ROH on Sinclair – Episode 060 – 10th November 2012
Last week ROH were smart enough to use Road Rage pay-per-view stuff with enough forward-thinking to produce an entertaining show for the casual fans without totally ripping off the die-hards. I’m not sure I back them to do that two weeks running, but lets give them a shot as they present more Glory By Honor 11 Road Rage. I think the scheduled headline bout for this episode is the Cole/Edwards TV Title Match – which will mark the first time Eddie has been on television since he was taken out by Rhino in the build up to Death Before Dishonor. Once again Kevin Kelly and Nigel McGuinness welcome us to Toronto, ONT.
Mike Bennett vs Mike Mondo
This one is four months in the making. The rivalry started at Best In The World 2012 when Mondo interrupted Bennett’s ‘Live PSA’ to attack him. Since then he’s been a continual thorn in Bennett’s side, a distraction as The Prodigy has looked to progress from winning his feud with Lance Storm into the World Title picture, and a sex pest to his girlfriend Maria Kanellis. Sadly it’s not the 80’s anymore, and being booked, as a babyface, to sexually assault Maria has mostly just appalled ROH fans – and it’s really hurt Mondo as his great matches with the likes of Roderick Strong, Kyle O’Reilly, Adam Cole and Davey Richards in recent months have mostly been forgotten in favour of this lousy angle. He wants to beat up Mondo, whilst the ‘heel’ Bennett is here to fight for Maria’s honour and stop No Fear getting into their business once and for all.
Maria looks ridiculously hot tonight, but isn’t happy and declines to smooch Bennett before the bell – instead ordering him to focus on kicking Mondo’s ass. Bennett slaps Mondo rather than follow the Code Of Honor of course, and the fight is underway. Maria immediately tries to get involved, but finds her slap blocked for Mondo to start grinding up against her. Prodigy doesn’t like that either, but can’t find Mondo as he flees under the ring. In fact, he’s still looking as No Fear reappears for the POUNCE INTO THE GUARDRAILS! He dives off the apron looking to follow up…BUT BENNETT CATCHES HIM WITH A POWERSLAM ON THE FLOOR! Bennett follows that up with a horrific looking whip into the guardrails then a SPEAR onto the concrete for good measure. Mondo is limping and Bennett makes it far worse as he punches him off the top rope with his legs wrapped in the ropes. SPINEBUSTER ON THE APRON! What is up with Mondo tonight? He is taking some psychotic bumps! They finally return to the ring where Mondo shakes off a cobra clutch attempt and the two men collide in the middle going for crossbody blocks. That didn’t last long, as they brawl up the aisle. Bennett tries a powerbomb…and gets back body dropped on the concrete. It seemed fairly innocuous, but somewhere in that Mondo has really seriously hurt himself. He is struggling to put any weight on one of his legs now…although he comes up with a fine defensive strategy in repeatedly bashing Bennett’s head into the railings. He stops the ref declaring the match a count-out then CROTCHES The Prodigy over the guardrails even whilst standing on one leg! Bennett lands so ugly that that segment of barricade collapses on top of both of them. What is Mondo doing now? No Fear lives up to his nickname by doing a Mark Briscoe and climbing up the entrance scaffold! SUICIDE DIVE OFF THE TOP OF THE SCAFFOLD! Absolutely crazy stuff…and both guys are so beaten up it’s a desperate crawl just to get back to the ring. Maria is on the apron again, and seems incredibly aroused by Mondo’s display of courage with that dive. It’s a fake of course…and she slaps Mondo in the face. He falls backwards into the TKO – giving Bennett the win at 10:53
Rating – *** – What an absolute war that was. And I’m not sure I mean that in an entirely positive way. Expectations were extremely low for this one going in, but I think that was more based on how badly booked this feud has been than the wrestlers themselves. Mondo and Bennett are two of the most improved workers in the whole company this year…but really aren’t at the point where ROH fans will support them whilst being booked like sh*t. As a brawl this was crazy. I mean, literally crazy from almost the opening bell. This is the second match on the card, in a feud the fans are sh*tting on. What possessed these guys to go out there and start throwing themselves around, taking nutty bumps on concrete and guardrails from first bell to last is beyond me. Don’t get me wrong – I loved watching it. And, as I said after my Killer Instinct review, it really feels like the whole roster is wrestling with a fire and passion that we’ve not seen for most of the year. But to put this into perspective – Mike Mondo broke his f*cking leg in this match. To reiterate, this was so crazy the guy broke his own leg. I loved the match, but as a fan and critic it makes me uncomfortable to know he was so desperate to entertain me that he thought he needed to dive off the entrance set-up with a broken leg. Memorable and totally brutal match – so much better than anyone expected it to be. But it’s an unsettling and disturbing watch too…and Mondo deserves so much respect for finishing it with a horrible injury.
INSIDE ROH – Firstly we get more from the Matt Hardy interview. He’s extremely demeaning to Adam Cole…pissing the TV Champ off so much that, in Cornette’s last act as on-screen Executive Producer, Cole vs Hardy has been signed for Final Battle. And the new Match Maker has an instant problem as Michael Elgin is bypassing Truth Martini and openly petitioning ROH officials to give him a match with Roderick Strong at the year-ending bash too.
Jim Cornette confirms that next week the new Match Maker will be announced, with his immediate agenda being to finalise the remainder of the card for Final Battle.
It’s been a glorious three or four weeks since WGTT were last on Sinclair TV. That couldn’t last forever sadly, and next we get clips from their clash against Rhett Titus and BJ Whitmer.
Adam Cole vs Eddie Edwards – ROH TV Title Match
This is actually Die Hard’s first televised appearance for ROH since he was ‘injured’ at the hands of Rhino in their #1 contendership match on Sinclair TV (Eddie actually took some time off to tour Japan with NOAH). He’s not done much to necessarily earn this shot, but as the first ever ROH Television Champion he does have a certain about of credibility in this division. He’s also a friend and mentor to the current champion Adam Cole – making this an intriguing contest. The 15-minute time limit has been doubled too, giving these two plenty of time to pit their skills against each other.
Sensibly Edwards takes the match to the ground immediately. Cole is no match for him down there, and it’s a great way to negate the agility and athleticism of the champion. But a theme of the five minutes of mat work they run through at the start is that, although Eddie seems to be the aggressor for most of it – Adam shows real resilience and surprising amounts of skill in hanging with him. Never is that better exemplified than the ease with which he rolls out of the Achilles lock. Eddie escapes the Figure 4 moments later. Chop blocked…superkick blocked…duelling dropkicks! After six minutes of competition we’re literally right back where we started. Edwards has a look on his face which clearly says ‘sorry buddy, I’ve got to crank sh*t up a notch’ before he blasts Cole with a venomous chop. Adam falls out of the ring, but it doesn’t stop him firing right back as he counters the elbow suicida with a big jumping enzi through the ropes. BIG BOOT from Eddie anyway, into the ELBOW SUICIDA second time around! Back in the ring there is a sickening thud as he connects with a sliding enzi for 2. Cole tries to work on Eddie’s leg to set up for the Figure 4…but Die Hard is an old pro when it comes to that tactic and snaps back at him with a dragon screw. His finisher works on the leg too remember. He pummels the champ with a succession of chops…so Cole creates some space by punting him onto the apron. SLINGSHOT DDT ON THE APRON! EDDIE LANDED ON HIS HEAD ON THE FLOOR TOO! Todd Sinclair’s look of horror tells you everything you need to know about how serious that could have been…and Eddie does seem to have taken some real neck damage there. Adam lands a Superfly Splash for 2, then makes the neck damage much worse with a Death Valley neckbreaker! Edwards hits the Backpack Stunner but it hurts his neck as much as it hurts Cole. Adam tries a neckbreaker in the ropes…but it’s caught and Eddie hits a dragon screw in that position instead. ACHILLES LOCK! Adam KICKS THE NECK looking to escape. Seriously, not the head, he is aiming them right at the neck and finally he punts the challenger away. Figure 4 Leglock applied, but since he’s not worked on the legs sufficiently Edwards is able to escape. They battle to the top rope, but Eddie’s neck can’t support Cole’s weight and they BOTH FALL TO THE FLOOR! I’m not sure if that was planned but it looked brutal! Eddie’s landing seems to have been softened by landing on top of Cole. He drills the champion with superkicks…SO COLE DROPS HIM ON HIS NECK WITH THE CRADLEBREAKER! FLORIDA KEY! COLE RETAINS! It’s over at 19:09
Rating – **** – Much as with Lethal/Richards earlier, I suspect I may have enjoyed this a great deal more than some critics out there. I’m not sure this was exciting or explosive as some may have liked – which probably hurt it for some. Personally I thought the back and forth technical battle they had was a lot of fun, and in the context of them both being friends it did make sense. And, as a match, it put Cole over huge. After getting dominated for six minutes or so – from that point on Adam was the aggressor. He was the one who opened up an injury (Eddie’s neck) and he was the one who went after it viciously. By attacking the neck and repeatedly going after it to ensure victory he comes off looking like a real threat to all main event level talent in Ring Of Honor. I loved the final few minutes in particular. Whether planned or not, Eddie collapsing under Cole’s weight and both of them falling to the floor was a brilliant way to emphasise how much damage Adam had done to his neck. And the way Cole shut down Eddie’s final offensive flurry with that cradlebreaker was as brutal as it was ruthless. Like I said, maybe not as exciting as some would have hoped…but an engaging and very cerebral bout nonetheless
Tape Rating – DUD – ROH got away with it last week. They didn’t this week, and once again regressed to recycling content they’ve made other people pay for for no other reason other than to fill a week of TV on the cheap. I believe one of the mandates of the new creative direction under Delirious was that he wanted to cut down the amount of ppv Road Rage…and with all 2013 shows thus far having been cut live to tape for ROH to upload to their new VOD service, hopefully they won’t need to do it anywhere near so often next year. Thankfully I think we’re set for the rest of the year too. From next week it’s content from the first TV tapings in Pittsburgh.