ROH on Sinclair – Episode 059 – 3rd November 2012
With the next TV tapings not yet in the can, and after a strong October with Survival Of The Fittest it means ROH now take the disappointing step backwards of going to Road Rage again. Equally disappointingly, rather than use footage from Killer Instinct (a house show with plenty of great action, and a really hot main event), they are giving away ppv stuff from Glory By Honor 11 instead. On a positive note, once we get the GBH Road Rage out of the way we’re on the road to Final Battle – with only the TV tapings from Pittsburgh (and no further live events) standing between us and the big year ending bash. Nigel McGuinness and Kevin Kelly are in Toronto, ONT.
Kevin and Nigel are in the ring, and announce that the main event will be Davey Richards against Jay Lethal in a rematch from the finals of Survival Of The Fittest. I guess that makes sense since we just saw that last week.
We are scheduled to get the show underway with Tadarius Thomas facing Roderick Strong. However, Roddy comes out in street clothes and is clearly not happy. He yells at Truth for not getting him anything better than the popcorn match against a ‘nobody’ on one of the biggest shows of the year. He isn’t just on strike now – he officially quits the House Of Truth and leaves. Martini disappears momentarily, then comes back dragging Rhino with him and saying everything is fine with Roderick. The Man Beast isn’t best pleased, but accepts the money to sub in for Roderick…
Tadarius Thomas vs Rhino
The House Of Truth is now well and truly crumbling around Truth Martini. Michael Elgin doesn’t want anything to do with him and has been openly disobeying him for months. Roderick Strong just quit having been at loggerheads with Unbreakable for a long time too…and Rhino looks extremely unhappy about being hauled out from the locker room unprepared and made to compete here. Tadarius is somewhat caught in the middle, but it’s another chance for him to shine on ppv after his win at Death Before Dishonor 10 in Chicago. It would be a huge feather in his cap and a big springboard to his career if he could capitalise on the ‘hoopla’ surrounding the HOT to defeat the Man Beast tonight.
Thomas is a tricky customer and evades the clutches of Rhino with some easy in the opening minutes. His bizarre striking combinations have some success…until the Man Beast drops him on his face with a brutal TKO. Martini brings his bag to ringside and Rhino literally starts taping up his wrists and getting ready to wrestle whilst putting the boots to TD. Truth lays in some cheap shots as well – against the wishes of Rhino who admonishes him for doing so. Martini gets back in the good books of his man by pulling out the baby oil and oiling up his shoulders. I wish I hadn’t just had to type that! Tadarius again comes from all angles with capoeira strikes…so Rhino drops him again with a belly to belly suplex. But as he sets up for the Gore Truth Martini again gets involved, moving Thomas with a trip. The delay proves costly as TD evades the second Gore attempt and grabs a flash pin to win at 05:56
Rating – ** – This rating breaks down as a star for the match (which was actually funnier and better than the total bust I thought it was when watching live) and a star for putting Thomas over. I’m not completely sold on Tadarius yet, but he is at least fresh new talent with the potential to improve going forward – and that is the kind of guy Ring Of Honor should focus on. That said, I’d probably have preferred them not to have a match at all. I’m not sure why Rhino even needed to be booked…
Rhino is furious at Martini for costing him the win. So pissed off in fact that he ignores the money Truth throws at him and PRESS SLAMS HIM FROM THE RING INTO THE GUARDRAIL! Martini’s leg is a f*cking MESS after that bump by the way. That’s another guy out of the HOT!
After commercials we see the same Steen/Lethal Killer Instinct highlight package they aired during the ppv. It’s important they get that on TV since it’s the start of a new character evolution for Jay Lethal, and of course the catalyst for Jim Cornette being written out of television.
Interestingly, the TV show gets some exclusive content: audio from a Jim Cornette phone call giving his version of events from Rahway, NJ. The main announcement is that, whilst he is retaining his position as Executive Producer (like I said at Glory By Honor, I’m really not convinced Cornette is as gone as people seem to think), he won’t be able to attend shows for the foreseeable future so is appointing a ‘troubleshooting Match Maker’. More will follow on that next week.
INSIDE ROH – The centrepiece of this week’s Inside ROH is a sit-down interview with Matt Hardy. He’s actually very funny delivering back-handed compliments to high profile ROH talents like the Briscoes, Davey or Lethal. He thinks he can be the ‘mainstream superstar’ Ring Of Honor need to take them to the next level.
Even in highlight form, the Steen/Elgin World Title match looks absolutely epic. I’ve had time to watch it again – and also go back and rewatch Richards/Elgin, plus the Steen/Richards Best In The World match. I really stand by making Steen/Elgin my ROH MOTY. It’s an unforgettable match.
Jay Lethal vs Davey Richards
Having failed to win the World Title in Rahway, we saw a very dangerous side to Lethal’s character that night. Provoked by Kevin Steen spitting in his mother’s face, he certainly showed more than enough ‘killer instinct’ when he assaulted multiple referees, tore up ringside then attacked Jim Cornette backstage. He has another title shot in his back pocket after winning SOTF, so presumably is now going to start preparing hard and waiting for the right time to cash that in. And speaking of his SOTF win, tonight is a rematch with the man he beat in the final 2 to win this years tournament. Davey successfully defended the World Championship twice against Lethal earlier in 2012, but couldn’t get the job done for a third time in Baltimore. Will he get a third singles victory against him tonight, or will Lethal’s fury and outpouring of ‘killer instinct’ guide him to a win over the American Wolf here?
It’s a hard-fought and very even opening sequence – with Lethal surprising a few people and competently matching Davey on the canvas as they trade stretches. The stakes are raised when Jay slaps the taste out of Richards’ mouth. The Wolf didn’t like that one bit and he isn’t any happier when Lethal whips him off his feet into the hiptoss dropkick combo. Richards retaliates with the bridging chickenwing spot Nigel used to do (complete with Nigel McGuinness hand gestures). Gradually Davey starts to dominate Lethal, who clearly needs to get back to his feet and start increasing the pace and using his athleticism rather than looking to outwrestle the former World Champion. He leaves the ring, but staggers around on the floor and doesn’t see Davey’s running punt from the apron coming. OLE OLE KICK ON THE FLOOR! And sensibly, having done damage out there, Richards drags his opponent straight back into the ring where he can continue stretching him out. Jay knows he is being overwhelmed with the heavy submission based style…and takes to the air to counteract it. Springboard dropkick nailed, and instantly followed with a tope suicida! LETHAL INJECTION ON THE APRON! Both guys land ugly on that, and need the full 20-count to drag themselves back into the ring to pick up the fight. Alarm Clock from Davey…NO SOLD! SUPERKICK! LETHAL COMBINATION! KOJI CLUTCH! Davey has been in that hold from multiple competitors though and makes it to the ropes with ease there. HEAD DROP GERMAN SUPLEX! LETHAL NO SELLS AGAIN! Davey responds by simply kicking Lethal across the jaw then planting him again – with a bridging German for 2. Lethal is fired up now though, and levels Davey with a gourdbuster. Richards chases him up the ropes to ensure he can’t hit the Macho Elbow. Superplex…but Lethal COUNTERS the roll into the second suplex with a small package! LETHAL INJECTION ON LETHAL! BUZZSAW KICK! ARIES BRAINBUSTER FOR 2! WARRIORS WAY GETS 2! ANKLELOCK! KILLER INSTINCT FROM LETHAL! He stands up and destroys Davey with multiple superkicks…and it’s still just 2! Davey tries to climb the ropes so Lethal BOOTS HIM THROUGH THE TIMEKEEPING TABLE! Lethal is happy to win by count-out…and when Richards rolls into the ring he’s ready to pounce with the MACHO ELBOW! GETS 2! DRAGON SUPLEX…2 AGAIN! Lethal appears to have snapped now, but loses his focus and sees the Lethal Injection COUNTERED TO THE ANKLELOCK! COUNTERED TO THE CRUCIFIX! COUNTERED TO THE KONDO CLUTCH! LETHAL SUPERKICKS THE BACK OF THE HEAD! LETHAL INJECTION! DAVEY KICKS OUT! KOJI CLUTCH! Davey was basically unconscious before the hold was even applied…and Lethal is declared the winner at 23:31
Rating – ****1/2 – I don’t know if everyone will rate this as highly as me, but I thought this was an absolute epic. I went close to calling their Homecoming 2012 match an MOTYC but just stopped short. I can’t do it to them a second time – I absolutely loved this. Both guys played their roles to absolute perfection, and it had so many subtle little storytelling threads that were an absolute pleasure to watch. We know that Lethal is FURIOUS at the moment. But he made a point of saying before the match that he respects Davey. Which is why it made total sense that he wouldn’t want to rip Richards’ head off in the first five minutes. Their submission battle on the canvas was engaging in and off itself, but in context made total sense as both men wanted a respectful wrestling match. And we know Richards is back in ROH to win back lost supporters by showing respect himself. The way he referenced former World Champions throughout the match (Nigel, Joe, Aries, Ki etc) was a wonderful and understated little homage to Ring Of Honor’s heritage. But my favourite plotline was Lethal’s gradual descent into pure, blind rage. THIS, to me, was the match that showed his ‘killer instinct’. By the end of the match he’d forgotten about wanting to be respectful or whatever. He was kicking Davey through a table. He was dropping the Macho Elbow on his head literally as soon as he crawled back in. He was dishing out unprotected superkicks to the back of the head. The concluding sequence was a stunning display of unrelenting brutality – and it put Lethal over in a HUGE way. Great match – honestly one of my favourites in all of 2012. I thought it delivered on so many different levels.
NEXT WEEK – More Glory By Honor 11 Road Rage.
Tape Rating – N/A – There was enough ‘exclusive content’ on this Road Rage episode to indicate some forward planning had gone into it. They weren’t just chucking ppv content away for free for the sake of it. There were highlights from Killer Instinct, reports on the aftermath of Glory By Honor etc. In essence, they were showing match highlights from the ppv – but used in a way to shape and position ROH as they move forward into the last part of the year and the countdown to Final Battle 2012. I’m not happy, but at least they were smart with what they put out this time.