDNet, he now feels free to start climbing the mountain once again.

– Prince Nana helps Ernie Osiris to continue his transformation into ‘Mr Ernesto’ by presenting him with a hideous jacket adorned with the finest jewels. They head into the night to party

– Chris Hero is pleased that he beat Eddie Kingston in New York, and even more pleased that he regained his Emerald Elbow pad. He promises to always honour Mitsuharu Misawa with his elbow strikes, but then retires that pad in favour of his new Golden Elbow. He also calls Tyler Black a fool for facing him in St Louis so soon after neck surgery. Another strong promo from him.

Kevin Steen opens the show, once again taking the blame for losing Ladder War 2. Particularly after breaking Eddie Edwards’ elbow in Boston, he became so consumed with hurting them, he lost focus of the belts altogether. Generico is in Japan tonight, so he starts this supposed ‘new beginning’ going solo and doesn’t know what to expect from it.

And from there we go to the other big piece of news from Glory By Honor 8 – with Dave Prazak bringing Jim Cornette out for the live crowd. Only one shot at Vince Russo tonight which makes me happier. He’s here to help ROH with his experience in the industry, but has no plans to change the great ROH wrestling.

Kevin Steen vs Roderick Strong

These two are really headed in opposite directions right now. Whilst Strong has picked up a few really big victories as of late (including beating Nigel McGuinness in Boston), Steen blames himself for his team losing to the Wolves in Ladder War 2, has admitted to his head not being in the game and is now doing some serious soul searching to see where his career goes from here.

The opening 90 seconds is somewhat pedestrian, before things explode into life with Strong landing a dropkick then diving off the apron with a flying forearm when Steen tries to retreat. He shunts Kevin’s back into the railings then jams on a camel clutch, working the back without having to get the big man up for backbreakers. Missile dropkick then a cannonball senton from Steen demonstrates that Roddy wasn’t successful in doing significant damage there. Rikishi-style belly to belly suplex floors Roderick again, as does a neckbreaker, although Steen’s bum knee appears to be troubling him somewhat. Pumphandle cradlebreaker blocked and Roddy shows amazing strength to hit a falcon arrow. He doesn’t have enough in the tank for Death By Roderick though, and Steen lands an ELEVATED DDT out of the ropes for 2. Running enzi stops Mr Wrestling from pulling out the Steen-ton though. Big slug out on the top rope…STEEN-TON INTO STRONG’S KNEES! Incredibly he no sells that and powerbombs Strong into the SHARPSHOOTER! But his knee problem looks to stop him from getting full value from that hold. And his bad back prevents the Package Piledriver too. DEATH BY RODERICK! STRONGHOLD! SICK KICK…GETS 2! PACKAGE PILEDRIVER! Steen grabs his leg before pinning…and Roddy reverses into a flash pin to steal it at 10:22

Rating – *** – I absolutely hated the finish, but before that it was ten minutes of hard hitting, entertaining and exciting wrestling which the live crowd were really buying into, so I still have this down as a good match. For it’s spot on the card this was great as they broke out lots of neat stuff, but you felt like, should the opportunity ever arise for them to have a longer match, they had plenty left in the tank with which to do it. Throw a better finish on this I’d have maybe pushed my rating higher.

MsChif vs Nicole Matthews

SHIMMER action here, and it’s one of some significance to SHIMMER fans as it pits the champion MsChif against one half of the tag champs in Nicole Matthews of the Canadian Ninjas.

We have not seen her since Age Of The Fall disbanded’ – Hero outing the MsChif we’ve seen on HDNet as a fraud. Prazak says Nicole was partially trained by Rebecca Knox who was so AWESOME on the few SHIMMER shows she appeared on before retiring. Lots of elbow strikes to start, with Matthews getting an advantage with a backbreaker/throat chop combo. Big dropkick in the ropes as Chif tries to scream. Matthews goes all Low Ki with a couple of stiff grounded kicks, before hitting a crazy neckbreaker into neck wrench submission hold. Cradle gutbuster from the champion, then a standing moonsault as she finally returns fire with some offence of her own. Desecrator countered into a fisherman suplex as Nicole continues to impress though. MsChif misses the double stomps against the buckles and eats a GERMAN SUPLEX out of the corner for 2. Roll Of The Dice countered to the Desecrator, giving MsChif a victory at 06:42

Rating – *** – Extremely generous rating possibly, but this was comfortably one of the better SHIMMER matches we’ve seen in Ring Of Honor all year. Nicole is crisp and precise with her moveset, which is an absolute revelation when you’re used to watching the somewhat hit or miss nature of Daizee Haze’s ring work. MsChif can be a little inconsistent as well, but she made a great punching bag for Nicole, and without trying too hard made herself a de facto babyface and made some well timed comebacks before delivering the decisive blow. Judging from what Dave said on commentary Matthews was only booked here because she was on tour in the St Louis area at the time and is normally Canadian based. That’s a shame because I’d like to see her brought back to bolster the Women Of Honor division.

Dave Prazak returns to the ring to introduce Austin Aries, who brings the A-Double L-Double to St Louis tonight. I imagine his representatives are still working on the logistics of defending the belt against Ruckus in Poland. The winner is…Daizee Haze? She comes out with Delirious, and says that he’s been training hard (with lumberjacks, judo guys and the Briscoes apparently) and Aries should be wrestling him in his home market. Enter Jim Cornette to call Aries full of sh*t. He says his job is to give the fans what they want, and since they want it he’s commandeering the Lucky Lottery to book Aries vs Delirious for the World Title tonight.

Earlier in the evening Claudio Castagnoli conducts a press conference. The only guy in attendance is Ernesto Osiris though…

Claudio Castagnoli vs Ace Steel vs Petey Williams vs Colt Cabana

You can’t help but feel that the odds are slightly stacked against Claudio in this one. Colt Cabana has had problems with The Embassy (of whom Claudio is a known associate) since he returned to ROH in March so he’ll be gunning for Castagnoli in this one. And Claudio’s other opponents are Ace Steel, friend and former stable-mate of Cabana, and Petey Williams, who Colt successfully teamed with to beat Austin Aries and Rhett Titus at the most recent Dayton show.

All three babyface talents stare at Claudio…SO HE GLOVE SLAPS THEM ALL! That was awesome, although the numbers aren’t in his favour and his opponents have soon stolen his glove and take turns slapping him. Petey tries to start a new Second City Saints group and gets jumped by the actual remaining Saints. With Castagnoli out of the way the remaining men squabble amongst themselves over pinfalls. Williams tries a Destroyer on Ace only to eat Claudio’s Bicycle Kick. He flings Petey across the ring with a fallaway slam only to be squished by Colt’s Flying Asshole for 2. Quebrada wipes out Williams and Steel, and the distraction allows Claudio to pick him up for the UFO, using Colt to clobber Petey and Ace on the way. Riccola Bomb countered with a Petey-T before Ace stops Williams delivering the Canadian Legsweep with a running clothesline. RUNNING IMPLANT DDT from Steel to Williams gets 2. CANADIAN DESTROYER ON CABANA! But Claudio grabs the ref’s hand to stop him counting to three! Steel flattens Petey with a missile dropkick but walks right into the RICCOLA BOMB! Claudio wins another one at 07:42

Rating – ** – Some of this was a little cluttered, and much of the interactive stuff was suited much more to a live audience than those watching the DVD, but there was still plenty of fun to be had. Cabana and Ace are funny guys and they got a few laughs out of me, and the right person won as ROH looks to get behind Claudio and make him relevant again after ending the Brent Albright feud.

In the back Kenny King returns to DVD tapings having missed the entire Final Countdown Tour, and admits that the All Night Express have been distracted of late. But they plan to get it together, and avenge their defeat at Manhattan Mayhem 3 by beating the Young Bucks tonight.

Josh Raymond/Christin Able vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe

The House Of Truth have been making an impression on recent Midwest shows with some strong tag team displays, as well as the antics of their flamboyant lifestyle coach Truth Martini. It would be a massive feather in the cap if they could overcome the standard bearers in Ring Of Honor tag team wrestling the Briscoes here tonight.

Hero implies the Briscoes may have Downs Syndrome which I’m pretty sure crosses the line into inappropriate. Can’t deny he’s more interesting to listen to than the monotone voice of Eric Santamaria though. Raymond starts with Jay, initially trying to go hold for hold before opting for a rudimentary poke to the eyes. Jay retorts with a big slap and has Josh retreating to his corner and making the tag to Able. Briscoe Biel launches Christin across the ring, so the HOT make another tag and still can’t get the upper hand on the five time former ROH Tag Champions. Finally Raymond manages to tag Mark with a boot after the toothless Briscoe is distracted by Truth Martini. Christin exchanges chops with Mark, but ends up making like Josh earlier and going to the eyes to ram home his advantage. Cross armbreaker in the ropes by Raymond, into a double dropkick spot which sends Mark plummeting out of the ring. Martini drags Jay off the apron to ensure there’s no possibility of a tag. Double flatliner, then a powerbomb/senton combo spot gets 2 for the HOT. Finally Mark drops Jugs with the urinage then rolls under Able to get the hot tag to Jay. Raymond manages to bulldog Jay into the turnbuckles then hit a SPRINGBOARD MOONSAULT TO THE FLOOR! In the ring Jay drops Christin on his neck with a German suplex. Mark is back to drop Able with the second rope cutter for 2. SHOOTING STAR SPEAR FROM RAYMOND FOR 2! Flying knee from Mark to Josh, but Truth saves man from the Cut-Throat Leg Drop combo. ASSISTED FLIPPING DDT GETS 2 FOR HOT! Martini is so irate that he tries to interfere, only to get tossed out by Jay. SPIKE JAY DRILLER! Briscoes win at 14:41

Rating – *** – Best HOT match in ROH thus far. Had that heat segment been a little more accessible and less generic we’d possibly be talking an even higher rating for this. They are, as I’ve said before, an extremely solid duo and, as we’ve seen in their two most recent outings, they have some amazing high-flying moves to go with it, particularly Raymond who looks to have lots of potential. I’m not sure if it was the Briscoes making them look good, but this was the first time I’ve really felt that this is a team we need to be seeing more of. Get them to a HDNet taping stat…

Kenny Omega tells the story of Red Riding Hood…and accuses Davey Richards, the wolf of the story, of killing his grandmother. I love Omega…he’s so fricking weird.

Davey Richards vs Kenny Omega

I’m looking forward to this. Richards has been on a tear this year, mostly as one half of the Tag Champions with Eddie Edwards, but with his partner now out injured for the time being, he’ll be working solo for a while. Given that he’s already earned a World Title shot by winning the Toronto Gauntlet, and picked up singles victories over Claudio Castagnoli and Bryan Danielson during the Final Countdown Tour, it’s safe to assume he’s able to handle himself as a lone wolf for the time being. And tonight he faces Kenny Omega, another top contender for the ROH World Title, and having a pinfall victory over Aries in his back pocket, he will surely get a title shot somewhere down the line. The order in which they get to cash in those opportunities may be determined by the outcome of this.

BIG BOOTS! ELBOWS! KICKS MISSED! That opening 20 second stretch was reminiscent of Ki vs Red from Road To The Title there. Omega seems to want to ground the match, trapping Richards on the mat with wristlocks and headlocks after that fast paced opening. Richards breaks free and delivers a couple of lethal kicks. Impressively, Kenny is able to absorb them before delivering a spinning heel kick which sends Davey to the outside…into the path of the BERMUDA TRIANGLE MOONSAULT! Frog Crossbody COUNTERED with a dropkick to the midsection though, handing Richards the advantage for the first time. YAKUZA KICK sends Omega into the crowd! The fans start to get on Davey, which he absolutely loves – and responds by mocking them before delivering a big back suplex. MOUNTED ELBOWS TO THE NECK! Absolutely vicious from the Tag Champ, and followed with a snap suplex and a backbreaker. But for all his efforts to wear Omega down, he explodes back with a rana then the Stop Sign Enzi. ROCKET PUNCH NAILED! Second rope moonsault gets Kenny a 2-count. Richards blocks a dragon suplex and delivers a jumping enzi kick on the corner. JERK KICK OUT OF THE CORNER SCORES! Kenny desperately grabs the ropes to block the Cloverleaf but he is noticeably wounded now.

Kicks from Richards…SLAPS FROM KENNY! Stop Sign Enzi attempted again though and Richards boots him in the gut. Leapfrog Bulldog gets the plucky Omega another nearfall. Fans are absolutely LOVING this by the way. Kick combo from Omega…2K1 BOMB ON RICHARDS! That’s Eddie Edwards’ move! Richards lands on his feet out of a Geman attempt and tries to suplex Omega out of the ring. Kenny catches himself. VERTICAL SUPLEX FROM DAVEY SENDS BOTH MEN CRASHING OUTSIDE! Davey recovers first and pounds Omega with more kicks, then the Handspring Enzi for 2. They battle in the corner with Davey barelt able to block an avalanche Croyt’s Wrath attempt. ROPE RUN GERMAN SUPERPLEX BY RICHARDS! BRIDGING GERMAN GETS 2! TEXAS CLOVERLEAF! Omega gets the ropes and the segment of fans supporting him goes nuts! KAWADA KICKS! SHOOTING STAR PRESS INTO KENNY’S KNEES! REVERSE RANA! DRAGON SUPLEX FOR 2! Kenny winds up and readies himself…HADOUKEN PUNCH! CROYTS WRATH COUNTERED TO THE CLOVERLEAF! COUNTERED TO A SMALL PACKAGE FOR 2! ALARM CLOCK! Omega blocks the DR Driver with a small package…OMEGA WINS! Massive win for Kenny at 20:31. Standing ovation from the St Louis fans for that.

Rating – ****1/2 – I actually liked this more than Richards/KENTA from Supercard Of Honor 4 earlier in the year. Sure the selling was average and the finish was flat, but outside of those minor issues it was bell to bell awesomeness. Literally from the opening bell they charged into a jaw-dropping, non-stop, cutting edge junior heavyweight battle and kept that amazing pace up for the 20+ minute duration. Davey is a machine and, as Bryan Danielson kept saying on his way out, he’s the guy who has been carrying ROH this year with an incredible body of work. These two have had some well received matches in PWG, and a reportedly better match in 2010 ROH…I can’t wait to check those out.

Davey storms straight to the back in a fury, claiming he kicked out at 2. He’s coming for revenge on Kenny, then wants to add the World Title to his Tag strap.

Kenny King/Rhett Titus vs Young Bucks

The Jacksons are starting to get some momentum going in the ROH tag division. Sure they lost to the Briscoes in Dayton and failed to win the recent Tag Team Honor Rumble on HDNet, but they’ve picked up a couple of victories over the intimidating Dark City Fight Club (and eliminated them from the aforementioned Honor Rumble), and scored a huge win over the Briscoes at Glory By Honor 8. If they can pick up a second victory over the ANX they may well be moving to the front of the line for a shot at the American Wolves whenever Eddie Edwards gets himself healthy.

Titus starts with Matt and struggles to cope with the fluid, rapid movements of the Young Bucks. Nick hits a rolling heel kick off his brother’s back, before they drive Kenny out of the ring as well with the backflip dropkick combo. Trademark dive to the floor sequence blocked though, allowing King to grab Matt and throw him into the guardrails. Springboard dropkick/Warrior splash combo gets 2-count on Matt Jackson. Inverted Code Red by Matt drops Titus on his face, but he can’t get the tag as King knocks Nick off the apron. Blockbuster by Titus OVER KING’S KNEES! Kenny goes for the Shotgun Knees but Matt holds Rhett in their path, before finally getting the tag to his brother. Neckbreaker to backbreaker combo on King, followed by the leapfrog dropkick spot. Spear on Titus, but King CATCHES Nick as he goes for a springboard splash to hit the Royal Flush. Vertical leap enzi kick on Neck, then the ROPE RUN SUPER SEX FACTOR BY TITUS! All four down after dumping offence on each other. Kick combo from the Jacksons takes King down again…MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK! But King isn’t legal…and Titus rolls Matt up with the tights to snatch it at 10:07

Rating – *** – The execution was nowhere near as good as the Briscoes/HOT match, but they packed equal, if not more excitement into a shorter match time, so I found this similarly enjoyable. If ever you wanted proof that the ROH fans aren’t quite as militant and unforgiving as they used to be it’s the ANX team. You can normally rely on them for one or two borderline screw ups in every match, but they continue to get themselves over, and ROH fans can see the improvements they’ve made since they began working together at the end of 2008 so aren’t jumping on their case, giving them room to grow and become viable commodities. For my money they’ve certainly showed more versatility in the kinds of matches they can work this year than the Young Bucks have.

Chris Hero vs Tyler Black

Another clash of top contenders for the vacant spots at the top of the card left by McGuinness and Danielson. Hero has been impressive of late, chalking up victories over the likes of Dragon, Eddie Kingston and Lance Storm. This Monday night he has a huge match with KENTA scheduled too. And he’ll be the favourite here, given that this Black’s first ROH date since missing the September shows after having surgery to resolve a number of nagging issues with his neck.

Crowd is fairly split…and Hero FLOORS Black with a big elbow strike. Tyler crumples and immediately starts grabbing the neck. Hero goes right after it with repeated elbow smashes to that region. But he gets confident, and allows Tyler to explode from the canvas into a flurry of stomps and kicks which drive Hero to the ropes. Black rolls backwards…and comes up holding his neck again. The hesitation proves costly as he MISSES a moonsault to the floor and eats a HUGE elbow strike. Hero drives him to the railings, then tosses him into the fans. Shane Hagadorn takes a few cheap shots at the neck out of sight of the officials. Sliding kicks from Chris, causing Black’s neck to snap back with every one. Tyler tries a sunset flip, so Hero brilliantly smacks the resilience out of him by holding him in the corner for repeated stomps directly on the neck. FLYING ELBOW from the second snaps the neck back again, and at the 10 minute mark the returning Tyler Black is in a world of trouble. CHOPS TO THE THROAT! Black rallies to deliver the Pele Kick…but can’t floor Hero whilst taking an age to get up himself. BLINDSIDE DROPKICK ON HAGADORN! That was awesome…but the neck injury is such that he nearly kills himself going for a quebrada, and even after landing the Black Star Press seconds later struggles to get back up. Hero meets him with more elbows, forcing Black to crumble to the canvas in an ugly heap once again. He manages to get to the rope and land a diving elbow drop, almost out of desperation. Flash Kick misses…BUT THE ROARING ELBOW TO THE NECK DOESN’T! Tyler lands the springboard lariat. Buckle Bomb countered…Ligerbomb countered. Black kicks Hero, and NAILS the Buckle Bomb for 2. Death Blow COUNTERED TO GOD’S LAST GIFT! Despite taking an absolute beating Tyler manages to snatch victory in 16:46

Rating – **** – I felt like this was SO much better than their underwhelming match at The Homecoming 2 and I really wanted to reflect that in my rating. Hero’s attack on the neck was ruthless and, even if the crowd weren’t necessarily buying it, I thought Black was doing a terrific job of absorbing it and showing babyface fire in his comebacks. The Death Blow to God’s Last Gift finishing sequence was terrific too. These guys definitely have a better match in them, but for my money this did enough to sneak into low end 4* territory.

Austin Aries vs Delirious – ROH World Title Match

Although it’s mostly been played up on HDNet, we’ve seen at recent DVD tapings how the influence and coaching of Daizee Haze has produced some of the most impressive wrestling displays of Delirious’ entire career. He’s been received training from a number of sources, and has been pulling out as many wins as one can remember. Will that culminate tonight in him finally winning the World Title in his home region? Anyone that remembers his series of matches with Bryan Danielson will tell you this won’t be a walk in the park for A-Double.

Aries northern lariats Delirious during his ring bell freak-out, taking him straight out of the ring to dish out a wicked beating on the challenger. On commentary Prazak accuses Cornette of being sexist in not letting Daizee challenge for the belt tonight. Delirious recovers…so Austin hides behind Daizee in an effort to thwart his advances. He can do nothing to prevent Delirious throwing him into the guardrails though. Aries is clotheslined into the crowd and when he returns, is waiting to deliver a suplex on the floor. Finally Austin gets serious, snapping Delirious’ neck in the ropes, then hitting a swinging neckbreaker from the same position. Shinbreak Back Suplex blocked, but Aries rolls through to deliver a basement dropkick on the unsuspecting Delirious, who after enjoying the initial momentum in this match is now starting to struggle. Top rope axehandle countered with the torpedo headbutt but the champ is nowhere near worn down enough for Delirious to lock in the Cobra Stretch. Never Ending Story clotheslines instead, but Austin counters with a back drop to the floor. Heat Seeking Missile blocked with an elbow but he takes too long setting up for Shadows Over Hell and gets shoved all the way to the floor. DOUBLE AXEHANDLE SMASH SCORES! Power Drive Elbow COUNTERED to the Cobra Stretch! Aries escapes…MID RING PANIC ATTACK! Aries bails so Delirious pursues with a flying crossbody to the outside. Cobra Stretch attempted again but A-Double fights out to hit a Roaring Elbow. Last Chancery countered. Brainbuster blocked and turned to the Here It Is Driver for 2. Panic Attack COUNTERED with the Shinbreak Back Suplex…THEN THE IED! HEAT SEEKING MISSILE ON DAIZEE HAZE! Delirious goes to check on her…BRAINBUSTER ON THE FLOOR! That’s how he beat Petey Williams in at Glory By Honor. Delirious makes it back at 19 though! Super Brainbuster blocked, and Delirious springs out of the corner to nail the Panic Attack. Cobra Stretch again…countered to the Last Chancery. COBRA STRETCH AGAIN! COBRA CLUTCH SUPLEX GETS 2! SHADOWS OVER HELL COUNTERED WITH THE KICK OF DEATH! BRAINBUSTER SCORES! Aries retains in a competitive 21:05

Rating – *** – That was fun, and worlds better than the mediocre Aries/Petey match from the last show. Admittedly it started pretty slow but got better and better as it went along, with the last 5 minutes being really good stuff. From an in-ring perspective I think this second Aries title reign is still waiting for that signature, mind-blowing title defence…but his character has been one of the best things about ROH in 2009 and I’m anxious to see where we go with ROH’s first real cowardly lion champion since the formative years and Xavier.

Tape Rating – *** – The Ring Of Honor resurgence in the final quarter of 2009 continues. This was an outstanding show, hampered only by not having a real blowaway main event to send the fans home happy. The intense, but slow pace of Black/Hero and Aries/Delirious – both of which were good matches – seemed at odds with the snappy, lively nature of the rest of the card. Obviously most of the attention goes to Richards/Omega, and rightly so as it’s one of the best matches I’ve seen this year. But I’d also turn your attention to the competitive Steen/Strong opener, the best women’s match we’ve had in ages, a fun A-Double L-Double segment and a breakout moment for the House Of Truth in their match with the Briscoes as well. I was sceptical on whether ROH could continue their momentum coming out of the Final Countdown Tour. Traditionally the first show after a big one tends to be pretty average. Not the case here – this was the best event in the Collinsville market to date and is well worth checking out if it’s still available.

Top 3 Matches

3) Austin Aries vs Delirious (***)

2) Tyler Black vs Chris Hero (****)

1) Kenny Omega vs Davey Richards (****1/2)

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