ROH on HDNET 2/14/2011

ROH on HDNet – Episode 095 – 14th February 2011

ROH returns to The Arena for the final nights of HDNet TV tapings. I think, by this point, everyone knew the show had been dropped and that this was the last time Ring Of Honor would be taping content for their series on the network. History tells us that the future isn’t great for wrestling organisations after they lose a national TV deal so once again the knives were out and people were saying this was the end of ROH. So with that in mind it’s interesting to see that Ring Of Honor have chosen to spend their last shows hyping up their FUTURE stars – as if to encourage their viewers to stay with them and keep following the product even once it’s off TV. The Top Prospect Tournament puts 8 up and comers (including the fresh new talent that has flooded into the midcard recently like Cole, O’Reilly, Bennett and Elgin) together in a bid determine who is ROH’s brightest young star. That begins this evening, alongside Homicide continuing his preparation for the 9th Anniversary Show by facing Mark Briscoe. We’re back in Philadelphia, PA with Mike Hogewood and Dave Prazak.

The show opens with a procession of guys modelling the assortment of ‘ROH’ shirts you can buy at the merch stall (because every penny counts now they’ve lost TV). The Top Prospect Tournament begins this evening with the formal unveiling of the 8 participants (wearing the said T’s). They are Kyle O’Reilly, Adam Cole, Andy Ridge, Grizzly Redwood, Michael Elgin, Bobby Dempsey, CZW’s Jon Gresham…along with Mike Bennett who doesn’t see fit to come out with the other guys and makes his own entrance. He isn’t happy about being in this tournament, but says he’ll ‘play with the kids’ for a few weeks on his way to becoming ROH Champion by the end of the year.

Mark Briscoe vs Homicide
Both of these two have their eyes set on the Chicago iPPV. The Briscoes have their ‘dream match’ against Haas and Benjamin, whilst Homicide finally gets his shot at the World Championship. But they have history with each other going back years in ROH and won’t pass up a fight

It doesn’t bode well that this is now the first match, considering it was hyped as the main event was clearly planned to be a main event as Bobby Cruise announces it has ‘television time remaining’. It starts with Mark’s kung fu thrusts against Homicide’s punches…and Briscoe actually drives the former champion out of the ring to deliver a somersault plancha. He drops him again with a superkick, and both commentators spot that the Notorious 187 is now favouring his seemingly permanently injured shoulder. He still delivers a running facewash though, and busts out the Three Amigos. Briscoe stops him from hitting the frog splash but eats a shoulder tackle instead and from there Homicide goes right after his neck. He goes for the Ace Crusher on the apron but it’s blocked. TOPE CON HILO NAILED! Back in the ring Briscoe powerbombs him into the turnbuckles and delivers a fisherman buster for 2. Homicide pops up from that into the Ace Crusher…which Mark no sells for the urinage suplex. Cop Killa countered to a German suplex for another nearfall. He tries the Cut-Throat Driver but Homicide goes back to the neck to block that. Frog Elbow instead but still no win. Homicide goes lucha thug with a frankensteiner then delivers the Lariat…2 again. Mark tries to climb the ropes but is hauled off into a second rope Ace Crusher. Now Homicide wins at 11:26

Rating – ** – Not really a bad match, but I can see why they chose not to run it as a main event. Some of the action was good, but as a complete match experience it felt really flat…mostly because it was almost all ‘spot…no sell…other guy hits a spot…no sell…back to the first guy with a spot…no sell some more’. There was no flow to what they were doing, no real psychology behind it – just a procession of spots mostly executed at a pretty slow pace too. By this point it’s pretty obvious that the Homicide that was one of the most reliable performers on the ROH roster between 2003-2006 is long gone unfortunately. Can he recapture any of that (or recover from all his injuries) in time for 9YA?

The brackets for the Top Prospect Tournament are announced as follows:

Kyle O’Reilly vs Jon Gresham
Bobby Dempsey vs Michael Elgin
Mike Bennett vs Adam Cole
Grizzly Redwood vs Andy Ridge

Kyle O’Reilly vs Jon Gresham – Top Prospect Tournament 1st Round
The Top Prospect Tournament kicks off with these two. Although The Prodigy comes in with all the hype, many will consider Kyle to be a sleeper pick to win the whole thing. His performances since joining forces with Adam Cole have been terrific – and some of his recent singles matches (vs TJ Perkins at Tag Title Classic 2 and vs Kenny King at Champions vs All Stars) have been really impressive. Gresham debuts this evening and is sort of a wildcard. He’s followed Adam Cole from CZW to ROH on HDNet.

I’ve heard Gresham has a lot of fans of his CZW work, but my first impressions are that he’s tiny. HE could pull off Mike Mondo’s ‘giant killer’ gimmick in ROH. He starts quickly and O’Reilly struggles to live with him for the first minute. Kyle tries to go to the strikes…but Gresham can hang in that environment and messes up O’Reilly’s chest in a hurry. He hiptosses Kyle into a short-range kick, then hits a snap suplex for 2. Gresham is completely out-wrestling his opponent here…until O’Reilly drops him on his NECK with a Regalplex. An incredible near-fall sequence comes next, with such speed that Paul Turner looks gassed after it. MOUNTED PALM STRIKES from Kyle…rolled into a Triangle Choke. MMA ELBOWS TOO! Gresham taps at 04:58

Rating – *** – I don’t think this match could have packed any more fun into 5 minutes. Gresham really busted his ass and made a hell of an impression. Honestly if he wasn’t so tiny I really think ROH would have signed him up right on the back of this performance. It’s a shame a faction full of ‘smaller guys’ like Special K or the Vulture Squad aren’t still around, because he’d be a great fit as the ‘worker’ in a stable of fliers.

Steve Corino is at ringside, as he promised last week. He congratulates Kyle O’Reilly on a great match, but tells him if he wants to win her needs to make sure he takes the fight to his opponents.

In more interviews for the 9th Anni Show, the Kings are entirely dismissive of the threat ANX pose…whilst King and Titus go to lengths to point out that they’re not going to Chicago to ‘prove anything’…they’re marching into iPPV to ‘take something’.

Hog and DP thinks it’s main event time and aren’t happy when Homicide goes ‘off script’ to come back to the ring. He won’t leave, and Hero/King, the planned main event, is hastily postponed to next week to serve as a double header with the already advertised Claudio/Titus match. He calls Takeshi Morishima a ‘fat slob from Japan’, b*tches about never getting a World Title rematch, sh*ts on Strong’s title defences thus far and accuses Roddy of ducking him. Strong comes to the ring and tells him to stop ‘talking gibberish’ which is f*cking awesome. This actually gets personal as he accuses him of ‘sucking on Konnan’s seeds’ and has multiple lines bleeped out for swearing. The champ is pissed at Homicide for ruining his title win at Glory By Honor and wants an apology. Obviously he doesn’t get one…so he and Truth Martini start double-teaming Homicide. A wild brawl ensues with a bunch of guys unable to separate them. Strong winds up leaving with no shoes and no pants…

NEXT WEEK – The go home show for the 9th Anniversary Show features Kings vs ANX in singles matches with Hero/King and Castagnoli/Titus

Tape Rating – *** – I may be in a minority, but I thought this was a really terrific episode. I love the idea of the Top Prospect Tournament, and it makes perfect sense given how many new guys have come into ROH since last summer (although I sort of wish they’d have played up history and called it the Race To The Top Tournament 2011). O’Reilly/Gresham was a super-entertaining little match to start the festivities there…and the concluding segment was very possibly the best promo segment Roderick Strong has ever been involved in. He and Homicide had an AWESOME verbal exchange, and in 5 minutes they almost made the ROH fanbase actually care about their title match. Even the Mark vs Homicide match wasn’t as bad as some have made out.

ROH on HDNet Episodes 91-95 – Top 5 Matches
5) Bravado Brothers vs Adam Cole/Kyle O’Reilly (*** – Episode 092)
4) Charlie Haas/Shelton Benjamin vs All Night Express (*** – Episode 092)
3) Kings Of Wrestling/All Night Express vs Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe/Charlie Haas/Shelton Benjamin(*** – Episode 094)
2) Christopher Daniels vs Chris Hero (**** – Episode 091)
1) Eddie Edwards vs Christopher Daniels (**** – Episode 093)

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