ROH on Sinclair – Episode 057 – 20th October 2012
With Glory By Honor 11 out of the way, Survival Of The Fittest kicks into the higher gears tonight. Next week it’s the finals, but with only three men successfully qualified thus far (Adam Cole, Davey Richards and Jay Lethal) we have a busy night ahead of us to fill out the remaining participants. It’s a battle of ROH veterans as Roderick Strong faces Homicide in our opening bout. We also have Mondo vs O’Reilly in a match that I personally absolutely loved. They stand alongside the heavyweight clash of the titans that is our main event – Elgin vs Rhino, with the continued implosion of the House Of Truth going on around them. Should be a great night of action from Baltimore, MD. Commentary, as always, is from Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness.
Roderick Strong vs Homicide
All three matches on this episode are SOTF qualifiers, deciding the final three spots in the finals. This one should be decent as it pits two ROH veterans and rivals against each other for the first time in a while in this promotion. 2005 SOTF winner Roderick’s World Title win back in 2010 was spoilt by Homicide, who interrupted his moment of victory to make his return to ROH. Their (really underwhelming) rivalry came to a conclusion at the 9th Anniversary Show when Strong defeated Homicide in a Street Fight and effectively ended the Notorious 187’s career as an ROH regular. He’s appeared as a special attraction sporadically since then – but has been come back more and more in recent months, looking healthier and more athletic than he has in years too. He beat Eddie Edwards at Best In The World, took Steen to the limit for the World Title and showed real passion in a losing effort against Jay Lethal at Death Before Dishonor 10. Both of these two are former World Champions looking to reclaim that belt. But for Homicide, winning the tournament would secure him not only another title shot, but also cement his roster spot.
Despite having the reputation for being a thug, it’s Homicide who starts better by comfortably out-wrestling Roddy. Strong actually tries to run away…but only succeeds in taking the fight to the floor where Homicide can do more damage. He dishes out a few guardrail bumps, then starts choking Strong with some electric cable. Sensibly Roderick gets back in the ring, manipulating the situation to enable him to deliver a tilta-whirl backbreaker for 2. Homicide looks for the Three Amigos, but his back is hurting him now and Strong capitalises to hang the Notorious 187 in the ropes. Homicide is injured, and clearly wants to grab a win and go home as he tries a flurry of pinfalls. Ace Crusher countered, but the neckbreaker isn’t. It only gets him another 2-count though. Roderick blasts him across the back with an enzi, and follows up with a cradle backbreaker. Gibson Driver blocked…and Cide NAILS a super rana! Exploder suplex…but Homicide is so injured he can’t hold a bridge now. He can’t lift Roddy for the Cop Killa either and eats DEATH BY RODERICK! SICK KICK! HOMCIDE KICKS OUT! GIBSON DRIVER! That is it, and Strong advances at 10:20 (shown)
Rating – *** – Pretty basic, but again I found that quite enjoyable. There are countless matches out there with Strong working the back as the central theme, so this certainly wasn’t breaking any new ground – but it was perfectly solid and highlighted by a brilliant sell job on the back by Homicide. Cide was rightly criticised for his 2010 return but this year he’s had a lot more hits than misses and really deserves to be a regular again in my eyes. I’d certainly rather watch him than QT Marshall.
Kyle O’Reilly vs Mike Mondo
Of all the SOTF qualifiers this is perhaps the toughest one to call. Both have been really hot in recent months. Mondo is embroiled in a feud with Mike Bennett, but it didn’t stop him running Adam Cole incredibly close in their TV Title match at Death Before Dishonor. On the flip side, since quitting Team Ambition O’Reilly’s form has been spectacular – highlighted at Caged Hostility when he beat Cole in the Proving Ground to earn himself a future title shot. Kyle went all the way to the final two in 2011, and will be looking to go one better and win the whole thing in 2012.
I’m not Mondo’s biggest fan as a worker. But his entrance music is so cheesy and easily one of my favourites in ROH right now (other favourites are Steen, Bennett, Davey, Cole and Rhett). Davey Richards is at ringside, again taking a front row seat to watch his former protégé. He witnesses an intriguing and evenly matched opening segment as each man goes for holds only to have them countered. O’Reilly steps up the aggression by shoving Mondo off the apron into the guardrails. MISSILE DROPKICK TO THE FLOOR! I’ve seen that spot countless times now and it’s still totally crazy. That does some serious damage, and for the next few minutes it’s all O’Reilly as he pummels an almost defenceless Mondo. CRAVAT SUPLEX gets 2! No Fear is fighting hurt, but it doesn’t stopping chasing Kyle all the way to the top to deliver a huge superplex which leaves both men down. O’Reilly goes for a strike flurry…COUNTERED INTO A MIND TRIP by Mondo! Double Arm DDT is blocked…but once again Mike shows great defensive skills to avoid another O’Reilly strike combo to stomp him in the back of the head. MMA elbows from Kyle…KNEES FROM MONDO! O’Reilly nearly falls out of the ring! He recovers and levels Mike with a jumping knee strike. AWESOME MOVIE STYLE NEAR MISS STRIKE EXCHANGE! REVERSE RANA BY O’REILLY! REGALPLEX GETS 2! Cross armbreaker….countered to a Mondo Clutch! Kyle taps! It’s contentious as he didn’t tap the canvas and was slapping the referee…but Mondo is the winner at 10:43 (shown).
Rating – *** – Putting the Survival Of The Fittest tournament on television is actually turning into a great idea. Running the qualifiers as short, TV-length bouts is really producing some excellent results. This is up there with Richards/Bennett as the pick of the 2012 SOTF Qualifying Matches. For ten straight minutes these guys went back and forth, busting out some ridiculous counters and near-miss sequences that really need to be seen. Mondo has found his niche in ROH after a rocky start and is starting to become a really consistent and reliable midcard performer – even his gimmick sucks.
INSIDE ROH – RD Evans announces he has filed a restraining order against Prince Nana and will send him to jail if he attacks him again. Kevin Kelly announces Steen/Bennett for the World Title and a TV Title showdown between Adam Cole and Kyle O’Reilly for the Pittsburgh television tapings.
Michael Elgin vs Rhino
This is the last of the SOTF qualifiers, and it’s an unfortunate one for Truth Martini as he continues to struggle to keep the peace within his organisation. Strong and Elgin are vying to be top dogs in the stable and flat-out don’t like each other. Meanwhile Rhino has been obedient as the hired mercenary, but has outright refused to lay down meaning this one is going to be a legitimate match between two heavyweight stable-mates. Elgin won 2011 last year and is looking to become the first repeat winner.
Martini makes one last plea to Rhino and Elgin to forfeit, but neither man is willing and the fight is on. Rhino has a slight size advantage, but Elgin is clearly the more athletic and demonstrates that as he nails the Man Beast with a slingshot elbow. Roderick Strong appears at ringside to make Martini’s job even more difficult. In the ring Elgin gets 2 with a flying shoulder tackle. But Elgin is out of his comfort zone as a high flier…and takes one chance too many before walking into Rhino’s belly to belly suplex. A big spinebuster follows for a nearfall…and Rhino slows the pace to a near-standstill as he looks to wear Unbreakable down. Again it’s Elgin’s athleticism that brings him level, springing into an enziguri from seemingly nothing. Bossman Slam for 2! Rhino isn’t worn down enough for the Spiral Bomb so gets a GERMAN SUPLEX instead. On the outside Strong is seemingly cheering for Rhino, so he no doubt enjoys the Man Beast hitting a TKO for 2. Indeed, Roddy complains that it wasn’t a victory there. Truth Martini tries another peacekeeping mission to no avail. GORE ON RHINO! SPIRAL BOMB NAILED! Elgin advances to the finals for the second year running in 07:52
Rating – ** – Sort of disappointing in that they let the outside interference and House Of Truth shenanigans define and overshadow the match, rather than showcase what should have been a brutal big man showdown between two incredibly evenly matched powerhouses (something you don’t get to see too often in ROH). I liked how Elgin went for all his high-flying or more athletic spots to counteract the fact that he was the smaller man…and him using the Gore in the final moments definitely puts Rhino over even in defeat. I’d definitely like to see these guys lock up again on a house show or ppv when they’d get more time to play with.
Tape Rating – *** – Throw a better main event on this show and we’d be talking an easy 4* episode. Strong/Homicide was really hard-hitting and a totally underrated little match in my opinion. Homicide has had more hits than misses in 2012 and, in my opinion, is worth keeping on the roster. But the biggest surprise of the night was Mondo/O’Reilly. Both men have had strong years, but I don’t think anyone expected it to be the best of the SOTF qualifiers. I certainly didn’t, but they blew me away with an amazing back and forth technical clinic. In the end it was only Elgin/Rhino which let this one down. Cornette overbooked it to hell rather than let them go out and tear the house down like you feel they could have done.