ROH on HDNet – Episode 097 – 28th February 2011
With the 9th Anniversary Show out of the way, there’s not a lot left for the HDNet series to accomplish. The shown ends too soon to serve as effective promotion for the Atlanta ppv’s at the start of April and, with four episodes to run, it’s a pretty low key way for Ring Of Honor’s venture onto national television to end. But we do have the Top Prospect Tournament to finish, with eight men (although technically it’s down to seven as we’ve already seen O’Reilly eliminate Jon Gresham) vying to be considered ROH’s top rising talent. Lets join Dave Prazak and Mike Hogewood…
Mike Bennett vs Adam Cole – Top Prospect Tournament 1st Round
This was probably the pick of the first round matches in this tournament. It’s a rematch from Champions vs All Stars which saw Bennett narrowly defeat Cole in what many are calling The Prodigy’s best match in Ring Of Honor thus far. As we saw 2 weeks ago on HDNet, Mike doesn’t think he should even be in this tournament as he’s already ROH’s top prospect, and is only ‘playing with the kids’ for a few weeks before winning it then demanding title shots.
As you’d expect, Bennett doesn’t want this to be a past-paced match and quickly puts Cole in a side headlock. Cole throws a couple of armdrags, which immediately cranks things up a notch and he soon as Bennett leaving the ring after sustaining a flurry of chops. FLYING HEADSCISSORS TO THE FLOOR! That was a huge move for Cole and impressed Steve Corino, who is sitting at ringside watching with Kyle Durden. But maybe Cole is too enthusiastic for his own good as Bennett manages to send him back-first into the guardrails. Body slam on the hard floor next! The Prodigy brings it back to the ring for a nice basic grounded surfboard – with a knee deep into that now-injured back. He goes for his Spinebuster but Adam reacts quickly and drops him with a mid-air counter to a DDT. He tries the crossbody, but when Bennett catches him he rolls away and smashes him with a jumping enzi kick. Flying crossbody block scores for 2, as does a bridging German suplex. Bennett hits the Side Effect out of nowhere and snatches the win at 07:41
Rating – *** – I’m sure some people will bash this for being slow and/or boring, but again, I like Bennett and I thought this was a good match – albeit nothing but a highlight reel version of their better match in Richmond last month. Cole is a great babyface, and as such is an excellent opponent for The Prodigy. I would much rather watch these guys wrestle than see guys like Erick Stevens, Necro Butcher, DCFC, Shawn Daivari or Rasche Brown work the same match over and over again – which was the whole point of the big roster cull and influx of new undercard talent last year.
Kyle Durden asks Corino for his thoughts on the match which pisses Bennett of since they cut his music in order to do it. Corino tells Bennett he shouldn’t be over-confident – advice which The Prodigy ignores because he’s so confident…
Michael Elgin vs Bobby Dempsey – Top Prospect Tournament 1st Round
This one won’t be pretty at all. Talk about bad luck for Elgin, of the seven other guys in this tournament Bobby is the only one who is too big for him to hit most of his power moves on. The House Of Truth’s new enforcer is coming of a great weekend in Dayton and Chicago where, although he lost twice, he left ROH veterans Chris Daniels and El Generico in no doubt as to how much of a threat he is inside the ring.
Dempsey actually looks like he’s gained a lot of weight since he was last on TV which, when you’re his size, isn’t a good thing. He’s busting out of his singlet and looks a real mess. Elgin can’t lift him, so instead goes for a bombardment of forearms and headlocks. They trade shoulder blocks with neither man budging…until Dempsey runs through his opponent with a fatty avalanche. Elgin MUSCLES Bobby into a Samoan drop which is super-impressive. He goes for the Spiral Bomb but there’s no way he can lift him up for that. Dempsey gets 2 with a Bossman Slam. Bobby thinks about a Vader Splash but Elgin CARRIES HIM OUT OF THE CORNER! Sit-out powerbomb pins him at 03:22
Rating – * – A couple of incredible feats of strength from Elgin meant this wasn’t a total bust, but Bobby Dempsey has no real place even being in ROH anymore, let alone be considered as one of the company’s ‘top prospects’. He looks in horrible shape, even for him.
Steve Corino compares Elgin to a tank, and tells him to ditch Truth Martini since he doesn’t need him.
Earlier in the evening Kyle Durden interviews Kenny King about his TV Title shot tonight. King says he’s already the best wrestler on ROH on HDNet so it’s only fitting he become TV Champion.
And Durden is all over this episode. After commercials he has Grizzly Redwood and Andy Ridge before their tournament match. Right Leg thinks people are sleeping on him…Steve Corino walks in to offer encouragement to both of them
Grizzly Redwood vs Andy Ridge – Top Prospect Tournament 1st Round
These guys have been around the ROH scene for a long time. Both of them come out of the ROH wrestling school and have been friends and even tag partners on occasion. But, outside of Ridge’s Trial Series which saw him go 0-5, neither man has really been given an opportunity to breakout and push up the card. Is this tournament their shot at finally doing that?
They start with a ‘kicks vs chop ‘em down’ duel then go into a flurry of pinfall attempts but emerge even from both. Redwood hits some leg chops then trips him out of the ring with a log roll. But Ridge blocks his tope attempt with an enzi kick through the ropes meaning once again we reach a stalemate. Andy uses his size advantage to get the edge on his foe only for Grizz to float into an abdominal stretch. Big kicks bring Ridge back into it and he hangs Redwood in the corner to deliver a big running mafia kick to the back of the head. He calls for the Superkick but Grizzly CHOPS it out of the way! He botches a 619…then botches a springboard crossbody. Ridge puts him down with a kick at 05:56
Rating – * – Too long for what it was and that butt ugly finish really didn’t help anyone. It looks bad for ROH when guys like Ridge and Dempsey are considered top prospects in my opinion. On the positive side, I thought Redwood sold like a champ for Right Leg, which made him look much better than he’s ever really looked before.
That leaves us with semi-finals as follows:
Kyle O’Reilly vs Michael Elgin
Mike Bennett vs Andy Ridge
From there we go backstage to join Prince Nana and Ernesto Osiris. We haven’t seen them in a couple of months since ROH let all their Embassy members go. Nana introduces Princess Mia Yim as he looks to start rebuilding The Embassy…
MORE Kyle Durden next. He has Roderick Strong who next week faces his three most recent challengers next week in a four corner match – Jay Briscoe, El Generico and Homicide.
Christopher Daniels vs Kenny King – ROH TV Title Match
The ppv in Chicago this weekend was a rough night for both of these two. Chris Daniels retained his TV Title via time limit draw in a classic with Eddie Edwards, but had to be carried out of the building after being knocked out and sustaining a horrible cut to the head. King, meanwhile, got knocked out by Chris Hero’s ‘lucky’ elbow pad as the All Night Express came up short in their attempts to win the Tag Titles from the Kings Of Wrestling. Which man will rebound from their weekend exploits better?
They go hold for hold from the bell, which is impressive considering King isn’t particularly well-known for that kind of style. He comes out better as well, dropping the champion with an armdrag combo. Kenny looks like he has the edge in terms of power as well and he spends much of the first five minutes completely dominant. Daniels eventually manages to shut him down with a running neckbreaker, but the veteran is noticeably shaken up after taking so much punishment. He follows up with a swinging neckbreaker moments later then leans on him with a neck vice to drive home the damage to that body part. Drop toehold over the middle rope comes next, leaving Kenny scratching around on the canvas clutching at his neck and throat. Gourdbuster into a crossface next from the TV Champion. He tries another neckbreaker but this time the challenger escapes and levels him with a roundhouse kick. Spinebuster scores for 2 but it’s clear for all to see that King hasn’t shaken off that neck injury. He gets another 2 with Shotgun Knees but is moving much more slowly than he was in the early going. Royal Flush COUNTERED to the Koji Clutch! Kenny doesn’t tap and LEAPFROGS out of the Fall From Grace. Royal Flush blocked…Angel’s Wings blocked…Capo Kick by King, into a capture suplex! Daniels misses the BME but doesn’t with Angel’s Wings! He wins at 11:20
Rating – *** – That finish was very sudden and felt rushed, but the match before it was very good. King looked great in the first five minutes as he dominated the veteran, before a trademark Daniels assault on the neck halted his progress then took the match out of his reach. For the Fallen Angel this wasn’t much more than a routine title defence, and for the HDNet series this was nothing more than a run of the mill free-TV main event. But for King this was a strong performance and another indication of how he is growing as a worker and as one of ROH’s true ‘top prospects’ as we leave the HDNet era
Tape Rating – ** – Pretty low key episode, and one which reeked of a network and a company not caring about a TV series which was dead in the water by that point. The Top Prospect Tournament was underwhelming, and the main event, whilst decent, didn’t do enough to salvage a full hour of the show either.