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ROH on HDNET 4/26/2010

ROH on HDNet – Episode 055 – 26th April 2010

This could potentially be a one-match episode. The one match in question – Davey Richards vs Eddie Edwards, Wolf vs Wolf, partner vs partner in the finals of the tournament to crown the first ever ROH Television Champion. I think I’m possibly the only person who’s never seen this match, but I’ve heard lots of good things about it and can’t wait to check it out. As ever, the show was taped in Philadelphia, PA. Mike Hogewood and Dave Prazak on commentary.

Show opens with the announcement that Tyler Black will defend the World Title against Roderick Strong on May 8th at Supercard Of Honor 5.

Tyler Black vs Rhett Titus
Non-title action, but this is still a huge opportunity for Rhett Titus. Who knows what kind of opportunities he’ll be presented with if he can pull off an upset and beat the reigning ROH World Champion on HDNet tonight.

Titus looks to open up with his signature dropkick but Black has that scouted and slaps on a headlock as Rhett crashes to the canvas. In turn Rhett blocks Black’s dropkick, except unlike Titus the champ is able to back flip onto his feet and deliver a big Stomp for 2. He hits a nice backbreaker/back suplex combo, but takes too long celebrating and allows Titus to get his knees up as Tyler goes for a Lionsault. Nice aggression from Rhettski, clotheslining the champion to the floor and dropping him on the concrete with a body slam out there. Black tries the running corner spot he does in every match, only for it to be countered…and this time Rhett is able to deliver his dropkick. Bodyscissors applied as Rhettski continues to work the midsection of his opponent. Leapfrog Rocker Dropper gets 2. Abdominal stretch, with extra shots to the ribs next. Black is struggling with his ribs now, but manages to propel himself into the Springboard Lariat. Quebrada…and this time when Titus tries to get the knees up Tyler lands on his feet and hits the Black Star Press instead. Kenny King and Austin Aries run in and attack Tyler behind the referee’s back…until Roderick Strong comes out to help. SUPERKICK on Titus, into God’s Last Gift for the win at 08:37

Rating – *** – After Bitter Friends Stiffer Enemies 2, this another match that really showcased Rhett’s improvement as a wrestler. He looked good in there with Black, and demonstrated some real ability before the over-booking took over. Not that I have a problem with it, Black/Strong in New York is a match we’ve been building towards for months. It needs to be promoted on HDNet, and the finish to this match did that effectively.

Strong gets on the mic and says that nobody is going to get to beat up Tyler Black until he gets his hands on him with the belt on the line. Black calls him a ‘b*tch’, resulting in a pull-apart brawl.

Rasche Brown vs James Stone
ROH really needs to get their sh*t together with Skullkrusher. He’s actually had some good matches on the DVD shows so can work with the right guys, but seeing him endlessly squash jobbers on TV is beyond boring now.

Stone’s gimmick is that he as an unlit cigarette in his mouth. What a badass. He misses a moonsault press and turns into the Rolling Spear from Brown. Burning Hammer end it at about 01:10

Rating – DUD – Nothing we haven’t seen out of Rasche Brown before. I like the guy, and I think he could positively contribute to ROH, but he’s been around for months and hasn’t gone anywhere. If they don’t have the confidence to pull the trigger on at least SOME kind of angle for him, he has to go.

They set the scene for tonight’s main event by showing a video package showing the history of the American Wolves. Sensible idea, and it ends by spotlighting their recent HDNet losses to the Young Bucks and DCFC – making the point that they could potentially be on different pages coming into this.

Shawn Daivari gets some promo time, using it go through another clichéd anti-American rant. Personally I hated it and couldn’t care less, but it got some genuine heat with the families and kids in the audience (who got to do the whole ‘USA’ chant thing) so I guess it worked on that level.

COMMERCIALS – HDNet’s ‘Inside MMA’ show has a new commercial in which Bas Rutten and his facial expressions genuinely make me laugh out loud.  Were they supposed to??

Eddie Edwards vs Davey Richards – ROH TV Title Tournament Final
We all know the story here. These guys are partners and friends, but have struggled as a team thus far in 2010 – suffering high profile losses on HDNet and at live events. Although they’ve maintained that they’re still on the same page, there’s enough combustible doubt coming into this one to make you wonder if this match could cement the demise of the American Wolves as a team. Both have had tough roads to the final – with Edwards overcoming Colt Cabana and Kevin Steen (both wins coming with some assistance from other parties in the Steen/Corino vs Cabana/Generico feud) and Richards making it past Delirious and Kenny King.

Richards enjoys more support from the crowd – at which point Prazak points out what a big opportunity this is for Eddie Edwards to step out from the shadow of his tag team partner. They begin with a free-flowing near-miss kick sequence which ends in duelling dropkicks and pause for applause. They’re evenly matched in that respect, so instead the start working the mat and once again come up pretty even. Davey settles quickest, landing a dropkick then locking in headscissors hold. That works well, but when he goes for a trademark move – the Handspring Enzi – Eddie is able to counter with a dropkick to the back. He attacks Davey’s back at that point, delivering a backbreaker then trying to suplex him all the way to the floor. Richards blocks that…and BOTH men wind up taking a tumble over the ropes. Still neither man takes an advantage, both hauling themselves up to trade shots on the apron. ALARM CLOCK TO THE FLOOR BY RICHARDS! TOPE CON HILO SCORES! Davey ends up in the crowd, but compared to the way he landed against Roderick Strong in Chicago the previous weekend, that was a comparatively decent landing. Back in the ring he starts pummelling Edwards with kicks, this time able to connect with the Handspring Enziguri for 2. Northern lights suplex INTO THE KIMURA! Eddie scrambles to the ropes and impressively comes up with a belly to belly suplex on his partner. He lands a missile dropkick, and when Davey lands on the floor it’s his time to attempt a dive spot. TOPE SUICIDA nailed, driving Richards’ back against the guardrails. He tries to follow with a double stomp to the back but misses that and hands to go to the Doi 555 instead. To the turnbuckles where both men trade shots. Richards keeps absorbing headbutts, and having had enough of that comes back with a ROPE RUN GERMAN SUPERPLEX! BRIDGING GERMAN gets 2! Triangle Choke applied but Edwards shows amazing strength to power Davey all the way to the top rope. TOP ROPE SUPER RANA NAILED! ACHILLES LOCK! DAVEY COUNTERS BACK TO THE ARMBREAKER! Alarm Clock…NO SOLD! SUPERKICK BY EDWARDS! HEAD DROP GERMAN NO SOLD! LARIAT BY DAVEY! Wearily they tumble back to the apron and throw kicks at each other. DAVEY KICKS THE RINGPOST! SHINBREAKER ON THE APRON BY EDDIE! That was an awesome flurry of moves, and now Richards can barely stand. Out of desperation Richards snaps the arm over the ropes, to which Eddie responds with a dragon screw in them. ACHILLES LOCK AGAIN! Limping heavily, Richards somehow manages to kick his way free and drive Eddie’s shoulder into the ringpost. MISSILE DROPKICK ON THE ARM! SHOOTING STAR PRESS NAILED! EDDIE KICKS OUT…KIMURA AGAIN! CROSS ARMBREAKER! COUNTERED TO THE ACHILLES LOCK! DAVEY TAPS! At 19:59 Edwards is the first ROH TV Champion.

Rating – **** – This has to be one of the best matches on American television in 2010. On an ROH level I think I preferred Bucks/Wolves 2 to this, but that shouldn’t take away the fact that this was an excellent encounter and the best HDNet match in months. They started slow, and, as many have criticised before me, Davey’s selling at the end is horrible – but for 20 minutes these two tore each other apart with great counter-wrestling, stiff strikes and incredible submission holds. I feel like they have a better match in them (we’d have to wait until 2011 for their next singles match) but, within the confines of what they could do on TV, this was superb. It was absolutely the right decision to put the belt on Edwards too. As we’ve already seen, Davey wants to be in World Title contention, has a major match in the pipeline with the returning Christopher Daniels, is already recognised as one of the top wrestlers in the promotion right now and simply doesn’t need the belt. Edwards, on the other hand, has always been seen as the ‘little brother’ of the team…always the support cast to Davey Richards’ leading man. In short, Davey is already a viable main event guy, whilst Eddie needs the rub. If ROH wants TWO top main event guys out of the American Wolves, not a Shawn Michaels and a Marty Janetty, Edwards had to win and it was the right call to put the belt on him. Now they need to feed him some decent opponents so he can start making a name for himself putting on strong TV Title bouts on HDNet, on a regular basis.

Tape Rating – **** – I introduced this episode calling it a ‘one match show’ – and I’m pleased to say I was wrong. Of course, everyone will come away talking about Edwards/Richards and rightly so. It was a GREAT match. But HDNet has produced plenty of ‘great main event, everything else is pointless’ episodes, and I’ve given this show a 4* rating because this one wasn’t like that at all. Whilst the Rasche Brown and Shawn Daivari segments weren’t great, having the World Champion wrestle on the show, and stepping up the Black/Strong hype going into Supercard Of Honor 5 made the first half of the show almost as significant as the main event.

ROH on HDNet Episodes 51-55 – Top 5 Matches
5) Eddie Edwards vs Colt Cabana (*** – Episode 051)
4) Davey Richards vs Kenny King (*** – Episode 054)
3) Eddie Edwards vs Kevin Steen (*** – Episode 053)
2) Davey Richards vs Delirious (**** – Episode 051)
1) Eddie Edwards vs Davey Richards (**** – Episode 055)

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