ROH on HDNET 3/15/2010

ROH on HDNet – Episode 051 – 15th March 2010

The tournament to crown the inaugural ROH TV Champion continues tonight as the American Wolves, struggling to get it together as a team, fly solo and each have a tournament first round match on this episode. Elsewhere, the build to ROH’s next iPPV, The Big Bang, continues. We join Mike Hogewood and Dave Prazak in Philadelphia, PA

Eddie Edwards vs Colt Cabana
This would be the third of the four TV Title Tournament opening round matches. Both men bring an interesting back story into this one. The American Wolves haven’t won too many matches since dropping the ROH Tag Titles at Final Battle 2009. After back to back HDNet losses to the Young Bucks and the Dark City Fight Club recently, many have questioned the future of the team. Both men have entered the TV Title Tournament and will look to put their struggles as a unit behind them and find success lone wolves. Meanwhile, Cabana has called himself an ideal TV Champion for ROH, but many question whether he is 100% focused on winning the belt what with all the distractions he has on his plate right now – in the form of El Generico, Kevin Steen and Steve Corino.

Colt tries to goof off like he usually does, only for Edwards to start headbutting him. So much for that then. Cabana works a headlock instead, but again gets knocked to the canvas and repeatedly punted in the head. Steve Corino is in the aisle watching things, and of course is an immediate distraction for Cabana. Edwards pounces and wrenches the knee, looking to work the leg in preparation for the Achilles Lock. Great counter from Cabana though, sitting down to avoid a dragon screw then rolling Eddie into a submission hold of his own. Colt 45 blocked before Edwards hits a BRUTAL flying double stomp straight to the small of the back. He starts working the back now, another pressure point for the Achilles Lock, and gets a close 2-count with a backbreaker. He works a grounded waistlock next, a real basic hold but putting all the pressure on Colt’s injured back. Cabana fights out and hits a clothesline, but Edwards is almost up before him such is the damage he’s sustained. Jumping ass attack gets 2 for Cabana, and leaves Eddie in position for the Flying Asshole. At this point Corino comes a little closer to the ring, and distracts Colt for long enough to allow Edwards to apply the ACHILLES LOCK! Cabana taps, and Eddie advances to the semis at 09:59

Rating – *** – The crowd was deathly silent which really hurt things, but I found this to be a really solid encounter. The story-telling was first rate here, and I loved the way they immediately set this apart from the multitude of Cabana singles matches where he goofs around and does silly European stuff in the first 5 minutes with Edwards headbutting him from the get-go for trying that. This was never designed to be a MOTYC, but it was fine for it’s spot on the card and turned out to be an entertaining, well-executed match between two well-rounded pros. Eddie advances, Cabana finds himself further drawn into the Corino/Steen/Generico circus…job done.

Kyle Durden interviews the Briscoes ahead of their defence against the Kings Of Wrestling at The Big Bang. Mark has fake teeth in which are alarmingly white. I only understood circa 40% of what they were saying…but the gist is that they’re going to win

The Big Bang hype continues with Roderick Strong taking some interview time. He thinks he’s been used by both Austin Aries and Tyler Black in the past, and compares Tyler’s career and struggles to break through the glass ceiling to claim the World Title to his own tenure in Ring Of Honor.

Jim Cornette brings out Shawn Daivari for his return to ROH, following a release from the WWE. He makes a statement by throwing out the clichéd Middle Eastern Arabic dress he was made to wear whilst in Connecticut…and still gets ‘USA’ chanted at him. Despite shaking off all the gimmick he worked in the WWE, he still cuts an anti-American promo and makes himself hugely unpopular. Semi-decent promo…although I’m not really sure what he brings to the table inside the ring.

Austin Aries openly states that the rift between Tyler Black and Roderick Strong is going to be his opportunity at The Big Bang. Despite not being the strongest guy, his intelligence and their inability to focus will see him become ROH Champion for a third time.

Tony Kozina vs Kyle O’Reilly
Not sure why we’re getting a jobber match on HDNet – but it’s at least a unique circumstance as it pits the man that trained Davey Richards (Kozina) against Davey’s protégé (O’Reilly). Kyle has a bright future and recently had a great HDNet showing against Chris Hero. Can he highlight that potential with a win over a wily veteran like Kozina here?

Nice opening exchange with O’Reilly absorbing some of Tony’s veteran junior heavyweight skills and hitting back with a few kicks. Rolling Butterfly suplexes from O’Reilly for 2. Kozina hangs him in the ropes and gets his own nearfall with a dropkick to the back. FLYING HEADSCISSORS OVER THE TOP ROPE! The crowd that have been sh*tting on this match are definitely paying attention now! But he takes too long to capitalise and is on the wrong end of more MMA striking from Kyle. Springboard bulldog from Kozina, into a sliding blockbuster for 2. Tornado DDT from O’Reilly, then he reverses Kozina’s small package into a rolling cradle of his own to score the win at 06:08

Rating – ** – A decent exhibition match, and O’Reilly – whilst still very green – is obviously going to be a top talent in the future. But what the hell was this doing eating up over 6 precious minutes of TV time. Seriously, there are so many guys on this roster, with so little time on television to advance your storylines. It’s almost criminal to waste 5+ minutes on two guys very few people have ever heard of for absolutely no reason.

Now the ROH Champion speaks. He thinks Roddy might be a more dangerous opponent that Aries in Charlotte now he’s all pissed off about not getting the first one-on-one shot at Tyler that he was promised.

Davey Richards vs Delirious
This is the final TV Title Tournament first round match – who will advance to join Eddie Edwards, Kenny King and Kevin Steen in the semi-finals? Davey Richards, like Eddie Edwards, is stuck in a post-Final Battle slump and is looking to use this tournament to turn his career around. Delirious, meanwhile, is as good now as he’s been in his entire ROH career. Can he turn his recent successes into his first Ring Of Honor title?

It’s a VERY tentative opening – even Delirious is playing it cool by keeping relatively calm after the bell. He drops a flurry of sentons across Richards’ back to give himself the initial advantage. Richards hits back by working the arm and shoulder. MISSILE DROPKICK ON THE SHOULDER! The assault continues for several minutes, leaving the masked man in real trouble of crashing out. He manages to hoist Richards out of the ring with  back suplex…SUICIDE FLIP TO THE FLOOR! Back inside he gets 2 with a Leaping Lariat, but is still favouring that bad arm. Handspring Enzi COUNTERED with a torpedo headbutt, then a swinging neckbreaker. Davey is able to block the Cobra Stretch though, then jerks him out of the corner into a big kick. Northern Lights suplex INTO the Kimura only for Delirious to squirm to the bottom rope. CHEMICAL IMBALANCE II FROM NOWHERE! Davey stops him climbing for Shadows Over Hell…and counters it when it finally comes with a kick to the stomach. SAITO SUPLEX right on the neck, then a buzzsaw kick. Cross armbreaker locked in, but Delirious still has fight in him and turns it to the Cobra Stretch. That’s blocked…COBRA CLUTCH SUPLEX! Davey shunts the shoulder into the ringpost then hits a MISSILE DROPKICK ON THE ARM! TOMBSTONE PILEDRIVER! KIMURA! Delirious counters to a pin…CROSS ARMBREAKER! Now it’s over, with Davey progressing to meet Kenny King in the semi-finals. 13:27 is your time.

Rating – **** – I’m giving a generous 4* to this, when in truth it was ***1/2 and no better…but I thought they deserved credit for having the best and most exciting match of the first round by some distance. Much like Cabana/Eddie earlier, I loved how they skipped the usual Delirious comedy capers of the first few minutes and went straight into an ass kicking contest. It was a simple story with Richards working the arm for his finisher, Delirious on the back and neck for his. In the end Davey was the more aggressive and was rewarded with victory. In truth, it’s the simplicity, and the effectiveness with which they did it, that gets such a high rating from me. This match reminded me of Delirious’ great and totally underrated match with Bryan Danielson from Eliminating The Competition last year – the match that kick-started him into an amazing career revival through 2009 and into 2010 thus far.

The Semi-Finals are now set – and an American Wolves final is still a possibility!

Kevin Steen (1) vs Eddie Edwards (6)
Davey Richards (4) vs Kenny King (2)

The show ends with a nifty little video package, STILL hyping the Black/Aries/Strong match at The Big Bang. They are really pushing that one…

Tape Rating – *** – There’s not much to say about this weeks episode. I don’t think it’s one that will have potential new fans jumping out of their seats saying ‘man I have to see more of this product’, but I think existing fans will have liked it just fine. Both TV Title tournament matches were better than last week (with Richards/Delirious being a really fun little bout) so the match content is very decent. The rest of the show is basically all hype for The Big Bang, with a brief intermission where Kyle O’Reilly and Tony Kozina got to show off their skills. In truth, I don’t think, as an episode this was necessarily any stronger than last week, but the improved match quality is enough to bump my final rating up.