ROH on HDNET 4/4/2011

ROH on HDNet – Episode 100 – 4th April 2011

I think everyone would concede the ROH on HDNet experiment would ultimately be classified as an ambitious failure. Getting ROH onto a major televised network was a genuine accomplishment. But the reality is that HDNet never had the market penetration required for Ring Of Honor to achieve the growth they were looking for, and the show itself was only rarely really considered good enough to become ‘essential viewing’ on a network which happily advertises hours of shows featuring little more than girls hanging out in their panties, Rush concerts, a show about guys drinking until they puke in different towns, and endless hours of obscure MMA. I think the enduring success of the ROH on HDNet product will be the experience the core roster has gained. People like Eddie Edwards, Davey Richards, Mike Bennett, the Briscoes, the Kings, Tyler Black and more are all much better, and more rounded performers thanks to their regular appearances on a televised wrestling product. Unfortunately, the enduring failure of the enterprise will be that most people didn’t see it and it becomes nothing more than a footnote in ROH history. How many genuine, all-time great ROH moments were on HDNet? I can think of a handful, but not a lot more – and in 100 episodes that’s not enough. I’m guessing that by April 2011, after a string of successful live events and iPPV’s, and presumably the Sinclair deal very much in the pipeline, the HDNet show going off the air isn’t even that big a deal to ROH themselves anymore. But, credit to all concerned, at least they’re looking to go out with a bang. We have a huge 6-man tag, pitting the Briscoe Brothers and Davey Richards against former World Champion Roderick Strong and former Tag Champions the Kings Of Wrestling. Say goodbye to Mike Hogewood, as he calls his final ROH show alongside Dave Prazak.

Show opens with clips of Eddie Edwards winning the World Championship in New York. Given that this is the last show, I’m surprised and happy they went to the trouble of airing that footage.

Hog formally announces that this is the last show and seems pretty genuine in his enjoyment of the product and disappointment that he won’t be calling it anymore. He and Dave Prazak reminisce on some of their favourite memories from the show’s history. Then they introduce a really entertaining video package mixing great action and amusing comedy in equal measure. It’s nice that guys like Austin Aries, Eddie Kingston, Dark City Fight Club, Brent Albright, Kenny Omega, Ric Flair and more, who didn’t necessarily leave on the best terms, are featured in a favourable way too. Particularly Aries who carried the show by himself for most of 2009.

I’m guessing all the athletes in the main event tonight will get their own video package. The Kings enter first, and get a really entertaining piece spotlighting their growth from CZW renegades in questionable ring gear at their 2006 debut to the best tag team in the world during 2010.

Roderick’s isn’t quite as engrossing, but does do a good job of his time on HDNet – spent delivering good matches but always failing to win the big one until Truth Martini came into the picture. In the same way Davey’s has him beating up lots of guys, but plays him up as someone who hasn’t yet climbed to the top of the mountain as Roderick did.

The Briscoes time on HDNet has been mixed. Although they’ve always been acknowledged as one of the top teams, they’ve never really been the focus of the tag division during the HDNet era as they were in years passed. Mark spent the first six months of the show injured, and we’ve often seen the Wolves, Steen & Generico, the Young Bucks and the Kings Of Wrestling spotlighted over them. The gimmick where they came out dressed as ninjas was a personal highlight of their HDNet tenure – I thought that was really funny.

Roderick Strong/Chris Hero/Claudio Castagnoli vs Davey Richards/Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe
This match is still relevant, even though since it was taped Roddy and the Kings have both lost their respective championships. The Brisoes and the Kings feuded throughout 2010, and since the Briscoes were never able to defeat Hero and Claudio to regain their Tag Titles they’ll be keen to end the HDNet era with a victory over their rivals. And we know the history going back years between Davey and Roderick. At Final Battle it was Strong who defeated Davey to retain his World Championship, whilst we just saw Davey win a rematch at Honor Takes Center Stage this weekend. Moving out of the HDNet era, these two are legit main eventers for Ring Of Honor, and it’s always a physical and fun spectacle whenever they lock horns.

The initial pace is slow – with Mark first out-wrestling Claudio before tags are made for Davey and Hero to chain back and forth quite a few times. After Hero lays in a few shots, Strong wants in with his rival only for Richards to turn on him and blast him with a kick to the shoulder. At 5 minutes the Kings join forces to land a double boot on Mark, but within a minute the tide has turned again with the babyface team all taking turns to work Hero over. And by 7 minutes we have Jay and Roddy in the ring pasting each other with chops and forearms as they’ve done so many times before. The pendulum swings constantly in this match until finally the Briscoes grab Claudio for a double suplex, into a diving headbutt from Richards for 2. That’s 10 minutes in and at last a team looks like they’ve taken charge, although Hero and Strong and on the scene moments later as Davey goes for the Cloverleaf. Richards tries the Handspring Enzi but it’s COUNTERED TO THE UFO! Strong and Hero are brawling with the Briscoes on the floor so Richards has nobody to tag to after that blow, so we switch directions again with the heels now dominating. Strong gets 2 with Death By Roderick, only because Mark jumped in to break the pin at the last…then he boots Davey in the head with an enzi as he desperately tries to put Castagnoli in the Anklelock. The American Wolf gets tossed to the floor where Claudio and Roderick hold him against the apron for Sara Del Rey and Truth Martini to take some cheap shots.

Finally Davey nails Strong with the Handspring Enzi and jumps into a hot tag to both Briscoes. They charge in to a big Briscoes vs Kings battle…hitting Claudio with the Drunken Stupor Kick then Mark’s Frog Elbow for 2. Claudio locks the Iconoclasm and hoists Mark into a backbreaker, allowing Hero to get 2 with the world’s ugliest quebrada. Rolling Flash Kick connects, followed by the double pancake from the Kings for 2. Hero misses a moonsault…Iconoclasm on him instead! Missile dropkick from Davey, then he drags Chris right back to the corner for a superplex. Hero rolls over the ropes to smash Richards with an elbow…meaning he stumbles backwards INTO the Pop-Up European from Claudio! BACK DROP DRIVER on Hero gets 2! Suplex Elbow WITH added jumping knee from Strong but the Briscoes are on hand to break up a pinfall before it even happens. SOMERSAULT PLANCHA BY JAY! He nearly breaks his own leg against the guardrails there! Mark tries a dive but gets stopped by Del Rey. CLAUDIO ACCIDENTALLY BICYCLE KICKS SARA! MARK HITS A SOMERSAULT PLANCHA INTO THE CROWD! ALARM CLOCK ON STRONG! BLACK SUPERKICK! GIBSON DRIVER! STRONGHOLD! COUNTERED TO THE ANKLELOCK! Shane Hagadorn breaks that…then inadvertently gets laid out by Truth Martini and the Book Of Truth! ANKLELOCK ON STRONG AGAIN! STRONG TAPS! It’s over at 26:13

Rating – **** – That was 25 minutes of non-stop action which just flew by. They used constant tags and changes in the offensive advantage early on, getting into a rhythm and pace which never relented. At times it may have been a little hard to follow, but they undeniably built to a thrilling crescendo which paid off so many themes from the last six months of ROH feuds – with the Kings fighting the Briscoes, Davey fighting Roddy, Davey getting payback on Hagadorn and Martini, Sara getting her comeuppance etc. The final few minutes, which saw the Briscoe break out some trademark crazy dives to complement the usual stunning Strong/Richards exchanges, were electrifying. Putting a 25+ minute 6-man tag was an ambitious way to end the HDNet show’s run – and it delivered.

Tape Rating – **** – I really liked this episode, and felt like it was a great way for the show to bow out. They could have taken the easy way out and just done a ‘best of’ clips show. So the fact that they tried to do something special, from the first moment with the Edwards/Strong highlights package, through to the outstanding main event, is something to be commended. Undoubtedly, as we leave the HDNet era, the Kings, the Briscoes, Davey and Roddy are six of ROH’s top guys. By focusing as much of the episode as possible on those guy (along with new champion Eddie Edwards) it gives the viewers as much of an incentive as possible to keep watching Ring Of Honor

ROH on HDNet Episodes 96-100 – Top 5 Matches
5) Roderick Strong vs El Generico vs Jay Briscoe vs Homicide (*** – Episode 098)
4) Mike Bennett vs Kyle O’Reilly (*** – Episode 099)
3) Christopher Daniels vs Kenny King (*** – Episode 097)
2) Kyle O’Reilly vs Michael Elgin (*** – Episode 098)
1) Davey Richards/Briscoe Brothers vs Roderick Strong/Kings Of Wrestling (**** – Episode 100)

ROH on HDNet 2009-2011 – Top 20 Matches
20) KENTA vs Roderick Strong (**** – Episode 014)
19) Jay Briscoe/Mark Briscoe vs Young Bucks (**** – Episode 048)
18) Bryan Danielson vs Tyler Black (**** – Episode 008)
17) Chris Hero/American Wolves vs KENTA/Kevin Steen/El Generico (**** – Episode 017)
16) Chris Hero/American Wolves vs Bryan Danielson/KENTA/Roderick Strong (**** – Episode 026)
15) Bryan Danielson vs Roderick Strong (**** – Episode 034)
14) Austin Aries vs Roderick Strong vs Kenny Omega vs Davey Richards (**** – Episode 037)
13) American Wolves vs Bryan Danielson/Roderick Strong (**** – Episode 033)
12) Bryan Danielson vs Tyler Black (**** – Episode 006)
11) Kevin Steen/Steve Corino vs Colt Cabana/El Generico (**** – Episode 080)
10) Kevin Steen/El Generico vs American Wolves (**** – Episode 011)
9) KENTA vs Chris Hero (**** – Episode 029)
8) Davey Richards/Briscoe Brothers vs Roderick Strong/Kings Of Wrestling (**** – Episode 100)
7) Young Bucks vs American Wolves (**** – Episode 046)
6) Eddie Edwards vs Davey Richards (**** – Episode 055)
5) Eddie Edwards vs Christopher Daniels (**** – Episode 093)
4) Kevin Steen/Steve Corino vs Colt Cabana/El Generico (**** – Episode 066)
3) Jerry Lynn vs Bryan Danielson vs Tyler Black vs Austin Aries (****1/2 – Episode 012)
2) Davey Richards vs Tyler Black (****1/2 – Episode 078)
1) Bryan Danielson vs Tyler Black (****1/2 – Episode 018)

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