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ROH Bluegrass Brawl 7/22/2010

ROH 261 – Bluegrass Brawl – 22nd July 2010

This is a major weekend for ROH – although on the face of things it may not seem that way. These are the first house shows after Death Before Dishonor 8, no major feuds are scheduled to end and since it’s not iPPV you can’t expect anything too notable to go down. But there’s more going on that you might think. This is ROH’s first triple shot of DVD releases since 2008. St Louis and Chicago are the major shows, with the likes of Amazing Kong and the Young Bucks being brought in for the weekend and the big Black/Steen title match on Saturday. This event has sort of been tacked onto this weekend, but for a genuine purpose. ROH makes it’s debut in the Davis Arena in Louisville, KY. It’s famous for being the home building for OVW – former WWE developmental territory and breeding ground of future stars like Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Randy Orton, CM Punk and many more. The real reason ROH is here is that they’re looking to take ROH on HDNet on the road – and they want to road test this building for that purpose. It’s small, intimate and since OVW have been taping here for years, has a proven history as a viable building for television production. I believe this weekend are also Adam Pearce’s final live shows as ROH’s head booker. Half of the card is really average-looking, with lots of OVW guys booked to help out. But with a scheduled main event of the American Wolves facing the Briscoes, along with Tyler Black working Claudio Castagnoli in non-title action and Team Aries facing Truth Martini’s House Of Truth there is enough name talent at the top of the card that this may still be worth checking out. Commentary from Dave Prazak and Joe Dumbrowski.

SIDENOTE – This show LOOKS very different from your usual ROH show. It was shot using OVW’s taping equipment meaning the screen formatting is different and VQ is much better than normal.They also used OVW’s ring meaning the ropes are the recognisable bright yellow colour. Interestingly, when OVW first sent the footage to ROH for replication and printing of this DVD Ring Of Honor sent it back saying it was nowhere near good enough and ordered a complete overhaul before finally releasing it well out of sync with other live shows. The Davis Arena is such a cool, intimate little building though and looks great on DVD. ROH did end up taking the HDNet show to Louisville at the end of 2010 and I can’t wait to see how the TV show looks outside of the ECW Arena.

Jim Cornette opens the show and naturally gets a deafening reaction from his local fans. He spends most of his promo hyping OVW which I suppose isn’t surprising. Not sure why this needed to be on the DVD though.

Beef Wellington vs Paredyse
Two OVW talents to get us started here. Paredyse works a cross-dressing gimmick and added hooker make-up to boot. I’ve not seen too much of Wellington, although I’m sure I read he got a WWE developmental deal so I’m interested to see what he brings to the table.

Paredyse prances around the ring and uses his odd tactics to get the best of Beef in the first minute. Wellington hits back with a dropkick then drops Paredyse on the floor with a hard clothesline. He goes for a Stinger Splash in the corner only for Paredyse to move and prompt Beef to crash out of the ring. Lunging forearm smash gets 2 as Wellington continues to struggle. He dives off the second rope to hit a smash to the back of the neck for another nearfall. Paredyse tries the same thing a second time though, and this time Beef is waiting to smack him in the ribs. Somewhat ugly sunset flip sequence gets 2 before Paredyse hangs Beef into the ropes. Semi-botched neckbreaker gets 2. Beef decides to play dead, luring Paredyse into a flash pin for 3 at 07:37

Rating – DUD – I can see why Beef was scouted by WWE in that he’s got decent size and the sort of generic, cookie-cutter, painfully boring ring style that the WWE likes all it’s new recruits to have. I’m sure I’ll offend some OVW fans with this rating but I thought this was terrible. I get that they were working the ‘basics’ but they didn’t even do that particularly well. I’ve heard Paredyse is supposedly quite a fun act – none of that was on show tonight. He just looked like a mediocre worker with a flower in his hair and wrestling tights one size too small. If I was Ring Of Honor’s editor this would have been on the cutting room floor.

The Elite vs Sucio/Fang – OVW Southern Tag Title Match
I wonder how long the guy playing ‘Fang’ sat and thought about his ring name before settling on that. I’m not particularly interested in this match either, although with ROH’s strong tag division I’m sure both teams would like to make an impression and potentially pick up more bookings. I think there are quite a few ROH alumni with their names in the OVW Southern Tag Title history books too.

Ted McNaylor (how much of a porn star name is that?) starts with Sucio and they look VERY up for this as they run through an intense mat wrestling exchange. Ted tags his partner Adam Revolver, only for Sucio and Fang to use their speed advantage to out-manoeuvre the bigger man. McNaylor back and he lays in some really stiff strikes on Fang. But Fang speeds things up again with a quebrada press for 2. The Elite are knocked out of the ring…FANG BACK DROPS SUCIO INTO A SOMERSAULT RANA TO THE FLOOR! That took out Revolver but McNaylor is still active and he drops Fang with a neckbreaker in the ropes. The Elite start working Fang’s neck and slowing the pace right down to one that favours them. Fang desperately dives off the top rope into a crossbody block on Revolver and starts inching towards his partner for the hot tag. Sucio shows impressive strength to hit rolling suplexes on Adam, then gets 2 with a double knee strike from the top rope. But with Fang still recovering The Elite quickly overwhelm Sucio. LEAPFROG FRANKENSTEINER combo from Sucio and Fang takes out Revolver. McNaylor with a MID-AIR SPEAR to block it when they try the same move on him. Revolver puts his feet on the ropes for a cheap pin at 09:06

Rating – *** – Like I said, if I was editor I’d have cut Wellington/Paredyse…and opened the show with this match. I’ll admit the hot local crowd helped, and honestly neither team looked particularly special, but this was a really well-worked little match with a power team and a speed team clicking naturally as opponents. Not everything was clean but all four were clearly working really hard to impress, and impress me they definitely did. I’d be interested in seeing The Elite again if only because they looked like a physical and technically sound (if slightly devoid of personality) team. Sucio and Fang looked very indie-riffic but did their jobs just fine.

Sara Del Rey vs Daizee Haze
Yes folks, it’s these two women doing battle again. We’ve seen them both in action on HDNet in recent weeks, both scoring fairly comprehensive wins over various enhancement talents. Once again these two ROH veterans will test their skills against each other with Del Rey needing to gain some momentum going into Chicago on Saturday night when she faces a big rematch with Amazing Kong.

These two are hugely familiar, and Haze is under no illusion that Del Rey’s power is a threat. She tries to avoid it but Sara finally ploughs her into the corner for a brutal volley of forearms. Del Rey is sent to the outside…and when Daizee tries to wipe her out with a suicide dive all that happens is that she dives into the arms of the Kings Of Wrestling, who roughly deposit her back into the ring. The intervention of Hero and Claudio hands Sara the advantage and she quickly drops her lightweight opponent with a backbreaker for 2. Superkick followed by a cloverleaf comes next. Daizee is obviously in real pain, but she keeps throwing kicks at Del Rey, even whilst flat on her back and in real trouble. Desperation roll-up gets 2 before Sara mows her down again with a mafia kick. Big Swing chickenwing variant as she continues to manhandle the Haze. Kick flurry as Daizee is hung in the ropes and she starts to go limp. STANDING octopus hold from Haze…only for Sara to walk towards the turnbuckles and smash her against them. Iconoclasm blocked and Daizee lands a facebuster. Heart Punch/Yakuza Kick combo! Haze to the top…but Claudio grabs her leg. That seems a little mean! The referee ejects the Kings but the distraction puts Sara on top again. She goes for a powerbomb…but Haze counters with a victory roll. She scores the upset win at 08:15

Rating – ** – You could argue that this was their best ROH match. It was probably their most basic and unambitious, but the match format they worked meant it was basically all Sara on offence and ensured there was little opportunity for Daizee’s trademark sloppiness to become a problem. Had there not been so much KOW intervention I might have gone higher on the rating.

Delirious vs Mike Mondo
You may recognise Mike from his Spirit Squad days in the WWE. Honestly, in a group which included Ken Doane, Johnny Jeter and Dolph Ziggler he was very clearly one of the weak links, but he’s a well put-together athlete and supposedly one of the better talents working in this region.

Mondo immediately has to dive out of the ring as Delirious starts charging around the ring like a nutcase. The mindgames put him at a real disadvantage and Delirious continues to dominate. 5 minutes in and it’s been all Delirious so far. Mike lands a cannonball senton off the apron which is his first offence of the contest. He hangs Delirious in the ropes for a flurry of offence to his unprotected face and chest which gets 2. Swinging neckbreaker next for another nearfall. He takes an eternity climbing the turnbuckles though, and deservedly misses a diving headbutt. Swinging neckbreaker from Delirious this time, but just as with Mikey it only gets 2. Cobra Stretch blocked so he hits the sliding flatliner instead. Delirious goes upstairs but Mondo catches him going for Shadows Over Hell. He climbs the ropes after the lizard man to hit a beautiful tumbling headscissors. Diving headbutt scores this time. Shotgun dropkick into the Panic Attack from Delirious…then Shadows Over Hell for the win at 12:22

Rating – ** – Of all the OVW talent we’ve seen tonight, Jim Cornette clearly likes Mondo the most and has given him several bookings since this show. Indeed, I think he recently signed a 2 year contract with the SBG-owned ROH so Jim evidently rates him very highly – whilst a lot of the internet writers have given him a pretty rough deal. Personally I thought he was ok. He looks very much like a lot of other workers that come from OVW in that he looked pretty bland, but his execution was very solid and he could easily be carried to a good match by a better worker. He also looked like the kind of guy who, if given the right gimmick and storyline, could really click with the ROH fans. By that I compare him to someone like Tank Toland, who clearly wasn’t your archetypal ‘ROH guy’ but Gabe found the ‘trainer’ gimmick in Sweet’n’Sour Inc. which really worked for him. If they find something suitable for Mondo he looks like a strong enough worker to run with it. This match, for what it’s worth, wasn’t anything special but was completely flawless in it’s execution.

Chris Hero (4) vs Colt Cabana – Pick 6 Series Match
It feels like the Pick 6 is already starting to get phased out, much like all the other ‘title determining systems’ ROH has run down the years. Colt needs to get a Pick 6 spot if he is to earn a title shot and finally win the World Title to take home to Chicago. He’s also said this match means a lot to him personally as it’s a return to the Davis Arena, a building where he was made to sweep floors and had his ring-style and personality brutally picked apart whilst he was in WWE developmental.

The crowd is extremely vocal for this, the biggest match of the night thus far. Hero, of course, is a great striker but it’s interesting to note that despite training with the likes of Mike Quackenbush and Skayde, he struggles to live with Colt’s European mat stuff and leaves the ring to regroup. He comes back in, allows Cabana to work circles round him again then SLAPS HIM IN THE FACE! That was so hard it dropped Colt to his knees. He then manages to toss the referee aside before driving Colt all the way to the floor with a big elbow smash. Hero literally drags Cabana back in to start drilling him with knee strikes and boots to the face. Flash Kick from the floor to the apron gets 2. Stretch Plum locked in next but of course, that takes the match back to the mat and Colt manages to counter out. Roaring Elbow instead and with that he nearly beats Colt there and then. Cabana builds some momentum and takes Hero off his feet with a clothesline but such is the damage he’s sustained that he takes a while to recover. FLASH KICK gets 2, as does another straight elbow strike across the jaw. Cravat-Oclasm blocked with a FLYING ASS ATTACK! ELBOW SMASH BLOCKS THE FLYING ASSHOLE! But Cabana blocks the Death Blow with a bridging pin to take the #4 rankings spot at 12:55

Rating – *** – This was a total ROH ‘b-show’ match, but I had a blast watching it. I know the storyline was that Hero couldn’t out-wrestle Colt so he had to use his strikes – but in reality Hero is an extremely proficient mat technician and that meant that all the European chain-wrestling stuff that Cabana does looked so smooth. The story of strikes vs chain wrestling was well-told and they really kept things escalating nicely and played it right into the finish with Cabana able to BLOCK a big strike and use his superior wrestling skill to snatch a win.

Austin Aries/Kenny King/Rhett Titus vs Roderick Strong/Josh Raymond/Christin Able
I’m interested to see how this heel faction vs heel faction match will work. This is the first time Strong has teamed with his new allies in the House Of Truth, and they have their work cut out against Team Aries who have been working together for over a year by this point. I’m also interested to see how the managerial aspects of this one play out. Truth Martini is the newest manager on the ROH scene, and his recruitment of ROH veteran Roderick Strong is a major statement of intent. How will he interact with the self-proclaimed ‘greatest manager that ever lived’ in A-Double?

Truth makes the ring announced give him a special introduction, which in turn pisses Aries off so he grabs the microphone for one of his monologues. Tonight he rips on KFC, then calls the entire House Of Truth cheap imitations of himself and his men. That’s enough to get the fight underway, and I physically laugh out loud as Prazak describes this as a battle of ‘six crowd favourites’. First Team Aries clear the ring…only for HOT to storm back and do the same thing in return. They capture Titus like a prisoner and drag him right into their corner to work him over. Able puts Rhett in a chinlock right in front of Martini, who starts reading to him from the Book Of Truth. He and Josh then get 2 with the powerbomb senton combo. Finally King makes a blind tag and runs through Able with a clothesline. Whilst Rhett recovers Aries and Kenny start beating up Christin, taking their turn to isolate a member of the House Of Truth and wear him down. ANX get 2 with a great kick combo then bring Aries back in to chinlock the hurting Christin Able. Kenny hits a springboard blockbuster over Rhett’s knees, only for Able to fight back with an Alabamaslam. Tags all round to former tag partners Roderick Strong and Austin Aries. They trade chops, and of course Austin doesn’t do well in that so rakes the eyes. Death By Roderick scores for 2. A-Double then counters the Half Nelson backbreaker and turns it to the Last Chancery…only for Roddy to reverse that to a small package. Gibson Driver attempted, and once again Aries has a reversal! IED NAILED! Brainbuster blocked but Strong doesn’t see Rhett sneak in with his leapfrog Rocker Dropper for 2. SPIRAL TAP TO THE FLOOR BY JOSH! Truth Martini is in the ring but Titus knocks him on his ass! SICK KICK ON RHETT! Strong, with the assist from Martini, scores the win at 12:33

Rating – *** – Once again, very much a ‘b-show’ match, but much like Hero/Cabana this was a lot of fun. Roderick was obviously still feeling his way as the newest member of the House Of Truth, but the Team Aries trio were comfortable and charismatic to carry this with a great performance. Much of this was pretty much paint by numbers…but the last two minutes (including a sensational little counter sequence between Aries and Strong) provided an entertaining, non-stop action pay-off.

Tyler Black vs Claudio Castagnoli
The belt isn’t on the line here, but Double C will be well aware of the Ring Of Honor tradition that if you beat the champion in a non-title match they will defend the title against you in the future. The Kings are reigning supreme in the tag division right now, but lets not forget that they remain dangerous singles competitors, both of whom spent much of the last 2 years with their own ROH World Title aspirations. Hero lost his Pick 6 Match tonight, can Claudio emerge as a potential top contender in his place by defeating Tyler?

Castagnoli, with new Mohawk on display tonight, starts by easily over-powering the World Champion, then leaves the ring to bask in his initial success. It’s noticeable that Tyler’s body language is a lot more surly and intense in the face of the mixed reactions he’s been getting across the ROH circuit recently. Claudio continues his strategy of throwing Tyler all around the ring, then walking out just when it seems like Black might mount a comeback. At last Black gets away from a body slam attempt, and this time physically THROWS Claudio out of the ring before launching into an attack on him around ringside. They battle over a suplex on the floor, ending when Black whips Claudio into the steel steps which OVW have kindly provided. Castagnoli goes for an ill-advised dive spot and is caught by Tyler for a boot to the head. He does the same thing again as they re-enter, hitting the Stomp for 2. Claudio hides behind the referee, then pokes Black’s eyes to put a halt to the non-stop barrage of offence that Tyler has been throwing his way. Big Swing blocked…so he catapults him into the turnbuckles instead, followed by a stalling backbreaker into a bow and arrow stretch. Tilta-whirl backbreaker nailed next for 2. Black is in real pain now, and finds his back targeted again as Claudio hits a dead-lift gutwrench suplex. Stranglehold camel clutch variant…but Tyler fights out and dropkicks him to the outside. Somersault plancha nailed, then the Springboard Lariat back into the ring. Black Star Press gets 2. F-5 blocked and Claudio attacks the back again. Back to that Stranglehold Clutch then a DEADLIFT GERMAN SUPLEX FOR 2! That happened so quickly it was frightening. He jerks Tyler down by the hair then puts him in a torture rack. That, of course, is set up for the UFO which gets another 2. Riccola Bomb blocked…Bicycle Kick misses…PELE KICK! F-5 scores as well, but so worn down is Black that he lies flat on the canvas next to Claudio after that. POP-UP EUROPEAN NAILED…FOR 2! RICCOLA BOMB! 2 AGAIN! Claudio is pissed now and tries to use his Tag Title belt as a weapon. ROPE RUN BICYCLE KICK SCORES! That leaves Tyler perched on the top rope, but he evades Double C to launch him into the BUCKLE BOMB! Superkick misses, and Castagnoli goes for the Springboard European. COUNTERED WITH THE SUPERKICK! THEN THE SUPERKICK AGAIN! Black wins at 20:33

Rating – **** – Clear MOTN thus far, and a MUCH better contest than anything else we’ve seen tonight. These guys were clearly told to go out there and deliver a match that will sell some DVD’s, and they delivered on that. Sure I’d like to have seen Black sell the back more since I think that would have made Claudio look like much of a threat, but that doesn’t mean everything else wasn’t very well worked. The last 5 minutes were really good with so much back and forth stuff that you genuinely couldn’t pick a winner. Bad night for the Kings in Louisville though.

American Wolves vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe
These guys have met a number of times before, but this is a direct rematch from their outstanding match at From The Ashes in Houston, which was ROH’s best match at this year’s WrestleMania weekend. Of course they go further back than that, with the Wolves injuring Mark’s knee at the end of 2008, cheating to retain the Tag Titles against the Briscoes during the Final Countdown Tour, before ultimately losing the belts to them at Final Battle 2009. Now neither team has possession of the tag team gold and you imagine this match will go a long way towards determining who challenges the Kings next.

Richards starts with Mark, which gives Prazak and Dumbrowski a chance to eulogise about how good the Tyler/Davey ROH Title Match was. Davey edges out Mark with a bridging kick to the shoulder and we get tags all round meaning it’s now Eddie/Jay. They run through a really competitive little mat sequence, good enough to make me think an Eddie vs Jay TV Title Match might be worth watching. Both Briscoes come in and their tandem offence is too much for the Wolves at this juncture. Briscoe Biel on Richards, then a double boot in  the corner after Edwards is knocked all the way to the floor. Impressively, Richards manages to fight off both of them, finally luring Jay into a lunging kick in the ropes from Edwards. Eddie then takes Jay out of the ring for an illegal attack on the floor which makes it advantage Wolves. Mark makes the save with a running neckbreaker on Eddie and the Briscoes are able to isolate the TV Champion in the ring soon thereafter. With a little help from Davey, Edwards fights back with a dragon screw in the ropes on Jay…and the Wolves go straight after the leg from there. Arm capture cloverleaf by Davey…and Eddie pulls back on his own partner to add more leverage to the hold. Jay fights out to hit a spinebuster, then collapses to the mat holding his leg. Edwards is on hand to boot Mark off the apron before Jay can get to the tag. He works a Figure 4 Leglock and even when Jay turns it over, Richards simply climbs to the top and BLASTS his exposed face with a diving headbutt. Grounded dragon screw by Edwards…into the Achilles Lock. Mark tries to break it so Edwards SPITS IN HIS FACE!

DDT OFF THE APRON FROM RICHARDS TO MARK! Except for some reason camera cuts away right as he hits that move. Jay tries in vein to fight off both opponents only to end up flat on his face again after Edwards hits a double stomp to his back. Saito suplex from Davey next, but it’s still only enough for a 2-count. From nowhere Mark flies into a crossbody block on Richards to help his brother out…and at last Jay manages to get the hot tag. Davey is floored with FLYING Redneck Kung Fu then dropped on his neck with the urinage. Ace crusher on Edwards gets 2. Iconoclasm scores but gets the same result and Mark starts to get frustrated. MAFIA KICK in the corner from Eddie to Mark, followed by a huge superplex. Richards knocks him on his ass with the Handspring Enzi as we pass 20 minutes. Mark retaliates with a running knee strike and gets the tag to a limping Jay. DVD WITH LEG SELLING gets 2! But he can’t hit the Jay Driller with the bad wheel and takes an enzi kick across the face. DRAGON SUPLEX BY MARK! MISSILE DROPKICK BY EDWARDS! MAFIA KICK DUEL BETWEEN EDDIE AND JAY! SUPERKICK DUEL! DOUBLE CLOTHESLINES! ALL FOUR DOWN! They are so worn down they all take a while to recover, and when Edwards and Jay are the first up they pick up where they left off by absolutely tearing into each other with forearm smashes. Double Alarm Clock by the Wolves! SUPERKICK GERMAN…FOR 2! They think about the Doomsday Ace Crusher…MARK SAVES WITH A SPRINGBOARD ACE CRUSHER! Jay drops Edwards with a lariat for 2! SPIKE JAY DRILLER NAILED! Briscoes get the win and continue their dominance over the Wolves at 25:13

Rating – **** – The first half of this match was a little bland, but once they got going through the second half it was a real stormer. What I really liked about this one was that, whilst they maintained lots of elements of a traditional tag match, such as the heat segment working a body part, the heel team doing ‘pretend’ tags and whatever, the main focus on this one was how even these two teams are. The pendulum swung back and forth between them constantly. It wasn’t like one team was a great team and the other team are two great singles guys…this was too strong, well-matched teams and the whole thing had a vibe of ‘anyone could win this’. I can’t decide which is the best Briscoes/Wolves clash, but it’s definitely between this one and From The Ashes.

Tape Rating – ** – In truth this show feels like a bit of an afterthought of an event, and certainly serves as nothing more than a prelude to the ‘big shows’ of the weekend in St Louis and Chicago. ROH were really here to road test the building and fans ahead of bringing the HDNet show to town later in 2010, and as such most of the card was filled with short little TV length bouts. They only brought a ‘shadow crew’ of wrestling talent to the building (I think there are something like 10+ talents working Collinsville tomorrow that didn’t work Louisville tonight – including Kevin Steen, El Generico, GenerationMe and Amazing Kong) and put no effort into making this more of an ‘event’ with any backstage promo’s or vignettes. There was no real storyline advancement either, and realistically the biggest piece of news coming out of the show is Colt Cabana going to #4 in the Pick 6. BUT, for all the negatives, the two main events were great matches and even B-show mode, the 6-man and Hero/Cabana were entertaining little matches too. There’s no real reason to buy this unless you’re a completist or REALLY want to see Tyler/Claudio (since From The Ashes is a better show and has an equally good Briscoes/Wolves match)…but if you do try to get every DVD the two big bouts don’t make this a total write-off.

Top 3 Matches
3) Chris Hero vs Colt Cabana (***)
2) Tyler Black vs Claudio Castagnoli (****)
1) Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs American Wolves (****)

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