ROH on HDNet – Episode 037 – 7th December 2009
It’s a big night for Ring Of Honor, as the new HDNet Executive Producer makes his first appearance in The Arena tonight. He’s called an emergency meeting of the entire roster tonight and that’s what leads us off. There’s also the return of Tyler Black who’s missed a few weeks after Aries set fire to a piece of paper in his face. New titles and theme music brings the entire product back up to date (the old entrance had guys like Jimmy Jacobs, Sami Callihan and Brent Albright featured prominently), and the show has been really good in recent weeks. Lets hope Mike Hogewood and Dave Prazak are here to call the continuation of that trend.
The show opens with Jim Cornette in the ring, surrounded by the majority of the ROH roster. He makes the announcement of the formation of the Pick 6 Series. Over the next six weeks we’re going to see six singles matches between the 12 men Jim has deemed the top singles workers in ROH, with the six winners getting a spot in the inaugural Pick 6 Rankings, and each receiving $2500. Since the Pick 6 has been featured on DVD’s for the last four live events I won’t run through the rules again. The initial matches are as follows:
Delirious vs Kenny King
Colt Cabana vs Claudio Castagnoli
Roderick Strong vs Davey Richards (WOW…big pop for Richards there)
Sonjay Dutt vs Tyler Black
Mark Briscoe vs Jay Briscoe
Yes…he forgot one of the matches. Not a great start…but it’s hard to argue that we’re not going to get some awesome matches out of this. Strong/Richards, Dutt/Black and Briscoe/Briscoe are all, on paper, full of potential. Austin Aries comes out, arriving at the meeting a little late it seems. ‘Jim…I’m fashionably late’ – Aries. He accuses Cornette of trying to get the World Title from him…an accusation Jim denies and says he’s only taking the right to choose the championship challengers away from Aries and the A-Double L-Double and back into the hands of ROH and the fans. Aries is being made to defend the World Title here tonight…against Kenny Omega…and Davey Richards…AND Roderick Strong.
Scorching opening segment, and hot off that announcement Mike Hogewood announces that we’ll be seeing Kevin Steen and El Generico face the Briscoes to determine who becomes #1 contenders for the ROH Tag Titles – receiving their shot live on ROH’s firs iPPV – Final Battle 2009…right now.
Kevin Steen/El Generico vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe
This has been one of the hottest rivalries in Ring Of Honor history. They tore each other apart in their bitter war of 2007, culminating in the epic Ladder War at the Man Up ppv. Then in 2008 they fought twice more, with the roles of champion and challengers ironically reversed as Steen and Generico managed to successfully defend the Tag belts against the Briscoes this time around. Then earlier this year we saw their first clash on HDNet. It was a memorable bout, but it went to a non-finish when the American Wolves interfered to attack both teams. Now we have a HDNet rematch, with the huge prize of getting to challenge the Wolves live on ROH’s first ever iPPV.
Jay starts with Steen, both guys happy to work the mat and feel each other out considering how familiar they are with each other. Generico gets the tag and increases the pace with his lucha armdrag box of tricks. Briscoe Biel on him to hand the Briscoes the advantage. Desperate tag to Steen, who looks for the Steen-ton Bomb early and dives INTO MARK’S KNEES! Hog suspects that hurt Mark’s surgically repaired knee as much as it did Kevin Steen, and that may turn out to be correct as Steen recovers quickly and joins with Generico in working over that particular body part. Mark tries to mount a fightback, only for Mr Wrestling to sadistically punt his knee once again. Finally Mark hits the urinage suplex but is too wounded to capitalise right away. Hot tag to Jay finally comes, and he gets 2 with a big sliding kick to Steen’s face as he sits in the corner. NECK DROP DVD gets 2 as well. Steen evades the traditional Briscoe tackle, puts Mark in the corner with a Codebreaker then charges for the cannonball senton and gets a nearfall. Jay saves his brother from another Steen-ton…AND THEN EL GENERICO JUMPS OFF STEEN’S BACK INTO A SOMERSAULT PLANCHA TO THE FLOOR! In the ring Mr Wrestling scores a 2 on Mark with the pumphandle cradlebreaker. Yakuza Kick blocked, so it’s the Michinoku Driver instead from the masked man. Mark blocks the Brainbuster though, but injures his own leg kicking Generico away. SHARPSHOOTER ON HIM…SUPERKICK BY JAY The older Briscoe then drops Generico with a spinebuster and hauls him up…DOOMSDAY DEVICE! Steen saves his partner from defeat and goes BACK TO THE SHARPSHOOTER! Bravely Mark finds the bottom rope, but can he even get up now? Package Piledriver COUNTERED with an Ace Crusher. JAY DRILLER ON STEEN! The Briscoes win! They advance to Final Battle at 14:28
Rating – **** – I think this is the first time I’ve gone to 4* on a HDNet undercard match. In truth, ROH are clearly trying to build this up as a huge episode in that Corny debuts, they’re shilling their first iPPV, Tyler Black is back AND the World Title is on the line. These two teams have such amazing chemistry together that this, good as it was, probably isn’t even in their Top 5. It was, however, smartly worked and full of fun…with Mark’s selling of the knee standing out as remarkable. Wolves/Steen-erico has been done a lot this year, and with the Briscoes still seeking for revenge for Mark’s injury, they are the logical challengers for the titles at Final Battle.
As if there weren’t enough huge announcements, Hog slips another one into the middle of the show. Steve Corino – a guy who was in ROH at the very start – is coming back to ROH. He wants to get his face on national television and to remind people not just of what he did in the past (he’s a former ECW Champion of course) but of what he still has to offer in the future.
Kyle Durden asks Davey Richards for his thoughts in the main event. He points out that all four of them tonight have had incredible 2009’s, but he wants to end his as World Champion.
Back to Mike and Dave in the studio, who point out that Jim Cornette was so excited he forgot about one of the Pick 6 Matches…so they announce that it was Chris Hero vs Kenny Omega. Next week the Pick 6 gets underway with Delirious/King and Dutt/Tyler.
COMMERCIALS – leading off the commercials this week is a hype video for Final Battle 2009 – Ring Of Honor’s first iPPV. Aries/Black for the World Title and Wolves/Briscoes for the Tag belts are already announced – with much more to come.
Austin Aries vs Kenny Omega vs Davey Richards vs Roderick Strong – ROH World Title Match
This is the second time the ROH World Title has been defended on HDNet in this match format. Last time we saw an unbelievable MOTYC with Jerry Lynn just able to sneak past Danielson, Tyler and the current champion Austin Aries. Will the experience of that match, coupled with the fact that Aries has already defended the belt in a similar four corner match at Death Before Dishonor 7 Night 1, give him the advantage here. Although it was taped beforehand, in chronological terms this is a big rematch for Richards and Omega, after they both pushed Aries to the absolute limit in Novi and Mississauga at the end of November, in phenomenal but losing efforts. And the fourth guy in there needs little introduction either. He should know Aries better than anyone having been a co-Tag Champion and fellow founding member of Generation Next alongside the current champ. He’s beaten Aries in the past and, having been controversially been defeated in the finals of the 2009 Survival Of The Fittest, will think this is a championship opportunity he rightfully deserves.
Aries thumbs Omega and Strong in the eyes, then bails before Davey can kick his head off and that’s how we get underway. He winds up getting to assault Kenny against the guardrails whilst rivals Richards and Strong stiff each other inside the ring. Richards goes for the handspring enzi, but gets clobbered by an opportunistic World Champion, who cracks him in the neck then drags him out of the ring. Roderick comes to his former NRC partner’s aid by tossing Austin head-first into the railings. Neckbreaker in the ropes from Aries to Strong, but as the champion lines up the Heat Seeking Missile Kenny Omega arrives with a missile dropkick. Stop Sign Enzi BLOCKED with a slap, so Omega hits the Leapfrog Bulldog instead. Aries blocks Croyt’s Wrath and leaves the ring again onto the floor. Kenny thinks about a Bermuda Triangle only to spring into a big kick from Richards. Prazak starts shilling Richards/Omega at Clash Of The Contenders which he NEEDS to do more of. On the floor Roderick drops the champ with a big slam then has to dive into the ring to break a pinfall after Davey floors Omega with another roundhouse kick. CHOP DUEL between the former NRC guys. Davey goes upstairs, and is once again ambushed by Aries who hits a big frog splash for 2. IED misses Roderick, so Kenny jumps into a heel kick on the Floridian instead. IED NAILED THIS TIME! Aries swoops again but can’t get Richards up for the Brainbuster. JUMPING ENZI counters the Heat Seeking Missile. CORKSCREW PESCADO BY STRONG! RUNNING SOMERSAULT PLANCHA FROM OMEGA! Back inside and A-Double pulls the perm to stop Kenny going for Croyt’s Wrath again. ROPE RUN GERMAN SUPERPLEX BY RICHARDS! BRIDGING GERMAN SUPLEX GETS 2! Davey is the CLEAR favourite with the fans here. REVERSE RANA from Omega to Richards as they renew their Clash Of The Contenders rivalry. CROYT’S WRATH ON ARIES! STRONG SAVES! DEATH BY RODERICK! SICK KICK! RICHARDS SAVES! Twice someone else has had to dive in to save Austin Aries’ title reign. The three challengers fight amongst themselves with Omega getting the best of them all and dropping Strong with the Blue Destiny for 2. ALARM CLOCK ON KENNY! SICK KICK ON KENNY! Roddy and Davey staredown…with no love lost between these two. CHOPS VS KICKS DUEL! DR Driver blocked though…but so is Death By Roderick – INTO THE TEXAS CLOVERLEAF! GIBSON DRIVER! ARIES SAVES WITH THE KICK OF DEATH! He then rolls up the still wounded Richards to win at 15:16
Rating – **** – I’ve seen people call this an MOTYC and as good as the original HDNet fourway. I’m not going that high on the rating. The shorter duration of this inevitably made it more spotty, and I felt things got a little chaotic and silly without a technician like a Danielson or a Jerry Lynn in there to hold it together. Not that it wasn’t exciting – and it was great to see Aries use the same strategy as he did last time, with selective insertions into the match, then leaving again as soon as he felt threatened at all. Still, this was all action and an amazing main event to what has comfortably been the best episode of ROH on HDNet to date.
And just when Aries thinks he can celebrate…Tyler Black makes his return to HDNet! He stares the champion down as the show fades out.
Tape Rating – ****1/2 – In terms of what you could do with one hour of TV, I’m not sure even the WWE could have crammed more in than this. Jim Cornette arrived to make an immediate impact and deliver the best episode of ROH on HDNet we’ve seen thus far. Sure people will point to him goofily forgetting one of the Pick 6 matches, and sure that was a slip, but everything else was flawless. You want big announcements? How about the Pick 6 Series and the return of Steve Corino. You want big, high stakes matches? Briscoes/Steen-erico for Tag Title #1 Contendership and a World Title four corner match on the same show means this delivers. And the build to Final Battle 2009 is well and truly underway with Tyler Black making his return in an explosive finale to a superb show. And with ROH’s first iPPV in two weeks, some awesome-looking Pick 6 Matches (Strong/Richards and Briscoe/Briscoe in particular) to look forward to etc, this was an episode that really makes you eagerly anticipate the last few weeks of ’09.