ROH on Sinclair – Episode 075 – 23rd February 2013
It’s not that I’m not enjoying ROH’s television show in 2013. The problem is that it’s all flash and no bang. All snap and no crackle or pop. All slap and no tickle. All style and no substance. We’re getting through vast amounts of content – matches are flying by and angles are being built for the next ppv at breakneck speed. The issue it’s Delirious is trying to cram so much in that it’s all becoming a bit of a blur. Truthfully there haven’t been many (if any) truly memorable TV bouts at all from ROH this year – and after nearly two months that’s a concern. However, the graphic for this week’s episode does make me feel better, as the main event appears to be the American Wolves and Michael Elgin facing Roderick Strong and reDRagon. If they give that any sort of time allowance that should be quite the slug-fest. On top of that we have the finals of the Top Prospect Tournament, plus all the hype just a week out from the 11th Anniversary Show. Interestingly this episode aired on the actual exact 11th anniversary of Ring Of Honor’s first show. Can’t believe it was a whole eleven years ago that Low Ki, Bryan Danielson and Christopher Daniels were destroying each other in that memorable main event. How Ki has gone on to be the least successful of that trio I really don’t know either. Kevin Kelly and Caleb Seltzer (I wonder if either of them have even seen Ki/Danielson/Daniels from Era Of Honor Begins) are at the booth in Baltimore, MD.
The show opens with Kevin Steen walking through the curtain for some promo time. He admits to wanting to put ROH out of business because Jim Cornette steered it away from what the promotion was ideologically ‘supposed’ to be – the best wrestling on the planet. Now Cornette is gone, he loves ROH again and is proud to be World Champion. That’s why he gave Lethal a title shot (he was the one that got rid of him)…but it doesn’t matter because Jay can’t beat him anyway. Short and sweet…
Matt Taven vs Tadarius Thomas – Top Prospect Tournament Final
Obviously this is the biggest match in the ROH careers of both men to date. TD has a contract, but is still lacking a real break-out win or defining moment to start moving him up the card. He defeated Antonio Thomas and QT Marshall to get here – and after having a taste of the main event spotlight when he challenged Kevin Steen for the World Title in Dearborn last month, will surely be looking for any route back to that level. Taven, who overcame ACH and Silas Young (both of whom were probably favourites over him) has been trying to get into Ring Of Honor since 2009. He had some tremendous matches last year, but still had to sit back and watch talent (like Tadarius) get contracts whilst he didn’t. A win in this tournament would surely guarantee him that permanent spot at last. The winner also goes on to next week’s ppv to challenge Adam Cole for the TV Title.
We have a slow start, coupled with some AWFUL commentary as Kevin and Caleb can’t decide if the winner gets a contract (TD already has one), and continually put Cole and the TV Title over this whole tournament – completely belittling and devaluing the winner of this match before we even have one. Tadarius blasts Matt with a couple of capoeira kicks…so Taven hits back with a DOUBLE springboard crossbody for 2. Truth Martini is watching this from ringside, and can’t help but be impressed as Thomas takes it into a higher gear and downs Matt with a flurry of armdrags and kicks to the face. Taven realises he’s struggling to live with the innovative skills of his opponent, so attacks the ribs and back. He quickly gets a nearfall with a backbreaker/ribbreaker combo and has TD struggling to get back to a vertical base. SPRINGBOARD CORKSCREW SENTON gets 2! Tadarius is wounded and tries to end the match quickly by attempting multiple pinning combinations, only to be caught rushing in with a jumping enzi across the face. Martini grabs Taven’s leg to distract him and cheers TD on as he cartwheels into another sliding kick. Sling Blade decks Matt…softening him up for the Tiger Suplex! That beat QT Marshall, but such is the damage to the midsection that Taven manages to kick out. He aims a spinning heel kick in Thomas’ direction but it’s ducked…and connects with the referee. Truth tries to throw his boot to TD, who declines his help and tosses the shoe back! Martini tosses it in again…only for Taven to pick it up! Thomas doesn’t like that…but is NAILED with the Book Of Truth by Martini! Taven capitalises with the roll-up and wins the tournament at 08:31
Rating – *** – This was a fun match, and probably only scratched the surface of what these two (particularly Taven) are capable of before Truth Martini’s antics overshadowed everything. I’m glad Taven won, but the booking here is horrible. I liked the idea behind the ‘who does Truth want to win’ mentality…but that finish was ghastly. It would have been PERFECT if Taven had used the boot (or the Book) to win. He just gave an interview admitting he was jealous of guys like Tadarius for getting spots when he wasn’t. If he’d have been the guy to nail Thomas and win it would have been a HUGE statement of intent. Instead he looks like a goof, instantly becoming nothing more than a sidekick in Truth Martini’s Circus of Hoopla.
Truth extends a hand to Taven…who tries to walk away. Martini gives him a talk, and they shake hands. Looks like we’re witnessing the rebirth of the House Of Truth.
INSIDE ROH – For the first time Kevin Kelly doesn’t make an appearance. The segment consists entirely of promos and video packages hyping 11th Anniversary Show matches.
Jay Lethal interrupts preparations for the main event to address Steen’s words from earlier in the hour. He refuses to succumb to Mr Wrestling’s mindgames, and vows to win the belt next weekend to take his place alongside some of the great champions in Ring Of Honor history.
Roderick Strong/Kyle O’Reilly/Bobby Fish vs Davey Richards/Eddie Edwards/Michael Elgin
There are scores to be settled across the piece in our main event this evening. Elgin and Strong are just a week away from their 2/3 Falls grudge match in Chicago. Any chance to do some damage or lay down a marker for that bout will be snatched up this evening. And it wasn’t that long ago that reDRagon were defeating the American Wolves to become #1 contenders to the ROH Tag Titles. They get their shot at the belts in Chicago too – and if they win then presumably the first guys knocking at the door for a title shot would be the Wolves. Davey and Kyle used to be friends, as did Fish and Eddie in Japan. If that wasn’t enough, don’t forget that Roderick also used to be friends with Davey, and has had memorable feuds and shared MOTYC’s with both Wolves in years gone by. Who gets the bragging rights going into Ring Of Honor’s 11th Anniversary celebrations?
The Briscoes are on commentary, with Mark drawing repeated laughs by calling Fish ‘Bobby The Fish’ and complimenting the Wolves’ vests. The match barely begins before all six are spilling out to the floor in a rush to beat the hell out of each other. Back from commercials we come, with Elgin splattering all three opponents with a sequence of body avalanches in the corner. He lifts Fish up for a vertical suplex (Mark discusses things you could do whilst Elgin holds Fish in the air), with the Wolves stopping O’Reilly and Strong getting into the ring to help their partner. Finally Kyle manages to distract Richards, allowing Bobby to cheap shot the Wolf and turn the match in their favour for the first time. O’Reilly in particular takes real pleasure unleashing a flurry of strikes on his former mentor, before Roddy tags and makes fun of Elgin by attempting a stalling vertical suplex. Richards is in serious danger and miles away from his partners as we go to the final commercial break. He’s still in there when we come back but he manages to fight past both members of reDRagon and at last make a hot tag to Eddie. Sliding enzi scores on Fish for 2. Boston Knee Party COUNTERED by Strong, but he can’t convert it to the Stronghold! Achilles Lock blocked…CHOP DUEL! DOUBLE ALARM CLOCK from the Wolves! They boot reDRagon to the floor…for DUELLING TOPE SUICIDAS! It leaves Elgin and Strong alone…and Unbreakable absolutely pummels his former partner with strikes. Black Hole Slam gets 2! O’Reilly saves Strong from the Spiral Bomb with a sleeper…but Elgin won’t go down! HE DEAD-LIFT GERMAN SUPLEXES FISH TO BREAK THE HOLD! DOUBLE STOMP COMBO by the Wolves! DEATH BY RODERICK! TOTAL ELIMINATION gets 2 for reDRagon before the Wolves make the save! Anklelock from Richards to Fish…STRONG SAVES WITH A TORTURE RACK BACKBREAKER! SICK KICK ON ELGIN! FOR 2! ORANGE CRUSH BACKBREAKER! STRONG WINS! He gets another win over Elgin at 14:52 (shown)
Rating – **** – At last a TV match worth watching from ROH. It was still very much a low-end 4* match, but considering how much they’ve struggled to produce worthy and memorable main events recently, this was certainly a spectacle to savour. The two rivalries were certainly played up well – particularly (and most importantly) the Strong/Elgin feud as they meet again next weekend. The flurry of spots after the heat segment was non-stop awesome and well worth checking out.
Tape Rating – *** – By far the best episode of 2013 thus far. The main event of the show was very well done, we saw a Top Prospect Tournament winner crowned, and the World Championship match for the next ppv was heavily featured in what was the ‘go home episode’. Other than the booking for the Taven/Tadarius finish there’s not a whole lot to criticise here.
ROH on SBG Episodes 70-75 – Top 5 Matches
5) Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Caprice Coleman/Cedric Alexander (*** – Episode 070)
4) Matt Taven vs Tadarius Thomas (*** – Episode 075)
3) Michael Elgin vs Mike Bennett (*** – Episode 072)
2) Adam Cole vs BJ Whitmer (*** – Episode 071)
1) Roderick Strong/reDRagon vs American Wolves/Michael Elgin (**** – Episode 075)