ROH on HDNET 3/7/2011

ROH on HDNet – Episode 098 – 7th March 2011

So we’re down to the final three episodes of ROH on HDNet. Things get serious in the Top Prospect Tournament from here as we’re down to the final four. The Semi-Finals are this week, with the big Final being next week on the penultimate show. Kyle O’Reilly, Michael Elgin, Mike Bennett and Andy Ridge are still in the hunt for their big ‘breakout’ moment before Ring Of Honor goes into non-televised hibernation mode. There’s also the small matter of a four corner survival main event where nobody likes Roderick Strong and get the chance to beat his ass in The Arena this evening. Mike Hogewood and Dave Prazak are in Philadelphia, PA.

Kyle O’Reilly vs Michael Elgin – Top Prospect Tournament Semi-Final
You could argue that, of all the ‘top prospects’ in this tournament, these two are perhaps the brightest young stars of all the guys to come to ROH in the final quarter of 2010. O’Reilly’s energy, workrate and sheer enthusiasm for everything he does has really won fans over, whilst Elgin’s power is so impressive that he’s already considered a dominant threat despite only working a handful of matches for the promotion.

Kyle starts the match throwing strikes, all of which are nonchalantly shaken off by Elgin before he heaves the youngster across the ring with ease. Truth Martini swings a few cheap shots in Kyle’s direction, distracting him for long enough for Elgin to hit a MID-AIR TACKLE to block O’Reilly’s attempted springboard dive. O’Reilly gets right back up and tries a cross armbreaker…only for Michael to stand up and deliver a fallaway slam out of that position! Kyle speeds things up, at last taking Elgin off his feet with another flurry of kicks but the HOT member soon has him overpowered on the ring apron. But he gets wounded up by taunts from the crowd and doesn’t see O’Reilly and a FLYING HEADSCISSORS TO THE FLOOR coming! MISSILE DROPKICK OFF THE APRON! That might be his most brutal execution of that spot yet – the guardrail exploded backwards from it! Elgin is rattled and can’t stop Kyle hitting a wrist clutch exploder…but he no sells it and stands up to dismissively drop him on his ass. LARIATOOOO from nowhere gets 2! Satellite DDT from Kyle gets 2, and he floats straight into a cross armbreaker again! No standing up from Elgin this time, he wearily drags himself to the ropes. HEAD DROP CRADLE BACK DROP DRIVER GETS 2! Incredibly, O’Reilly defies that to go for a TRIANGLE CHOKE WITH MMA ELBOWS! ELGIN STANDS UP! But Kyle goes down the other side into a victory roll for the three-count at 08:05

Rating – *** – This was about as much fun as an 8-minute match can be. I’ll admit it got a little no-selling spot happy at the end, but what a rush this was. Kyle is such a talented young man, and Elgin easily stepped in as the ‘powerhouse foundation’ for him to do all his fancy strikes, kicks and aerial moves around. It was a real classical big man vs little man encounter which the crowd got right behind, to the extent that this stands up as one of the best HDNet episode openers to date. With months of house shows and no TV stretching out before ROH now, we definitely need to see a rematch of this.

Steve Corino congratulates O’Reilly on an ‘amazing’ showing and backs him to win the whole thing

TOP 5 GREATEST ROH MOMENTS – This time it is clips from the Era Of Honor Begins triple threat main event. I recently went back and re-watched this match, and it is STILL phenomenal nearly ten years later. I can’t believe I’ve been following this promotion for a decade and that match is now ten years old either for that matter. Where the f*ck does time go?

Mike Bennett vs Andy Ridge – Top Prospect Tournament Semi-Final
On paper this looks pretty one-sided. The Prodigy is undefeated since his re-debut at the end of last year, and has been chalking up some impressive wins against some major names. He’s one of the favourites for this tournament as well. Compare that to Ridge, who came into this off the back of his disappointing 0-5 run in his Trial Series and you can see why the odds are stacked against him here.

The Prodigy starts at his arrogant best, easily swotting Ridge aside and hardly breaking a sweat as he dominates the ROH school graduate. Right Leg lands a few kicks…and does enough damage to prompt Bennett to leave the ring for a time-out. He returns only to absorb another procession of kicks in the corner and Ridge nearly completes the upset right there. Bennett lumbers through some really sloppy, basic spots…then trundles absent-mindedly into a superkick to leave both men down. Bennett scores with the Side Effect to win in a looooooooong 06:55

Rating – * – I’ve been very open in my praise of Mike Bennett, both as a character and as a worker. But I’ll also be honest and say he was pretty terrible here. It doesn’t help that he’s wrestling Andy Ridge who, in my opinion anyway, is nowhere near good enough to get the level of exposure he’s received through ROH…but the amount of basic errors Bennett made was pretty shocking. The whole thing was incredibly boring, and the horrible HDNet crowd mics meant the near silence almost put me to sleep. If ROH are so high on Bennett, I don’t understand why this match was 80% Ridge kicking him in the head either.

Corino pisses Bennett off again by cutting off his music to talk about how impressive Kyle O’Reilly was and how he thinks he’ll beat Mike in the finals. Bennett interrupts to throw a few insults his way

NEXT WEEK – Kyle O’Reilly vs Mike Bennett in the Top Prospect Tournament finals

TOP 5 GREATEST ROH MOMENTS – We’re at #4 now. It’s the spectacular World vs Pure Title Unification bout between Bryan Danielson and Nigel McGuinness at Unified (in 2006, not 2005 as the graphic indicates). I went to watch Oxford United beat Halifax Town 2-0 in their first game after relegation from the Football League that day. I stand by that decision, even though a part of me is devastated I didn’t go to watch one of ROH’s defining bouts that took place in my own country.

Jim Cornette interviews Davey Richards and Tony Kozina about the American Wolf’s training style. I believe this is the first time collective of Davey, Tony and Kyle O’Reilly is referred to as ‘Team Richards’ by the way. As part of his road to the title he’s been really amping up his MMA training and he’s going to put on an ‘exhibition bout’ showcasing that style with Kozina next week

SIDENOTE – I’m a major advocate of bringing more MMA influence into wrestling. With WWE going PG and TNA going from good to bad to ugly to downright horrible on a weekly basis, there’s a definite gap in the market for a pro-wrestling products which caters towards young adults – a market the WWE feels is being increasingly lost to the MMA world hence part of the reason for the move from ‘Attitude’ to a family-friendly product. But this whole interview went too far the other way for me, and the implication that Davey would somehow be better because he’s been training in ‘real fighting’ just doesn’t seem like a clever way to get your company over in the slightest…

TOP 5 GREATEST ROH MOMENTS – Since this is the fifth in this series of videos, does it make this one #1? It’s Kevin Steen turning on El Generico at Final Battle 2009.

Roderick Strong vs Jay Briscoe vs El Generico vs Homicide
This match pits the losing ends of Roderick’s last three successful title defences against him – and since each of them has a reason to dislike the reigning World Champion the deck is definitely stacked against him here. He beat Jay to a bloody pulp at Only The Strong Survive, used the belt to beat Generico at SoCal Showdown 2, then needed assistance from both Truth Martini and Michael Elgin to get through Homicide’s challenge at the 9th Anniversary Show. Three men all want their revenge and all want another shot at the belt. Interestingly though, Homicide has had issues with both Generico and Jay since he came back to ROH, and nobody can forget the epic wars fought between the luchador and the Briscoes back in 2007 over the Tag Titles.

Unsurprisingly Roddy doesn’t volunteer to start the match inside the ring, despite teasing that he’ll fight Homicide right off the bat. It’s Briscoe that starts with the Notorious 187, but even he doesn’t look too thrilled to be there after Homicide starts biting his arm. The match progresses through a five-minute period memorable mostly for Roderick Strong’s efforts to avoid as much physical interaction with his opponents as possible. Generico gets the better of Homicide after a flurry of armdrags…then quick as a flash Homicide goes after Roddy and starts biting him on the floor. After that Strong is a lot more keen to get in the ring and work with guys like Briscoe and Generico over the ‘lucha thug’. He actually throws Briscoe INTO Cide, causing him to fall off the apron and thud into the guardrails. Briscoe’s response to that is to tag Homicide in though, and the defeated 9YA challenger comes in with fists flying in the direction of the World Champion. Three Amigos blocked, but an overhead belly to belly isn’t. Then he cleans Generico’s clock with a wild right hand right to the mouth! Generico is wounded but it doesn’t stop him hitting the turnbuckle exploder on Jay. Homicide tries to give him the Ace Crusher but it’s countered with the rope run tornado DDT…and right after that Generico gets 2 with a Michinoku Driver on Roderick. He keeps trying a dive spot but people keep stopping him until eventually he gets them all outside for a SOMERSAULT PLANCHA onto everyone! He lines up the Yakuza Kick on Strong only for Homicide to stop him and crotch him against the ringpost. Homicide hits a frankensteiner on the champ instead and gets 2. Cop Killa COUNTERED to the Black Superkick for 2. Death By Roderick nailed only for Jay to block the Sick Kick. YAKUZA KICK on Jay! LARIAT on Generico! Jay and Generico start teeing off on each other with mafia kicks, with Briscoe winning to land a falcon arrow. JAY DRILLER ON HOMICIDE! BRAINBUSTER BY GENERICO! But Roddy is the legal man and he pounces to pin Jay at 17:57

Rating – *** – The first half of this match was completely lifeless and dull, but without warning it kicked up about five notches and got great in the second. Admittedly it wasn’t clever but watching four guys just hit multiple big spots on each other was entertaining, especially after they plodded around and did near-enough nothing for the opening period. I wouldn’t say I thought it was good enough for a rematch (they booked these four men to main event the forthcoming Plymouth show) but it was a lot of fun and in a final set of TV tapings which hasn’t produced many good main events, this was decent.

Tape Rating – *** – I considered giving this one 2* since the Richards/Kozina segment was bad and the Bennett/Ridge match was downright ugly. But O’Reilly/Elgin completely rocked, whilst the four corner main event had enough stars and quality to carry it through an awkward opening phase into an engaging little spotfest. Kyle/Elgin was better than Bennett/Cole, and the fourway was as much fun as Daniels/King – hence the 3* for this show whilst last week was only 2*

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