ROH on HDNet – Episode 041 – 4th January 2010
We’re now in the midst of a monster gap in ROH live events. Final Battle 2009 was December 19th, with the next DVD taping not until January 29th. The plan to ease back on the number of house shows is well and truly in effect it would seem. That means Ring Of Honor’s 2010 season kicks off with more HDNet episodic TV. When last we left ROH, Austin Aries escaped Manhattan and Final Battle once again clinging to his World Title by the skin of his teeth. Kevin Steen spectacularly turned heel, laying waste to his tag partner El Generico in one of the most dramatic moments in ROH history. We have new Tag Champions too, with the Briscoes finally ending the American Wolves’ epic run. Of course, none of that will matter as these HDNet episodes were taped in October so we’ll most likely have to wait 6 weeks for TV to even catch up. The last time ROH were on HDNet we were in the midst of a series of matches to determine the first ever Pick 6 Standings for World Championship contention – a theme I presume will continue tonight. Back to Philadelphia, PA we go with Mike Hogewood and Dave Prazak.
In the back Eddie Kingston has been attacked by a mystery assailant and looks to be seriously injured. Except this scene runs on for so long it’s almost like that Family Guy scene where you’re sure your TV or DVD is broken because Peter Griffin is down holding his leg for such an extended period of time…
Claudio Castagnoli vs Eddie Kingston
Unfortunately for King, he’s scheduled to face Claudio in a rematch from a few weeks ago. Of course, we all know of his history with Chris Hero – who in turn has lots of history with Claudio as well. Eddie manages to limp to the ring, but surely won’t be much of a challenge for the physically imposing European athlete.
Hog names Claudio has his top suspect as Eddie’s mystery attacker. Prince Nana immediately grabs Kingston’s bad leg allowing Castagnoli to go straight on the offensive. He wraps King’s knee around the ringpost seconds later and already this match seems like a total formality. He needs the ropes to pull himself up now, but does manage to land a few elbow strikes on Claudio, followed by a big lariat for 2. UFO into a horse collar puts Double C right back on top though. Eddie avoids the Bicycle Kick and delivers an urinage, but hurts his own knee again in the process. Single leg Big Swing to the horse collar again…and this time Kingston taps. 04:54 is your time.
Rating – ** – Sort of like the Claudio/Steen match from Reverse The Curse, except with a fraction of the excitement making this feel far less interesting. At nearly 5 minutes this went on far too long for what it actually was.
Prazak and Hogewood run through a highlight package from Final Battle 2009, which is a great touch. It focuses on the happenings in the Tag division with Steen-erico splitting, the Kings Of Wrestling reuniting, and the Briscoes dethroning the Wolves to become 6-time champions.
Steve Corino vs Andy Ridge
This is the second time we’ve seen Corino in The Arena as part of ROH on HDNet. Last time out he refused to wrestle Lance Lude, claiming that wouldn’t make enough of an impact for his comeback ROH match. Apparently Andy ‘Right Leg’ Ridge is a different kettle of fish…
No handshake, but Corino nearly loses as Ridge counters that inverted Tombstone into a sunset flip for 2. Right Leg manages to land a couple of kicks too, but gets planted on the mat with an STO. Saito Suplex next, but the rookie kicks out. Ridge goes for a flurry of pinning combinations but can’t put Steve down. Sliding knee strike nailed, only for Corino to get up and hit the Inverted Tombstone. Sliding Lariat wins it at 02:51
Rating – DUD – Too long again, and it made no sense for Corino to work Ridge when he refused to wrestle Lude. I’m a big Steve Corino fan, but this did nothing for him, made his in-ring work and by going back on his promo of a few weeks ago about wanting to make an impact, it now makes people doubt what he says on the mic too – which has always been a key part of his whole act.
Davey Richards tells Kyle Durden that, whilst Roddy took him under his wing as part of the No Remorse Corps, he also created a monster than would go on to overtake him. Tonight he’ll beat him again and march into the Pick 6…
Rhett Titus vs El Generico
By acknowledging the events of FB09, this means this, in storyline terms, is Generico’s first match since Kevin Steen split their team and knocked him senseless with a steel chair. Of course it was taped weeks before the iPPV, but it’ll be interesting to see if there’s anything done to play that angle up here.
Prazak openly wonders whether Generico can focus on this match after the events of New York last month. Rhett proves he may have a point as he easily out-wrestles Generico in the early going. Armdrag flurry from Generico, then the mounted Spanish Punches. He plants a dropkick right into Titus’ neck seconds later, but credit to Rhett who has El Generico scouted and counters the rope-run armdrag by sweeping the legs and crotching the masked man. Sexy Elbow Drop gets 2, but the crafty Canadian/Mexican reacts moments later to counter the Sexy Suplex into a small package for 2. Titus back on top with a Rocker Dropper though. He climbs the ropes to go for an A-Double style double axehandle but Generico blocks and fires back with a rope run tornado DDT. Yakuza Kick is countered with Rhett’s dropkick, followed by an impant DDT from Titus for 2. Super Sex Factor nailed as well, but once again El Generico gets a shoulder up. Yakuza Kick nailed, as is the Brainbuster. El Generico slaps that porpoise at 09:15
Rating – *** – Generous rating, but I think this probably deserved some generosity as it was a solid back and forth exchanging of moves. Rhett continues to show growth and progress as a wrestler and comfortably handled his end of a match against an experienced pro like Generico.
Jim Cornette gets his face on TV again. He wants to hype Richards/Strong tonight, but is interrupted by Chris Hero who bitterly demands he hype his match next week with Kenny Omega instead. Cornette threatens to fire Hero if he finds out that it was him that assaulted Eddie Kingston backstage.
Davey Richards vs Roderick Strong – Pick 6 Series Match
First and foremost, the prize up for grabs here is a spot in the inaugural Pick 6 Standings, the $2500 prize money put up by HDNet, and the opportunity to get into contention for another World Title shot – a belt both men are chasing but are yet to win. However, the history between these two men definitely gives this match some extra spice. They were stable-mates in the No Remorse Corps – that is until Davey assaulted Roddy and turned on him to join Sweet’n’Sour Inc. That was 2008, and they had two terrific battles later that year (Battle Of The Best & The French Connection) trading a win each in doing so, with the rivalry continuing through to Caged Collision when Sweet’n’Sour Inc. were spectacularly defeated in a Steel Cage Warfare match. The simmering hatred between them has died down, but the rivalry remains intense and both men will be desperate to win this one.
Cagey start, which Prazak narrates by hyping Roderick Strong’s performance in the 2009 Survival Of The Fittest – once again good to see the DVD’s plugged on HDNet. Richards goes for his bridging kick but Strong has seen that spot plenty of times and knows to step aside and evade it. Terrific sequence of chain-wrestling and submission holds next, before they break for applause. They go to the floor and trade some brutal strikes – Strong ending up in the front row after taking a big boot to the mouth. Just as it looks like Davey is going to take control Strong comes back into things with a big chop. Richards is rattled, but recovers with an ELEVATED DDT TO THE FLOOR! Davey wants to win by count-out but his luck is out. He makes the rash decision to go for his Shooting Star Press and is punished with a jumping enzi kick to the jaw, followed by a big superplex out of the corner. Duelling strikes again, neither man backing down or getting a significant advantage. Death By Roderick blocked into machine gun kicks against the ropes and a handspring enzi for 2. And Davey has more counters too, evading the Half Nelson Backbreaker and hitting a crucifix pin instead. Back to stiffing each other again but neither man backs down. Richards hits a German suplex then goes to his Texas Cloverleaf…but since the match has been so even he’s not done enough damage to his opponent to pick up the win there. APRON BACKBREAKER gets Roderick a 2. Death By Roderick scores, only for Richards to BLOCK the Sick Kick into a Cradle Suplex. SICK KICK ANYWAY…2 again. Alarm Clock scores only for Strong to hit the Death By Roderick/Gibson Driver combo to win at 16:09
Rating – *** – Very solid match (if I gave half stars this would get an extra half) – with both guys doing a top job of bringing their fine 2008 clashes to a free TV environment. In reality I don’t think it was a patch on either of those previous bouts, and it felt very much toned down from those…but that’s not a bad thing when ROH are giving this away for free and could make money from selling the DVD’s instead. Roderick going over is a good thing as he continues to emerge from a career wasteland back into the ROH main event picture thanks to the departure of Danielson and Nigel. With Davey’s future still up in the air at this point it was only natural Pearce would put over a guy you can bank on being able to pick three months down the road – Roddy.
Tape Rating – *** – I thought this was a strong way to start ROH TV for the year. Jim Cornette’s fingerprints are already all over the product and it’s lead to some significant and noticeable improvements. There is a much tighter focus on mirroring up the live shows and TV story-canons. Although it’s not flawless, immediately tying events of this taping into the events of Final Battle (remember this episode was taped in October 2009) improves the viewing experience for Ring Of Honor’s hardcore fanbase and makes the storylines much easier for newcomers to follow, and therefore splash money on DVD’s. There actual wrestling content is much-improved too. Sure there’s still squash matches – but they put the KOW slow-build storyline around the Claudio/Eddie squash, whilst Corino’s match was kept intentionally brief. Generico/Rhett and Strong/Richards were both given plenty of time and delivered in their intended roles. I don’t expect the television show to be as good as the DVD’s – nor should it be. HOWEVER, it should be an effective, watchable supplement to the DVD’s and iPPV’s (as well as a far more effective medium than newswires for fleshing out characters and plots) and this episode undoubtedly fit that criteria.