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ROH TV 2/2/2013

ROH on Sinclair – Episode 072 – 2nd February 2013

Things are starting to move in 2013 Ring Of Honor now. All the champions have come through their first title defences of the year, we have a few matches set for the next ippv and two semi-finalists already confirmed for the Top Prospect Tournament. More is promised tonight, with another TPT semi-finalist to confirm, a Tag Title #1 contendership Gauntlet and, from the graphic it looks like we’re also getting Mike Bennett vs Michael Elgin (meaning I was clearly wrong about Final Battle being Bennett’s last appearance for a few months). After a couple of decent but hardly mind-blowing weeks of television I’m hoping business starts to pick up now. Kevin Kelly and Caleb Seltzer await us in Baltimore, MD’s Du Burns Arena.

Tadarius Thomas vs Antonio Thomas
As I said a couple of weeks ago: how is a 34-year old former WWE Superstar considered a ‘top prospect’? That said, former WWE Heart-Throb Antonio does a lot of training in the North East region and is a popular independent talent in his own right. He has appeared for ROH before, but getting onto the TV show is a real opportunity to re-establish himself as a household name in professional wrestling. His opponent tonight has to be considered one of the favourites for the whole tournament. He’s had an ROH deal for some time, holds wins over opponents like Rhino and has produced some really impressive in-ring performances thus far in his ROH tenure – pushing talents like Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly and Bobby Fish to the limit.

Antonio tries to drag Tadarius around by the ears…and dumps him right on his neck with an early back drop driver for 2. He’s taken the more established ROH worker by surprise here and scores another nearfall with a bridging capture suplex. Tadarius tries to leave the ring – which turns out to be a clever trick as he lures Antonio in for a hanging cross armbreaker in the ropes. TD busts out a flurry of his unpredictable kicks and quickly snaps off the Sling Blade seconds later. He drags The Promise to the second rope for a SWINGING NECKBREAKER! There seems to be an awkward edit of something they botched, and when we come back Tadarius wins with a heel kick. Time was 04:24

Rating – * – These two just didn’t mesh at all. I’ve said it a few times, but as unique as Tadarius’ style is, there are some workers who really struggle with it. Antonio was having real problems selling what was getting dished out to him and, being honest, wasn’t much more than a fairly generic indy worker when he was on offence. The whole match seemed completely disjointed and shoddily executed.

Truth Martini admires TD’s performance from the aisle. Tadarius advances to face QT Marshall…

Grizzly Redwood vs Roderick Strong
How many ‘biggest little man’ or ‘plucky underdog’ video montages have ROH run for Grizzly? Either do something with him or drop him from the roster already. I presume he’s here tonight to do little more than stare at the lights for Roderick Strong, who is in a holding pattern until he enters his 2/3 Falls rematch with Michael Elgin at the 11th Anniversary. For some reason Mike Mondo is on commentary, and apparently he’ll be back wrestling sooner than we think.

Strong makes fun of Redwood’s height and is deservedly punted in the mouth for it. The reality is that Grizz is pretty tiny though, and it’s not long before Roddy pulls him out of the ropes with a slingshot butterfly backbreaker. Grizz’s straps come down and he rebounds off the turnbuckles into a super ugly Ace crusher for 2. He repeats the spot seconds later with a springboard tornado DDT then tries to ground the bigger man with a sleeper hold. Mondo’s commentary is incredibly annoying and distracting too. Strong knees Redwood in the face and gets 2 with the Death By Roderick. Orange Crush Backbreaker blocked…half nelson backbreaker instead. Stronghold wins it at 05:00

Rating – DUD – The same as every other Grizzly Redwood match, except with Grizz’s usual ability to hit moves cleanly having vanished and Mike Mondo irritating the hell out of me on commentary. There was absolutely nothing here worth watching.

Roddy refuses to release the Stronghold…so Michael Elgin runs in to force him to the locker room.

Michael Elgin vs Mike Bennett
This is a rematch from Killer Instinct. That night in Rahway, NJ it was Unbreakable who emerged victorious after a hard-fought and evenly matched battle. The Prodigy, hot off his impressive performance against Jerry Lynn and with interest in him from other promotions supposedly at an all-time high, will want to avenge that loss and push his stock still higher.

The numbers disadvantage quickly counts against Elgin, who is distracted by Bob Evans and punched in the mouth by Bennett in the first thirty seconds. He teases Jerry Lynn’s Cradle Piledriver only to back dropped all the way to the floor by his powerful opponent. With speed belying his size Elgin dives off the apron into a football tackle to the floor. APRON SPINEBUSTER by Bennett! That’s a big hit for The Prodigy but he isn’t quick enough to capitalise. As they return to the ring Unbreakable lands the Black Hole Slam to even things up. TKO gets 2 for Bennett! Cradle Piledriver blocked for a second time, before Elgin picks Bennett up for a RUNNING TURNBUCKLE DVD! He sets up the dead-lift superplex only to be grabbed by Maria! Bob Evans saves Maria and Bennett pounces to hit the AVALANCHE BOX OFFICE SMASH! FOR 2! Unbreakable absorbs that and batters Bennett with a mid-air lariat. SPIRAL BOMB! Elgin wins at 05:26

Rating – *** – For a match that only lasted five minutes that was all kinds of awesome. They had a terrific wrestling match back in New Jersey last year, but produced something completely different tonight. This was an unashamed, spot-heavy sprint of a match. Neither guy was too worried about selling or story-telling – they just went out and splurged high impact spots all over the shop and it was really quite successful. Bennett’s improvement as a worker over the last 18 months has been massive, and it’s absolutely no surprise that he’s now actively pursuing a WWE deal rather than sticking around in ROH where he’s never been booked to reach his full potential. For Elgin this represents a major victory as he counts down to the 11th Anni showdown with his former HOT stable-mate.

INSIDE ROH – Most of this instalment is highlight packages. But we have some 11th Anniversary updates, such as the Steen/Lethal World Title Match being formally announced as the main event.

American Wolves vs Bravado Brothers – #1 Contendership Tag Gauntlet Match
The winners of this Gauntlet receive a Tag Title shot at the next ippv. With former champions SCUM and reDRagon awaiting the winners of this match, the unlucky teams who drew #1 and #2 out of the hat have an uphill battle ahead of them. The Wolves reunited successfully at Final Battle, but lost their subsequent Tag Title shot at The Hunt For Gold. If they want another opportunity to face the Briscoes they’ll need to earn it. The Bravados, on the other hand, know that they’ll need to become #1 contenders just to secure a booking for the Chicago pay-per-view.

Harlem has had a pretty fierce haircut since his last appearance. Charlie Haas is on commentary, in a sour mood because this has been booked at a TV taping without Shelton Benjamin meaning WGTT couldn’t be in it. The Bravados survive an early scare as Richards lands a diving headbutt but are on the receiving end of a vicious beating by the former Tag Champions. Lancelot is cut off from his brother and nearly snapped in half with the arm capture Cloverleaf. Harlem causes Eddie to have a HUGE collision with the ring-post – and he immediately collapses out of the ring favouring his shoulder. Lance tries to rescue his brother from the Anklelock…but is caught in the Achilles Lock by a clearly wounded Die Hard. Gentleman’s Pass COUNTERED to the Anklelock! Harlem taps at 04:49

Rating – ** – Pretty much as good as it could have been in the brief time allowance it had. The Bravados are so much better than their spot on the ROH roster would suggest, and they certainly didn’t look out of place against the Wolves here.

American Wolves vs Steve Corino/Jimmy Jacobs – #1 Contendership Tag Gauntlet Match
Two former ROH Tag Champions collide in this one. Corino and Jacobs are (if you’ll excuse the pun) on the hunt to regain the belts they lost to the Briscoes at Final Battle. Will their veteran skills and scheming ways be enough to overcome the two former World Champions they stand across the ring from? And will Eddie’s shoulder become a target as this wears on?

Stereo punts knock SCUM out of the ring, and into the path of TANDEM ELBOW SUICIDAS by the Wolves! Corino blocks a second attempt at a running boot from the apron and spins Davey into the path of a spear from Jimmy. Despite that Richards manages a flash pin on Corino at 01:42 (06:31 total)

Rating – N/A – Nothing significant achieved here, but the Wolves advancing means we get another Wolves/reDRagon showdown, and they did manage to pack a few exciting spots in.

American Wolves vs Kyle O’Reilly/Bobby Fish – #1 Contendership Tag Gauntlet Match
We’re down to the final two, and fittingly it pits two fierce rival teams against each other in a rematch from Final Battle. Will the Wolves, tired from already beating two teams this evening, be able to repeat their victory from the Hammerstein in December?

Before O’Reilly and Fish even make it to ringside Corino has knocked out Richards with the ring bell, whilst Jacobs takes out Eddie at the same time. Corino hits the ‘Ten Dollar Punch’ on Richards too. That’s where we take our final commercial break, and when we come back it’s unsurprisingly Fish and O’Reilly beating on a near defenceless American Wolves. Edwards in particular is really taking some punishment and is now massively favouring his arm. He makes a crucial tag to Richards but even he looks weary as he takes it to both opponents with Machine Gun kicks. Snap German on Kyle gets 2, with Haas muttering about gimmick infringement on commentary. Double Alarm Clock on O’Reilly, then they both climb the ropes for the DOUBLE DOUBLE STOMP! The crowd are really into this now. Fish returns and makes the save, giving reDRagon the chance to take Eddie out with a Total Elimination. BUZZSAW KICK BRAINBUSTER! Fish and O’Reilly win at 04:34 shown (11:05 total)

Rating – ** – Whenever these guys lock horns, in any combo you can think of, you’re pretty much guaranteed something exciting. Even within the confines of a somewhat tedious Gauntlet Match they really produced an entertaining climax to the episode.

NEXT WEEK – The Briscoes and C&C join forces to oppose SCUM in a huge 8-man main event.

Tape Rating – ** – If you like Gauntlet Matches more than I do then you may have enjoyed the main event more. As is, fitting effectively six matches into a 45-minute show was far too much. There was a lot of wrestling on this episode, but very little of it was much good. Elgin/Bennett was a fine sprint, but nothing they haven’t bettered in some of their previous encounters. Wolves/reDRagon at the end was quite exciting, but nothing close to their clash at Final Battle. Delirious has rightly received a lot of praise for what he’s done with Ring Of Honor since getting the book late last year. But it’s only right he takes some criticism when it’s just too – and I have to say that thus far these tapings have been a real disappointment. There’s been the odd decent match, but none of these episodes have been memorable or overly-exciting at all.





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