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ROH SoCal Showdown II 1/28/2011

ROH 276 – SoCal Showdown 2 – 28th January 2011

For the second year running ROH joins forces with the WrestleReunion convention to bring the Ring Of Honor product to Los Angeles. It’s a unique environment which brings them into healthy competition with Pro Wrestling Guerrilla as that organisation also runs a show during the weekend. Last year saw ROH deliver a strong building show with some great matches but an event which was ultimately eclipsed by the enjoyable and star-packed PWG event. For the second trip to LA, I’d argue that ROH have brought an even stronger card. The double main event of Kings/WGTT 2 and a World Title bout between Roderick Strong and El Generico is competitive…and an undercard which includes a TV Title Match, the ROH debut of the Cutler Brothers and a ‘Battle Of Mat Technicians’ pitting Davey Richards against TJ Perkins is decent too. Once again they don’t have the big names PWG have brought in, but again this has the potential to be a really decent evening of pro-wrestling. Kevin Kelly and Dave Prazak will call the action from Los Angeles, CA.

I love this building with it’s multitude of obnoxious chandeliers hanging down. The Kings Of Wrestling come out to get the show started. They start running down Haas and Benjamin, LA, the local sports teams etc. Claudio butts in to point out that the best Disney theme park isn’t in LA – it’s Euro-Disney in Paris. ‘I’ve never been to Euro-Disney…but I’m sure it’s quaint’ – Hero. Not sure what the point of that was…but it made me laugh a few times so I’d hardly call it time wasted.

Bravado Brothers vs Caleb Konley/Cedric Alexander
Caleb and Cendric have been getting a few opportunities this year. Konley got to work with Steve Corino at Champions vs All Stars whilst Cedric put in a courageous attempt to end the streak that Mike Bennett has been on recently. Tonight they join forces to see if they can halt the momentum of the Bravado Bandwagon. Just this week we saw Lancelot and Harlem pick up their biggest win to date – picking up a huge HDNet victory over rivals Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly.

Kevin Kelly says the Bravados are only booked tonight because their grandmother paid for their flights and drove them to the airport. Konley and Harlem start and it’s an unspectacular but undeniably well-executed opening sequence between them. Alexander gets the tag and runs through Bravado with a running knee strike…but Lancelot is soon on hand to help his brother. The CA/CK team (eventually) get both Bravados out of the ring, and just as the crowd threaten to turn on then Cedric goes THROUGH CALEB’S LEGS FOR A TOPE SUICIDA! Konley follows that with a springboard moonsault to the floor as well. Lance takes control with a tilta-whirl backbreaker on Alexander, and despite the aerial success on the flooor, it’s the Bravados who start to dominate the match by isolating him in the ring. Cedric tries to take it to both Bravados, eventually corkscrewing into an enzi kick on Harlem then making the hot tag to Konley. He uses Harlem as a springboard to hit a swinging DDT on Lance…but the enzi/German suplex combo from the Bravados put him down. Alexander flies in with a springboard double dropkick. Caleb takes a CRAZY spill from the top rope to the floor, and as people watch him try to get up Lancelot rolls Alexander up for the 3-count at 07:49

Rating – ** – Some basic execution problems, but this did the job it was supposed to do – that being fire the crowd up for a night of wrestling without taking too much away from the matches to come. The Bravado Bandwagon gimmick is a lot of fun, and Cedric has a lot of talent so this was decent.

Colt Cabana vs Jay Briscoe
After a courageous effort to win the World Title in Charlotte, Jay succumbed to the horrific blood loss he suffered that evening and failed to dethrone Roderick Strong. To that end, as far as singles competition is concerned, he now drops right back down the card. He faces Colt Cabana who is on a quest to bring wholesome and fun pure wrestling back to Ring Of Honor. He went 2-0 at the last weekend of house shows and will be looking to pick up another win in LA tonight.

There’s a small minority of fans who seem to HATE Cabana…and that doesn’t happen often. They loudly chant ‘you suck’ and ‘you are boring’ during his entrance which seems pretty harsh to me. Colt sulks in the corner until a different section chants for him. They lock up…and Cabana breaks because Briscoe is too sweaty. He wipes him down with a towel, and receives more totally undeserved hatred from that same section of fans. Duelling chants of ‘you’re not funny’ and ‘yes he is’ soon follow. Despite the hostility, Colt bewitches Jay with his usual assortment of European shenanigans. Briscoe hits back with a straightforward boot to the face. Cabana slightly messes up something in the corner, and is again hammered by that section of fans – who are now becoming extremely distracting. Jay punishes him with the turnbuckle flatliner only for Colt to recover quickly and hit a big clothesline to leave both men down. Flying Asshole misses and Briscoe hauls him out of the corner for a DVD. Jay Driller blocked…INTO the Flying Asshole. But Cabana hits the ropes again and walks straight into the Jay Driller second time around. Briscoe wins in 07:08

Rating – ** – It was a good-spirited, albeit entirely forgettable match. Colt and Jay looked like they were having fun out there, and considering what they’ve given to ROH over the years sometimes they do deserve to have easy nights like this and have a little fun working matches. The extremely vocal anti-Cabana fans did detract from this a lot.

All Night Express vs Cutler Brothers
As they point out in the Video Wire included on this DVD, ANX are totally focused on the 9th Anniversary Show next month…so they are now less than a month away from their big Tag Title shot. Every match they work between now and then is prep for that showdown with the Kings Of Wrestling. They dropped a big match to Haas and Benjamin on HDNet this week (thanks to interference by Hero and Claudio) so will want to quickly rebuild their momentum with a win over the debuting Cutler Brothers. The Cutlers are a popular PWG act and were one of the first names on the PWG roster that ROH fans wanted to see when the return to California was announced.

The Cutlers have the hometown advantage as far as crowd support goes, so ANX angrily jump them before the bell. They toss Brandon Cutler to the floor as Titus hits the Sexy Suplex on Dustin for 2. Brandon eventually returns in a horrible botched slingshot move over his brother which King does his best to sell even though he has no clue what it was supposed to be. The All Night’s threaten to leave to Dustin THROWS Brandon at them…luring King back into the ring and into the path of a rolling shoulder block combo. Dustin starts choking Kenny behind the ref’s back, which gets lots of cheers from the supportive socal crowd. Another ugly spot sees Brandon eat turnbuckle…and he is so out of it he can’t fight off the ANX lariat double team or Kenny’s suplex/forearm combo. Brandon looks sh*t again trading BASIC PUNCHES with Rhett now. Is this guy drunk or something? What the f*ck is up with him? Titus drops a big double knee drop across his chest for a nearfall. Brandon eventually gets a tag to Dustin who floors King with a rolling Ace Crusher for 2. POP-UP GERMAN SUPLEX combo from the Cutlers gets another nearfall…but they are shut down after a kick trilogy from ANX. King scores with the springboard Blockbuster over Rhett’s knees. Dustin blocks the Royal Flush then holds King over HIS knees, exposed to a running knee from Brandon. Doi 555 gets 2 for Dustin. He then blocks Titus’ attempt to hit the Thrust Buster with a flatliner…and Brandon soars in with a flying elbow as well. King saves his partner…and Titus nearly MURDERS Dustin with a powerslam THROUGH THE TURNBUCKLES! Shotgun Knee fully eliminate him, and ANX are left to beat Brandon with a Coronation/One Night Stand combo (with illegal double pin) at 10:59

Rating – * – I’m sure I’ll piss some PWG fans off with that rating, but this was a terrible match. Sure there were some fun spots in there (hence I didn’t give this a DUD)…however there were also so many basic errors it was unreal. I’m not the biggest fan of the Cutler Brothers anyway, but Brandon in particular was absolutely atrocious…botching more moves than he successfully hit in a 10 minute match. ANX were really sloppy as well, and the whole thing had a real car-crash feel to it. The fact that both of these teams came out of this shambolic mess uninjured is an accomplishment in itself. I’ll look forward to the PWG crowd emailing me telling me how wrong I am about the Cutlers. For the record, I’m not saying they LACK talent and I’ve certainly seem them do some good stuff in PWG. But, I think they’re way over-rated and were sloppy as f*ck in this one.

TJ Perkins vs Davey Richards
This one is arguably the match I’m most looking forward to on the whole show. Perkins returned to ROH in a major way with two outstanding performances over Final Battle weekend, and is rewarded for that with another booking in his hometown. But will he enjoy home-field advantage over Davey? The American Wolf is the standard-bearer in ROH right now, but he’s also a major star in PWG, a former Pro Wrestling Guerrilla Champion…and since he really broke out on a national independent level in PWG he’s still held with a great deal of affection in his market. TJP defeated Davey’s protégé Kyle O’Reilly at Tag Title Classic 2…can he go 2-0 vs Team Richards?

Richards sets his stall by trying to throw a couple of kicks but Perkins is totally un-phased by that and grapples him into the ropes. He works into a mounted position on Davey and drops a few palm strikes in his direction…only for Richards to counter that to a kneebar. Perkins escapes to hit a dropkick, and they run through a terrific near-miss kick sequence which ends with them catching each other’s legs. Davey possibly has the edge in power – as shown as he muscles TJP up from the mat, but Perkins then showcases his advantage in speed and agility by LEAPING into a flying double knee drop across the chest. TJ ties up Davey’s legs again, delivering a VICIOUS slap to the exposed face then hopping up for a knee-DT which visibly injures the American Wolf. ‘You can’t do that to Davey’ – fan. Richards seemingly agrees with that as he rolls Perkins into a cross armbreaker, following it quickly with a hard kick to the shoulder then an arm-capture back suplex. The arm and shoulder is now injured and Davey goes after it again with a diving headbutt straight onto that body region. He works another series of armbars then gets 2 after delivering a big unprotected kick to the shoulder. ALARM CLOCK TO THE SHOULDER! He goes for a suplex…but TJP counters and both men crash over the top rope. With a bad arm Perkins resorts to kicks…but of course Richards is happy with that. TJ hangs on the ropes and is BRUTALLY kicked out of the ring. TOPE CON HILO COUNTERED WITH A RUNNING RANA FOR 2! Perkins moved like lightning there, and I really liked how he didn’t use his bad arm for the subsequent pin attempt. Machine Gun kicks beat TJP into the corner but he explodes back out with his own kick flurry! ALARM CLOCK…COUNTERED into a powerbomb for 2. Richards starts kicking him again, with such force that he almost falls out of the ring! Perkins tries to fly…and dives INTO THE FUJIWARA ARMBAR! TJ rolls out though! To the top rope where Richards cradles the injured arm and delivers a superplex for 2. CROSS ARMBREAKER! But still TJP tries to counter! HE TURNS INTO THE CLOVERLEAF! That’s one of Davey’s signature finishers! Crowd is going nuts for this now. ROUNDHOUSE KICK DUEL! TORTURE RACK PELE KICK BY PERKINS! He is fired up but misses a 450 Splash and eats an unprotected knee strike then a bridging German suplex. KNOCK-OUT KICK BY RICHARDS! FALCON ARROW ARMBREAKER! TJ taps at 18:56

Rating – **** – A hugely exciting match which may well have stolen the show from the advertised main events. You know what you’re getting into with a match between these two. I wasn’t expecting the selling to be perfect, I was expecting lots of MMA-influenced mat work and multiple kick sequences. And, to be fair all of those predictions came true. BUT, what I didn’t anticipate was how brilliantly structured this match would be. They didn’t go out to do what TJP and O’Reilly did which was have a fun shoot-style match…this was pro-wrestling with an MMA edge and the live audience absolutely loved it. The first five minutes were all about putting Perkins over as he just KEPT out-wrestling Davey. That fan yelling that he ‘can’t do that to Davey’ is a perfect example of how great TJP looked in that segment. Then the drama kicked up as the established ROH main eventer started attacking the arm. From there it was all about Davey’s aggression and desire to break TJ’s arm versus Perkins’ incredible tenacity, endurance and fighting spirit as he kept withstanding everything that was thrown at him. If Cary, Cornette and Delirious weren’t convinced they needed to snap Perkins up for more shows before this show…they have to be now.

Davey gets one of the biggest pops of the night by grabbing the mic and pointing out that he didn’t breakout in ROH – he did it in southern California with PWG. And he says that it wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t got to work with TJ Perkins as often as he did back then…so he wants TJ in Ring Of Honor permanently.

In a promo taped after Only The Strong Survive, Daniels SLAMS Mike Bennett for harassing him and firmly implies he should know his role and stop getting involved in his business. He then tells Mark Briscoe that he’s watched him grow from a boy into a man in Ring Of Honor and is happy to offer him a shot at his belt…

Christopher Daniels vs Mark Briscoe – ROH TV Title Match
Despite Mike Hogewood’s claims on the television show this week, the TV Title, it seems is NOT ‘exclusive to HDNet’ as this is the second time in as many shows that Daniels has defended it at a non-televised event. Mark earned this opportunity by pinning the TV Champion to win the Champions vs All Stars match in Richmond.

Daniels uses the actual ‘Disposable Teens’ as opposed to his TNA knock-off version and with good reason. Allison Danger makes her first ROH appearance since 2008 (I think) and her first appearance with Chris Daniels since 2007 (when he shoved her over and quit ROH by the way). Great to have her back, and she looks like she’s having a great time. Credit to Dave Prazak and Kevin Kelly for pointing out Mark Briscoe was actually in The Prophecy for a couple of shows as the nostalgia continues. The opening few minutes are pretty low key, with the highlight being an extended headlock worked by Mark. He follows that with a running neckbreaker and clearly intends to work that body part. The champ doesn’t like that, and responds by doing the exact same thing to him. He dumps Briscoe on his neck with a back suplex then starts wrenching it repeatedly. Chops to the back of the head come next, followed by another back suplex when Mark looks to mount a comeback. DVD drops Briscoe on his head again and scores a close nearfall. Mark manages to clothesline Daniels out of the ring and showcases his ‘crazy Mark’ side by hitting a somersault plancha even with a neck injury. Redneck Kung Fu COUNTERED with palm strikes from Daniels…then countered BACK to the Redneck Fu for 2! Mark sunset flips into a powerbomb but is so worn down he can’t cover right away. Frog Elbow TURNED TO THE KOJI CLUTCH! Great counter to the move that beat him in Richmond by the Fallen Angel! He hammers Briscoe with palm strikes and does yet more damage to that neck with the Fall From Grace for another 2. Angel’s Wings blocked with a knee strike and this time Briscoe does hit the Frog Elbow…but it only gets a 2-count tonight. Cut-Throat Driver evaded…and but Mark avoids the BME to hit a superkick. ANGEL’S WINGS! BME! Daniels retains at 12:19

Rating – *** – Entertaining match, helped enormously by the electric crowd who were vocally behind both guys. Sending Allison Danger out with Daniels was a nice touch as well, making what was a pretty predictable title defence a little more fun. Perhaps its fitting that, with the TV Title on the line, this was very much a match which would have looked right at home on ‘ROH on HDNet’.

Kings Of Wrestling vs Charlie Haas/Shelton Benjamin
This is a huge rematch to throw onto a house show, and as the two teams make their entrances the crowd seems suitably jacked to see it. Wrestling’s Greatest Tag Team made their ROH debuts in an exciting match with the Kings at Glory By Honor 9 – and it took the loaded elbow pad of Chris Hero to put them down. Haas and Benjamin returned to Ring Of Honor at the HDNet tapings in Louisville and confirmed they had signed with the company and had the Tag Titles in their sights. They have a #1 contendership match with the Briscoes scheduled for Chicago, so for now they must settle for non-title action against the longest reigning ROH Tag Champions in history.

Shelton starts with Castagnoli, looking fired up for some revenge and quickly putting him down with a spinebuster. Haas tags and nearly breaks the turnbuckles by whipping Claudio into them. Hero tags and puts Charlie at a disadvantage with an extremely cheap poke to the eyes. WGTT set about isolating Claudio, showcasing some of their awesome amateur mat skills along the way. Castagnoli scores with a dropkick which Haas totally no sells and hops up to flatten Double C with a dropkick of his own. As the tide turns in the direction of the Kings for the first time, the crowd are completely drowning out the commentators with duelling ‘Kings Of Wrestling’ and ‘World’s Greatest Tag Team’ chants. Claudio drags Charlie out of the ring and uses the guardrails to do some damage, then feeds him to Hero who gets 2 with a sliding kick to the face. DOUBLE double boots from the Kings, dropping first Haas then Benjamin in quick succession. Haas is now so worn down that Shelton has to jump into the ring on a number of occasions to break pin attempts on him. ANGLE SLAM OUT OF NOWHERE! Haas goes back to his WWE routes there, and gets the hot tag to Benjamin as a result. VIOLENT full nelson backbreaker from Shelton to Hero gets 2 and the Gold Standard quickly turns and destroys Castagnoli as well with an exploder suplex. SINGLE LEAP TO THE TOP ROPE…BUT HERO BLOCKS HIM FROM HITTING THE BELLY TO BELLY! HART ATTACK UPPERCUT BY THE KINGS! They get 2 with the Suplex Elbow combo. Hero tries to choke him out with the Stretch Plum and nearly succeeds. Benjamin fights back to his feet but is soon laid out again with the release suplex. Claudio looks to set up for the Power & Glory double team but finds his superplex blocked and Shelton FLIES out of the corner with a blockbuster. Charlie tagged…GERMAN ON HERO! HEADSCISSORS ON CLAUDIO! When did Haas learn to do that like a junior heavyweight? WGTT think about the Leapfrog Hilo but Claudio saves with the Bicycle Kick. KRS-1…BENJAMIN BLOCKS IT WITH A SPEAR! POP-UP EUROPEAN ON HAAS! Big Swing Flash Kick nailed but still the Kings can’t put their opponents away. Claudio tries to use the tights to beat him…and EATS superkick from Shelton! ROARING ELBOW ON BENJAMIN! ROLLING ELBOW BLOCKED WITH A SUPERKICK! Haas is up and COUNTERS the Riccola Bomb into a suplex. HAAS OF PAIN! Hero climbs the ropes with the Loaded Elbow…SPRINGBOARD KICK FROM SHELTON! Claudio taps at 17:02!

Rating – **** – This lacked the ‘big match aura’ of the Kings/WGTT 1, but in terms of the actual quality of the wrestling this was as good, if not a little better. The heat segments the Kings worked on both opponents were superb, and they made the subsequent babyface comeback spots seem like a huge deal. For a big guy, some of the things Shelton can do are really incredible. When he was in the WWE he was fairly regular sized…but in an ROH ring, with the ROH roster, the guy is huge and that springboard kick at the end to stop Hero getting involved was pulled of with AJ Styles-like precision. WGTT get their win back on the Kings and now look to Chicago and their chance to become bonafide #1 contenders

Backstage the Bravados thank their grandmother for buying their tickets and are glad they did her proud with a win tonight.

Roderick Strong vs El Generico – ROH World Title Match
This is Generico’s reward for his victory over Kevin Steen at Final Battle. After a year of suffering and torment, he finally scored the decisive win over his arch enemy in New York and put Mr Wrestling out of ROH. Although considering how badly Roderick messed Jay Briscoe up in his last title defence, it’s hard to tell how much of a reward this will actually be for the Generic Luchador. Incidentally, Generico has the chance to leave Los Angeles as a double champion after WrestleReunion weekend as he faces Strong tonight, and tomorrow challenges Claudio Castagnoli for the PWG World Title too.

Rather foolishly Generico engages Strong in a chop battle and is quickly pinned in the corner and taking chop shots from the champion. Next the challenge tries to get the better of Roderick on the canvas only to have Strong exert his dominance there too. As the 5 minute mark approaches Generico finally gets a foothold in the match by hitting a few armdrags. Strong recognises that speed moves are his weakness and promptly slaps on a headlock to stop that happening to him again. But the luchador does string together more armdrags and hits them with such force that he actually manages to land some unanswered chops after it. He tries the rope run lucha armdrag and gets CROTCHED. He really didn’t look to have taken that landing very well at all by the way. With his genitals still hurting, Generico finds himself dragged into a suplex…then Strong starts peppering the back and kidneys with forearm smashes. Generico now walks favouring his back which is never a good position to be in when you’re wrestling Roderick Strong…and he demonstrates why with a stalling backbreaker for 2. The champion is relentless, dragging Generico out of the ring for a series of close-range smashes into the guardrails. It’s to his credit that Generico somehow manages to block a back suplex on the apron and roll into the ring. He takes a run up…YAKUZA KICK OFF THE APRON! SOMERSAULT PLANCHA TO THE FLOOR FOLLOWS!

But he is on the floor in as much pain as Roderick after that! Back inside the ropes he gets 2 with a Blue Thunder driver. But he goes for a second Yakuza Kick and MISSES! It’s another horrible landing as he almost bends his body in half colliding with the turnbuckles there. Strong quickly hoists him into the Half Nelson Backbreaker as additional punishment…then locks in the Stronghold. Generico gives it AWESOME fingernails scraping across the apron selling as he battles to the ropes there. CHOPS AND ELBOWS BY STRONG! GENERICO NO SELLS! But Strong hammers him with more strikes that drops him to his knees. SICK KICK COUNTERED WITH THE MICHINOKU DRIVER FOR 2! Roddy wants Death By Roderick…but Generico lands on his feet and puts HIM in the Stronghold! COUNTERED TO THE LEBELL LOCK! Generico’s back is again wrenched hard, but somehow he turns it into a roll-up for 2. Strong just BATTERS his challenger with stiff shots at this mount, rattling his masked skull on several occasions. Death By Roderick, followed by the BLACK SUPERKICK! He gives Generico his own Yakuza Kick, then the SUPLEX FLIP BACKBREAKER! But El Generico refuses to be pinned and the ‘Ole’ chants keep getting louder. GIBSON DRIVER COUNTERED TO THE HALF NELSON SUPLEX! YAKUZA KICK! BRAINBUSTER! STRONG LANDS NEXT TO THE ROPES THOUGH! Generico wants the Turnbuckle Brainbuster but instead gets waffled with the title belt. Roddy smashes him with the Sick Kick…then hits the Gibson Driver for victory in 21:59.

Rating – **** – Entertaining main event, where a slow paced and slightly underwhelming first half of the match gave way to an absolutely pulsating second act. I think I slightly preferred their Pick Your Poison match last year, but you couldn’t deny that the sheer spectacle of Roddy Strong beating the snot out of Generico, only for the masked man to continually get up and return fire, was a hell of an exciting ride. To their credit, once again the vocal crowd added to this as well.

El Generico is massively popular in PWG as well, so the California crowd absolutely hate that finish. Roderick takes the mic to gloat, but gets so much heat that it’s almost impossible to hear what he’s saying. Chris Daniels, Davey Richards and Jay Briscoe – the three men he’s beaten in his reign before tonight – arrive on the scene to shut him up and get him out of the ring.

Tape Rating – *** – This is a really fun show. Admittedly the first three matches on the undercard weren’t great…but with three strong 4* main event matches, a fun TV Title encounter and a total run-time of just over 2 hours meaning the show absolutely sails by this was an easy show to watch for ROH hardcores and casual fans alike.

Top 3 Matches
3) Roderick Strong vs El Generico (****)
2) Charlie Haas/Shelton Benjamin vs Kings Of Wrestling (****)
1) Davey Richards vs TJ Perkins (****)

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