ROH Fade To Black 9/10/2010

ROH 266 – Fade To Black – 10th September 2010

With tomorrow night being the big Glory By Honor 9 iPPV, I’m not sure what to expect from this show. The card isn’t bad, it’s the debut in a new building, and at the moment ROH is getting into the positive habit of turning seemingly skippable shows (Hate Chapter 2, Champions’ Challenge, Pick Your Poison etc) into great nights of wrestling. The fact that ROH opted to bundle it with a disc of Tyler Black’s best matches from 2008 does concern me a little though! Anyway, it’s Tyler’s last weekend in ROH, and he gears up for his climactic showdown with Roderick Strong tomorrow with a non-title bout against Christopher Daniels in our main event here. Despite the main event being non-title, we will see the ROH Tag & TV Titles defended this evening, as well as a glimpse into ROH’s future with Kyle O’Reilly, Mike Bennett and Bob Evans all working matches. Kevin Kelly and Dave Prazak welcome us to a great-looking building in Plymouth, MA.

Eddie Edwards has an ‘Embassy-filled weekend’ ahead of him. Even with TV Title defences against Erick Stevens tonight and Shawn Daivari tomorrow night, he’s looking forward to the shows.

Eddie Edwards vs Erick Stevens – ROH TV Title Match
By this point in time, Erick is looking RIDICULOUSLY jacked. This is right towards the end of his ROH spell and his physique, whilst frighteningly altered from what it was when he began his ROH career, is nonetheless very impressive. Will it help steer him to TV Title glory though?

Eddie gets a hero’s welcome in his hometown. Stevens is still a hugely powerful guy even with his reduced size and he looks to control the champion with headlocks. Eddie really struggles to break free from his clutches, then takes full advantage with chops and kicks once he’s done so. He goes for a springboard move but gets CAUGHT with a Samoan drop. Prince Nana makes me laugh out loud by calling Eddie Edwards ‘Jannetty’ from his vantage point on the floor. Ernesto Osiris also belts him in the face with his pimp cane for good measure. Stevens seems to be targeting the midsection, taking the champ down with a Ghanaian legsweep into an abdominal stretch. He also makes a point of dropping the Embassy Elbow across the chest rather than the neck and face as he usually does. Finally Eddie fights free of a bear hug to deliver an enzi kick to the side of the head. Stevens HITS THE RIBS to block the Backpack Stunner then spears him into the corner. CHOO CHOO COUNTERED WITH THE CLIMBING WIZARD! Horrific chop duel comes next…which Erick clearly wasn’t enjoying so he rakes Edwards’ eyes. Eddie gets some revenge with a running punt to the spine into the ELBOW SUICIDA! He re-enters the ring with a missile dropkick for 2. Flying Codebreaker followed by the Doi 555…then a running enzi kick for another nearfall. Achilles Lock blocked – again with kicks to the ribs. Stevens then delivers a big German suplex and the Choo Choo. SUPERKICK blocks the Lariat. POP-UP CUTTER! LARIATOOOOO! Stevens gets 2! Doctor Bomb TURNED INTO THE ACHILLES LOCK! Nana distracts him…and Stevens knees Eddie in the ribs! Edwards is in real danger, but drags Stevens down to the mat with a backslide pins him at 10:55

Rating – *** – Quite a low key finish, but before that this was another really fun curtain jerking match from Erick Stevens. I’m fairly sure this is his final weekend in ROH, and if it is – this was a great swansong for him. I know lots of people have criticised him over the years, myself included, and ultimately he’ll go down in ROH history as one of Gabe Sapolsky’s failed projects and a huge waste of potential…but people shouldn’t forget this is a guy who has worked damn hard for this company since he debuted. Sure he’s had some stinkers and was pushed much harder than he really deserved, but he also contributed some fantastic matches – particularly in 2008 when he had a good year feuding with Roderick Strong and carrying the FIP Title into defences against the likes of Austin Aries and Bryan Danielson. Calling a spade a spade, he has been a giant flop in The Embassy and the HDNet era as a whole so maybe it is time to get him out to make way for some fresh talent.

Grizzly Redwood vs Bob Evans
Evans has appeared on HDNet, and absolutely stunk up the joint, so I can’t believe he’s got another shot at actually being a legitimate in-ring competitor here. He’ll be recognisable to most ROH fans now as Mike Bennett’s cornerman.

Redwood has the worst tights in the history of pro-wrestling. They are completely atrocious. Brutal Bob is much bigger than him so Grizz gets him on his knees simply so he can work a wristlock. Kevin Kelly talks about Bob’s reputation as a trainer (paving the way for his run with Bennett) as a fan attacks Redwood. I think that was part of some kind of reality show…which is as stupid as Grizzly’s new tights. Evans takes advantage of the fan attack and uses his size to dominate Redwood. Grizzly dives off the second rope into a bulldog for 2 as this match drags on into a tedious fifth minute. At last Redwood does pin Brutal Bob, to end the brutal boredom at 05:18

Rating – DUD – This may well be my least favourite Ring Of Honor match of the entire year. From retarded ‘shoot’ angles to horrible in-ring talents, this match ticks all the sucky boxes. I hope your DVD remote has a skip button.

Austin Aries vs Kyle O’Reilly
This is billed as a ‘Do Or Die’ match, which traditionally means a young talent is given one chance to impress or doesn’t get a spot with ROH. Kyle has been on HDNet a few times, and is well documented as a protégé of Davey Richards. Can he do enough against a former World Champion to earn a permanent roster position? Although we didn’t know it at the time, this is actually Aries’ last weekend of DVD shows too.

Aries brings RANDOM BROAD to ringside. She was probably enticed by his lurid pink trunks. He wastes no time in wrestling O’Reilly to the canvas in entirely dismissive fashion. Then he mocks his young opponent by taking him down for a ‘hard kick’. Poor Kyle, Aries is being a complete dick and the crowd’s response is DUELLING ‘Austin Aries’ chants. Kyle clearly hasn’t studies his Aries tapes though, as he walks straight into Austin’s springboard reverse elbow strike he’s been doing since 2004. Then he headscissors’ Austin and EATS the escape dropkick. Jesus kid, did you scout your opponent at all? This is DO OR DIE!!! Aries is so unimpressed by his rookie opponent that he throws him across the ring by his ears. O’Reilly does manage to land some kick-boxing style strikes on the former ROH Champion…and Aries turns face and runs away! OLE OLE DROPKICK AGAINST THE RAILS! He has Aries on the run, and gets a nearfall after a punishing kick to the spine. Aries tries a back rake but Kyle just absorbs it into a DISCUS LARIAT FOR 2! But the youngster gets over-excited and misses a diving headbutt. IED rattles his brains, followed by a Brainbuster. BUT KYLE KICKS OUT! KICK OF DEATH! LAST CHANCERY! O’Reilly taps at 07:38

Rating – *** – I wouldn’t say it was an outstanding performance from Kyle, but it was certainly an entertaining match. Credit to Aries for letting the kid have his moment and kick out of his finisher. That spot alone will be something he can play up in the coming months as he looks to make his name in ROH. I think it was pretty soon after this that O’Reilly (along with future partner Adam Cole) were signed to ROH contracts to prevent them from going to DGUSA/Evolve instead.

SIDENOTE – Austin Aries’ RANDOM BROAD has Michael Jackson nose

Necro Butcher/Shawn Daivari vs Kevin Steen/Steve Corino – First Blood Match
To my knowledge these guys have no heat whatsoever so I’m not sure why this has a special stipulation attached. I suppose Steen and Corino want to face a tough ‘grudge match’ environment to fine-tune their skills ahead of the Double Chain Match tomorrow night. Necro and Daivari are other guys who are phased out of ROH live events after this weekend. It really looks like ROH is clearing the decks and trying to build an entirely fresh undercard as we head towards 2011.

Kevin Steen comes to the ring threatening to do ‘all kinds of weird sh*t’ to Generico’s neck after he tears his head off in New York tomorrow…and Prince Nana is suitably terrified. He tries to get out of the First Blood stipulation and make friends. Necro and Daivari eventually try to get the jump on their slightly deranged opponents. On one side of the ring Steen and Necro take turns bashing each other’s heads against the railings, whilst on the apron Corino rings the bell against Daivari’s midsection. The fight continues with Mr Wrestling stealing Ernesto’s pimp cane to beat on Shawn as Necro and Corino engage in a completely stupid fight amongst torn up floor mats. Then Corino heads into the ring to do the Thumb in the Bum spot on Daivari. Necro saves his partner by charging in wielding a beer bottle but before he can use it Steen starts throttling Butcher with the chain. SMASHED BEER BOTTLE TO NECRO’S FACE! Steen and Corino win at 06:51

Rating – ** – Better than most Shawn Daivari matches, but this still didn’t do a whole lot for me. Some of the spots were fun but a lot of this was really aimless, messy and sloppy work. Honestly, this ticked more boxes for me personally as a comedy match, which certainly isn’t the vibe they were going for.

All Night Express vs Matt Taven/Sid Reeves
There is a major theme tonight of clearing out some older talent and allowing some new stars to shine. Whilst you may think I’m including Taven and Reeves in that, I think the All Night Express of Rhett Titus and Kenny King deserve to be mentioned in that bracket too. These are two guys who have been in ROH in some form or another for years. But with people now being removed from the roster, it opens up a path for these guys to start being taken seriously as a team and getting more prominent spots on the card. Will making it to the finals of Tag Wars be just the start for them?

ANX aren’t sporting to their debuting opponents, immediately throwing Reeves out of the ring so they can double team Taven. Matt botches a springboard move and is SAVAGED by the Boston fans for it. Austin Aries doesn’t help things by pissing himself laughing on the floor. He finally does connect with a slingshot hilo but is only greeted by an ironic cheer at this point. Sid gets a tag and lands some power moves on Titus, so King pulls him out of the ring and gives him the ROH guardrail treatment. Reeves still drops Rhett with an impressive Rydien Bomb, then tags Taven back in. Matt gets 2 with a quebrada but Titus then lures him into the corner for the Shotgun Knees from King. Treble kick combo eliminates Reeves. Royal Flush/Muff Driver combo wins it for ANX in 06:21

Rating – DUD – Neither of the newbies looked like they had much to offer, and everything here was a little sloppy and loose in it’s execution. I like ANX and they’re developing some really nice combo moves but they’ve not reached the stage in their career where they can carry local enhancement talents to decent matches yet.

Roderick Strong vs Mike Bennett
This isn’t actually a debut in anyway for Bennett. He’s been on HDNet a number of times recently, and actually made at least one appearance as a jobber at a DVD taping a couple of years ago. This is a genuine shot for him though. He has good size, a good look and a world of potential. He’s another one who could earn future bookings with a good performance here.

The match starts with Bennett offering Strong a clean break in the corner, then Roderick not offering his opponent the same courtesy when refusing to release a wristlock after Mike has made the ropes. Roderick continues to get the better of the newcomer on the canvas, and as the pace quickens he’s half a step faster too as he jumps into a heel kick for 2. He easily tosses Bennett to the floor to continue beating him up with chops and a back-first ram raid into the rails. Back in the ring Mike lands a suplex, but such is the damage he’s endured Strong is back to his feet first. He manages to catch Roddy with a backbreaker in the ropes before dropping a series of elbows across the ribs. Is the rookie trying to beat Strong at his own game? Inexperience catches up with him as Strong evades a dropkick and starts pelting him with big chops. BIG clothesline from Bennett though, showing tenacity and endurance to go with his bravado and skill. Death By Roderick blocked…and with a handful of tights Bennett nearly manages to roll him up for a tainted win. Death By Roderick scores second time of asking, followed by the TYLER BLACK SUPERKICK! Strong wins at 09:40

Rating – *** – I enjoyed this one a lot. It was a comprehensive win for Roddy of course, but he did a good job of making Bennett look good even in defeat. I don’t recall him having signed by this point, but Bennett, along with the likes of O’Reilly and Adam Cole were all inked to contracts by the end of the year – so his performance here can’t have done the man who would come to be known as ‘The Prodigy’ any harm at all. Nice little story told through this one with Roddy dominating the noob early on, before Bennett showcased all his skill and self-confidence with a plucky comeback then finally taking the loss to the ROH veteran.

SIDENOTE – I’m starting to see why this DVD release is packed with bonus Tyler Black matches. We’ve only just gone past the 1 hour mark and we’re already at the main events. The Tyler Black bonus matches included with this DVD are as follows – I’ve included my ratings.

Black/Jacobs vs Briscoes – Final Battle 2007 (****)
Black vs McGuinness – Take No Prisoners (****)
Black/Jacobs vs Briscoes – Supercard Of Honor 3 (****)
Black vs Danielson – New Horizons (****1/2)
Black vs McGuinness vs Danielson vs Castagnoli – Death Before Dishonor 6 (****)
Black/Jacobs vs Steen/Generico – Driven 2008 (****)
Black vs Omega vs Danielson – Bound By Hate (****)
Black vs Danielson – ROH on HDNet Episode 018 (****1/2)

Kings Of Wrestling vs Colt Cabana/El Generico – ROH Tag Title Match
The Kings beat Cabana and Generico in a non-title match on HDNet this week, but a decent run in Tag Wars 2010 and some impressive performances in the midst of the bitter rivalry with Kevin Steen and Steve Corino have led to officials granting them this title shot.

Colt and Generico struggle to recreate the KOW elbow/uppercut pose. After squeezing the referee’s ass for luck, it’s Cabana starting for his team and immediately wrestling circles around both opponents. Only when Generico tags for the first time do the Kings start gaining a foothold in the contest. The luchador returns fire with mounted Hispanic punches on both of them which is pretty funny. Colt is so good at the World Of Sport style now he can comfortably outwork the European Claudio Castagnoli, and again it’s only when he brings Generico back in that the champions are able to mount some offence. Generico tries to throw an elbow in Hero’s direction and KICKED IN THE FACE for his insolence. That’s the pattern for the next few minutes – the Kings out-muscling and out-striking their masked foe. Even when he tries to escape Hero, Chris shows shades of his own partner by hitting a DEAD-LIFT POWERBOMB! Generico manages to kick him out of the ring…but Castagnoli is on hand to sweep the legs as he starts to think about a somersault plancha. Generico drops him with a rope-run tornado DDT and finally makes the hot tag to Cabana. Hero boots Colt in the face…so Cabana drops him with a flying butt attack. Chris hits his own version of mounted punches on both opponents…UNTIL GENERICO DIVES OFF COLT’S BACK INTO FLYING HEADSCISSORS! FLYING ASSHOLE! YAKUZA KICK! SPRINGBOARD SOMERSAULT PLANCHA! Cabana drops Hero with a spinning kryptonite neckbreaker into the Billy Goat’s Curse. Steen and Corino appear in the aisle waving their chain around…which distracts the challengers. Even with that they nearly snatch victory with an awesome crossbody/sunset flip combo. REBOUND ELBOW OFF THE RAILS from Hero to Generico! Big Swing Flash Kick gets 2 on Cabana. SUPLEX ELBOW/UPPERCUT COMBO! Finally Cabana is KO’d, and the Kings retain the belts at 13:34

Rating – *** – To be fair, this was pretty average to start with but it was one of those matches that really picked up as it went along. Some of the wicked combination moves both teams were pulling out in the last five minutes or so were absolutely awesome. I had this down as a bit of a pointless defence of the belts, but actually this was much better than I gave it credit for. MOTN so far this evening…

Tyler Black vs Christopher Daniels
This is Tyler Black’s penultimate live event, and as he has done at the two previous events in Richmond and Charlotte, he’ll be headlining in non-title action. Tomorrow night he has Roderick Strong in the big Supercard Of Honor rematch we’ve all been waiting for, so he’ll be keen to go into that match with as much momentum a possible (bearing in mind he comes into this weekend having suffered the high profile defeat to Davey Richards at Tag Wars 2010). Daniels wants to be the best in the world, so even a non-title win over the World Champion helps him back up that claim. These guys went to a time limit draw when they met on HDNet – and will want to see a winner crowd in Plymouth.

The Plymouth fans absolutely murder Tyler, with chants of ‘you sold out’, ‘future jobber’ and ‘NXT’ all coming in quick succession. He reacts by spending the first 90 seconds of the match outside refusing to wrestle. He’s back out there moments later after Daniels comfortably gets the better of their first exchange. Five minutes in and Daniels is completely dominant, out-wrestling the champion at every opportunity. Tyler tries to cut a promo but gets so much heat that he struggles to be heard, so decides to walk out. But he gets so distracted by the fans that he doesn’t see Daniels run through the crowd to the curtain to cut him off before he can leave. The beating continues until Black manages to hit a back body drop elevating Daniels over the ropes and to the floor. Tyler starts beating on Daniels – deliberately cheating and taking shortcuts in the hope that the referee will disqualify him. Going to the outside next, he starts throwing Daniels into the guardrails, then delivers a suplex on the floor in an attempt to get a count-out victory instead. He beats the count…so Tyler gives him the urinage slam. And after stealing Daniels’ own set-up move, he locks in the STF-U to get more furious heat from the crowd. Daniels actually has a few drops of blood running down as his face as he falls out of the ring and is left in another desperate struggle to avoid a count-out loss. He does beat it, and powers in with an adrenaline rush that enables him to deliver a cradle backbreaker for 2. Tyler blocks the urinage slam, then the palm strike in the corner…but SLIPS doing the Springboard Lariat and is BURIED by the fans again. In the context Black trying to piss the fans off with anti-ROH style that’s actually a hugely beneficial spot rather than a detrimental screw-up. Phoenix Splash blocked with a SHOTEI which knocks Tyler into the path of an ARABIAN PRESS TO THE FLOOR! But showing the endurance and fighting spirit that saw him become ROH Champion in the first place, Black recovers to hit the F-5. He tries the Springboard Lariat again…BUT IT’S COUNTERED INTO THE KOJI CLUTCH! He reaches his arm to the ropes…ARM CAPTURE KOJI CLUTCH!! That was awesome! Finally the champ makes the ropes but he can barely stand now. BME misses and Black boots Daniels into the corner with the Pele Kick. TREE OF WOE DOUBLE STOMP! VAN TERMINATOR! FOR 2! BUCKLE BOMB! SUPERKICK! But it’s just a 2 again! Phoenix Splash misses…Superkick anyway! Daniels blocks God’s Last Gift with ANGEL’S WINGS! But Black bounces to the edge of the ring and he can’t cover him quickly enough! LAST RITES! 30:00 minute time limit expires! They draw again!

Rating – **** – I thought this was great – and totally different to their HDNet match. That was more a typical ‘work a body part’ trademark Chris Daniels wrestling match. This one was a half hour classic built on a brilliant heel performance from Tyler Black. This isn’t a huge crowd, and they’ve not been dramatically vocal all evening – but Black worked them to a fever pitch with his superb anti-ROH work. He wanted to be disqualified. He wanted to be counted out. He was deliberately doing nothing but punches, kicks or chinlocks. He even BOTCHED a spot – basically doing everything possible to get incredible heat and it worked. Therefore Daniels was forced to work in uber-babyface mode and step outside of his comfort zone too. This wasn’t the match I expected these two to work at all, and it was all the better for it.

Daniels wants five more minutes, as do the Plymouth fans. Tyler refuses of course – because his ‘time is money’. He’s off to the WWE Universe and will earn enough cash to ‘buy and sell’ the Fallen Angel. Which is a great line in it’s own right, and brilliant in the way it echoes what Daniels himself said on his way out of Ring Of Honor in 2007. Roderick Strong comes out and gets a few shots on Tyler ahead of their match tomorrow.

Tape Rating – ** – This rating is for the actual live event only. If you’ve not seen all (or even just a few) of the Tyler Black bonus matches you can jack that rating way up. For Tyler Black fans who’d not seen much of his pre-HDNet era stuff this is must-own. But, the actual Plymouth show is very skippable. It’s barely 2 hours long and features a batch of short and mostly forgettable matches hidden under one great main event. Unless Tyler and Daniels tearing it up for half an hour is considered a ‘must-see’ for you, then you don’t need to own this show at all. Other than being the first ROH shows to feature Mike Bennett and Kyle O’Reilly in marquee singles matches, there’s nothing else of real significance on here. But if there’s a better match than Black/Daniels tomorrow night then the New York fans and iPPV buyers for Glory By Honor 9 are in for a treat.

Top 3 Matches
3) Eddie Edwards vs Erick Stevens (***)
2) Kings Of Wrestling vs Colt Cabana/El Generico (***)
1) Tyler Black vs Christopher Daniels (****)

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