ROH on Sinclair – Episode 064 – 8th December 2012
Final Battle 2012 is just a week away so this is the penultimate hour of programming Ring Of Honor has to secure some buys for the big year-ending bash. The headline bout for Final Battle is Ladder War 4 for the World Championship – but a major spanner could be thrown in those plans tonight if Mike Bennett can dethrone Kevin Steen in our main event. Kevin Kelly and Caleb Seltzer are in Belle Vernon, PA.
Kyle O’Reilly/Bobby Fish vs Bravado Brothers
It’s been an interesting year for Lancelot and Harlem. At the start of 2012 they were banished to the NOAH dojo in Japan for their appalling won/loss record through 2011. They returned in the spring, scoring some impressive wins and wowing everyone with their improved performances and by the autumn were delivering some of the best ROH tag matches of the year in their double header with Caprice Coleman and Cedric Alexander. That’s why it’s all the worse for them that they appear to be ending the year as they started – surplus to requirement enhancement talents, here tonight to make others look good. It’s the first time O’Reilly and Fish (not yet known as reDRagon) have teamed together since their shocking alliance was revealed…and we still don’t have an answer as to whether they are facing the American Wolves at the ppv next weekend
Kyle and Bobby waste no time tossing Harlem to the floor then trapping Lancelot in the corner to tee off on him with a flurry of strikes. Lance hits back with an ugly Chaos Theory on O’Reilly for 2. It’s actually a nice flurry of double team combo moves from ReDragon that put them in the ascendency again. They pick Lancelot apart for a few minutes…until he finally blasts past O’Reilly with a Roaring Elbow and makes a hot tag to Harlem. He uses his boots to clean house, then wipes both opponents out with a BERMUDA TRIANGLE MOONSAULT! Diving blockbuster off the top gets 2! Bobby turns Lance’s lights out with a roundhouse kick and comes to Kyle’s aid. He holds Harlem open for a running punt right to the face from O’Reilly. Harlem kicks out at 2, much to the surprise of the announcers. TOTAL ELIMINATION! Now it is over, and ReDragon win their first match at 06:15
Rating – ** – Good way to debut the new team and, to be fair to ROH, it wasn’t massively damaging to the Bravados either as they got a decent amount of offence in…and a surprising kick-out at the end which the commentary team really put over. Considering it was their first time teaming Kyle and Bobby showed some real fluidity, and it’s obvious that their similar styles compliment each other well.
Jimmy Jacobs and Steve Corino aren’t happy about having to defend their Tag Titles against two teams at Final Battle – but vow to use their intellect to find a way to escape New York with the belts. Kevin Steen, on the other hand, is much more docile. He has no qualms with his engagement for Final Battle. By booking it, all Nigel did is ‘end Generico’s career’…
We get a classy little video package documenting Steen and Generico’s journey from friends, partners and Tag Champions to bitter enemies…to Steen being fired, all the way through to next week when Generico will be brought back into ROH with the specific purpose of dethroning Mr Wrestling.
Jay Lethal vs Chris Silvio
I groaned when I heard Silvio’s music, as I’d hoped Cornette’s apparent withdrawal from creative might mean we’d seen the back of his old OVW gang. But maybe I’m being a little unfair since Silvio has always been one of the more interesting talents from that particular pool. If only he could bring his in-ring skills up to the level of his persona, gimmick and look he’d have a real shot. Tonight he’s nothing more than cannon fodder for an angry Jay Lethal who doesn’t want to wrestle him, and doesn’t want to wrestle Rhino at Final Battle either.
Lethal promises he’s going to have a fight with the World Champion at Final Battle, regardless of who he’s booked to wrestle. And with that he launches into a vicious attack on Silvio. He takes him to the outside looking to vent more frustration on the Psychedelic Superstar, running through him with the tope suicida then tossing him into a guardrail with such force he ends up flipping in the air and landing on his head. Out of desperation Chris hits a swinging neckbreaker in the ropes then starts choking him with his wrist tape. In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t have much impact though, as he soon walks into the Lethal Combination. CRADLE DDT! Lethal wins at 05:05
Rating – * – I’m not sure Lethal really needed an exhibition squash to show off his skills. But, considering how horrible his promos are, he did a great job with his body language and facial features in conveying his current pissed off state of mind. This was way too long for what was, essentially, a one-sided massacre. Hopefully that’s the last we’ll see of Silvio for a while
INSIDE ROH – Kevin Kelly updates everyone on the American Wolves situation, with Eddie having now been notified of the match but refusing to acknowledge it or communicate with ROH officials. That leads Fish and O’Reilly to believe he’s not going to show up at Davey’s side at all.
NEXT WEEK – Jay Briscoe vs Steve Corino in a Street Fight.
Kevin Steen vs Mike Bennett – ROH World Title Match
All year The Prodigy has been complaining about not being in the World Title picture. He certainly had a good shout after coming out victorious in his trilogy of matches with Lance Storm. But Jim Cornette overlooked him, and he became sidetracked after Mike Mondo became obsessed with his girlfriend Maria Kanellis. But with Mondo now out of the picture he is finally rewarded with a shot at Steen. The beautiful Maria has been left at home and Bennett is all business here looking to capture his first championship in ROH. Steen could be forgiven for focusing on his Ladder War main event next week – but would be a fool to overlook the skills of The Prodigy tonight.
Steen is wrestling in a Maria Kanellis t-shirt, much to Bennett’s irritation. The crowd wind him up further, and roar with approval as Steen mows him down with the cannonball senton. Bennett tries to flee but is punished on the outside with several hellacious trips into the guardrails. Bob Evans has to help out his charge, grabbing Steen’s leg to distract him for just long enough for Mike to land a spinebuster. As we go to commercials the fight is back out on the floor with The Prodigy ramming the champion into the guardrails then putting him in a camel clutch right in front of the fans. When we come back Steen is escaping a chinlock, turning it into a tree of woe cannonball. He plants him on his head with a hanging DDT out of the ropes for 2. Springboard moonsault (sort of) misses, allowing Bennett to hit the Spear for his own nearfall. Steen-ton nailed…2 again! Evans interferes again as Steen goes for the F-5…so Steen THROWS Bennett at Brutal Bob! APRON BOMB ON BENNETT! Package Piledriver landed for the win at 07:22 (shown). Steen goes to Final Battle as champion.
Rating – *** – This was fine for free TV, but much as with Steen/Titus, Steen/Mondo, Steen/Homicide and so on these forgettable World Title defences on television are really starting to devalue the belt. I think the ‘Steen defends it in every singles match’ rule should have been removed when they changed a load of other Steen-related rules after the Killer Instinct incident. This match also served as somewhat of a culmination to Mike Bennett’s ROH career for the time-being. He’s been great in ROH this year, and with the help of Maria, has earned a begrudging respect from large portions of the fanbase. He was added to the Final Battle card late-on to face Jerry Lynn…but his World Title shot here was his last significant contribution. He had a WWE try-out in early 2013 and Maria has been quoted as saying that she and Bennett are looking to take their act onto a bigger stage than Ring Of Honor. As of March 2013 Final Battle 2012 was his last ROH appearance, with all the signs being that he is pursuing a WWE contract and doesn’t intend to return – at least in the short term. It’s a real shame as he finally found his groove as a worker
Steen reels off the list of guys he’s beaten and pauses to insult Jay Lethal’s mother some more. That, of course, brings Lethal through the curtain and the show ends with Jay being restrained by officials as SCUM taunt him from the ring.
Tape Rating – ** – There was a lot to like about this episode, in particular the reDRagon debut and another decent Steen title defence. But it felt like a step down after the sheer quality of Richards/Elgin and was certainly one of the weaker episodes from this set of tapings. I am on record as someone who is fed up of Steen constantly defending the belt, and I think his main event with Mike Bennett would actually have been more entertaining and beneficial to both parties had it been non-title. My other major criticism of this show was that, with just a week to go, I really don’t think there was enough work put in to shilling Final Battle.